The Etiquette of Christmas Estrangement

 

Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them.

~Amy Vanderbilt

 

Holidays stir the pot for many people who are estranged from their families, but Christmas seems particularly difficult. One of the reasons this may be so is because the very nature of Christmas is to reconnect in a spirit of generosity. We send cards, buy gifts, make plans to share meals and do things together. We generally continue to hold this view of the Christmas holiday, and do the things we are neatly programmed to do as part of our traditions and celebrations, and then bump into the blank spot on our Christmas list. The blank spot is the name of the person we are estranged from and they are definitely the most difficult person on our Christmas list to shop for.

“I’m estranged from my father, but as a gesture of good will I would like to send him a card. Is this okay?”

“I don’t want anything to do with my sister, but I feel terrible not acknowledging my niece and nephew. Can I send a gift?”

“I have been estranged from my grandmother for 4 years. She has sent me a gift should I send it right back unopened? Obviously I can’t accept a gift from someone I never want to speak to?”

“I am estranged from my mother and most of my extended family. They have now started freezing out my children. Should I buy them gifts and pretend they are from their family?”

~* ~

These are just a few of the comments and questions you are sending me, Dear Readers and at the risk of sounding like the Ann Landers of family estrangement, I am going to give you some things to ponder.

1-No two instances of family estrangement are the same. What works brilliantly for me, may backfire terribly for you in your family. Let’s start the advice giving by acknowledging that you know your family circumstances best and ultimately if something does not fit for you, it’s not a good idea for you. Trust yourself.

2-  Check your motives. Think about why you want to give. Often we are triggered at Christmas time to reach out and connect with family members, even though it may not be in our best interests. Consider whether by sending a gift or a card you are opening a door that you’d really rather stayed shut. Consider what you feel. Is giving informed by guilt? By shame? By obligation? As the Amy Vanderbilt quote above suggests, if we’re doing something from the wrong feeling place, it is unlikely to ring true – and more importantly, is likely to leave us feeling badly.

-3 Consider your resilience. Think of the best/worst case scenarios. Consider whether you have the reserves and resilience to deal with them. If you extend yourself and make an overture and it is rejected, how are you going to feel? Can you give without having any expectations? This is not about being negative or thinking of the worst, it’s about giving from the heart and ensuring you can look after yourself if it goes sideways.

4- Yes, do think of the children! Family estrangement is grown up business. If it is possible to leave children out of it – please do. Something as simple as a card can make the difference between another generation learning to cope through distance and one which understands that difficulty in one relationship is not an excuse to obliterate all other connections too. Think really carefully about this one.

5- Graciousness and gratitude. If someone you are estranged from sends you a gift, consider the spirit it is offered in. Even if you do not desire any connection whatsoever, think about whether sending the gift back is a means of self-care, or a  means of punishing the other person? Do the right thing. You’ll feel better for it.

6- Don’t fake it. If your family is not buying or giving for your children it hurts. It hurts them and it hurts you too. This is a BIG family estrangement owie – as the implications are enormous. We can live with knowing we will not have access to family, but it may break our hearts that our kids will grow up marinating in disconnection and distance.

Any time there is a special occasion involving children, we can find ourselves feeling very badly indeed for our kids, as well as for ourselves. This extends outward to extended family who do not feel able to connect with children or young people whom they love and care about, because they are estranged from their adults.

Despite all the pain and anger this may stir up, we need to be honest with our kids. Age appropriate honest. We don’t make excuses and lie for people. We also don’t demonize them. We need to let kids know that they will not get acknowledgment or gifts from certain people ie. grandparents, the way that their friends do, but that it doesn’t mean they aren’t important or loved. That’s right, we take the high moral ground around our children. We explain that there is pain, hurt feelings and disconnection AND that it doesn’t mean the missing family members don’t love and care for them. We give them an alternate story, that is capacity building and life enhancing. We give them a chance to break the legacy of estrangement.

7- Make new traditions and rituals which acknowledge disconnection and estrangement. Perhaps at the family Christmas meal a small toast or prayer can go out for all the family who are missing. Perhaps you burn a candle through the Christmas season to remember those who are absent. Acknowledging the existence of our family is affirming, even when we are not in relationship to them. Even when we are still angry and still hurting.

8- If you can give and you want to give, and you can manage to do it without expectation – give!

