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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband, Son Desert Woman to Comfort Her Mother-in-Law

DEAR ABBY: My brother-in-law passed away six months ago, and my mother-in-law, "Grace," is understandably grief-stricken. My husband and son have been very supportive of her. My father-in-law passed away nine years ago. I have tried to be supportive as well, but Grace and I have always had a contentious relationship, and she really wants nothing to do with me.

The problem is, my husband and son have all but disowned me. They spend an enormous amount of time comforting and consoling her to the point that there's no affection or time left for me. I have tried talking to them about it, but they tell me I'm being selfish.

I realize my mother-in-law has had an enormous loss, but she refuses to interact with anyone else! Other family members have tried to console her, but she only wants my husband and son. I thought it would be for a short while, but this seems to be permanent. They have shut me out of their lives.

I have begun going out with my own friends and living my life on my own, but I miss my family. My parents and brother died some time ago, so they are all the family I have. Am I selfish, and should I let this continue? How do I just live my life alone now? -- LONELY IN THE EAST

DEAR LONELY: While I sympathize with your mother-in-law, it appears there is more going on here than the fact that she's grieving. That Grace has shut out her other relatives and has allowed herself to become dependent upon your husband and son to the extent that it is harming your marriage isn't healthy for any of you. If this continues, counseling may be in order for all of you -- grief counseling and support for "Mama" and marriage and family counseling to save your relationship with your husband and son. Please don't take what I am advising lightly.

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