Quickies: “I Don’t Want to Tell Our Neglectful Brother When Our Mother Dies”

My brother is married to a real control freak who won’t let him come see our dying mom. It’s breaking her already weak heart and causing me to resent him. I have no one to help me with her and it’s very stressful. I’m thinking of not even calling him when she passes because they’ll come to the service and make a big show saying how much they loved her and miss her, etc. and it would sicken me. What should I do? — Already Sickened

As much as their potential behavior at your mother’s eventual memorial service may sicken you, I think you will feel worse in the longterm if you withhold news of your mother’s passing and deny your brother the opportunity for closure. Don’t let them make you feel worse than they already have. Take the high road. The short-term sacrifice it will require of you will be worth the long-term peace of mind that you did the right thing. In the mean time, bypass your brother’s wife and call him directly and tell him that time is running out to see your mother and that it would mean the world to her to see her son one more time before she dies.

Accept that you will not be getting any help from your brother — that the best you can hope for is a final visit for your mother’s sake (and even that may not happen) — and that life isn’t fair and the messiness of dealing with a parent’s final months, days, and moments, often falls on one sibling for a variety of reasons. I hope you at least feel rewarded for the stress you are feeling now with a sense of purpose in providing care and love for the woman who raised you, and that the time you’re spending together now is giving you both plenty of opportunity to express what you need and want to say before your mother passes away. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

I recently found out that my partner of six years has been going to the brothel. He admitted it, but I have no idea how long this has been going on. He is saying he just goes there to play pool and have a drink but the thing is he goes alone. I think he is lying to me as he has made up vicious lies in the past. I need some advice. — Tired of the Lies

No one goes to a brothel — alone or with someone — to shoot some pool. You know your dude’s lying, and even if he weren’t (he is though!), the fact that he’s already told you “vicious lies” in the past and you don’t trust him should be reason enough to make him your EX-partner.

Why would a woman would post pics of herself wearing her boyfriend’s ex-wife’s clothing? I left my husband, now ex, quickly and quietly because of his abuse, so therefore most of my clothing and other belongings were left behind. The new girlfriend has apparently moved into our home, now his home, as the pics reveal. Is this a stab at making me jealous? I’m not; in fact I’m very glad to be gone and free of him and his abuse. Is she trying to play mind games? I just don’t get it. — Glad to be the Ex

She may not even know the clothes are yours. For all you know, your ex-husband took the clothes off the hangers, wrapped them up and presented them to her as a housewarming gift. Or, sure, maybe she IS trying to play mind games and make you jealous. Regardless, the best thing you can do, especially since you are very glad to be gone and free of your ex, is to STOP LOOKING AT HIS AND HS NEW GIRLFRIEND’S PHOTOS!! Seriously, just stop it. Block them both on social media and move on with your life. If you have no idea what they’re up to, their attempts at trying to play mind games – if that’s what they’re doing – won’t matter because you won’t see them.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. The clothes are nicer than what she had, or she’s just really weird

    1. Ya even if it was to make you jealous it’s super creepy. Feel sad for her and nothing else.

  2. LW1: Your brother is an adult. His choice not to come.
    Disengage from him: you can’t do more. You can’t act for the others. You can’t control what they do. You are doing the right thing. He is not and he is hurting himself. He may not know it, but he is.
    You don’t have to inform him yourself when your mother passes. Let someone else do the call – a nurse, a priest, an acquaintance. But you can’t withdraw the information and hide it : this would be an abuse. Your mother doesn’t belong to you. Let him face his responsibility and take yourself a step back.
    Make sure to let the family – at least the relatives you feel close to – know he let you do all the care and didn’t even pay a visit to his dying mum: it will help you a bit to confide in relatives you esteem and care for. How your brother behave at the funeral: let it be. You don’t need to pay attention to it or even to have a relationship with him. Focus on your own memory of your mum, you own relationship with her. The funeral will be about her, not him.
    You need help yourself: you could speak to a therapist. When she will pass, you can also speak of your anger to the priest. He might help you. This is a very human feeling.

  3. I couldn’t help but wonder if the brother’s “control freak” wife is just an excuse the brother uses to get out of doing the right thing, or if he’s actually in an abusive relationship. It’s a key tactic of abusers to socially isolate their partners by cutting them off from family and friends. I think Wendy’s advice is still solid–keep him informed but don’t expect any help from him. But if his uncaring behavior seems like a deviation from the person you’ve always known him to be, it might be worth looking into how to be supportive of someone in an abusive relationship.

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