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27 Responses to The Etiquette of Christmas Estrangement

  1. ktorik says:

    Christmas is such a mixed experience in our home. After 3 generations of estrangement there aren’t many fights anymore, just a lot of disinterest, a lot of aloneness, and waves of sadness, especially on special occasions. Oddly enough, each of my siblings feel the same way and none of us have the wherewithal to maintain relationship. I really like your idea of lighting a candle for those not there. Thanks Fiona. ~T

    • Fiona says:

      The inter-generational estrangement drift is hell on relationships. How do we learn to remain connected, when our role models so far back could not? It’s an interesting dilemma. I do hope you will have a lovely holiday with the kids – and by all means light a candle xx

  2. Tonya says:

    Hi,thankyou soooo much for this article!The holidays is a very tough time for myself and my nuclear family.We are estranged from our inlaws I believe because we are a interracial couple.Im an only child and my mom died years ago.My husbands family has started using my children as pawns in their hate.I have continued to each out through cards and gifts but all of his family is quickly pulling away.Our hearts are heavy but its getting easier to move on.The newyear may mean complete severing.Its sad….but it seems thats their wish……and we maybe better off:)

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Tonya,

      Glad this post was helpful! It sounds like things are very strained with your in-laws and it must be very difficult having children. I hope you are able to find some brilliant traditions to enjoy the holidays with your partner and kids xx

  3. Karen says:

    I started to write here earlier in the week, but then got interrupted. I appreciate the article too and thank you for writing it. The holidays are always a very tough time for me as well. Several difficult anniversaries are during this time and, yes, estrangement. We were always estranged from my in-laws given their behaviors. They were very intolerant of me and very unwelcoming–thus we became estranged.

    My husband has since reconnected with them, but he never mentions my name. He said the issue is buried and they have silently all agreed to pretend that I don’t exist. My husband goes along with this to keep the peace and I believe it is a type of placating measure too. We once saw a marriage couselor about these difficult behaviors and he said to us that they all knew and were all complicit in the relationship dynamics. He urged me to stay away from them and that is what I do. My husband does see them periodically and maintains contact (minimally), but I am not invited. Nothing is ever discussed and I always knew that my presence was not wanted around.

    The holidays are/was usually the only time when we would hear from my husband’s mom. She would send a card addressed to Mr. & Mrs., sometimes with a note inside addressed to my husband. These yearly bizzare cards were a painful reminder of all the ugliness and strained relationships. I started to dread seeing the card. Then I just would give it to him.

    A few Christmas’s ago my husband received a card from his step-mother (his dad’s 3rd wife). Apparently, she had left him and my husband for whatever reason decided not to tell me. When I saw the card I knew something was up as his name (his father) was missing from the card. On the inside she wrote a note to us. She was the one who sent cards (not his father). Usually she would write a note to my husband, but this time she made a small gesture and placed my name first in front of my husband’s, which was very different behavior from her. I took note and eventually wrote her. She said she was free of them and could now say what she wanted to me.

    These are the types of memories I have during the holidays. My sister-in-law had children and I stayed away–not out of cruelty. It was because I was very aware and very clear that his family didn’t want anything to do with me, so I complied.

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for sharing a little more of your story. You certainly sound like you are between a rock and a hard place; both with your in-laws and also as a result of the choices that your husband has made. This must feel very painful for you. I am sorry your holidays are populated by such unhappy and difficult memories.

      I sincerely hope that you are able to find ways through the holidays to focus on yourself, and look after you.

      Take care,
      Fiona

  4. Karen says:

    “One of the reasons this may be so is because the very nature of Christmas is to reconnect in a spirit of generosity.”

    If you do not see generosity of spirit (emotionally) or tolerance demonstrated throughout the year towards you–it is very difficult to experience receiving a card (yearly)–one formally addressed as well–as being done in a spirit of giving and generosity of spirit, or as a sign of perhaps they desire possible reconnection.

    My husband tells me he has an aunt who sends him a blank email with nothing inside and no communication other than an attached picture, usually of herself with her grandkids, or of herself with her son. He has said that he has occasionally written her back inquiring how she is and she doesn’t respond. She does however, forward jokes. He will say it is how she keeps in touch, but I feel that it would be very hard to feel much of a connection without any other type of communication.

    She is not feeble or in ill health either. She just isn’t given to any communication other than sending pictures of herself or grandkids.

    I also wonder at times if people really do send a card out of generosity, or if they just feel like it is an obligation–to keep up appearances or just what one does because it is polite. It’s hard to know what goes on in their mind, but some of those communications do not feel like they were sent with good intentions.

    There were other family members–mostly the people who were spouses who observed the “lack of closeness” and the lack of communication in the family.

