Dear Amy: I’m writing to ask for your insight and advice on some feelings I have encountered off and on for the past few years.
I’m currently on a language exchange in Lyon, France, and the other day a bomb went off in a very busy neighborhood. Thankfully no one was critically hurt.
When I learned about what happened, I messaged my loved ones to let them know that I was OK. The response I received from my grandfather was, “Yes, I had heard about the bombing.”
My grandfather knows I am in the city. He had heard of the explosion. But he didn’t reach out!
I’m upset at his lack of concern. He is quite active on social media and often tells me about everything that all the rest of my family is doing.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt unimportant to him. Sometimes I feel as if people just don’t care about me in general.
I think part of my struggle with these feelings come from losing my mom in my teens, and from having an emotionally absent/neglectful father.
Am I being too sensitive?
I have one friend who reached out immediately to check in to see if I was OK. Why is it so hard to make other friends like him?
— Contemplating Relationships
Dear Contemplating: First, this: You will never stop missing your mother. This loss will be folded into all of your other relationships, and it will express itself in different ways through time.
This insight is not to consign you to a life of grieving, but to let you know that these feelings will crop up and throw you for a loop, especially when you are living in a foreign country, negotiating the world in another language, and shocked and shadowed by the prospect of terrorist episodes.
Your grandfather is of another generation that uses Facebook to check in about birthdays and to share vacation photos — but this generation does not use social media to connect during and after an emergency, the way you and your cohort reflexively — and very smartly — do.
I think you should write to him. Send him an old-fashioned letter. Describe your experience living in France — the good, the bad, and the scary. Tell him how much he means to you. Ask him if it would be OK for you to talk about your mom sometimes. You opening up might inspire him to soften a little more and to be more expressive toward you.
It takes time to build a warm and loving tribe of your own. It happens one person at a time. You’re already off to a good start.
Dear Amy: I have two siblings. Our mother has passed away, leaving us $200,000 to share equally.
Over the last 10 years of my mother’s life, I helped her financially, giving her $50,000 to help her with expenses.
My two siblings gave her nothing. Everyone knew from the start that I provided my mother with this financial support.
My mother and my siblings also knew that I expected to be repaid through our inheritance. Our mother agreed to this.
Here’s the rub: How should we divide this? What is my fair share?
There seem to be two ways of looking at this.
1: I get $50,000, then we split $150,000 three ways, giving me $100,000, and they each get $50,000.
2: We split $200,000 three ways, giving me $66,667, plus $50,000, giving me $116,667. And they would get about $42,165 each.
None of us live in poverty, so I just want my fair share.
So what do you say, Amy? Should I inherit $100,000, or $116,000?
— Fair Math
Dear Fair Math: There are legal rules for how to dispatch debts from an inheritance, including in what order the debts should be paid. You should run this past an attorney, who would advise all of you on the legal and tax implications of receiving your inheritance, versus receiving a debt repayment.
My own opinion is that your mother’s $50,000 debt should be paid directly to you from the overall inheritance, leaving $150,000 for you and your siblings to split equally.
Dear Amy: Thank you for your affirmative advice to “Non-communicative Sister,” whose family members would force her to talk to the brother who had sexually abused her as a child.
This exact dynamic happened in my family. My being cordial with my abuser only helped my family to deny and forget what he had done to me, but I will never forget.
Dear Survivor: Every survivor deserves better than this.
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