Question: I live in a close-night Upper East Side rental building, where neighbors trade phone numbers and collect each other’s packages. The woman living below me lost her husband after an illness in August. Since then, I have clearly heard him walking, talking and cursing himself in despair. The neighbor below it can also hear the noise, but we do not know how to approach it. When I saw her, I helped the widows. Any advice on how we can handle this?
a: Grief can be a long, lonely process, the loneliness created by an epidemic that has deprived us of opportunities to spend time with those we love. At some other time, your neighbor may now have more sources of comfort. Or, he may now have a strong support network, and needs a place to grieve alone at home.
But you do not know if he is okay, and as a concerned neighbor you can definitely give your support. Even if he has support, he may need more.
You were kind enough to offer him help in his works, but as you suspected, he might not be the one he needed. The founder and director of the Center for Complemented Grouse at Columbia School of Social Work, Drs. “People don’t need help, they need company,” said Katherine Shire. “It is a very fair thing to offer to do something or get something, but it is not very similar.”
Stop by her apartment to make her aware of her thoughts. Ask if he is okay, and if he has friends and family who spend time with him. Remind her that she is not alone in the building. Ask if she wants some company. The flowers are blooming, the days are getting warmer – suggest taking a walk together or sitting outside.
Psychiatrist Dr. Those who are mourning, Shearer said, are “not in good company themselves, but they need someone’s presence”.
Your neighbor may cancel your initial request, but you can keep trying. Other related neighbors may also offer similar. If you run into his lobby, remind him that the offer still stands. Dr. “Gentle perseverance is what I would call it,” said Shearer. “May your compassion be your guide.”
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