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Sat, Dec. 07

Dear Annie: Unable to forgive and forget in grief

Dear Annie: My daughter recently passed from complications of myasthenia gravis. She died unexpectedly one evening after she stopped breathing during an MG crisis. Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles, which are responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body, including the arms and legs.

My problem is with her mother-in-law. While my daughter was receiving treatment for this disease, her mother-in-law told her she was making up the symptoms and actually went so far as to accuse her of having Munchausen syndrome. Mind you, this was after a weeklong stay in the ICU. This is just one example of her dislike for my daughter. She did not approve of my daughter’s marriage to her son and was not very happy about their relationship from the beginning.

My question is this: How can I ever be friendly to this person again after she made these horrible accusations toward my daughter and treated her with such disrespect? It was hard enough to be cordial with her and her husband at the funeral. Since we live in the same town and share a grandchild with them, I’m trying to forgive and forget. But I am having a really hard time with this. She gave my daughter a lot of stress, and stress is one of the things that can trigger a crisis when you have MG. So every time I see her, I can’t help but feel she played a contributing factor in my daughter’s passing. -- Missing My Daughter

Dear Missing: I am so sorry for your loss. Your daughter’s mother-in-law is heaping additional pain onto your already unbearable load. Her behavior goes beyond the realm of meanness: It sounds as though she might suffer from a mental disorder herself. A mentally healthy person doesn’t say the things she has. I hope she seeks help and recognizes the impact she’s had on people, especially you and your daughter.

In the meantime, you are under no obligation to be friends with her. I’m not advocating hostility: A neutral, matter-of-fact attitude will do just fine. If she finds that offensive, she shouldn’t have said what she did. It’s not about harboring a grudge but rather respecting your own boundaries and needs.

Focus on you and honoring your daughter and your loss right now. The work of grief is demanding enough.

Dear Annie: My wife and I and four friends went out to dinner at a new restaurant. They had a ladies’ room and a men’s room visible from where we sat. After the meal, I needed to go. The men’s room was locked (it was a single-stall situation). I walked around for a bit and came back after nearly 10 minutes. The door was still locked, and I continued to wait. Finally, I couldn’t last any longer. The women’s room was unlocked and vacant, so in I went. When I came out, everyone said that I was rude and out of line. I said that they were being overly sensitive! What should I have done? -- Almost Up a Tree

Dear Almost Up a Tree: You did your due diligence in waiting for the men’s room. Next time, I’d caution you not to wander around the restaurant, in case the person emerges and you miss your opportunity. And I’d encourage you to go to the restroom preemptively, before it’s an emergency. That said, I don’t think anyone can fairly call you rude here. It was a single-stall bathroom, and you ensured that it was empty before entering. If your wife and friends find that so uncouth, I’d ask them what the other options were in that moment. Sometimes, when nature calls, you have no choice but to answer.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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