Dear Amy: Two years ago, my family experienced the tragedy of a homicide-suicide by a beloved family member. It was a difficult time for all.
The evening of the night it happened, I was there and am believed to be the last person to have seen them alive. I am in therapy now, but I really struggled with this.
Last year, we held a beautiful memorial tribute to our deceased family members. Many people came in from out of town, and I opened my home over that week as a place to gather.
My husband and I had dinner with my daughter, my cousin and my sibling’s family, and we talked about the tragedy. My husband unfortunately was drinking too much, and my cousin took offense. She began to needle him verbally, and he barked at her.
I was furious with him that evening and did my best to smooth it over with her.
In my mind, her actions were less wrong. She was grieving and has had a negative experience with someone in her life related to alcohol.
I have forgiven my husband. He’s hurting, too.
Both of them acted poorly, but I can understand and forgive.
I thought that was the end of it. However, recently this cousin reached out to my young adult daughter to say that she has been thinking about me and is concerned for my safety.
Amy, this man has never and will never hurt me.
I was taken aback and feel that it was wrong of her to put my daughter in this position. If she has concerns about me, shouldn’t she reach out to me?
She is aware that I have plenty of opportunities to seek help, should I need it.
Should I reach out to her and assure her that I am safe? Should I let it go?
It is bothering me that she is sharing this viewpoint with other family members as well.
Trying to Heal in PA
Dear Trying to Heal: I am so sorry your family has experienced this terrible tragedy. I assume you are all still reeling from the many layers of grief, anger and confusion surrounding that night.
It does seem strange that your cousin would wait many months to voice her concern about your safety, and that she would share this with your daughter instead of with you.
The kindest response would be to assume that this family member is struggling, and she has made the unfortunate choice of first needling your husband and now – in her way – of needling you.
I suggest that you take a very deep breath and call her.
Assume a listening posture. Let her know that your daughter passed along her concerns and ask her, “Can you tell me what’s on your mind?”
Reassure her, resist the impulse to express anger toward her, and ask her to share any concerns in the future directly with you.
Dear Amy: I live in a very nice community of rental homes. Our houses are close together. It feels like an old-fashioned village and we neighbors help each other out – or leave each other alone, based on preferences and personality.
My closest neighbor is elderly and I’ve noticed that she is having an increasing amount of trouble navigating safely. I and other neighbors have stepped in many times to assist her with getting her groceries in or making sure she is safe walking on her front walk when it’s snowy.
I’m worried that her needs are increasing and that she might not be safe.
Our landlord is very nice, helpful and often physically present on the property. I’m wondering if I should raise any concerns with him?
Dear Concerned: Sometimes, it really does “take a village.”
Yes, you should raise any safety concerns with your landlord. He may be able to modify her home (installing grab bars, etc.) to make it safer for her. He might also communicate with her about contacting friends or family members regarding her needs.
Dear Amy: “Lonely Purse” wrote about being re-gifted an expensive handbag she had given to her daughter-in-law the previous Christmas.
I have 11 brothers and sisters. My mom has nine siblings, and my dad has 10. Re-gifting is as common for us as shopping at yard sales and thrift stores. We often buy things for ourselves to give away as a gift because we know eventually it’ll come back around.
Dear Gifted: I love the spirit your very large family applies to giving.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.
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