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by Abigail Van Buren

Bitter Divorce Leads to Mother-Daughter Estrangement

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 29-year-old woman living on my own an hour away from my family. My parents were bitterly divorced 10 years ago, and a year ago I lost my father to cancer. At the time, my mother voiced her disapproval of my going to be with him on his deathbed. The day he passed, she told me not to be too sad because "he was thinking about suicide anyway." I have so much anger toward her for these and other things her emotional immaturity has led her to do or say.

On the one-year anniversary of Daddy's death, she tried to pick a fight with me for "obviously not wanting to talk" to her. It prompted me to do exactly that, and I calmly discontinued speaking with her.

The past two weeks without my mother's voice in my life have been the longest stretch of peace and confidence I have experienced in a long time, but her birthday is coming up, and I worry that I am being a bad daughter by continuing not to talk to her. What's more important -- healing the breach, or my own mental health? -- CONFLICTED DAUGHTER

DEAR DAUGHTER: For both your sakes, do both if you can manage it. Try this: Explain to your mother the reason for your sudden silence. Set some firm boundaries. If she cooperates, you will still be able to have a relationship with her. If she doesn't, at least you will know you tried.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death | Marriage & Divorce