Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Death in the family redefines the family

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Earlier this year, my partner of more than 20 years died of brain cancer. Every day is still very hard.

For almost all of those 20 years, we typically spent the holidays with his mother and father and his siblings and their children. (Both of my parents are deceased, and my only brother lives in Europe.)

We typically went to one of their houses, and even hosted a few times. I became close with all of them, and the kids even called me "Uncle."

Since his funeral, the contact I have had with his family has been very minimal. I checked in with them a few times this year over email, sent birthday cards and gifts to the kids and even offered to host dinner. They declined all of my attempts to see them, so I figured they were still grieving, and did not push too hard.

I ran into my partner's sister one day, and asked if they were planning to get together for the holidays this year. She was very uncomfortable, and said that they decided they were only going to do "close family" this year, and not do anything "too large." I asked her if I should plan to be there, and she said "probably not."

I am very hurt. I considered these people family for a long time, and now feel like they want nothing to do with me, and that I never existed in the first place.

Several friends gave me the advice that I should tell them how I feel, and let them know how disrespectful they are being to their own son's memory, but I also know they have had a hard year, too.

What do I do here?

-- Grieving

Dear Grieving: I agree with your friends in their counsel to be open about your feelings.

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