The following are excerpts from Carolyn's winter 2001 live discussions on washingtonpost.com:
Help, please. Five kids in a family, I am the eldest. One sister works overseas, second in the Midwest, two little ones at home. A year ago to date, I lost my father. I gave up my job and life for a while and moved home to be with my mother and two little sisters. It was necessary, it was the right thing to do. No regrets.
I stayed for eight months, sorted things out, and then picked up where I had left off -- only to get the pink slip about a week ago (Internet company shutting down).
Same week, Midwestern sister, who is 22 and is really very young in many ways, announces she is three months pregnant. He is some 45-year-old twice-divorced man with three previous kids. And she is adamant about keeping the child.
This is all one big mess -- I am trying to be supportive, find a job, keep mum from falling apart, and it is breaking me down. I know I can do this, and I know in about six months I will be okay -- but right now, I am dying.
I was wondering if you had (1) any advice to help me keep head up and (2) if you had phone numbers for support groups I could call for -- dealing with loss (mine, mum's -- dad's anniversary is soon), dealing with not losing a baby sister, who is being absolutely selfish, and especially a support group I could talk to about getting my head and strength together. If I don't, I will be useless!
-- Murky Head, Calif.
Hookay. I checked with a local center that offers support groups for the grieving, and I was told that the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (www.nhpco.org) is, because of its focus on end-stage illnesses, an excellent source of information on support groups nationwide. So that covers that part of your question.
For the other part, your pregnant sister, may I recommend some hand-washing? She's 22, she has made up her mind, this is not your battle to fight. You have enough of them on your own.
And for the other, your mom -- have you considered letting her help you some? Wait till the anniversary passes, of course, but it might actually help bring her out a bit for you to let her do something for you.
Last part, you -- take better care of her, too. This is going to sound harsh, but if a piano fell from the sky and you suddenly weren't around anymore, your pregnant sister and your mother and little sisters and life in general would go on (sadly, though, of course). Focus on your own needs for a while without apology -- everyone will be okay. Okay?
My sister is very very nice to me in every other aspect but she has said that if I were to marry a person of a different race, she would "disown" me. What should I say to her?
-- About Siblings
"Thank you." Now you know what a loser she is. Sorry.
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