Dear Annie: I am in my 80s and recently lost my beloved sister-in-law, who was 90. She married my brother when I was just a child, and we had been close ever since. Aside from the many things I did for her, I loved her dearly as she was the last of my ties to my brothers, who have all passed on. So that leaves me as the only one left. My problem lies with her children, with whom I was very close. I told her children what a wonderful job they did taking care of their mom. I was there during her last days, but more importantly, I was there for her after my brother’s death. I took her on errands and doctors’ visits, etc. My niece and nephews always tell me how much they love me, and the feeling is mutual.
But when the obit for my sister-in-law came out, I was shocked to find that they never acknowledged me as a survivor. I was devastated. It hurt me so much to think they forgot to mention me. It would have meant so much, as a lot of my friends didn’t know my former last name (the surname I shared with my sister-in-law), and so none of them knew that I, too, was in mourning. Even though they apologized for the error of omitting me, I just can’t seem to get over it. This is eating at me all the time. I really do love them, but am I deluding myself? Did I think I was more important to them than I really was? I was told by one of them that they didn’t think a sister-in-law was usually mentioned in obits. Really, I’m their last living aunt: How do you forget to acknowledge that person? How can this breach be fixed? – Hurting in Ohio
Dear Hurting in Ohio: What a remarkable bond you and your sister-in-law shared. It sounds as though there are still some pretty raw feelings here, and you might be focusing on being left out of the obituary because it’s an easier pain to grapple with than the enormous pain of grief. Still, it’s not fair to hold a grudge against your niece and nephews. They’re grieving, too. They just lost their mother.
Regarding your wish for friends to reach out to you: I encourage you to reach out to them to seek the healing you need.
Remember, the fact that your name wasn’t mentioned in her obituary doesn’t erase the imprint you left on each other. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Dear Annie: Recently, I excused myself at a restaurant to use the restroom. When I arrived, another man was leaving the stall. I went in, only to be “greeted” by the fact that he walked away without flushing. I didn’t call him out on it, but felt like it. Why are some people so disgustingly lazy? – Dismayed in North Carolina
Dear Dismayed: Well, that sounds like quite an awful greeting. What a slob! To all my readers: Please flush the toilet. It only takes a second and could save someone from having to walk into a disgusting mess.
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