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Ask Lisi: Friend in hard times needs whatever help you can offer

Advice: She definitely needs to see a medical professional both for her physical health, and for her mental health. Help her set that up. Offer to go with her.

Dear Lisi: My friend is going through a really rough time and I don’t know how to support her. I’ve known her for years but we’ve never been close. I knew her husband and sons when they were little and we were neighbours. We both moved but she and I kept in touch through social media.

She shocked me one day when she told me that her husband had walked out on her and took the kids. By that time, the kids were young teenagers. She immediately hired a lawyer, but months in, she still hadn’t seen her children.

The stress was overwhelming and she ended up in hospital with gastrointestinal problems. It was during COVID-19 so no one could visit. Her ex had just filed for divorce and full custody. Her mom is deceased; her dad and sister live in the States and couldn’t cross the border.

It’s two years later and she still hasn’t seen her children. She reaches out any way she can, but they block her on social media, and on their phones, and the father has moved three times. I recently met her for coffee in person and almost didn’t recognize her. She’s put on loads of weight and can barely walk.

I feel so badly for her and what she’s going through. I don’t know any more than what I’ve shared here but no one should suffer such heartache. What can I do?

Frantic Friend

That is a sad story and I wish I could say it’s the first I’ve heard of its kind. I don’t know your friend or her ex but unless she was abusive or unfit, she should have access to her children. I’m talking from an emotional standpoint, not legal.

As a mother, I can think of no worse nightmare and I ache for your friend. Here’s where you come in. It sounds like she doesn’t have a lot of support, and she needs it. You say you’re not that close, but someone is better than no one.

Talk to her. Ask questions and listen. Offer suggestions. She definitely needs to see a medical professional both for her physical health, and for her mental health. Help her set that up. Offer to go with her. She’ll appreciate the offer even if she declines.

Dear Lisi: My sister has just made a very brave choice, but I’m not sure she’s thought it through. She’s 25 with a three-month-old baby, and she just asked her fiancé (and the baby’s father) to leave. They’ve been together three years, and engaged since they found out she was pregnant about eight months ago.

Her fiancé was never my favourite human. He’s a tough guy, macho, dark, brooding and full of negativity. My sister is a ray of sunshine. She’s the sweetest, nicest person you’ll ever meet. I never fully understood what attracted her to him.

She and I are very close and she knew how I felt, but was always pointing out his good traits. And he has many. He’s very attentive to her, protective and smart. But he’s always commenting on the negative aspects of life. I think that once she had the baby, she realized she didn’t want to live in his cloud of doom and gloom. I don’t blame her.

But now she’s a single mom. How do I help her?

Single sister

She may not have thought through the next five or ten years, but she’s figured out that right now she doesn’t want to be smothered by negativity. Postpregnancy is a romantic, heady, happy time. The high endorphin levels in your postpregnancy body can even produce a euphoric state. It’s normal for your sister to want to be surrounded by happiness.

Stand by her side while she sees this through. She’ll need your support.

FEEDBACK regarding Colour Crazy (Feb. 10):

Reader – “It’s no one’s business how much or what colour makeup a woman wears. Her body - her choice!

“She must feel good wearing it or she wouldn’t do it. Her husband doesn’t notice or care.

“Perhaps a good answer for this busybody sister-in-law would be to mind her own damn business and work on making herself “better.”

Lisi – Yes…. and no. You’re right that it’s no one’s business, and that a woman can choose to wear whatever she wants. But I don’t agree that the sister-in-law was being a busybody. I believe she genuinely wants to help her sister-in-law look her very best.

We can all use a freshen up now and again. That’s why people get make-overs. And it’s not just make-up; it’s clothes and hair as well. Change is healthy.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions to [email protected] or [email protected]