Annie’s Mailbox: Woman worried for estranged relatives
December 17, 2010
Dear Annie: How do you deal with people who simply delete their family from their lives?
There was no argument or complicated situation. All of a sudden, they are not returning phone calls or e-mails.
My sister has done this for the second time, and now my husband's nephew has cut everyone off. "Dennis" hasn't spoken to the family for 18 months. I haven't spoken to my sister for a year.
We've made many attempts to get in touch, but my sister won't respond, and our nephew specifically told us to stay away from his home and work.
In both cases, I suspect the catalyst was marital problems.
In the past year, there have been some serious health problems with Dennis' family.
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When his mother and grandmother were both in the hospital, he was called to see if he could help out with Grandpa, who was home alone and very feeble. He refused.
Dennis and his family are missed so much. My sister lives in her self-imposed isolation. She has not come home or visited her mother in four years.
I have given up. It hurts too much waiting to see if she will respond and dealing with the rejection when she does not.
What are their children told when grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are suddenly gone from their lives?
I find it hard to understand how a person could go about their lives with no thought for those who love and miss them. Is it selfishness? Any advice?
— Deleted in Ohio
Dear Ohio: There are myriad reasons for such behavior.
Your nephew's wife may have demanded no contact. Your sister's childhood may trouble her in ways you don't understand.
They may find family obligations too stressful. They may suffer from mental illness.
We agree that cutting off loved ones without explanation is not the best option, but you cannot make them respond differently.
Send a holiday card without any expectations, and perhaps one day they will find their way back home.
Dear Annie: I could have written the letter from "The Thrill is Gone" word for word. He said his wife of 35 years is wonderful but refuses all attempts at intimacy.
My wife got everything she wanted in life from me — children, financial security and a solid marriage.
When I finally reached my limit on a sexless marriage, she had the temerity to demand counseling.
I divorced her, and for the past 20 years, she has been living with her lesbian lover with whom she had an ongoing affair for the last five years of our 21-year marriage.
Tell "Thrill" to look a little deeper.
— Older but Wiser