Dear readers: Not everyone who writes to me wants advice; some want to offer advice. Here's a selection of such letters.
Dear Amy: A reader recently wrote to you about her grief after experiencing a miscarriage. As a retired obstetrician, I have had considerable experience with this.
One point I discussed with patients early in pregnancy was the fact that pregnancy loss is much more common than most people realize. I suggested that they carefully consider whom they tell about their pregnancy until after the first trimester, when pregnancy loss is much less common, thus avoiding the problem of telling many people the bad news.
I also found advice I was given 15 years ago, when my wife died, very helpful.
The insight was that people who asked, "What can I do?" of a grieving person are asking because they don't know how to be helpful. My answer was: "Invite me to dinner."
I think it was win-win. This helped me, and I think they were glad to do something that I appreciated. A woman who has miscarried should not hesitate to ask what she needs.
Amy says: Thank you for your helpful wisdom. I agree that it is most judicious to wait to announce a pregnancy, but even when couples haven't announced their pregnancy, they often still choose to disclose a miscarriage to their circle of friends and family.
Dear Amy: A letter writer commented on the increasingly popular scam of being asked to purchase gift cards for a so-called "charity." You suggested that store clerks selling gift cards should be trained to be on the lookout.
I purchased several hundred dollars' worth of gift cards at my grocery store, and the clerk did ask me if a third party had asked me to buy the cards. I asked if anyone has ever answered "yes" to that question, and he said that they had stopped many people from falling prey to this scam.
Store employees are certainly a great weapon against these scammers.
Amy says: I am very happy to learn that store clerks are helping to educate customers on the danger of gift card scammers.
Paying your respects
Dear Amy: Thank you for discussing the importance of funerals and memorial services. I was someone who never attended funerals — the person was already dead and wouldn't notice, I reasoned. The value for the family never entered my mind.
And then my husband died. I can't tell you what it meant when people came pouring into the church. Their presence said: "I've dropped everything to honor this man, and to be with you today."
Now I drop everything to go to funerals of someone I knew, even casually. After all, surely everyone is important enough for us to take an hour to honor them and to provide the family with matchless comfort.
Amy says: Unfortunately, experiences with grief and mourning are our greatest teachers.
Dear Amy: A writer recently asked if it was OK to take wine from a neighboring table in a restaurant after the other party had left. You said it wasn't appropriate, and while I agree with that, I'd like to add that it also can be embarrassing.
A few years ago, under a similar circumstance, one of my tablemates helped herself to the wine left at a table next to us. She had poured us all a glass when those people returned from the salad bar.
I wanted to crawl under the table!
Amy says: The lesson here is that you should drink no wine before it's time.
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