Sister's hostility has driven a wedge between family members.
DEAR ANNIE: My 50-something sister, "Denise,'' has turned into a hostile, critical person. I visit my family four times a year and have witnessed her angry outbursts firsthand. My other siblings have become proficient at pacifying Denise.
Denise is not a bad person, so it is shocking to see her act this way. Most of the time, her anger is directed at sales people or drivers on the road. But I also have become the target of her wrath, sometimes in the middle of a conversation. When I ask her what I said to upset her, she cannot tell me. She storms out of the room shouting and cursing. Worse, Denise has managed to sour my relationship with my other siblings. They blame me for upsetting her. Denise has directed these rages at our mother, too.
This has gone on for the past three years. Recently, Denise told me our other siblings do not like me because I upset her. My husband has noticed the change in my sister's temperament and has caught her making fun of me or criticizing me. When he calls her on it, she claims she is only teasing.
Without these outbursts, Denise and I have a great time together. But it rarely lasts. Even after we've had a good day, she'll report to our siblings that I aggravate her and she can't stand being around me. I would like to maintain a relationship with my other siblings, but she is making it impossible. -- NO NAME, PLEASE.
DEAR NO NAME: Has Denise had a thorough medical checkup recently? She may have a hormonal imbalance or other condition that is causing these outbursts. Tell her you are concerned about her and suggest she speak to her doctor. She must be terribly unhappy to have so little control over herself.
DEAR ANNIE: I lost my parents a couple of years ago, and I would like to impart an important message to your readers:
Please express your last wishes to your family and loved ones. My family was reluctant to have these discussions, so we were left guessing. As executrix of my parents' estate, I didn't know their final wishes. My brothers and I inherited their estate. Two years later, I am still left hoping that I honored what I thought they wanted.
If you feel that this is a subject you cannot broach, leave a letter or legal document with instructions where it can be easily found. -- C.B. IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR C.B.: It is often easier to speak to an attorney about one's final wishes, but instructions for a funeral are likely not disclosed until after the fact. Write down what you want, make a couple of copies and leave them where they are most likely to be discovered by those who are looking.