Dear Annie: It has been over a year since my sister and I had a falling-out. She used to live with me but moved in with my mother. I have tried to reconcile with her to keep harmony within the family. I have been unsuccessful.
It appears that our mother has taken my sister's side in our disagreement and has treated me disrespectfully on many occasions within the past year. Since my daughter passed away, I have struggled with bouts of depression from time to time. My mother's treatment of me hurts me, and I had to stop calling and visiting her as frequently as I used to in order to avoid her harmful behavior toward me. My mother also appears to be alienating my brother from her life.
Recently, my mother sold her home and moved in with my sister and is supposedly going to move in to a retirement home. My brother and I were not consulted or made a part of any decision-making. Prior to the disagreement between my sister and me, this situation would not have been handled this way. All of us would have been involved in the decision, as well as assisting her with her move, etc.
Whether my sister is purposely controlling our mother's affairs or not, my mother resides with her now, and she does have influence over her. My sister has had the opportunity for the past year to influence my mother in a healthy way but has chosen to foster her ill feelings toward her other children. Until Mom moves in to a facility, I am unable to visit her. I feel as if my mother doesn't want me in her life at all. I have accepted my relationship with my sister; should I learn to not have one with my mother? — Very Sad
Dear Sad: First, I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter. It's odd that your sister and mother aren't more sympathetic. It's possible that your mom's mental health is deteriorating.
I think you and your brother should pay the two of them a visit (even if your sister is opposed to the idea). Try reconciling one more time, but mainly, use the visit to assess your mom's health and mental state.
If your sister refuses to reconcile and continues to wield an unhealthy influence over your mother, consult an elder law attorney to figure out whether Mom is being taken advantage of and what options you have. She may really need your help, whether she realizes it or not.
Dear Annie: A friend gave me your column that appeared in our local paper last month. It was about a couple whose three children have rejected them for 22 years. I am in the same situation. I have three children who have divorced themselves from the whole family for the past 25 years, and I do not know why. I have not seen my children or heard from them for 25 years. Is there any way that you can forward my message to the couple whose children have done the same to them? It helps the hurt to know that there are others who are in the same situation. — J in Nebraska
Dear J: I will publish this as a reminder to all the children out there who are not speaking to their parents that it really hurts. There are cases in which cutting a toxic relative out of your life is the only healthy option, but that should be a last resort. Family is a beautiful thing, and it is not something to be discarded easily.
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