Life Advice



Ask Amy: Family members are conflicted about compassion

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

What I mean is that ideally, you would be able to show compassion and concern toward a fellow human being without affirming his reprehensible actions. This is a heavy lift, because others in your circle are not only judging him, but — depending on your behavior — will also judge you. (Your wife, for instance, might judge you harshly for even being in this man’s presence.)

I think it’s important to remember that even people who have committed horrific acts have innocent family members who are greatly affected and heartbroken.

Your family member might have a mother, siblings, cousins, and others who love him but are now pulled into a dark space because of what he has done.

You being kind toward him might comfort them.

I suggest that you greet him and tell him, “I’ve heard that you are going through a very tough time, and I’m sorry.”

Your further response and relationship will depend — to some extent — on how he reacts to you.


Dear Amy: I live in a northern state in the Midwest and my sibling lives in the South (where my parents live, as well).

For years I have flown to visit them for almost every other holiday so we can be together. My sibling has never, in 20 years, flown here for Thanksgiving.

And she has only flown here for Christmas twice.

She was planning on coming here with her family last Christmas, but we had to cancel because of the pandemic. She promised she would come this year.


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