Dear Annie: Recently, my 49-year-old sister committed suicide. She lived with my partner and me for the last 18 months. I find it harder each day to understand why this happened. I am upset, angry, troubled and confused.
My sister was bipolar and on medication. She had attempted suicide before, but tried to fight the self-destructive thoughts, admitting herself to the hospital when necessary. We assured her that she could live with us forever and that we loved having her with us. She was so good with our dogs, and they seemed to be a comfort to her.
We never had a clue what she was planning, and she had it all planned out two weeks ahead. She bought a gun, cleaned her room, did her wash and left a letter explaining that this was the only way to ease her pain. She waited until after midnight and went to a nearby nature preserve. She was found within two hours.
My sister often said that she hated her life and had no friends and thought when she died there would be few people at her funeral. But the funeral home was so crowded that there wasn't even standing room. Do people who commit suicide know how much pain they leave behind and how much we struggle to accept it? I will always wonder what I could have done differently. Please help. — Miss My Sister
Dear Sister: We can tell how anguished you are, and our hearts are breaking for you. Your sister was mentally ill and obviously in great pain. She could see no end to it and believed suicide was her only way out. You sound like a loving sister, and you created a warm and supportive home. Now you could use some support, too. Please try Survivors of Suicide at survivorsofsuicide.com.
Dear Annie: "Mike" and I are in our 60s and have been married seven years. We each have children from previous marriages, all of whom are grown and out of the house.
Recently, I noticed that Mike friended his ex-wife on Facebook. They correspond occasionally and play an online game together. I always suspected that she still had a thing for him, even though she was the one who initiated the divorce.
Mike was divorced for eight years when we met, but I have always felt that his children resent me. Today, I saw a receipt for tickets to an out-of-state amusement park where he is planning to go with his daughter and grandchildren. I noticed a receipt for another person (a senior). It's not for me because I have to work. I believe this ticket is for his ex-wife. I asked if she would be there, and he said he "didn't think so." He claims he can't stand her.
I am considering divorce because the trust is gone. I get along with my ex, but would not jeopardize my marriage by going on an out-of-town trip with him. Am I jumping the gun? Is this just a family outing? — Not Worlds of Fun for Me
Dear Fun: You are jumping the gun. You don't know that the ex-wife is going or who invited her. And if she's there, it doesn't mean he is cheating. Get the details from your husband, and explain your concerns. If his responses aren't satisfactory, tell him your marriage is at risk and ask him to come with you for counseling.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Sherman Oaks, Calif.," who dropped her friend "Jill" because she wouldn't stop gossiping.
She should have told Jill, "I have told you I don't like the way you gossip about your friends and I don't want to hear it. Please change the subject." Repeat as needed. She might change her behavior if she is interrupted at the moment of offense every single time. — St. Maarten
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.