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Dear Dr. Yael,

I am a caregiver to my ill husband. We have been married for over 50 years, and for most of my life my husband was vibrant, hard working, and was the love of my life. He was an excellent father, a great financial provider, and extremely loving to me. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and currently needs full time care. Baruch Hashem, we can afford good help, and I can drive him around with the help. Therefore, I make sure that he attends important family simchas. We have amazing married children, grandchildren, and even some great-grandchildren. It is sad that he does not comprehend all the simchas that we have. It is so hard for me that everyone feels so sorry for me when I am managing, and I do enjoy my life. I have great relationships with all my children-in-law, children, and my grandchildren. I still love my husband. I remember all our amazing years together. It is hard enough for me to deal with this situation. However, when people try to give me chizuk by saying Hashem only gives you what you can deal with, it drives me crazy. I don’t need people’s pity. I prefer people to leave me alone and not emphasize my problem. I know that my situation is not easy, but I also am very thankful for all of the brachos that I have, and I prefer to focus on all of the good in my life. Please tell me what to do when people make inappropriate comments or comments that upset me.




Dear Anonymous,

People are often uncomfortable seeing someone else struggle in a situation, and in their minds, they think that they are helping you by making such comments. Perhaps you can respond to people who make these comments, “I realize that you are trying to help me feel better, but I treasure your friendship, and I would appreciate it if you don’t make such comments. They make me feel uncomfortable.” You may get reactions like “I am sorry, I was just trying to make you feel better.” You can answer, “I know that you mean well, I value your intent, but these comments don’t help me.” In this way, you are being extremely kind and gentle, but also putting up the necessary boundaries. Most people will understand and respect your boundaries and will try not to make such comments going forward. However, no matter what people say, you must try to be strong within yourself. I recently did a lecture “Some people’s problems are wrapped in clear garbage bags, others in black garbage bags. We all have issues.” Unfortunately, since your issues are in clear garbage bags, you can’t hide them as well as other people who have issues that are hidden. However, we all have issues that we struggle with. We are in galus and if you think someone else does not have an issue, then you do not know their situation. Everyone is struggling with something, whether you know about it or not.

I applaud your attitude as you seem to appreciate all the brachos that Hashem gave you as well as treasure all the good years in your marriage. We can all learn from your positive attitude in life. Many people tend to focus more on their problems than their brachos. You have the correct attitude that we should all focus on all of the good in our life and be grateful for what we have. Please remain strong in the face of your adversity. You will ultimately be happier and enjoy the brochas you have. Hopefully once you start putting up gentle but strong boundaries, people will stop pitying you and will just treat you “normally.” Hatzlacha with this challenging situation and please continue to teach the world your amazing attitude!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to [email protected]. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at