Dear Annie: I have been friends with “Missy” for a long time. She hates her husband’s sister and hasn’t allowed them to speak to each other for years. The sister is not allowed to come anywhere near Missy’s house. Last year, things got worse.
Missy has five grown children. Four of them remain in touch with “Aunt Martha.” As a result, three months ago, Missy sent them letters stating she was no longer going to be a mother, grandmother or great-grandmother to their families. For some reason, she is still close to the fifth child, even though that one also talks to Aunt Martha.
This makes me so sad. I attended her granddaughter’s bridal shower, and Missy wasn’t there. The granddaughter’s wedding is next month. Missy and her husband are the only grandparents this child has, and they won’t attend.
I don’t care if Missy dislikes her sister-in-law, but I cannot fathom how she can take it out on her grandchildren. I think she needs professional help.
I feel terrible about this situation and don’t know whether there is anything I can do. I’m afraid if I say anything, I will lose her friendship. – Feeling Helpless
Dear Helpless: You are right that Missy could use professional help. She is drowning in bitterness and anger and taking it out on everyone around her instead of dealing with her issues. We also feel sorry for her spineless husband, who should have stood up to his wife long ago and now risks losing everyone he loves.
There’s not much you can do to remedy this. You could gently ask Missy whether it’s worth losing her children and grandchildren. Should Missy bemoan her relationships to you, first recommend that she talk to her doctor (sometimes these extreme personality issues are due to medical problems), and then suggest that she and the kids go together for family counseling.