Dear Annie: My wife and I have lost contact with our son. He is a recovering addict. As far as we know, he has maintained a job and, I hope, has been able to stay clean. He has moved to a city about four hours away with his new girlfriend, and I am sure she is keeping him in line.
My wife is heartbroken. We maintained a room for him in our home until he was almost 30 years old. He was always close to his mother, and they would speak on a daily basis. Now, he doesn’t call or take our calls or emails, and never accepts cards or letters. He said he needed space when he left, and that was a year ago. My wife grieves as though he has passed, crying at night, wondering what happened to our son. What should I do to relieve the pain? Should we keep trying to contact him? We don’t understand how he can be so hurtful. — Tears in Vermont
Dear Tears: We are so sorry that your son has chosen to cut off contact, but you cannot force him to stay in touch. Are you in touch with the girlfriend? Is she a reliable partner, or might she be abusive? Even so, he is an adult, and you can only do so much without his cooperation.
In the meantime, please consider counseling. You are grieving and worried, and you need to move forward so your son’s absence doesn’t become the focus of your daily life. It will not be easy. But we recommend that you keep sending your son emails and cards, just saying that you love him and that you will always be available should he decide to contact you. We hope he will. Soon.
Dear Annie: We’re in the process of downsizing. Among the things that we no longer need or want are family pictures that include spouses from our daughter’s two previous weddings, both of which ended in divorce.
I am all for tossing anything with either of her husbands in them. But my husband is concerned that our grandchildren will be hurt if they don’t see their fathers’ faces in the pictures. Any suggestions? — Sunny
Dear Sunny: Could you give the pictures to the grandchildren? These are their parents, after all, and they might enjoy having these photographs. If the kids are little, display one from each wedding and put the rest in a box until they are older.
Dear Annie: My sister recently saw your column with the letter from “Mourning My Brother,” whose brother was estranged from his children when he suddenly died. She passed the column on to me.
Since my divorce 10 years ago, I have been estranged from my two daughters. I have repeatedly attempted to restore communication with little success. We might have a short period of communication, followed by years of silence.
I recently tried again. This time I enclosed a copy of your column. I got a response from one of my daughters. The column made her realize that I truly did not understand the reasons why there has been no communication between us. That column opened her heart to explain all the years of sorrow and guilt she had and her feeling of not trusting me. Even though her remembrance of things is not the same as mine, she believes her feeling to be true. I acknowledged her feelings, apologized for causing her so much pain and sorrow, and asked that we live in the present. We cannot change the past, and to relive it only hardens our hearts.
We have agreed to start sending emails to each other once a week. I am so excited that she is open to trying to start our healing process. I have grandchildren that I never knew I had. — Very Grateful Grandmother
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.