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Old 06-13-2017, 04:19 PM
 
5,046 posts, read 597,010 times
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I am posting this in the Grief/Mourning section because I would like advice from people who have been in either my situation or my sibling's.

I am 63, my sister "Janie" is 57. We have one other sister, "Meg", who is 52 and the family communicator. When Janie was 17 and I was 24, my parents kicked her out for bad behavior, and my (ex)husband and I took her in for three years. When I discovered that my ex and Janie had a sexual flirtation ("heavy petting"), Janie left at my insistence (but without a huge amount of drama on either of our parts) and with my husband's agreement. Although we tried to get over it, my husband and I ended up divorcing anyway, partly because of that, but for other reasons, too. Surprisingly enough, Janie and I did NOT and do not hate each other, but we have never been close -- not then and not now. We have lived more than 1,000 miles apart for about 30 years, and have seen each other only about four times since she left, if that, at family reunions, where we were were polite and friendly with each other, although not warm and loving. (Both Janie's and my life turned out to be just fine for the most part, btw.)

Now, however, Meg has just informed me that Janie has been diagnosed with a probably fatal illness and will probably not live for more than a couple of years. I just do NOT know what to say. I am sorry that she is so ill and probably "terminal", but what can or should I say to her now? If you were the afflicted sibling, what would you want to hear from me, if anything? Or if you have been in a situation like mine, what did you do and how did that work out for you?

P.S. Janie did tell Meg to let me know of her condition.
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:17 PM
 
Location: Arizona
5,577 posts, read 4,780,727 times
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I would start with a phone call and casual conversation. Let her change the topic to her condition if she chooses to. I wouldn't be the first to bring it up. Take the hints that she gives you.
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Old 06-13-2017, 05:47 PM
 
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My late wife faced your situation with her younger sister, who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. My wife simply went to her in person to offer any and all help that she could, and the past was instantly forgotten. For the eight months or so that the sister lived, they were inseparable. My wife accompanied her to all of her treatments and generally took care of her. Just my $0.02 worth, but I really don't think this is a time to beat around the bush. I think it's a time to frankly acknowledge what the reality is and to be there for her to the extent you are willing to be and she is willing to let you.


Interestingly, when my wife was dying of breast cancer - really in the last stages - I asked her if she wanted me to notify the two old sisters from whom she was estranged. She said no, and I respected her wishes. A couple of years ago, my nephew (my sister's son) tried to set up a reunion between me and my considerably older sister and brother, with whom I've been estranged for more than 30 years. I was willing, but they were emphatically not. I then contacted my sister directly by mail and got the proverbial "Go fly a kite" in response.


My point, I guess, is that there is no predicting how this is going to go. If Janie told Meg to let you know, that is a pretty big clue and I would imagine that any efforts you make will be welcomed. Depending on how willing you are to become involved in her situation, this could be a magical two years for both of you and one of the highlights of your life. If she rebuffs you, you will at least know you tried and so will she. I would just simply say, "It's time to forget the past. I understand your situation and I'm here for you."
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Old 06-13-2017, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Arizona
5,577 posts, read 4,780,727 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troglodyte74 View Post
My late wife faced your situation with her younger sister, who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. My wife simply went to her in person to offer any and all help that she could, and the past was instantly forgotten. For the eight months or so that the sister lived, they were inseparable. My wife accompanied her to all of her treatments and generally took care of her. Just my $0.02 worth, but I really don't think this is a time to beat around the bush. I think it's a time to frankly acknowledge what the reality is and to be there for her to the extent you are willing to be and she is willing to let you.


Interestingly, when my wife was dying of breast cancer - really in the last stages - I asked her if she wanted me to notify the two old sisters from whom she was estranged. She said no, and I respected her wishes. A couple of years ago, my nephew (my sister's son) tried to set up a reunion between me and my considerably older sister and brother, with whom I've been estranged for more than 30 years. I was willing, but they were emphatically not. I then contacted my sister directly by mail and got the proverbial "Go fly a kite" in response.


My point, I guess, is that there is no predicting how this is going to go. If Janie told Meg to let you know, that is a pretty big clue and I would imagine that any efforts you make will be welcomed. Depending on how willing you are to become involved in her situation, this could be a magical two years for both of you and one of the highlights of your life. If she rebuffs you, you will at least know you tried and so will she. I would just simply say, "It's time to forget the past. I understand your situation and I'm here for you."
Maybe the sister doesn't want to "frankly acknowledge what the reality is." When a person is dying or may be I let them decide. I just went through this. Since I let them lead I was the one that heard about how tired they were of people asking how they are, how they feel, etc. They get it out of their mind for a few minutes and someone wants to talk about it. Only the person that is ill should bring up the topic and you then follow their lead from conversation.
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Old 06-13-2017, 09:17 PM
 
Location: southern born and southern bred
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not sure what you should do but my twin sister and I are estranged and I'm just fine with it. IF I were to find out similar news about her I would not contact her. I feel if circumstances were so extreme as to keep us apart and not communicating then illness of any kind should not be a good enough reason to reach out to her.
But that's me and that's how I feel. We never got along and her behavior is the reason and from what I gather from others she has not changed.

But you really have to do some soul searching and do what your heart tells you.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:48 PM
 
Location: Long Neck , DE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whocares811 View Post

P.S. Janie did tell Meg to let me know of her condition.
Since she told Meg to let you know I would call or write which ever you are more comfortable saying Meg told me of your condition. I am so sorry. If there is anything I can do .Let me know. Then throw the ball to Janie's court.
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Old 06-14-2017, 04:20 PM
 
5,046 posts, read 597,010 times
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Originally Posted by longneckone View Post
Since she told Meg to let you know I would call or write which ever you are more comfortable saying Meg told me of your condition. I am so sorry. If there is anything I can do .Let me know. Then throw the ball to Janie's court.
Thank you (and everyone else who responded). The above is exactly what I did, and she said she was glad to hear from me. We talked a little about what the immediate future would be regarding treatment, and we exchanged "I love you's (even though that might not be exactly true), so it was good. Btw, as she lives more than 1,000 miles away from me (and from Meg and our mom), it is not feasible for me to be there in person, but she has a husband and friends to "do" for her. We also agreed that too many calls would be tiring for her, and she agreed with me and Meg that it would be better for Janie to continue to just talk to Meg, with Meg then relaying what was going on to everyone else in the family.

So, a good result!
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:11 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,531 posts, read 42,694,765 times
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All of the old baggage should have, ideally, been swept aside before now. We have all done things in our youth that we would not have done if we knew better.

Blood is thicker than water. Call your sister and tell her you are sorry she is ill, and that you will hope and pray for a good outcome. Then, it is up to her. She might be open to a full and warm relationship. Either way, you have opened the door.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:16 PM
 
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If it has not been important enough over the last 30 years to mend your relationship why is it important now that she has an illness? I do not understand this mind set at all.
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:52 PM
 
5,046 posts, read 597,010 times
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Originally Posted by CSD610 View Post
If it has not been important enough over the last 30 years to mend your relationship why is it important now that she has an illness? I do not understand this mind set at all.
I did not say it was important to mend the relationship. I just wanted to know what I should say. Anyway, please see my post #7 above.
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