DEAR ABBY: My 9-year-old sister witnessed our mother's murder and her killer's suicide, and she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. She has since come to live with me and has become an important part of my life. Having her with me has helped me to cope with my grief.
When people hear of our shared tragedy, they react with sympathy. However, they seem to feel it's their duty to tell my sister how grateful she should be to me. Both of us find this remark insulting, bordering on a guilt trip.
I think their comments are inappropriate and more than a little insensitive. How do I firmly cut these people short before they cause my sister more undue stress -- but gently, to also spare their feelings? -- PROTECTIVE IN FLORIDA
DEAR PROTECTIVE: I offer my sympathy for the tragedy that befell your mother. When well-meaning but insensitive people start talking about how grateful your sister should be, simply say: "I'm the one who's grateful. I need my sister at least as much as she needs me. We're fortunate to have each other." It's the truth.