Heartbroken Clan

3 Jul

Dear LetterBalm: We are four siblings, all of us in our late 50s and 60s. Almost 10 years ago, my brother, who is the youngest, alienated himself from the family. He never explained why, but we think it was because of his second wife, a strong-willed person who never liked us. We’ve had no contact during this time. We’re close, and his estrangement has cast a pall over all of us. Our 89-year-old mother is in a hospice. She’s frail, but mentally strong, and she’s expressed a wish to see her youngest child. What should we do? She probably will die without seeing her son.

–Lonely Sibs

Ms. L.B. has compassion for your situation. It’s sad when one person can have such a negative impact on a close-knit family. Why don’t you try the direct approach? Ask the sibling closest to your brother to prepare a handwritten note and give it to one of your brother’s trusted friends. The friend can give it directly to your brother (thus bypassing his wife). Keep it kind and non-accusatory. Your goal is to get him to agree to see his beloved mother:

Dear Zachary,

I just wanted to tell you that I miss you very much, as do all of us. So many good things have happened in the past few years, and I wish you were there to share them.

I’m writing now to tell you that Mom is ill and in hospice care. She’s frail, but you know Mom – her mind is as sharp as a bean, and she’s been asking to see you. She misses you. Would you consider getting in touch with me so we can have a visit with Mom? You know it would mean the world to her.

Love always,


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