April 14, 2024
I have, in fact, tried to end my life, but that's not their business.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am 38, and 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with a severe, life-limiting disease that leaves me in enormous pain around the clock.

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Unfortunately, my body seems to be breaking down at a faster rate than many others with this disease. I have begun using various aids, such as a wheelchair, which somehow seems to give people a free pass to ask about my limitations and tell me about theirs.

I am not ashamed of my disease, and I don’t mind telling people about it. My problem is when people, even some in my own family, tell me that they could never deal with such a diagnosis, and that they would kill themselves if they were me.

I never know what to say to this. I feel like I need to put on a brave face at all times, when in truth, I have been hospitalized for trying to end my life due to my pain. (This is none of their business.)

I am trying to make the most of the years I have left and trying to find reasons to live; reminders of death make my already-difficult life much harder.

Is there a way to succinctly tell people that this comment is unwarranted, unwanted and pretty damn offensive?

GENTLE READER: “What a terrible thing to say.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How much detail in the response is required when declining an invitation, and does it vary by event?

For example, if I say, “I’m busy that day” when just a cup of coffee is involved, do I need to say, “I’m chairing a charity event that weekend” when a destination wedding is in the works?

I was always pretty terse in my RSVPs, but I’ve noticed that well-mannered people I know tend to trot out a concrete reason when bowing out.

Second question: When I ask someone for advice, do I owe them a follow-up? Such as “I looked into what you suggested, but decided to go in a different direction.”

Your commonsense advice is always much appreciated.

GENTLE READER: There is a difference between declining an invitation and bowing out afterward. Miss Manners is not sure you are making this distinction, which may be the reason that your well-mannered friends are taking the additional step.

When declining an invitation, a simple “I am so sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t attend” is perfectly polite. And more often than not, revealing the real reason — that you do not feel like it or do not like the people, activity, food and/or price of admission — would be rude.

But if you are bowing out after having accepted, you had better have a very good excuse — or at least one that is not discoverable.

As for the second question, you do not owe anyone, including Miss Manners, a follow-up on advice unless they specifically ask if you used it. Even in that case, you need not specify if it was successful.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, round-the-clock support, information and resources for help. Call or text the lifeline at 988, or see the 988lifeline.org website, where chat is available.

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