New neighbor fired my son as his dad was dying. How to cope with the pain?

A mother wrote to Carolyn Hax, a columnist for The Washington Post, seeking advice on how to deal with a new neighbor who fired her son from his job as his father was dying of cancer. The mother said that her son, who is in his 20s, had worked for the neighbor’s company for three years and was well-liked by his colleagues and clients. However, the neighbor, who is the CEO of the company, decided to let him go without any explanation or severance pay, just a few weeks after his father’s diagnosis.

The mother said that she and her son are devastated by the loss of both his father and his job, and that they feel betrayed and humiliated by the neighbor’s actions. She said that she has to see the neighbor every day, as he lives across the street from her, and that she is struggling to cope with her anger and grief. She asked Carolyn Hax for some guidance on how to handle this situation.

New neighbor fired my son as his dad was dying. How to cope with the pain?
New neighbor fired my son as his dad was dying. How to cope with the pain?

Carolyn Hax’s response

Carolyn Hax responded to the mother’s letter with empathy and compassion, acknowledging the pain and injustice that she and her son are going through. She said that the neighbor’s behavior was “cruel and cowardly”, and that he showed no regard for the human impact of his decision. She said that the mother has every right to be angry, but that she should not let it consume her or interfere with her healing process.

Hax advised the mother to focus on supporting her son and helping him find a new job, as well as taking care of herself and honoring her husband’s memory. She said that the mother should not waste her energy on trying to understand or confront the neighbor, as he is unlikely to change or apologize. She said that the mother should instead try to avoid contact with him as much as possible, and to surround herself with people who love and respect her.

Hax also suggested that the mother and her son seek professional counseling if they feel overwhelmed by their emotions, and that they join a support group for grieving families. She said that these resources can help them cope with their loss and trauma, and to find hope and meaning in their lives.

Readers’ reactions

Many readers of Carolyn Hax’s column expressed their sympathy and outrage for the mother and her son, and shared their own stories of dealing with similar situations. Some readers offered practical advice, such as contacting a lawyer, filing a complaint with the labor board, or writing a negative review of the neighbor’s company. Others offered emotional support, such as sending cards, flowers, or meals, or inviting them to social events. Some readers also suggested that the mother and her son should move to a different neighborhood, or at least put up a fence or a hedge to block the view of the neighbor’s house.

Some readers also criticized the neighbor’s actions, calling him a “sociopath”, a “bully”, or a “monster”. They said that he deserved to be shunned, sued, or exposed for his cruelty. They said that he had no empathy, integrity, or decency, and that he should be ashamed of himself.

However, some readers also cautioned the mother and her son not to let their anger and resentment take over their lives, and to focus on their own well-being and happiness. They said that the neighbor’s actions were not a reflection of their worth or character, and that they should not let him define them or their future. They said that the best revenge is to live well and to move on.

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