Dear Amy: My cousin was living with and taking care of my mom near the end of my mom’s life.
My mother needed constant care. I was living hundreds of miles away at the time, so this was a good solution at the time.
In 2013, I moved back home to Florida to be with my mom for whatever time she had left.
I soon found out that my cousin was taking almost all of my mom’s SSI for herself. My cousin got $1,100 per month, leaving very little money left for my mother’s use.
I finally removed my mom from her care, and my mom was happier for it.
I just can’t forgive her for the harm she caused and for taking advantage of someone who obviously cared for her.
Mom died in 2014. My problem is that my other cousins and family members still talk to my cousin and treat her like she is part of the family.
They say I’m being unreasonable for not forgiving her and letting it go.
I believe she was abusive toward my mother — financially and physically — but I can’t prove it.
Am I wrong for not wanting to forgive her for what she did?
Dear Betrayed: If you know that this family member abused your elderly mother, then your anger is justified. Why should you forgive this person?
From the tone of your question, it seems that this allegation against your cousin has not been disputed. Nor has your cousin acknowledged, explained, apologized, or asked for your forgiveness.
You don’t mention what the financial arrangement was with your cousin. I assume that it was not contractual, but more of a casual arrangement between family members, involving housing and other benefits for your cousin.
There is no excuse for your cousin’s behavior, and you might investigate any possible ways to pursue this legally.
I urge you to explore ways to forgive yourself for any guilt you might be feeling.
You liberated your mother from her challenging circumstances, and she was happier at the end of her life.
In my opinion, “moving on” would be you accepting that you cannot control these other family members. You cannot insist that they cut out this cousin. But they don’t live in your reality, and they don’t have the right to judge you for your residual anger.
Dear Amy: A group of neighbors with a similar medical condition gather to support one another in a formal monthly setting.
Members would like to share their personal concerns and receive support.
However, one member in particular responds to everyone’s comment often with medical research, which doesn’t apply in every case.
Others in the group have expressed concern that she takes over the meetings.
Someone suggested timing individual responses, but this feels too structured.
Is there a way to make the point to the offender privately without causing bad feelings?
— Tired of the Lectures
Dear Tired: Ideally, if your group had a coordinator, that person could redirect the meetings once they got derailed.
It sounds as if at least some of this medical information might be relevant to the group, and I think it would help to acknowledge that.
Support groups function best when members do a lot of listening, some commiserating, and — finally — offer advice and resources to one another.
If this person’s monologues are driving you crazy, then — congratulations! — you get to address this with her.
Tell her, “I appreciate the amount of research you do, but I hope you agree with me that it’s also important that everyone be heard and emotionally supported. I believe that you tend to dominate the meetings, and it’s frustrating.”
Dear Amy: Why the hullabaloo about keeping photos of a long-ago ex? Why should “Charlie” have to get rid of them?
If he’s obsessing about these photos and hasn’t really moved on, I could see why the current wife is losing her mind with jealousy. Otherwise it’s completely benign. It’s his past, his memories.
My husband offered to get rid of his ex’s photos and I told him absolutely not. She was a part of his life, and I don’t feel I’m in competition with her.
My teenage children get a glimpse into their father’s life as a teenager. It’s actually kind of cool.
She has his past. I have his future.
— Not Threatened
Dear Not: I happen to agree with you, but I also see the point that other readers have raised: If these photos cause distress, “Charlie” should consider his wife’s feelings.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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