Life Advice



Estranged Sisters

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I don't know how to begin, so I'll just start by saying that after my father passed away 20 years ago, my sisters abandoned me. At my father's funeral, my oldest sister told me out loud, in front of my other sisters, that they are never going to speak to me again since my protector (my dad) is gone.

We had just laid our father in his grave, and the pain of losing him was intense, and I was sobbing. She told me that my tears were fake and to stop because nobody cares.

None of my sisters kept in touch until my sister "Alice" was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I begged to come see Alice, and I was allowed. Since I was separated from my husband at the time, I offered to be her caregiver, and she was so pleased. I took care of her until she passed away, six months later. Immediately after her funeral, I was right back to being abandoned again.

I tried to keep in touch. I made sure to send Christmas cards to the ones for whom I had contact information, but I received no reply. Later, I got blocked, as their address had changed.

Now we're all in our 60s and 70s, and I kept hoping that our relationships would change, but they have not. I've been divorced for 10 years, and my sisters don't care to check on me.

I miss my sisters very much and can't let them go. I can't remove them from my heart or thoughts. -- Abandoned in Vegas

Dear Abandoned in Vegas: I am so sorry for your loss -- not only the loss of your father and sister but the loss of your relationship with your other sisters as well. Your oldest sister harbors long-term resentment toward you, and your other sisters are following her lead. I would suggest starting with one of your sisters who you feel closest to and letting her know how much you love and miss her.

You can't control how she or any of your other sisters will react, but you can control how to communicate your love for them. Good luck.

Dear Annie: Lately, I see so many emails from grandparents who are wondering how to deal with grandchildren who fail to acknowledge gifts, and my heart breaks for them.


My husband and I have been struggling with this for years. When we actually do see his grandchildren at Christmas, the older ones thank us for our gifts, but if we are mailing them anything for birthdays and so on, they are not acknowledged. We don't expect a reaction from the little ones (that should be the parents' job), but teenagers ought to know better. They should be taught to send an acknowledgement of appreciation.

One year, I mailed a self-addressed stamped envelope with a generous gift to the oldest granddaughter with a note saying that we'd love to hear from her. She's a teenager. We never received a response. I doubt sending a box of thank-you cards would help, though I sincerely hope it just might for others.

Many of us who are elderly and now have serious health issues can only mail gifts, especially during the pandemic. A brief message acknowledging a gift would mean so much.

I think this is the last time we'll send a gift through the mail, and we'll follow your suggestion in today's column to let them know the time after that we won't send anything else and why. -- Fed-Up Granny in Ontario

Dear Granny: Showing appreciation for gifts is always gracious, and I am printing your letter to remind parents to instill that message in their children. It is beneficial not only to the gift giver but also to the receiver. The more we appreciate, the more it appreciates. Many readers have written in to say that their last gift will be their last and final gift because there was no acknowledgement or thank you from the recipient.


"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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