Life Advice



Ask Amy: Family feud is sparked by tragic loss

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and his sister have been feuding for almost a year.

This began when she told us via email that she couldn’t bear to see me pregnant at my baby shower. They argued over the phone, and it intensified through text messages and emails.

The previous year she had a baby that died soon after birth.

This baby had a known genetic condition. It was a scary time for the whole family, as my sister-in-law was constantly in and out of the hospital — and nearly lost her life.

We made many three-hour trips to help support her, her husband, and their five-year-old daughter.

She knew we were struggling with fertility, but when she found out I was pregnant, she seemed offended. She sent an email detailing her difficult emotions surrounding my pregnancy.

She did come to my baby shower last year, but has not met our baby — her new (and only) nephew.

She went on to have a healthy baby, who is only six months younger than our child. We would like to meet her new baby.

My husband and his sister used to be very close. He says he would like to repair their relationship. He found a family counselor and presented his sister with the information.

She said she is not ready.

We’re now approaching our son’s first birthday and my husband’s 40th birthday (two days apart).

We would love to invite her to celebrate and to meet her baby, but I think it’s highly unlikely they will accept.

What should we do? I am hurt by her lack of interest in my son’s existence and her statements about not wanting to see me pregnant.

I know she’s had a rough couple of years and is not in the healthiest mental space.

– I Miss Her

Dear Miss Her: Over the last couple of years, your sister-in-law has endured a heartbreaking pregnancy and had a baby die, has become pregnant again, and now has another baby.

According to you, she somehow made it to your baby shower after her loss, but then shared her emotions about it with her brother.

You and your husband consider these high emotions the start of a “feud,” but from where I sit it seems less like a shot across the bow and more like an anguished cry in the dark.

Her priority at this point should be to see a therapist to attend to her grief and possible post-partum depression and emotional exhaustion.

She may struggle with celebration days, such as baby showers and birthdays, for some time to come.

Your husband should treat his sister gently and patiently, and let her know that when she is ready, your family will press the “reset” button and move forward.


Send her invitations to any and all family events, and communicate with warmth that you look forward to seeing her and her family.

Dear Amy: The last few years have seen an influx of weddings for me.

I'm always flattered when a close friend or family member includes me on their guest list.

On numerous occasions I have received invitations that are addressed only to me and do not include an "and guest" on the envelope.

I'm never offended if I can't bring a date, and I understand the financial constraints of a wedding with a large guest list.

A few times after I've sent in my RSVP, the bride has reached out to me and asked if I'm bringing my boyfriend, even though there was no “and guest” on the invitation.

I recently received another invitation addressed to me without an "and guest.”

I don't want to assume I'm allowed a guest, and I don't want the bride to feel awkward by asking if I can bring one if they didn't budget for me to bring one.

What is the best course of action for me to take in these situations?

– Befuddled Wedding Guest

Dear Befuddled: Assume that you are going solo.

After RSVP’s come in, couples sometimes find they have room for more guests, and issue a second round of invitations.

Dear Amy: The question from “Petite” exposed the challenges of a middle school teacher who was often confronted about her size.

At the opposite end of the scale, my husband is 6-foot-9 inches tall and people are always asking him incredulously, “How tall are you?!”

He often answers: “5- foot-21-inches” — and it's amazing how few people can figure that out.

– Gazing Up

Dear Gazing: I had to use my calculator.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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