OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Discovery of family secret troubles surviving relative

Dear Abby: While doing genealogy research, I came across my maternal grandfather’s death certificate. I knew he had died at a fairly young age during the Depression. I was shocked to learn that he had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in his car in the garage of their home. His little restaurant was not doing well, and money was scarce. I imagine he was desperate and depressed.

My mother had anxiety, which may have been the result of her father’s suicide or a genetic issue. Should I share this information with my adult children? Could it be helpful to them? My mother didn’t share this with me. I am close with my children, and this secret troubles me. — Withholding Information

Dear Withholding: Your mother didn’t share about her father’s death because, back then, suicide was considered shameful. The stress of keeping her father’s suicide a secret may have contributed to her anxiety. Attitudes are more enlightened today, and suicide can be discussed.

Because this secret troubles you, you should bring it out in the open. It might be helpful to your kids to know that depression runs in the family.

Dear Abby: My husband’s brother and his wife visit often. My husband is close to his brother, and the time they spend together is a blessing, but his wife drives me crazy. She wants to get into my business and is very outspoken.

My husband’s parents and his other brother have passed. Other members of the family have room for them, but I was the one who opened my home to them. I don’t want to cause problems in the family, but she criticizes what we watch on TV and tells us what she prefers to watch. She wants to go out to eat and I don’t want to do that. I still take precautions against covid, but I can’t get that through to her.

They have a lot more money than we do, so spending $100 at a restaurant is nothing to them. I’m not comfortable spending like that. I cook at home, which she rarely does. I dread the weekends when they come. How can I tell her that in my home she should keep her opinions to herself? — Fed Up In The South

Dear Fed Up: In the interest of preserving family harmony, do not confront your sister-in-law. You and your husband should speak to her and his brother and set some ground rules about their visits, particularly the spending on restaurants. Divide the TV time equally. If that doesn’t suit her, offer to loan her a book or suggest she bring one the next time she visits.

Unless you are quarantined, make a point of visiting another health-conscious friend so you aren’t subjected to this woman’s company all the time. You might also suggest that it doesn’t seem fair she spends all her time with you during these visits, which deprives the other relatives.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069 or visit


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