DEAR MISS MANNERS: My big sister was a deeply troubled person with a violent temper.
When I was too young to fight, she bullied and abused me mercilessly. When I was growing up, I understood that she had mental problems of some kind and I felt sorry for her.
I tried many times to encourage her to seek help for her own sake, but I also saw that I had to protect myself and my loved ones.
When I found out through necessary legal papers that she had passed away, the only thing I could feel was a sense of relief. I would not have to deal with the fallout from her outrageous, ugly behavior again, and hopefully she is at peace.
I had a visit the day the court papers arrived, and curious as to what I could receive from an out-of-town lawyer, I apologized for a moment and opened it. Through this guest, my other friends learned that my sister had passed away.
My attitude has been neutral when I have seen these friends: I have explained that my sister and I were not close, that I am well, and I change subject.
The group’s amateur psychologist has decided that I’m not okay, that I’m being tortured by complicated grief, and that she needs to pull the pain out of my subconscious so I can heal.
There is no pain beyond the memories of the damage my sister did to those I love, and I will leave that in the past where it belongs. How do you tell a really caring and well-meaning friend that he should strike out?
HAPPY READER: Trying to convince your amateur friend that you are not feeling any pain will not deter her, so it’s time to make her the only guardian of a secret: “Thank you for your concern. I took your advice to myself and speak with someone about it. “
Her natural assumption – that you are referring to a doctor instead of the cat – will give you another advantage. You can then, as rich defendants in high-profile criminal cases, pretend that the doctor-patient (or in their case lawyer-client) confidentiality forbids you to comment further on it.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners on her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.