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Family tragedy creates rift


DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother passed away a few months ago. She had been hospitalized for nearly two months on life support. She died seven hours after the respirator was removed. My niece, who is 25 years old and lives with my sister in Florida, never came to visit my mother and didn't attend the funeral. She claims she did not have the money for travel expenses.

I have to mention that during the period my mother was in the hospital, my niece went to Arizona to visit her boyfriend and also took a cruise the weekend before my mother died. I told her I would have provided financial assistance -- all she had to do was ask. I am hurt and have not really spoken to her since. I was once close to her; it has affected our relationship.

GEORGE, Bronx, N.Y.

GEORGE: Some people do not deal well with grief. Your niece seems to be one of those people. Rather than holding a grudge, reach out to her and ask how she's managing now.

She may be feeling guilty because she did not come to see your mother or gain closure by attending the funeral. She may have other feelings. Let go of your anger and hurt.

They are not serving you, or her. Give yourself time to grieve your mother's loss, and complete any leftover family business.

If you need further emotional support, seek counseling. As far as your niece is concerned, if she still doesn't respond to your overtures, give her some time and space to come around.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends is getting married this summer in another country. I have been researching the trip and have figured out I really can't afford to go. I know he will be disappointed.

We have been close since we were kids in Massachusetts, but I just can't do it. Should I tell him now or pray for a miracle?

LINDA, Sacramento, Calif.

LINDA: Your friend had to know when he decided to get married abroad that many of his loved ones would be unable to witness the event. Tell him now that he shouldn't expect you at the wedding. At the same time, offer to support him in whatever ways you can.

Typically, the groom is not as involved in wedding plans as the bride, although my experience shows many men take an active role. Find out what his responsibilities are, and if you can help.

Offer to host a small party for him and his fiancee, where you can invite other loved ones who may or may not be able to make the trip.

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