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Two weeks ago my oldest sister died. She was one of the siblings who lived in the same community as my Mom, and the one who almost never helped out with Mom's care. Granted, she had health problems of her own, but she did not have a terminal diagnosis and she had extended periods of wellness when she could have helped but did not. Understandably, my relationship with her, which had always been very tight, became very strained after my mother started needing help. To make matters worse, she became extremely hostile to me when I pressed her for support, and it reached the point where I could do nothing right with her, where everything I did was held up to the glare of scrutiny and judged to be suspicious, hostile, hateful and vicious. During her illness, I was able to access my abiding love for her, and tended her lovingly whenever it was allowed (not often). The same could not be said for her. She died pretty much as she lived, fighting for what she needed with little regard to what anyone else might need of her. In the midst of the family turmoil during her last few years of life, she invested herself heavily in an online writers' workshop, where she contributed poetry and stories. She also contributed attention, support, encouragement and kindness towards her fellow writers. I learned most of this after her death, reading the online tributes to her. She was a totally different person online, someone who "never had a bad word to say about anyone." Wow, if they only knew. I am left with a lot of mixed feelings of course, and worse, there is nobody to share them with. Nobody wants to speak ill of the dead or hear anybody else do it. Even other family members did not experience my sister the way I did. They knew how badly she treated me, but since they were not affected, they shrugged it off. Now there's nothing but praise and exaltation of our departed family member. A few days ago, I was asked by my brother-in-law to help write a short bio to be used by online friends who are creating a site for my sister's "literary legacy" I don't know how to say that I want nothing to do with that. To me, her deep involvement in this literary community was cowardly and almost fraudulent. It took all her attention away from the family members who needed her and the things she needed to do to resolve those relationships. I feel so alone because nobody wants to hear this. Can anyone relate? (And please forgive the lack of paragraphs in this posting. I tried to insert them but my computer wouldn't do it, or the site wouldn't allow it).

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Anger is poison. I can relate. I will share with you what helped me. All you need is pen, paper and some matches. Write a letter to your deceased sister getting what you are feeling toward her off your chest and your mind. Write it all down, throwing both grammar and caution to the wind. Then, find a tranquil and safe place to set that sucker on fire! Watch your anger go up in smoke. Afterward, do something nice for yourself.

I agree that you can decline your brother in law's invitation to help write that short bio for her literary community. Don't make a big deal about it. A simple "Thanks for thinking of me but I have a lot on my plate and don't want to delay you in getting it done" should suffice.
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A timely and complicated subject for me. I am thinking of my reply but wanted to post a movie quote (I can hear your exasperated signs!). This is from the wonderful Marvins Room: Bessie: I wish we could get along.
Lee: We do get along.
Bessie: No I know but I mean really get along and be polite with one another.
Lee: We're Sisters.
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Heck, yes, I can relate to your situation and have felt the same sort of incredible anger and unresolved frustration! It's perfectly normal to be experiencing these feelings even though your sister has passed. It seems family members tend to save their worst behavior and vent it towards each other while the rest of the world is charmed by them. What helps me is talk therapy and writing out my anger and my most vile emotions in a notebook. It really works! You have been on a terrible emotional roller coaster and are going to need some time for all the meaness and bad feelings to dissipate. Easier said that done, I realize. But you are alive, and have value and meaning to many people--remember that! I know this is inadequate and I apologize; but oh my dear, I have been where you are and I promise you, it will dissipate and you will feel better. Truly,
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Carla, I always our family put the "fun" in dysfunctional. We haven't come to the caregiving part as my mom and step dad are still wheeling and dealing. But my older brother would be a no show. He had several years in his life where he checked out of our lives. I saw him when my younger son was 4 months old and not again until son was a sophomore in high school. No contact with any of us. Not even mom. I've never had that luxury. I've been here through it all. Mom didn't even get a card on Mother's Day or Christmas all those years. When he wanted back in our good graces, of course mom welcomed him with open arms just like the prodigal son. I guess if the truth were told, I resent him, dislike him and don't have a brother sister relationship with him. He has always been self centered, mean and hateful to me and my younger brother. If he passed tomorrow, I would feel bad for mom but I wouldn't feel like I lost a brother. Just because we're related to someone, doesn't mean we like them. It doesn't mean we would choose them for a friend. Honestly, I've forgiven him and that's what you need to do. Hanging on to this resentment is only hurting you. If you are a praying person, pray about this.
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Siblings treat other siblings in a manner they can get away with, but know that they can't treat others with the same lack of respect. This isn't a justification, but I agree with CWillie - perhaps she used the online writers' group to compensate for her deficiencies as a sister. Perhaps it redeemed her value as a person. For some people, that validation is critical. It might be that she just couldn't rise to the level of helping you or getting along as a sister.

It also seems as though she directed a lot of anger toward you; perhaps that was a displacement of anger against her own limitations.

As to contributing to a memorial, I think I would just say that I'm too overwhelmed by the caregiving you're providing for your mother to contribute to a biographical memorial and in fact was completely unaware of this other online activity, adding in a neutral way that these people saw a side of your sister that wasn't displayed to you, so your perspective would be different (even if it is directed more toward growing than her more recent life).

You might add that if your BIL wants to do this, do so, but you just don't have the time (or mental energy). I would think your BIL could ask his wife to write the story as well.

If I recall, you're the daughter with whom your mother is living? You have more than enough to do to care for your mother than write a memorial.

If you want to emphasize that, ramble off everything you're facing with your mother, and how important these are to her own care.
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I have an idea how you feel. I have a brother who lives nearby who is heavily involved in church goings-on. He is a devout Christian who has had little to do with his parents. He's nice enough and calls a couple of times a month, but there is no offer of any support at all. I think he lets the "girls" take care of his personal life.

But when I'm feeling bad I remember whose son he is and physical problems that he is having. Can I really blame him? Not really. I do know that if my mother dies before us that we'll have little to do with each other. If someone wanted me to write something about him, I wouldn't be able to do it. This is mainly because I really don't know him very well. I would have to leave it up to his wife, children, and church friends who really knew him. I go back and forth on my feelings about him and his family. It is probably the nature of dysfunctional families.

Carla, you're in a position where putting on a slightly fake face would probably serve you well for the public. You wouldn't want people to add an "ain't it awful?" to what you're already going through. Maybe it would be good to pick a pleasant event that happened in the past and build a story around it.
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Sorry, I can't relate, but I want to offer a different perspective. I might be spouting total hogwash so feel free to ignore this if you feel it isn't relevant.
Sometimes the dysfunction in a family ensnares us and we become unable to escape no matter our intentions. Hot buttons we thought we had outgrown are immediately pushed whenever we come together as a family, old jealousies and resentments come screaming to the forefront and we find ourselves once again acting in ways we vowed we would not. (This is why we often say and do things amongst family that we would never do to friends or acquaintances) Perhaps your sister could escape those feelings in her literary world and become more of the person she wanted to be, free from the family baggage she seems to have carried.
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