Dear Annie: I have several siblings. One, “Emily,” divorced when her children were young. We tried to be supportive and helpful. We believed her horror stories about her ex-husband’s affairs and sexual perversions. At various times, Emily would also privately tell us nasty stories about our other siblings. To our shame, we believed a few of them.
Ten years ago, our parents sold their home to Emily, making special provisions so she would be able to manage financially. Then, five years ago, our youngest sister died. Emily left abruptly after the viewing and did not attend the funeral. Shortly after, we each received nasty letters saying we had never been there for her, and that she’d sold the house and was sending us our share, as Dad had stipulated. She handled it disrespectfully, ignoring Dad’s wishes to give some money to the facility where our deceased sister had lived and, instead, gave it to her own children.
We now realize that Emily told many lies about each of us. Not only has she alienated herself, but we suspect she has also alienated her children from her ex-husband’s family. Our dad died recently. Emily did not participate in the funeral plans. She came only to the viewing, bringing a new husband we had never met. She spoke a few harsh words and left.
The rest of us are closer now as a family. Do we just accept that this whole situation is beyond our control and let it go? – Grieving Sister
Dear Grieving: It sounds as if Emily is mentally ill. She appears to be a pathological liar and unwilling to admit it, which means she is not interested in getting help. There is nothing you can do to straighten her out. If you want to stay in touch, make it simple and somewhat impersonal – a birthday card, Christmas card, notice of important family events, etc. So sorry.