Sibling of deceased brother floored by widow’s actions

Published 8:32 am Tuesday, January 24, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: My brother passed away. He and my sister-in-law had a good marriage. A month after his funeral, my sister-in-law gave her kids their father’s clothes, instructed them to go through them, keep what they wanted or sell or donate the rest. It has been barely a year. Now she’s redecorating their house — painting, taking down pictures and buying new furniture.
This bothers me greatly. I’m so hurt that everything is being changed. It’s like she’s trying to erase him — all within one year! Should I ask her why everything is being changed and disposed of so soon? And should I feel so hurt about this? — UNSURE HOW TO FEEL

DEAR UNSURE: Your former sister-in-law appears to be more pragmatic than sentimental, and there is nothing wrong with that. She knew her late husband could no longer use his wardrobe, and saw no reason to keep the items hanging in the closet. That she offered his clothes to her children was appropriate. That she is now making changes to the house is not unusual. People are cautioned not to make “important decisions” for about a year after a spouse passes, and your former SIL has wisely refrained.
If you want to ask her why she’s changing things, do so in a non-accusatory way that won’t offend her. I suspect that you are feeling hurt because you are still not ready to accept that your brother is gone forever. You might find it helpful to talk about it with someone with expertise in the grieving process.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for nine years. While we were dating, he was kind, considerate and loving. After we married, he turned into a chronic complainer, something he later confessed he had been hiding while we dated.
He talks to me like I’m trash and then gets nice when he wants something. He complains about my grown children, my best friend and even if I leave for work a couple of minutes early. He is a miserable person. I cannot do anything to make him happy. I can’t take this anymore.
He has taken the things away from me that I love — flowers, gardening, pets, books, friends, etc. I’m ready to leave, but he has cancer and I’d feel guilty. He is clear right now, but it will come back.
I don’t want to stay. Life is too short to live this way. He has a great support system with his family. They would take care of him. My health has been affected by him and his terrible attitude. What do I do? — WORN-OUT WIFE

DEAR WIFE: What you do now is consult a lawyer, pack your bags and leave before he worsens. Do not expect your husband to be grateful for ANY of the efforts you have made on his behalf during the course of your marriage. During the time you were dating, he hid from you the fact that he was a verbal abuser. Now you know he was a fraud. Don’t feel guilty for protecting yourself and reclaiming your life.
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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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