Ask Ann Cannon: I lost two friends to the coronavirus. A friend compared my grief to losing her dog.

Ann Cannon

Dear Ann Cannon • Here’s one I’ve been dealing with the last few days. What do you do when a friend tries to trump your grief of losing friends in Europe to COVID-19 with the death of a treasured dog? I know I didn’t often see my two friends that died, but grief is grief. One person’s grief is not more important than another’s.


Dear Grieving • First things first. I’m so very sorry about the loss of your friends. For sure, the coronavirus becomes more of a reality when we are somehow personally touched by it. I also feel for your friend. For many people, pets become part of the family, which makes their loss hard.

Meanwhile, you said it best. Grief is grief and one person’s grief is not more important that another’s. And yet, without even realizing we’re doing it, we often try to top one another’s experiences. All you have to do is sit in a room with women swapping their labor and delivery stories and you’ll see what I mean. (I have some good ones personally, by the way, but that’s not the point.) This behavior, I think, comes out of a desire to be noticed, to have our feelings and our experiences validated. Perhaps understanding this very human tendency can help you overlook, or at least understand, your friend’s insensitivity to your own grief. And once again, I’m sorry for your loss.

Dear Ann Cannon • I find that during this time of social distancing, one of the activities I miss most is visiting the library. Any suggestions for borrowing books? Not e-books, not audio books, real books.

Book Fan

Dear Book Fan • I know that libraries in the Salt Lake County system have been planning to open on a limited basis in the next few weeks. I’m not sure what other city systems’ plans are as of this moment. But you do have certain options open to you. You can always borrow from bibliophile friends, of course. You can even have a social distancing book party like the one some friends and I recently had. We gathered in our hostess’ backyard and traded favorite books. Did I mention that doughnuts were also involved? Score!

You can also borrow books from the little mini-libraries that are starting to pop up in neighborhoods around the city. Have you seen them? The Trib, in fact, recently carried an article about this trend. Anyway, these mini-libraries look like little birdhouses, but instead of being filled with seed, they’re filled with books that you can freely take, while adding to the collection itself if you so choose. In our neighborhood, people have even put canned and boxed goods, along with rolls of toilet paper, in the mini-libraries as a goodwill gesture to those in need of such items.

Meanwhile, I heard from more readers on the subject of tattoos. Very few of them voiced negative opinions about them. Most said they were happy they’d done ink and that their tattoos, in fact, had a personal meaning to them. I was especially intrigued by this e-mail:

Dear Ann Cannon • First I would like to say that I look forward to your column every Sunday in The Salt Lake Tribune. As for tattoos, some make the wearer look dirty and unkempt. However, I had always had a hidden desire to get a tattoo. So, I had a very small rose tattoo done on my upper back (where no one could see it, unless I was in a bathing suit) and had this done on my 81st birthday.

Ann Cannon is The Tribune’s advice columnist. Got a question for Ann? Email her at askann@sltrib.com or visit the Ask Ann Cannon page on Facebook.