  5. Fiona says:

    Hi Karen,

    It is so difficult to navigate others intentions. We can get caught up twisting our noodles, trying to work out “what does it mean!?”for ages and ages. I believe this harms us. The preoccupation with trying to make sense of nonsense, or being sane in insane relationships is … harmful.

    My process is to approach these things with mindfulness; a non-reactive noticing; and then release. It demands a trust in self, more-so than a trust in anyone else or their intentions.

    I’m sure there are a number of ways to move through these sorts of situations, but that is mine :)

    Take care,
    Fiona

  6. Karen says:

    “It is so difficult to navigate others intentions.

    I agree and that is why I don’t dwell on it, but it is one of the reasons why Xmas can be so difficult as the yearly reminders become so visible, and especially because there is no communication otherwise.

    I will say though that is is very freeing to be able to state how I feel without fear of judgement, shaming, arguments or reprisal. I also know that I am not alone in feeling as I do, which is sad for others and for me, but helpful too as it is a reminder that I am at least not so alone and feeling so isolated when others are willing to share or express similar feelings.

    When people on the other hand shame you for expressing feelings, which I believe would be very natural given the situation, or when they somehow suggest that you are deficient and not dealing with the situation because you are merely expressing or sharing your emotion about it…well that can suck the emotional safety out of the relationship and make it a very unsafe place at all of which to even talk about your emotions let alone share that you may even have them. That can get people stuck in needing to feel heard, validated or supported emotionally.

    Thank you for listening and for offering a place to discuss these feelings and issues. I appreciate it.

    • Fiona says:

      Thank you for listening and for offering a place to discuss these feelings and issues. I appreciate it.

      It is my pleasure to provide this space. If readers are finding the information and interactions useful and healing, then I feel blessed indeed! Knowing my work is valued, is just really lovely. Thank you for your appreciation.

  7. Karen says:

    These discussions bring up all kinds of memories for me. A few years ago on another website forum someone started a thread called those “annoying christmas brag letters, ugh…” I commented there because of the memories it evoked of my in-laws and their behaviors which clearly sent a message that I was not welcomed into their family. While I don’t get into the details there or even here, I did provide some for the sake of the discussion and it gets misinterpreted. The responses were of the shaming variety–cynical, mean-spirited, dismissive, lacking in insight, compassion or even awareness. Sadly, that is what I’ve encountered more often than anything even remotely helpful around these issues. I’ve found that people seem far more attached to their beliefs than being able to empathize, let alone communicate effectively.

    And people wonder why families become estranged when even the slightest attempt by someone to express their feelings gets twsited into raging, cynical, humilating and shameful and angry responses by others, who then deny it. Distance and then estrangement follows and given the circumstances, estrangement can sometimes feel like it is the only option left–one that will provide the person with some sense of their self still left intact as well as their dignity.

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Karen,

      I am really interested in what you are discussing in respect to the capacity of other people, who are managing family estrangement issues, to be present in an empathetic accepting way. This is, after-all, what all of us are searching for in our families.

      It is my experience professionally that family estrangement is the end result of a variety of deeply embedded family issues, which range from poor attachments, low nurturance, inability to differentiate oneself from one’s family without estranging, toxic role identification, co-dependency, poor communication, reactive behaviour patterns and many others.

      Estranging from one’s family does not fix any of these things. It simply makes re-wounding less likely. This is why healing from family estrangement is of paramount importance. Estrangement is not the cure. Neither is reconciliation. We can distance or estrange from our families – and sometimes it is good and right that we do – but being estranged will not, in and of itself, resolve any of those family issues. We take them with us, and we create more pain and suffering for ourselves. We can remain estranged, or we can reconcile, but the task remains the same. Our personal healing.

      We do the best we can, given our understandings and our own healing. We can always understand more, heal more, be more. That is my hope through my work.

      Thank you for raising these important issues.

      Take care,
      Fiona

  8. Barbara says:

    I used to love Christmas. I always did my best to make it great for my family. Two of my three grown children will have nothing to do with each other and will not come here for Christmas at the same time. What do I do? I feel like giving up and not doing Christmas at all.
    Barb

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks so much for your comments. It sounds like Christmas has lost a lot of its joy for you and I am sorry to hear that. It seems many of us who are estranged from our families retreat from holidays and the celebration of important events. Some of the things I would be thinking about are:

      1. What do I want and need from my Christmas celebration?
      2. Can I continue to create a great holiday for those who do want to be present, but just as importantly, for myself?
      3. How can I avoid buying into the rift between my children?
      4. What do I need to do to look after myself?

