DEAR ABBY: We married and had children very late in life, so our children are by far the youngest in our extended family. When they graduated from high school, we tried to throw a party (with the many relatives on my partner's side and a small number of mine), but only three people could come. There could have been 50.
Some of my partner's siblings were going away for the weekend, some had grandchild sports events (baseball games), and my own sibling was babysitting and therefore could stop in for only a few minutes. Needless to say, we had faithfully attended each and every event in the family up to this point, but no one felt the urge to help us celebrate when it was our turn.
Our kids have been ignored now that our siblings' grandkids have arrived. This is not the only story I could tell like this; I could write a book. Consequently, we've decided that because our kids have been ignored, we will not celebrate the next generation's events. Our relatives seem puzzled that we're not as enthralled with the preschool graduations and first birthdays of their grandkids, but, hey, where were they?
Funny thing is, they seem to believe my adult children didn't notice they were being ignored. They have little interaction with the "loving" relatives who snubbed them. Are we wrong to feel this way? — MIFFED IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR MIFFED: No, you are human. However, more honest communication with these relatives when it was happening might have averted the schism created by their self-centered behavior. Your situation is regrettable, but I can't blame your children — or you — for feeling the way you all do.
DEAR ABBY: I am a grieving mother. My only son was murdered six months ago. He was 36 years old. I had no insurance, and I'm making payments to pay the costs of the funeral home. I would love a tombstone for his grave and found one for $1,500.
My life will never be the same. I know I need to see a counselor because this has gotten the best of me and I don't know how to move forward. On top of that, my sister died two months ago and I can't sleep. Please help me. — SAD IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR SAD: I am so sorry for the tragic loss of your son and sister. A tombstone for your son' may have to wait. It is most important that you take care of yourself.
If you haven't joined a grief support group, please consider it. There is also a support group, the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children (pomc.org) that can provide you emotional support. Inform your physician of your sleep problems. Your doctor shouldn't be surprised and may be able to provide medication to help. Please write again and let me know how you are doing. I care.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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