Dear Amy: My mother died last year, during the worst of the pandemic.
My sister asked me to come to our hometown to help clean out Mom's house, and to stay for the funeral service.
This would have involved taking time off work, flying, staying in a hotel, and interacting with strangers — all several states away.
My husband has breathing problems, and I didn't want to risk it, so I told her no. I also mentioned that most of Mom's friends are elderly and that having a service would put them at risk.
My sister didn't want to hear that, and accused me of being selfish and lazy, and of leaving all the work to her. She said I was only thinking of the money from the sale of Mom's house. Needless to say, we haven't spoken since.
Fast-forward to this year. My sister is (once again) planning a funeral service.
I could fly up, stay for the service and head home the next day — but that would mean interacting with my sister.
We have never gotten along, and I don't see what this will accomplish.
Should I stay or should I go?
Dear Forlorn: You and your sister aren’t speaking, but you have learned about her plans to hold a service for your mother. Perhaps there are ways you’re communicating (through others, or through social media) without actually talking to one another.
Given the way this seems to be playing out, if you don’t go, your sister will continue to reschedule your mother’s funeral until you actually make it there.
Unless you sincerely believe that attending would present an undue health risk to you and/or your husband (check CDC.gov for current COVID updates), you should go. Why? Because it is your mother, and it is time to lay her to rest.
I hope you and your sister could also lay your differences to rest.
According to your own account, you offered your sister no support – physical or emotional – after your mother’s death.
You should ask yourself if there are things you both might have done differently, and then you should promise yourself to do those things differently during your 24 hours home.
Dear Amy: I recently married my amazing wife and was very excited to be joining her family.
I happen to be very close friends with her sister and I also adore her parents.
It has been a wonderful experience getting to know my "new family,” but there's one thing that really irritates me: They have a "family text" chat where all the siblings and parents text one another, with constant updates.
They all live in cities across the U.S., so I understand why this is a helpful tool to stay in touch, but it goes on NON-STOP every day.
I am also now a part of this chat, and it drives me insane.
I have started to completely ignore all texts that I receive through this chat, but it makes me feel rude and I can tell the other family members have noticed me distancing.
I haven't experienced anything like this in my own past.
How can I escape this daily pinging without seeming cold-hearted or uninterested in their lives?
– Batty Over Banter
Dear Batty: It is healthy, and I think preferable, for an in-law to assume an attitude of friendly reserve toward the daily shenanigans of a clan this close and connected. This would translate into you either exiting, muting, or asking someone to remove you from the group-chat before this drives you completely ‘round the bend.
Being “disinterested” is different from being “uninterested.” To be disinterested is to be reserved and impartial. To be uninterested is to not care.
I suggest you become disinterested before this irritates you so much that you become uninterested.
Then, you can pursue these friendships and relationships in your own way and time.
When I married into a very large clan, I asked to be removed from mass family communications early on, and I assume everyone is glad that I did.
Dear Amy: The letter from “Hurting Mom” certainly brought back some painful memories for me. She was concerned about her husband’s overprotective and intrusive parenting toward their daughter (he routinely reads her email).
My mother was like that! And just as you predicted, this hovering and interference delayed my own problem-solving skills. I was a mess until I broke free.
– Free at Last
Dear Free: It turns out that your mother was the problem you needed to solve.
©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.