      You might find the loyalty posts on the blog to be of some interest. You could start by having a look at Theme of the Week: Loyalty; but most of the posts there could be potentially useful as you work to manage the tensions created by your children’s estrangement. I hope you will reclaim some of the magic of Christmas for yourself. You deserve it!

      Take care,
      Fiona

  9. Barbara says:

    Thank you for your response Fiona. I’m taking your questions seriously and considering the answers, trying to be balanced between thinking of myself and what I want, and my family, including grandchildren and what they want. I don’t want the people who are not being selfish to suffer because of the ones who are. I’ll get back to you. Thanks again.
    Barb

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Barb,

      I hope the questions will be useful for you and that you will be able to salvage the joy in the season for yourself and your family. You’ve still got a few months to think it through and decide how you will create a holiday you can feel good about!

      I’ll look forward to hearing how you go!
      Fiona

  10. Lori says:

    So glad to have a group that speaks to this issue. Family estrangement is an ugly beast and holidays seem to intensify the feelings of rejection and pain. I personally have wasted far too much time trying to make sense of the absurdity of it and have just tried to focus on not passing on the generational dysfunction that is at the crux of the estrangement. If I have to be their scapegoat, their scapegoat I shall be. Thankfully when I trust God in the past five years, He has provided other, more meaningful holiday relationships and people and the shunning by my family (mother and siblings, nieces, nephews, some cousins and aunts) to my family (husband and children) have even been a blessing in that it has opened up our availability and freedom.

  11. Anne says:

    Nice to find others discussing the same issues with in-laws. Mine are totally self-serving, self-centred and entirely uninterested in their grandchildren/nieces and if a Christmas get together (or any other gathering) were to happen, it is always up to us to organize and host. Last year we didn’t and nothing happened. I encourage my husband to call every now and again and he does with reservation but I think it is best for all if we maintain some contact while not putting ourselves out to be hurt. This year we offered our availablility on 2 dates for a “Christmas coffee” (that way we don’t go to any unreciprocated trouble) and if they choose to take us up on it then great. If not, we made an effort. After all these years of grief, we’ve learned not to extend ourselves too far but still keep things civil. That way, our children do not learn the bitterness my husband grew up with and that we have been exposed to for our 15 years together. In the end, they will figure out on their own who their real, caring, supportive family are.

  12. KATHY says:

    My sister and i have been estranged for two years. We had a talk in August and i thought we agreed to try to mend fences by starting with each other. Her husband and my husband and daughter are not speaking, but they invite my grown sons to their home and to go out with them. I have a five year old niece that i send gifts to for the holidays. My sister said she would call and we would go to lunch,she never did. I sent a Christmas card to all of them signed as I do all my christmas cards with my husband and daughters names,she still lives at home. I did not receive a card from my sister last year but this year she sent one addressed in my name only not even to mrs.. I sent an text Merry Christmas to all on my contact list and she answered back saying she wanted to go to lunch sometime. Her birthday is next week and now I am confused as to what to do. I want the childishness to stop,but do i send a birthday card and let the Christmas card thing go or do i ignore her birthday?
    My sons do not want to get involved with this and i do’nt blame them,there will be weddings and other family events coming up,I thought we could get past this.

  13. KS says:

    My husband and I have had a very difficult relationship with his sister; the main issue is that she is self-centered and has no respect for boundaries, which has been a problem for us ever since we got engaged and married (9 years ago). Last year we finally decided to just distance ourselves from her and we told her this (that we would prefer to avoid contact/communication). However, other family members still poke us with comments about our unfairness because “She’s tried so hard to get our forgiveness” (in the form of saying “I’m sorry for whatever I did, but I did it because X, Y, Z”.

    We just received a gift from her for our daughter and we are conflicted. On the one hand, our daughter has nothing to do with this rift (and doesn’t even know the aunt), on the other, we are her parents and if SIL has no relationship with us (or worse, insists on having a disrespectful relationship with us), then she won’t have any relationship with our daughter, either. I’m leaning towards keeping the gift and my husband thinks he’ll just send an email saying “if things continue as they have been, daughter won’t know the person sending these” (I personally would prefer she doesn’t send anything other than a “general” holiday card or something).

