Dear Annie: I’ve been friends with “Jane” and “Carol” since college. Unfortunately, since her mom died well over a decade ago, Jane has become a hermit. She is distant, and whenever we make plans, she makes an excuse at the very last minute to cancel on us. We’re frustrated.
While I can sympathize with her terrible loss, I feel she needs to move on and start living again. She can’t hide in her room forever. Carol and I are not sure how to approach this. We want to be sensitive to Jane’s feelings but at the same time get her to realize that she has friends and family who love her and want to spend time with her. What should we do? — Frustrated Friends
Dear Friends: If Jane has been so severely depressed about her mother’s death for more than a decade, she needs professional help. She is stuck. Tell her you are worried about her, and suggest she look into counseling to help her get her life back on track. She also can find a Motherless Daughters support group through hopeedelman.com.
Dear Annie: After 56 years of marriage, our father passed away and left my mother alone for the first time in her life. Four years after Dad died, Mom suffered a bout of meningitis. While she has recovered completely, she is convinced that she is bedridden. I moved back home to take care of her because no one else would. My younger sister lives in the house with us, but does her own thing.
The problem is, four other siblings live in the same city, and three are retired. Yet no one helps look after Mom but me. Mom has a sharp tongue, but her memory is shot. Even when she is insulting, she doesn’t remember it.
I drive nearly 100 miles a day to and from work. When I get home, I clean the kitchen and make sure Mom has a hot meal while watching TV. I am D.O.T.: disappointed, overwhelmed and tired. My spirit is broken; I don’t spend time with friends; I don’t talk on the phone; I don’t do anything.
I worry that I will die of exhaustion and Mom will be alone. My mother, of course, has no sympathy for my situation. I am not the executor of her will or a beneficiary. But I would like to enjoy a few years before my life is over. — Tired and Miserable
Dear Tired: You are kind, compassionate and devoted. But you don’t need to wear yourself out for your mother. That does neither of you any good. Of course, your siblings should step up, but they are not going to do it, so handle this as if you were an only child. Your mother could benefit from day care programs, and you need respite care. Contact the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov), AARP (aarp.org), the Family Caregiver Alliance (caregiver.org) and the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) for information and help.
Dear Annie: “Trouble in Hubbard” is the executor of her mother’s estate. She is concerned that one grandson has borrowed a great deal of money, and she wants to deduct that amount from his inheritance after Grandma dies.
As an executor of an estate (or trustee of a trust), “Trouble” has no choice but to divide and distribute Grandma’s will or trust the way it’s written upon her death. Since debts owed Grandma prior to her death are legitimate assets of the estate, this would require adjusting a beneficiary’s share of distributions. To do otherwise opens the executor or trustee to lawsuits from the other beneficiaries. If it contributes to family strife, “Trouble” should resign in favor of appointing a bank or licensed trust company as executor. — Kailua, Hawaii
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.