DEAR HARRIETTE: I am feeling emotionally paralyzed. I have taken on so much responsibility lately, handling the aftermath of my father’s death and having to deal with his paperwork. I’ve never had to do this before, and it is overwhelming. Along the way of sorting through everything, I have made some missteps. I have had some heated exchanges with family members, with bankers, with a lot of the people who are part of this process of closing out his affairs. This has meant that on top of all of the actual work, now I have people mad at me because I have not handled everything well. I want to hibernate. I don’t want to deal with any of the follow-up calls from people who are mad for one reason or another because the process isn’t going smoothly. Obviously, hiding isn’t a solution. But I am seriously feeling overwhelmed. How can I handle this situation better so that I can feel less stressed out? – On the Brink, Detroit

DEAR ON THE BRINK: Rather than hibernate, can you take a few days off to rejuvenate? Maybe a long weekend where you relax and pamper yourself would be a smart idea. Getting rest is so important in having a clear head. If you have a friend or loved one who can be neutral about the situation and supportive at the same time, you may want to invite that person to join you.

When you are feeling refreshed, consider doubling back to the people with whom you have experienced friction and simply apologizing. Even if both of you were wrong, or if the other person was absolutely offcourse, you can apologize for your heightened emotions surrounding handling your father’s affairs as you also ask for patience, compassion and focus from them. To the best of your ability, keep yourself organized as you complete handling your father’s business. This will help you to finish the work and be free to grieve.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: I have never been close to my brother, although I have attempted to stay in touch with him over the years. He moved away from our hometown years ago and rarely comes home to visit. He has built a nice life for himself, I suppose, but I think that family is also important, so I have tried to maintain some kind of connection to him. The thing is, when I call him, it is often awkward because we don’t have much to talk about. I realize I can’t force him to do anything. Now that our parents are getting older, I fear that when they go, he will disappear completely. How can I prevent that from happening? – Keep It Together, Dallas

DEAR KEEP IT TOGETHER: You cannot force your brother to stay in touch with you – which you already know. You can state the obvious. You can call or write to him and put your thoughts on the line. Tell him of your worry that you will lose each other entirely if you don’t both make the effort to stay connected. Tell him you think it’s worth it to keep your relationship alive. Ask him if he will make that commitment as well. If he does not, pivot and focus on your own life and the other family members who are alive. That may be the best you can do.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.