    My issue is this; I don’t know what to expect of it at this point. It seems to me that being “polite” is not enough for them (we have gone through this several times and each time they expect that with some time passing, we’ll just “get over it” until another episode comes up). I am frankly tired of dealing with and would prefer our daughter is not part of this dramatic family dynamic… then again, she will know my husband has a sister and I wonder what the best thing to say is when she inquires about why we don’t see her often. I do think a lot of this is centered around Christmas, because people somehow tend to fantasize about the myth of “perfect families” around this time.
    Thanks.

    • Suzi says:

      That sounds like a real stressful time. And the sending of the gift is or can be irritating especially if she has done things wrong. Once or twice is enough but to repeat the same things and just keep saying sorry, then sorry has no more meaning.

  14. Suzi says:

    I am having to live for the first time in my 56 1/2 years without my family. Just this year my family abandoned me because of a small inheritance I got and they didnt. Instead of being happy for me since I was the poorest one of the entire family, they were furious. I should remain in the gutter. It has not changed me because it is small. But apparently to them it was something that I should never get for the reason of them being always ready to point hands at me and degrade me for not having as much as they do. Why arent they happy for me is what Ikept askign them. Well in the end I was banished and nobody will have anything to do with me. they have always come and spent christmas with me and it will be so so so so hard this year. Its only me and my husband and I am so dreading this year. I want to go where we normally go to the seaside and rent a home and spend christmas but I am so frightened of the emotions I will have. It seems no matter where I go those memories of singing and laughing and cooking together and opening tons of presents and drinking wine and singing and playing games and visitng many places will jsut be lost. I am already having panic attacks as a result of the year flying so far and the oncome of hte holidays.

    Am I overreacting? the thing is this, i have not done any of them harm, nothing about this inheritance hurt them. It all boils down to envy and jealousy. And one sibling convinced the next that I was bad and all those grown adults seems to take the eldest one anger and turn against me. I have gotten such horrid emails earlier this year that left me near to a nervous breakdown from the horrible things they wrote. I tried in may to send my sister the ring leader a card for mothers day. She bluntly ignored it. I wrote to her child or grown child my neice to ask why the card was ignored and my neice said she didnt know of it. I dont know if to believe her becuase my sister tells my neice everything good or bad. I have no contact and I feel so alone for the first time in all my life I have no family? None? Its been horribly hard and I often cry. What can I do to pass the holidays? Please help me. I am in such dispair

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Suzi,

      Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your story. It sounds like you are experiencing lots of angst and suffering right now, and already looking 5 months down the track! Can I make a small suggestion? Start where you are, just with today. Let tomorrow take care of itself, certainly leave Christmas alone for the time being! Have a look in the Self-Care folder on this blog, there’s all sorts of posts, and many helpful comments from people who have stood in your shoes and walked a mile or few. Seek support, seek comfort. Be kind to yourself.

      Be wecome here,
      Fiona

  15. Suzi says:

    Hi Fiona: I didnt even think anyone saw my post. Thank you so much fore replying. I am sitting here again in dispair and wondering about how frightening Christmas will be. I try to tell myself I can manage it. Its so hard. since that card that I sent on mother’s day there has been no further communication with my neice and me. She does not write. As said before, once the mother is not speaking she does not speak either. Its end of August and I am still pining away for them. I saw that my sister was in europe for one month just next door to me and it hurt so much to think that she came all this way and never once called. Its as if I fell off the planet and died or was never born. You said seek help. I tried and these people over here are just a waste of my time. They do not see why i am hurting and said simply just move on and forget it. Its NOT that easy. So I am looking to online blogs or people like you to help me thru this. Are you also estranged yourself?

    I am still being so afraid of the holidays. I have been in the hospital for an ovarectomy and to tell you the truth. I am having some depression issues cuz something has changed in me since that July operation. I am reading online stuff to see how I can change my tradition that I have known for 56.5 years, or should I? We rent a beach house in France and they have been there for the past 5 years for Christmas for three weeks or a little less. I am going back to the same beach house, but I am really frightened of the memories there. I already booked it, should I go and deal with this bad problem, or should I cancel and go somepalce else to run from the memories? Should I confront the memories face to face and just deal with it and hope it is not as bad as I am thinking it will be? Should I play the same christmas songs and cook the traditional meals or should I just do something completely different? Should I put up a tree or just dont bother with christmas and treat it as just another day? I so love the holidays and feel so horribly lonely. I would love to hear from you again. Thank you so much for replying. Suz

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Suzi

      You said seek help. I tried and these people over here are just a waste of my time. They do not see why i am hurting and said simply just move on and forget it.

