Advice from Amy: Quarreling Sisters Should Find Peace

By Amy Dickinson | October 1st, 2021

If for no one else but their late mother

Quarreling sisters

Dear Amy: My mother died last year, during the worst of the pandemic.

My sister asked me to come to our hometown to help clean out Mom’s house, and to stay for the funeral service.

This would have involved taking time off work, flying, staying in a hotel, and interacting with strangers — all several states away.

My husband has breathing problems, and I didn’t want to risk it, so I told her no. I also mentioned that most of Mom’s friends are elderly and that having a service would put them at risk.

My sister didn’t want to hear that, and accused me of being selfish and lazy, and of leaving all the work to her. She said I was only thinking of the money from the sale of Mom’s house. Needless to say, we haven’t spoken since.

Fast-forward to this year. My sister is (once again) planning a funeral service.

I could fly up, stay for the service and head home the next day — but that would mean interacting with my sister.

We have never gotten along, and I don’t see what this will accomplish.

Should I stay or should I go?

– Forlorn

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Dear Forlorn: You and your sister aren’t speaking, but you have learned about her plans to hold a service for your mother. Perhaps there are ways you’re communicating (through others, or through social media) without actually talking to one another.

Given the way this seems to be playing out, if you don’t go, your sister will continue to reschedule your mother’s funeral until you actually make it there.

Unless you sincerely believe that attending would present an undue health risk to you and/or your husband (check for current COVID updates), you should go. Why? Because it is your mother, and it is time to lay her to rest.

I hope you and your sister could also lay your differences to rest.

According to your own account, you offered your sister no support – physical or emotional – after your mother’s death.

You should ask yourself if there are things you both might have done differently, and then you should promise yourself to do those things differently during your 24 hours home.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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