Dear Abby: I woke up crying this morning. The holidays are fast approaching, and many of them I spent with my younger sister “Leyla” and her family. It has been a tradition because our parents are no longer living, and my sisters live on the mainland.
Leyla’s fiance doesn’t care for me, so last year’s celebration wasn’t very fun, although I did enjoy my family. Her fiance and I have never had an argument nor have I ever said anything negative to him. He’s insecure and wants Leyla to himself.
I was gone for the holidays in 2018 because I was caring for our elderly father. I hadn’t been to their home for almost two years before that. During that time he had my sister all to himself. The last time I visited he wasn’t nice to me. It didn’t feel good.
Now, with this upcoming holiday season, I know I won’t be invited to join them, which makes me sad and mad at the same time. My sister doesn’t deal with life like I do. I am very family-oriented, and I would never let a man come between us. It breaks my heart knowing I won’t be a part of their lives this year for the holidays. I’m 65, and Leyla is 61. We shouldn’t be dealing with this kind of thing in our lives. What should I do? – Sad Island Lady
Dear Sad: Discuss this with Leyla and find out whether you will be invited to visit this year. Many families are distancing not because of personality conflicts but because of COVID-19. It may be possible to see your sister over Zoom or outside her home if you arrange to stay elsewhere.
If that isn’t possible, make plans with friends and/or other relatives. Many people will be celebrating Christmas and New Year’s differently this year. You will not be alone in that.
Dear Abby: My 16-year-old son passed away unexpectedly a month ago. Because he was short for his age, he had been bullied during middle and high school. After a minor argument with my husband and me, he contacted a neighborhood kid who sold him powerful painkillers. This was, to my knowledge, the first time he did this, and I don’t think he realized how devastating the effects could be. (We had previously discussed the dangers of prescription drugs, but it seems this was an impulsive decision.)
My husband and 19-year-old daughter are reeling from this tragedy, and we’re all in therapy now. I need to know if you have any advice on how to grieve. I’m feeling so lost and still in shock, and I have appreciated reading your advice over the years. – Still in Shock in Colorado
Dear Still: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the tragic loss of your beloved son. The circumstances of his death make it even more difficult to understand and cope. Fortunately, there is help and support for families who have lost a sibling or a child.
The Compassionate Friends is a group I have mentioned before in my column. Founded 50 years ago in England and incorporated in the United States in 1978, it exists to provide friendship, understanding and hope to parents who are going through the natural grieving process. To find a chapter near you, contact them online at compassionatefriends.org or by calling (877) 969-0010. Please don’t wait.