Dear Amy: I'm a doctor. I am on the front lines treating COVID patients. I have watched the cycle of fear, sadness, and guilt when I tell a patient they have tested positive. Then again, watching the family go through their cycle of denial, anger and sadness as I give them the phone call that their loved one is indeed dying.

I know I'm not the only provider who has experienced this, or the first time you are probably hearing this story.

I am in a long-distance relationship with someone not in medicine. Since the beginning of this pandemic, we knew that because of our jobs, traveling to see one another would be limited. I have spent hours on the phone with him telling him about scenes at the hospital like they are clips from a war movie. He has grieved with me at the state of our world.

We have a week to see each other over Thanksgiving. He would like to see his family, which I support. But he is adamant that he will not wear a mask during the visit. After seeing so many patients with similar stories of exposure after a family gathering, I feel like I can't participate.

I'm so disappointed in his choice not to practice public health guidance. I know I shouldn't, but it's hard not to take it personally, when he knows what I've been going through as a physician.

I know we are all struggling right now to make decisions on what feels both good and safe when it comes to seeing our families for the holidays. But I cannot help but be heartbroken when the simple measure of wearing a mask seems preposterous.

Amy says: I am also heartbroken in solidarity with you and your fellow first-responders, and with the scores of families for whom the holiday season will not be a time of celebration, but of grieving for their loss.

This is a brief moment in our history. It seems selfish, as well as shortsighted, for people to refuse to take common-sense measures to protect themselves and others.

Given your situation, I can understand why you are taking this personally. I assume that you are tested frequently, but it is a given that your potential exposure also places your friend and his family members at some risk, making his choice seem even more foolhardy.

Letters capture time

Dear Amy: Thank you for advocating for families to save and archive old letters from family members. Soon enough, the current generation won't have much access to written material. E-mail and Facebook messages just won't translate the way paper-borne messages do.

Amy says: Many of us have taken up pen and paper during the pandemic; it's a small bright spot during a tough time.

Send Ask Amy questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.