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How to get family members talking about a tough subject

(9 Posts)
PrincessFiorimonde Wed 08-Mar-17 21:48:24

A family member (call her Anna) recently messaged me that her husband is terminally ill. They've been together approximately 30 years; they have kids and grandkids. Obviously I'm shocked, and have been in touch several times to see how things are/can I help, etc.

Thing is that I'm also - very occasionally - in touch with Anna's brother (call him Barry). But the two of them fell out several years ago. I would not ever contact Barry regarding personal things about Anna without telling her - but should I suggest to Anna that she might want to contact Barry to let him know how ill her partner is? Or should I ask her if she wants me to contact him about this?

(Note that I would not, under any circumstances, contact Barry without Anna's say so.)

They were all friends when Anna married, but that's a long time ago.

I'm possibly musing/venting rather than asking for advice, but this is so raw that I'm really turning it over in my mind.

We are in 3 different countries, so no possibility of meeting up to talk this through.

Thanks for all your thoughts on this. Sorry it's a bit long.

scottishdiem Wed 08-Mar-17 22:43:48

I think you can ask her, gently obv, if Barry has been told but dont make the offer. If she comes back and says yes, then all well and good. If she comes back and says no and I dont want him to know, then you dont say anything. If she says no but wonders how/when to do it then make the offer. I think that by making the offer you are kind of (though unintentionally) hinting to her that Barry should be told. If you see what I mean?

PrincessFiorimonde Thu 09-Mar-17 23:30:49

Thank you; that's good advice.

pinkrobot Fri 10-Mar-17 07:45:50

No, you shouldn't. She knows she has a brother. She doesn't need 'reminding'. This isn't the way to help.

tartancoat Fri 10-Mar-17 08:32:39

It's not your place. Resist the desire to spread the news because it will be seen as gossip by poor Anna and her family, including Barry, who already likely knows.

Isetan Fri 10-Mar-17 09:22:52

If she wants to reach out to her brother she can, she doesn't need reminding of his existence. Your heart may be in the right place but their relationship is none of your business, so don't prioritise your feelings over hers.

AutumnRose1988 Fri 10-Mar-17 09:48:49

It's none of your business. Why are you even thinking about it now? People fall out, sometimes with good reason. I find it a little bit annoying that you would even consider suggesting to a woman who's husband is dying who she should be informing. You need to think about how you should act appropriately.

steppemum Fri 10-Mar-17 10:45:51

well, I disagree. if you are close to Anna, I would ask her if she would like you to let Barry know.

I think she may well want him to know but not want to have to contact him herself, which would be true of some similar situations I ahve come across.

So, I would offer gently and totally follow her lead with the conversation.

PrincessFiorimonde Fri 10-Mar-17 17:09:11

I honestly didn't think that saying something to Anna might seem like I'm trying to bossily 'remind' her of Barry's existence. Or that she might think I'm gossiping! I really hadn't seen it like that! So thank you for pointing out that it might come across that way.

I know the ins and out of it all are none of my business, but I've always thought (because of what's been said to me by both Anna and Barry) that she regrets the falling out more than he does. That she misses him more than he misses her. So I think steppemum might be right when she says: 'she may well want him to know but not want to have to contact him herself'.

On the whole, I think I'm going to go with scottishdiem's suggestion: 'I think you can ask her, gently obv, if Barry has been told but don't make the offer'. But I'll try to phrase it so that I don't sound like I'm telling her what to do.

Thank you all for taking the time to reply. flowers

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