Annie Lane: Words can be painful during a painful time

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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Dear Annie: I just found out tonight that my brother’s second-oldest adult son passed away today. My brother’s oldest son passed three years ago. My brother has been estranged from the family for a long time — since he was in Vietnam. I have maintained a relationship with him by calling him a few times a year. He never calls me. I am the only sibling out of six who keeps in touch with him. My husband does not think highly of him, nor did he think highly of my nephew who just passed. The reason is that there was not a great meeting, which took place at our wedding.

So, when I broke the news to my husband, he said to me, “Sorry, but (expletive) your nephew for how he treated me, and (expletive) your brother.” I am really hurt. I told my husband that his comments left me feeling hurt and sad. Are my feelings legitimate?


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Dear Hurting: Yes, your feelings are legitimate. No one has the right to tell you how to feel, and you just found out that your nephew died. That is very sad, and when we are sad, it is nice if our spouse comforts us. Continue to encourage your husband to seek forgiveness in his heart for your nephew and brother. Tell him that it is not for their sake but for yours and his. It doesn’t feel good running around with a big bag of gripes that you have with people.

If he is unable to respond to your grief, then I would seek counseling.

• • •

Dear Annie: I am writing in regard to “Lonely Later in Life.” I am 94 years old. When I retired, I donated my time to the SPCA, retirement homes and many other organizations in the community. I was on many different boards. You can build relationships, as Annie said, by asking people for coffee or a movie. People in retirement homes don’t always get visitors, so seeing a smiling face coming to do activities or just to chat with them is much appreciated. I am not sure if you are religious, but my church family has always been there for me in times of need. Churches are great places to build long-lasting friendships. There are many groups to join and ways to help. Reach out to whatever group interests you. You may feel alone, but you aren’t. There are many friendships out there waiting for you!

  Friendship Is Waiting

Dear Friendship Is Waiting: Thank you for your letter. You have found joy, happiness and connection while serving others. Sometimes, when we make other people feel better, we feel better ourselves. It’s amazing how that works.

• • •

Dear Annie: I have learned over many years that children and their spouses may have a great deal of love for others but also may like their space. I’m a “the more the merrier” type, but I realize that everyone doesn’t march to that drum.

Giving space and patience to adult children who like quiet time is a gift of understanding. And, yes, we can’t envy others just because their families are more social. It’s quality time, not quantity of time, that counts.

  Accepting Different Needs

Dear Acceptance: Thank you for your letter and wisdom.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book —  featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette —  is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to