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AIBU?

Adored sister and gossipy school gate

215 replies

LisbethM · 30/10/2018 10:24

My sister has been diagnosed with a rare cancer that has a poor prognosis. We are very close and I love her very much. Our children attend the same school.

When she was diagnosed I immediately took time off work to be with her. In doing so I was forced to give a short and confidential explanation to a colleague (I simply said a member of my family was very unwell and she had small children I needed to assist with).

A few days later a parent at the school emailed my sister to see if she was “sick” as they had heard “on the grapevine” that I had an unwell family member. My beautiful and private sister was devastated by the thought of a “grapevine” in process, more so as she had not yet told her own children.

I was mortified and knew immediately it was my colleague who had spread the rumour. I confronted him and he immediately and unequivocally apologised. He is a good person and I forgave him. He spoke to the other couple who had emailed my sister.

That couple have not apologised, in fact they behave as though they are somehow aggrieved. They avoid my gaze at the school gate and are otherwise oblivious. I can’t move past it. I love my sister, she is gentle and dignified. She wants me to let it go because she can’t bear attention or conflict. But I find myself loathing this couple and wishing them ill. The feelings are overwhelming and perhaps are displaced grief. But what should I do? Confront the couple? Ask for an apology? Ignore and avoid?

I would appreciate opinions please to help me overcome these feelings and focus on my sister.

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MrsStrowman · 30/10/2018 10:32

Just ignore them. They may have only been asking to offer support or to be able to refute what they heard from your colleague, you are understandably very defensive of your sister right now and want to do everything in your power to protect her. What's happened has happened and they probably feel they've done nothing wrong, your colleague implied she was very ill they messaged her directly to ask, which is probably better than gossiping with other parents. There's nothing to be achieved from demanding an apology or wasting your precious energy and head space on them. Focus on your sister. She's very lucky to have someone like you to be there for her.

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Twork · 30/10/2018 10:32

I'm sorry. X

I think you are right that you are moving your grief and anger about your sister's illness onto the sonewhat anonymous couple. It's easier to direct it towards them and tbh if thaf helps you right now, go for it.

However, bare in mind what your sister wants. If she would be horrified by a scene then don't create one.

I know the couple may have been trying to get the gossip but equally (and I chose to believe this) they may have been coming from a place of concern and ultimately it was your colleague (who you forgave) who acted badly, not the couple.

Are YOU getting support?

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Maelstrop · 30/10/2018 10:32

Move on. They’ve been caught out gossiping, they’re embarrassed. Why are you even giving this headspace? Concentrate on your sister.

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SuperstarDJ · 30/10/2018 10:36

I’d just ignore them. The incident has happened and been dealt with - I don’t think anything can be gained by confronting them other than potentially causing further upset to your sister.

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tiggerkid · 30/10/2018 10:36

Best to ignore and move on. Not an easy thing to do but it sounds like that's what your sister wants too.

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LisbethM · 30/10/2018 10:44

Yes. That’s good advice. It’s my husbands advice. I guess it is displacement. I am usually a nice person and I feel overwhelmed by anger when I see them (which is fairly often!) God I hope I can let it go. It’s affecting my mental health

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allthgoodusernamesaretaken · 30/10/2018 10:53

I find myself loathing this couple and wishing them ill. The feelings are overwhelming and perhaps are displaced grief

Good insight, OP. Yes, could well be displaced grief. You're in a horrible situation, and it's natural to look for an outlet

It's possible the couple were seeking out gossip, but they could have been reaching out to offer to help. You think they seem aggrieved they've been caught out. I wonder if it's more likely they are uncomfortable / embarrassed, if they realise that confidential info was shared with them, and shouldn't have been

I wouldn't spend time thinking about them. Better to focus on your sister

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cjt110 · 30/10/2018 10:54

I suppose also OP that you are aggrieved that someone has taken and "owned" your sister's news. I am very much of the mind that if I am told something, I do not discuss it as it is not my news to share. This was your sister's news. Not idle chit chat about a new car or such triviality.

I would be more cross at the colleague. He had no right divulging your work related issue to someone, even if said with the best of intentions.

Keep breathing and strong. Flowers

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UpstartCrow · 30/10/2018 10:56

I'd complain to HR. Your colleague should not be demanding information, you should be able to state 'I am having Friday off' without explaining why.
He is not a nice or trustworthy person. He puts on a nice face, but it doesn't go deep.

