DEAR ABBY: My mom recently passed away at 91. She had a great life and went peacefully at home in bed during the night. I took charge of her medical care and finances after Dad died 10 years ago.
After Mom's funeral, my brother insisted he would move into her house while he remodeled it, which could tie up the house for a year. It made no sense to me. I am Mom's executor, and I felt it was unfair to me and my other brother. When I said no, he got really angry, accused me of many mean, untrue things and announced that he disowned me. I responded that I love him and he will always be my brother, but it was his choice.
The pain of losing my mom and my brother has been awful. Now I'm working to sell the house, and he interferes and is mean every step of the way. But I have to move ahead and do my job. I don't respond to anything negative he writes. Have you some advice on how to repair our relationship? Maybe if he saw it in print he would realize we are family and none of this is helpful to any of us. -- DOUBLE LOSS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR DOUBLE LOSS: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. If it's any comfort, estate problems like you're experiencing aren't all that unusual. Not knowing your brother or the degree to which he is self-centered, I'm having trouble understanding his overreaction. Was he desperate for a place to stay for a year?
I wish you had mentioned what your other brother thinks about this regrettable situation and whether he, too, was disowned. If he and your angry sibling are on speaking terms, perhaps he can help to mend fences. And hold a good thought. Sometimes time heals these kinds of wounds, once grief lessens and people regain their perspective.
DEAR ABBY: "Addicted in Kansas City" (Aug. 24) asked you for secular alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous. There are parts of your response that I feel need clarification.
First of all, AA doesn't require lifetime attendance at meetings. AA doesn't "require" anything. (The third tradition states the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.) Regular attendance at meetings is encouraged but certainly not a requirement. Many people continue to go to meetings one or more times a week, while others stop or go only occasionally after a period of time.
The other point is tougher -- and perhaps more subtle. AA encourages individuals trying to get sober to find a "God of their own understanding," a Higher Power, something bigger than themselves. Many agnostics and atheists get and stay sober in AA.
AA is a spiritual program, not a religious one. This can be a difficult concept for people who are just coming in (and a great reason not to stay). That's one of the reasons AA encourages anyone new to attend different meetings, if possible, and check out other groups. In many cities there are meetings expressly for atheists and other nonbelievers. -- SOBER AND HAPPY IN ATLANTA
DEAR SOBER: Thank you for writing to clarify this. However, there are different programs (different strokes for different folks), which is why I also encourage anyone trying to achieve sobriety to research and explore the alternatives.
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