Siblings fail to support one of their own after loss

Published 8:17 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: My husband passed away from COVID in 2021. A year later, after it was safe to socialize, I had a memorial dinner to commemorate him. Not one of my seven local siblings attended. They said, “That was for HIS family.” I didn’t argue or try to convince them that I needed them. It was terribly embarrassing when my friends and my husband’s friends kept asking to meet my siblings. 

It’s been two years since the service and three years since his death, and I can’t get over feeling abandoned. Although I am cordial, I don’t rely on any of them. No one seems to notice my withdrawal – at least they don’t discuss the change in my behavior with me. I suppose I need to “get over it,” but I can’t. – SO DISAPPOINTED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR SO DISAPPOINTED: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your husband. It must have been a terrible shock. Your siblings were either grossly insensitive or they may have disliked your husband. That they would avoid his memorial rather than attend and be supportive has to have been painful, and your reaction is understandable. 

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Healthy people don’t “get over” being abandoned in their time of need. I’m not suggesting that it’s OK to carry a grudge that would further isolate you, but stepping back seems to have been a wise and self-protective decision. 


DEAR ABBY: I have been dating “Gary” for six years, but he has never proposed. I’m very independent. My husband died when my kids were small, and I had to raise them and keep a roof over our heads, which made me even more independent. In fact, there are times I don’t think I even want to remarry.

Gary and I love each other. We get along well and do a lot of things together. I know we are lucky to have each other in our lives, but there are times I want to break off our relationship because he hasn’t asked me for a commitment, and I still want to find somebody who wants to commit himself to me. Although Gary says he is committed, I know being engaged isn’t a magical solution either. I have been engaged before. 

I have tried breaking it off with Gary, but he never takes me seriously. I have felt this way for most of our relationship. I am a counselor, so I know about typical recommendations such as attending therapy. Should I stay, or should I go? Trying to go has not worked out in the past. I need some advice. – TO MARRY OR NOT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TO MARRY OR NOT: It’s time for a candid discussion with Gary about your feelings. Tell him that after six years, you need a commitment from him, and WHAT EXACTLY THAT ENTAILS. If you do, it may help you to clarify in your own mind what you need and what you think is missing. I don’t think you need therapy to figure this out – you simply need to be honest with yourself.


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.


For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)