Dear Annie: A friend’s previous kindness does not entitle her to use the holiday invitation

Dear Annie: Two years ago I lost my husband to terminal cancer after 30 years of marriage. I kept him at home during his last days with the help of the hospice and our three children.

During this horrible time of my life, my BFF (best friend forever) was supportive, loving and available to listen to my fears and range of emotions. Being a widow herself, she understood exactly what I was going through. After my husband passed away, she spent two weeks at my house. She was like an angel, there for me in my time of need.

During this time, I foolishly told her about the large insurance policy my husband had left me. We have grown even closer and go out to eat and shop together every week. To thank her, I invited her on a four-day trip to San Francisco last fall to pay for her airfare and lodging. She went, even if it meant leaving her second husband and family alone.

I recently decided to rent a house on the beach in Texas for four months this winter. When I told her that I would love it if she came to visit, she immediately became very enthusiastic and said yes. It has now become very clear that she plans to spend the entire four months with me at my expense.

I have invited other girlfriends at various intervals for a visit of three to five days and look forward to receiving them and having a nice outing. I just found out that she also invited her children and grandchildren to visit her, but not her husband. I feel very abused and hate her for taking on the depth of my generosity. I’m concerned it will destroy our friendship if I try to talk to her about it or admit it. Anyway, I lose. What should I do, Annie? — The Lost Friend

Dear Lost Friend: First of all, my condolences on the loss of your husband. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been after decades of marriage. I’m glad you had the love and support of your children and the friend you mentioned to help you cope with your grief.

Your best friend went above and beyond after your husband passed away, and I imagine she knows how much you appreciated it since she experienced the loss of a husband herself. But friendship is not a scorecard. Her overwhelming kindness two years ago does not entitle her to be a part of everything you have and do now.

Since your husband’s death, you’ve done enough to thank her for her support. Now it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Your BFF may not fully realize that she’s taking advantage of you, so it’s your responsibility to communicate to her what’s right and wrong and stick to it. You have to honor yourself.

Let her know when it works for you to visit the beach house in Texas this winter. Emphasize that this break is for more than just the two of you, but also for you and your children, you and your other friends, and most importantly, you and yourself.

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