New perspectives on brokenhearted grandmother; reach out with love
Dear Annie: I must disagree with your advice to “Brokenhearted in Ohio.” These adult children should not have to be reminded to call or send a card to their grandmother on her birthday or any holiday. They are being very disrespectful, no matter how busy their lives are.
Beyond her apparent focus on expensive gifts from the past, Grandma likely feels unloved, disrespected and forgotten. We need to show more love and attention to older adults because they truly are easily forgotten. This Ohio grandmother feels more hurt in her heart than bitterness or jealousy, and my heart hurts for her, too. – Disagreed With Your Advice
Dear Disagreed: Thank you for your insightful letter, and thank you to my readers for keeping me constantly thinking about new approaches to life situations. Your letter illuminates the core issue: The grandmother feels unloved and forgotten – feelings I pray no one ever feels. The best way to feel love is to give love; therefore, I suggested that she reach out more to them with love. But you are right to focus on the raw feelings she is expressing. I hope that all grandchildren and parents who see this letter will pick up the phone and call their grandmothers.
Dear Annie: This grandma gave love, attention and gifts to her granddaughters, who now ignore her. All you did was criticize her current attitude. How about some empathy? She is not getting what she put in and feels sad about it. I am certain your response, which totally lacked validation, made her feel even worse. – Empathetic
Dear Empathetic: I agree that by focusing on going forward, I failed to honor the grandmother’s feelings. In fact, the situation is incredibly unfair to her, and she is not alone. Several readers faced similar situations and found texting to be helpful for improving communication between grandparents and grandchildren, as you will see in the following letters.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Brokenhearted Grandma” struck me because my wife and I felt the same way about our children and grandchildren: that we had given them so much but they never gave anything back.
I talked with my oldest grandson about this, and he asked if I could start occasionally texting and video calling him. He was 12 at the time. At first, I was reluctant, not knowing how to text or use FaceTime, but he kept walking me through the process and now we communicate constantly. This has brought us much closer, and we feel closer to his father (our son) as well. – Social Media Pro
Dear Annie: My grandkids are busy and rarely remember to call me. I fear I will lose them if I don’t stay in their lives. I have a rich and colorful relationship with their mother and stepdad, but I just didn’t know how to bridge the gap with the kids.
Our solution is texting. It helps me build rapport with them, ask meaningful questions, get replies and discuss future plans. – Trying Hard
Dear Annie: An advantage of modern life in America is that we have mobility and can move wherever we want. One disadvantage is that we can lose touch with our families, and I think that is what befell the grandma who does not get Mother’s Day or birthday cards from her grandchildren.
In many countries, the extended family lives under one roof, so there is almost daily contact. The type of negligence that the woman is experiencing results from family members not seeing one another. Out of sight, out of mind. – Geography Is Important
Dear Annie: Over the years, my tolerance for garlic has gotten so bad that I have cut it out of my diet entirely. This is really hard because garlic is in everything. I try to explain to people that yes, this is real, and yes, it makes me very sick. There are even support groups on Facebook about this.
At church, I do not go to potlucks or other meals where I do not know what is in the food. Recently, they were having a catered meal. When I explained briefly that I could not attend due to this, I was told in a not so nice manner that the catered food did not include garlic. Normally, I would just let it drop, but this time, I told this person, “You have no idea what garlic is in. It can be in sauces or in other ingredients or as ‘other’ spices.”
Why would someone not just say “I am sorry that you cannot attend”? Why would they try to brush off the knowledge that I have acquired the hard way, by being sick? I don’t contest these people who have back issues and say, “Oh, it’s all in your head, walk it off.” It’s already discouraging enough to not be able to eat so many delicious foods. My grandchildren, bless them, will even read labels for me and say, “Sorry, Grandma, this has garlic” or, “Hooray, you can eat this!” Please let people know to be kind in their lack of knowledge! I love garlic, but it hates me! – Garlic Allergy
Dear Garlic Allergy: I’m sorry that your condition is being ignored by members of your community. This is common with things like food sensitivities and mental health – problems with symptoms that are largely invisible. Some people even experience this type of treatment from their doctors, a phenomenon known as “medical gaslighting.”
Surround yourself with people, such as your grandchildren, who are accepting and supportive of your dietary restrictions. If you wish to socialize more with members from your church, why not host a home-cooked, garlic-free meal? It will give them an opportunity to see just how serious you are about your garlic-free lifestyle.
Dear Annie: My husband passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Many very well-meaning friends would comment that “he’s not there” when I would answer questions about his declining health. Please advise your readers not to make that comment. My husband was still in there somewhere; maybe he couldn’t remember me or family members, and at the end he couldn’t talk … but until he stopped breathing, he was still there. We miss him, but know that we always acknowledged the man he had been. Thank you. – Comment to Share
Dear Comment to Share: Thank you for your note. Oftentimes, people with the best of intentions can accidentally say the wrong thing. It’s hard to know what will help and what will hurt, especially to someone who is grieving, so it’s helpful that you offer your guidance.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology – featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation – is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.