Dear Annie: My grown children found out their grandmother had died by reading it in the local paper. We were never close. At one time, my husband was having an affair, and my mother-in-law would call to give my husband messages from his girlfriend. After that, I hardly spoke to her, and she never came to visit again.
My husband and I worked out our problems and stayed married. But at his funeral, my mother-in-law sat next to me, displacing my children, in order to ask me to return several items she had given my husband years before.
Obviously, my relationship with her was not good, but my children kept in touch. They used to call her often. So when Grandma passed and no one told us, my children were very hurt. My children and I went to the viewing, and my sister-in-law would not even look at us. My son was so upset about the entire mess that he walked out. None of us attended the funeral. My daughter and I made a donation to her favorite charity and never received a thank-you note. Even my husband’s aunt, with whom we used to exchange Christmas cards, has stopped contact.
It has been a year, but I am still hurt and angry, and so are my children. They don’t have a lot of family left. I would like to contact my sister-in-law, but don’t want to get into an argument. Any suggestions? – C.
Dear C.: Your in-laws are not interested in a relationship with you, but we hope they are willing to stay in touch with your children. If the kids can put aside their anger, suggest they contact their aunt to say hello and see how everyone is doing – no recriminations or lectures. Her response should give them an idea of whether or not things can improve.