“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#1 May 12, 2014
Dear Amy: Four years ago, my sister suffered a tragic loss: Her daughter committed suicide at the age of 20. We have all surrounded her with love and support.

But increasingly my sister (admittedly always rather self-absorbed) has started to use this grievous loss in a way that we simply don't know how to handle.

She will make demands and decisions that are hurtful to family members. She displays a shocking lack of empathy toward others. If we communicate this to her, the comeback is that we don't know what it's like to lose a child to suicide.

We're finding ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being held hostage by the tragedy because to comment further on her behavior makes us look brutally insensitive. It's as though she's saying to the world, "I lost a child to suicide, so you have to do whatever I want and feel really sorry for me while you're doing it, forever."

In fact, my parents — who of course lost a beloved granddaughter — chose to leave town at Christmas rather than deal with my sister's drama. We truly love our sister. We want to help and not criticize. How should we handle this?— Sis #2

Dear Sis: You cannot transform your sister into a different person. You cannot diminish her neediness, grief or emotional manipulation. But you can make ongoing choices about how you will behave. If you can draw a firmer line, even at the risk of seeming "insensitive" to her, you will be behaving in a way that is more honest and truthful. Ultimately, this may "help" her, although there is a possibility that it won't change her in the slightest.

There is no point in telling her "I lost a beloved family member too." But you can say, "I'm so worried about you; I can't seem to help you. I want you to heal." There are a number of bereavement groups for survivors of suicide; she would benefit from attending meetings.

In terms of her insensitivity toward you, you should push back. Her behavior is getting worse. You're going to have to risk hurting her feelings by saying, "You are being unkind. You are being disrespectful. This is hurting our relationship."

Dear Amy: I recently took a vacation and stayed at the home of my (live-in) girlfriend's mother. My girlfriend was not there due to her work commitments.

During my time there, her mother told me that she recently had developed a relationship with a man. Her husband of more than 40 years (my girlfriend's dad) passed away last year.

She asked me not to tell my girlfriend, since she'd be seeing her in person the following month and didn't want her to hear it secondhand. I obliged.

I also believed my girlfriend would feel happy that her mother had found some companionship.

When my girlfriend returned from her own visit a month later, she was furious at me for not divulging her mom's secret to her. She accused me of not being on "her team." I was stunned at her reaction to me, but I now wonder, does she have a valid point?— Stunned

Dear Stunned: First the good news: you can keep a confidence.

However, your girlfriend does have a valid point. It is her right to know about something having to do with her own mother. Partners should not keep secrets from each other concerning the partner's own family.

Your misstep was to agree to keep this confidence in the first place. Answer a request like this by saying, "Whoa, I don't feel comfortable keeping this a secret. Now that you've told me, could you also tell her — like, right now?"

Dear Amy: I literally could not believe my eyes when you advised "Worried" that "taking on some debt for college is actually a pretty good long-term investment."

I cannot believe you would actually tell someone to go into debt.— Disgusted

Dear Disgusted: Many readers share your disgust, but I stand by my statement that managing some debt to finance a top-flight school can be worth it. No student should mortgage a future, however. I agree that some students and families are taking on a treacherous amount of debt.

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#2 May 12, 2014
L1 Someone should ask Sister what she wants and tell her yes or no and be done with it. Parents seem to have figured out how to deal with her.

It is no help telling Sis she needs to join a bereavement group, she is relishing her injured status as a weapon. Like I said on Abby, people who use illness or injury as an emotional billy club irritate teh he l out of me.

General observation: People's personality do not change when they get old or have emotional traumas, Filter come off and the underlying person , however nasty, comes out. I strongly suspect Sis has little insight or knowledge into why her daughter killed herself and that she was much like this 5 years ago, before the death.
not a ghost

San Antonio, TX

#3 May 12, 2014
I sure hope this is a fake letter based on a kid's movie, like "Tangled" or
"Frozen". And, if it's not fake, why don't these family members stand up to her and tell her that she doesn't know how hurtful she is being--and that she needs to see a counselor or psychologist?

“Where is Tonka?”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#4 May 12, 2014
1 Tough love time. You need to insulate yourself.

2 No, the GF was wrong. Actually the mother was wrong for spilling the beans to begin with, but no matter what, the Male was NOT WRONG!!

3 You disgust me.

Since: Jun 09

Saint Petersburg, FL

#5 May 12, 2014
LW2: I think the boyfriend was right and his gf is being a brat. She should understand the position he was in. It wasn't a life-or-death piece of info and I understand the mom wanteing to tell her herself and face to face. The mom should have never told the gf that the bf knew, though.

LW3: So this LW thinks you should never go into debt for education? Good luck with that job at McD's. I don't think one shoudl go into CRAZY debt, but some debt may be necessary to move ahead.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

United States

#6 May 12, 2014
1- She probably killed herself because she was bullied! Her bullies should be charged with capital murder!


“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#7 May 12, 2014
L1: Be kind but don't cave. She can get angry all she wants. There's stages in a loss and you can get stuck in a stage. Sounds like she's in the angry stage and doesn't want to get out of it. The family sounds close, though. If they could swing getting everyone into a grief counselling session, maybe the sister will continue with that to help herself.(Maybe not, though.) Might be worth a shot.

L2: Your GF is freaking out over nothing. The LW did nothing wrong. I'd be disappointed I didn't know before him but I'd be pleased that he knows how to keep stuff secret when asked.

L3: There's not many colleges and universities you could attend full time and not carry some type of debt unless you're a trust fund baby.

Elizabethtown, KY

#8 May 12, 2014
LW1: Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand and this is one of those times. After four years of her demands, it's time to tell Sis to get some professional help. Sometimes, you have to let some calls go to voice mail.

LW2: Team Stina. LW was right to keep the confidence and LW's girlfriend is being a drama queen over LW's being an honorable person! She should be grateful that LW is a trustworthy man and not a loose-lipped gossip.

LW3: There's a difference between "some debt" and "massive debt". Money spent on education is rarely a waste, IMHO.

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