April 6, 2013 in Features

Family fighting following death

Kathy Mitchell
 

Dear Annie: I’ve always had a problem with my mother and sister. When I was a child, I often stayed with my grandfather. I loved this man fiercely. He died recently, and the last 10 years of his life were terrible. My mother and aunts rescinded his DNR and disregarded his wishes about life support, forcing him to remain in a partially vegetative state for years.

My sister, “Alice,” inserted herself into this drama at every opportunity. She had to be removed from his bedside when she became hysterical and lashed out at the nurses. Alice submitted the death notice to the local paper without checking with anyone. She left out many family members, who are furious and are taking it out on me. My aunt (the executor of the will) has made it clear that I won’t get the small tokens my grandfather left me unless I pick sides.

I doubt Alice’s grief is genuine. When I moved away, my aunts paid her to stay with Grandpa, and she told me she was only doing it for the money. My mother and aunts won’t set a date for a memorial because they’re all so busy trying to hurt each other. Every family function becomes a three-ring circus. How can I grieve for a grandparent who meant the world to me when I’m busy refereeing?  – Brokenhearted

Dear Brokenhearted: Our condolences on the loss of your grandfather. Please don’t focus on how genuine your sister’s grief is. If she is behaving for the sake of drama, so be it. And the executor of an estate does not have the legal right to withhold a bequest. You can talk to your grandfather’s lawyer about that. We know how upsetting this is for you, but you would be better served by staying out of the family fights with as much diplomatic neutrality and distance as you can muster.


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