Hi, Carolyn: My relationship with a close family member has taken a turn for the worse. She suffered a tragic loss almost a year ago, and is clearly still grieving.
The problem is that I feel that in her anger/grief at her situation, she is taking her feelings out on me – she’s blamed me for being unsupportive and uncaring. I’m also not the first person she’s written off for these reasons.
She’s so upset with me that she’s now declined to be my maid of honor, less than three months before my wedding. Our family is devastated that “we can’t get along.”
If this were a friend, I’d sadly assume the relationship was over, but this is family and I’m under a lot of pressure to make things right by my wedding. – Hurt in Richmond
“Tara” (I’m naming her, for simplicity’s sake) suffered a “tragic loss,” and she has written off at least one other person besides you – and the fact that you noted these means you recognize, on some level, that this is more about her grief than it is about you. If anything, it sounds as if you want a push one way or the other – in the form of permission to hold this against her, or encouragement to redouble your patience.
I also suspect you want this push because the wedding looms, the family presses and your patience is ticking down.
However: The wedding is an artificial deadline – a manufactured climax to the story of you, Tara and her grief, a story that’s bigger than any one day.
Accordingly, tell anyone who pressures you to “make things right by my wedding” that there’s no deadline here.
In other words, the way to keep this relationship from deteriorating further is to keep firmly in mind what this isn’t about at all (a wedding); what it’s somewhat about (you); and what it is primarily about: “a close family member” who needs all the compassion she can get.