      It can be tricky to find a therapist who has any real understanding of estrangement. Shop carefully and feel free to ask lots of questions before you sit in the chair. Finding a therapist who has some understanding of family systems therapy can go a long way — you are less likely to be treated as the “presenting problem” or pathologized for not being able to “fix” your family or the problems which led to estrangement. It’s ok to ask openly what a therapist’s experience is with family estrangement. It’s ok to ask what sorts of interventions they think might assist you. Don’t settle.

      Are you also estranged yourself?

      Yes, I am. You can read a little bit about that in this post: Nameless and Faceless: Am I Estranged? I imagine I am something of an anomaly as not only I am estranged, and have been estranged from I am also a clinical therapist and social work who has spent a considerable amount of time, energy and research studying estrangement. I’ve also been my best guinea pig.

      I so love the holidays and feel so horribly lonely. I would love to hear from you again. Thank you so much for replying.

      Make a holiday for yourself Suz. What do you want? You love a tree? Then put up an amazing tree, for yourself, because you are worthy and you deserve it. You generally go away for the holidays? You love going away? Then go. Buy yourself gifts, wrap them. Play carols if you love them. Know that this is your holiday, a gift you give yourself. Read the holiday posts on this blog, there are a fair few about Christmas as it’s a hard time for many, many people who are estranged.

      I want you to know that there is life on the other side of estrangement. There are happy holidays, new friends, or strengthened relationships with the people who stick around. You can love you. You can take care of you. Right now that might not seem like enough, but when you get to there, it is everything.

      One step at a time. Big breaths. Find support.

      Fiona

  16. Suzi says:

    I forgot to mention, that if I had rejected the inheritance they would have been praising me up and down for helping this relative and that how God will bless me bla bla bla. But that is IF I had told them i didnt accept it. But accepting it made me the devil in hell. I have always been the one in my family who has always been generous, giving, caring and always being there for everybody. But I should not have taken the inheritance even tho I was the only one named on the will. None of them had any right to this or any part.

    This will is in a foreign country and is governed by the laws of this country especially when the deceased is NOT a US citizen, and it named me as the only beneficiary. I helped this person for four years every single day and it was this person’s choice to leave it to me. So none of them was entitled to it. This person’s own blood relatives were not even contesting this will because they knew he had a right to leave his estate to whom ever he wanted and further more,he had no contact with them for more than 30 years.

    To him me and my husband were his only family. For some wild weird reason my sister beleived that property should have gone to her. This is my late BIL I am talking about the one I helped. My sister died in 2008 and she also lived in this same EU country as me. The property was never in her name and for some reason my eldest sister thought that she ought to get it. Once my sister died everything went to her husband except what she had int he US she left a will for my sister the one who does not speak to me giving her her personal property. This real estate was not part of her personal property as her husband was still alive. So this same sister believes that that property was part of my deceased sister’s will. It is NOT. Her will was unspecific only mentioning personal property and donations to cancer research. But this eldest sister honestly in all her hearth thinks that that property is hers. And that I stole it somehow from her. She believes I cooerced our BIL to write a will. he did this the year after his wife died, he didnt do it the day before he died while on meds. He did it long long long before he got sick. I am sorry to blabble on but maybe I didnt tell the story in full cuz I didnt think anybody will read it.

    Mind you Fiona, NONE OF THEM INTHE USA has met this BIL except my sister and neice for like 5 minutes in 2010 and even then, she couldnt communicate with him cuz she spoke no German. I had to speak on her behalf. So nobody knew him other than me and my husband. They only ever heard about him from our late sister. My sister was always panicking when I went to visit him. So a couple years back since her visit in 2010 i ceased telling her that we went over there. I just didnt anymore cuz she didnt mean well. She should have been happy I was taking care of this guy. He suffered terribly when our sister died. She was 48 and he was 66 so it hit him really hard. If he didnt want my help, he would have said it. He was so happy to see me and us when we went over. he was an alcoholic and I got him off alcohol and cigarettes. I will always smile when I think he died a sober man. Since my sister died I took care of him and weened him off his 30 year alcohol problem. I cooked for him, cleaned his house, organized his laundry to be washed, took him to the doctor, grocery and any place he wanted to go. Ok enough for now before I chase you away. Thanks
    Suz

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Suzi,

      You’re not going to chase me away with your story. I am going to say again that I think its really important that you seek support. It sounds like you are in the “thick of it” right now, and your feelings are likely heightened due to your recent illness and surgery. Be kind to yourself.

      Fiona

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