Annie's Mailbox: How can I help my grandchild?

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Dear Annie: My daughter-in-law took her own life a few days after Christmas, leaving behind our son and 10-year-old grandson. “Jane” was only 33, but we loved her like our own daughter.

The marriage had been in trouble for a while. The last time I spoke to Jane, she suspected our son had been unfaithful and was thinking of divorce. Instead, she died of a drug overdose.

Now, just a few months later, our son has announced that he has “someone special.” This girl is 23, and apparently, he’s been seeing her for quite some time.

My husband and I are still grieving for Jane. When I told my son that it might be a little too soon for him, and especially for our grandson, he became unglued. He said, “I’m not dead, and neither is my son. We need to keep on living.”

Our son intimated that if we don’t accept this relationship, he will keep us from our grandson. He says the boy is fine with the new girlfriend and her family, and we should be, as well. But we know the boy doesn’t have a choice.

We are still grieving, but if we don’t give him our blessing, we worry we will lose out completely. What can we do?

— Grieving in the Midwest

Dear Grieving: Your son sounds like a real charmer. Still, you have to be very careful, or he will cut you out of his life altogether. It is not necessary to give your blessing, but you must stop criticizing the relationship.

Tell your son that, yes, he is entitled to live his life as he chooses. But you know he loves his child, so you hope he will consider counseling for the boy, who is surely having difficulty accepting his mother’s sudden death, whether he shows it or not. Then ask how you can help your grandson. (We recommend extra time with the grandparents.)

Dear Annie: After 20 years of marriage, my husband and I have separated. We seem to love each other, but we have grown apart.

For the past year, my husband has detached himself from the rest of us, and when he is with the family, he is miserable. The truth is, it’s been so nice and stress-free since he left. The kids and I get along better than ever, and they seem much happier.

I have told my husband that it will take time to work through our differences, but he says it isn’t happening fast enough. He made the decision to move out, and now it’s still not good enough for him. What am I supposed to do?

— Married

Dear Married: Both of you seem happier apart, and it may be the “limbo” situation that is creating the problem. So decide. You can divorce. You can remain separated indefinitely, but see a lawyer so it is legally binding regarding financial support and child visitation. Or, if you want to reconcile, get into counseling, together or separately, and see whether those differences can be worked out. But please pick one already.

Dear Annie: “Still Miss Him” said her father died and she could never forgive her mother for remarrying. She should accept that her parents had a marriage that her mother honored by wanting another one.

My father died at age 68 after 49 years of marriage. Two years later, my mother married a widower. The two daughters from each marriage considered it a tribute to their happy first marriages that they wished to marry again.

The benefits: I gained a second father, our children have grown up with a grandfather, and our grandchildren have a great-grandfather. My mother passed away in January, but I am blessed to have my wonderful second dad alive and well at 100 years old.

— A Lucky Gal

Dear Lucky: Thank you for sharing your family “love” story.

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