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BernardsarenotalwaysSaints · 30/10/2018 11:00

I'm sorry you've experienced this. In you're position I'd feel the same. Try to let it go though because it will eat you up if you don't.

My Dad died, unexpectedly, earlier this year at home. A neighbour spread rumours about how his cause of death as if they were fact. The results of his PM hadn't even come back. I felt exactly like you do. I let it go, after the initial anger, for the reasons I mentioned above.

Flowers for you, your sister & your family.

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LisbethM · 30/10/2018 11:01

I don’t know why I am not angry at my colleague. I guess because he was so sorry and so genuine. If this couple apologised I also would let that go. But they just avoid me and it makes me so sad and angry

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HPFA · 30/10/2018 11:05

you should be able to state 'I am having Friday off' without explaining why.

Not necessarily. There are many jobs where you can't just take leave at short notice. I have a work commitment on Thursday - if an emergency arose there's no way I could just tell my boss "I'm not coming in". What kind of bad impression would that create?

Obviously the colleague was totally in the wrong to then spread the information but that's a different issue.

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Feefeetrixabelle · 30/10/2018 11:13

I would approach the couple and say in future if you wish to know my personal business then ask me direct-don’t gossip behind my back and certainly don’t email family members. And then walk away. It will make you feel better to have said something.

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florriepeck · 30/10/2018 11:15

This couple may be among those people who see nothing beyond their own little world.

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TeddybearBaby · 30/10/2018 11:20

I’m so sorry you are going through this. It’s natural to want to shield your sister from everything you can now and protect her in any way you can.

These people have upset her in your eyes and she’s going through enough. It’s hard for you to take. I completely get it. They are very insensitive and don’t have much compassion or tact by the sound of it.

How would you like to handle them now (forgetting your sisters opinion for a minute).

💐

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ButchyRestingFace · 30/10/2018 11:24

But I find myself loathing this couple and wishing them ill.

I suspect they're not oblivious if (you think) that they're avoiding even looking at you. Perhaps they can sense the hostility?

I don't think they've done anything terrible. Is your sister friendly with these people? Isn't it more likely they just trying to be supportive?

Their use of the word "grapevine" is a bit unfortunate, as you say, because it suggests that they weren't the only ones to hear of it.

Are you sure they're the only ones that your colleague told?

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ButchyRestingFace · 30/10/2018 11:25

I would approach the couple and say in future if you wish to know my personal business then ask me direct-don’t gossip behind my back and certainly don’t email family members. And then walk away. It will make you feel better to have said something.

It's not OP who's ill? And they DID ask the sister directly. Confused

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LisbethM · 30/10/2018 11:25

TeddybearBaby I don’t know. But I know I can’t let it go emotionally. I want to say “Please apologise and I will forgive you”. I can’t bear the tension at the school gate and it takes up my energy against my will.

When they emailed I had gone around to meet my sister and we were going to go for coffee and sit in the park. When I arrived to pick her up she was so distressed by their email. And I keep thinking how they ruined what was to be a special day.

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LisbethM · 30/10/2018 11:28

butchyrestingface yes my colleague admitted to telling them. They are not friendly with my sister. They are notoriously nosey gossip mongers, which was why she was upset. I have three sisters so it was information gathering. They were not sure it was this sister.

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Knittedfairies · 30/10/2018 11:28

The couple are avoiding you because they’ve been caught gossiping. I think your anger is displacement too; let it go and concentrate your energies on your sister and her family. I’m so sorry💐

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ButchyRestingFace · 30/10/2018 11:29

TeddybearBaby I don’t know. But I know I can’t let it go emotionally. I want to say “Please apologise and I will forgive you”. I can’t bear the tension at the school gate and it takes up my energy against my will.

Surely it's your sister who needs to "forgive", if anyone?

Does your colleague know your sister well? It seems that people were able to put 2+2 together to make 4 pretty quickly, which makes me wonder if you're actually angry at yourself for not coming up with a "better" excuse to tell your colleague, who is the villain in the piece, really.

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ButchyRestingFace · 30/10/2018 11:30

butchyrestingface yes my colleague admitted to telling them. They are not friendly with my sister. They are notoriously nosey gossip mongers, which was why she was upset

Ah, okay. Well, that makes what your colleague did even worse, unless of course he didn't know that they were gossipy types?

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TeddybearBaby · 30/10/2018 11:32

Well I don’t think that’s too bad and your mental health is important. You need to look after yourself in order to look after your sister.

Quietly saying ‘can I just tell you the effect that email had on my sister’ or writing a letter if you’d rather and then explaining how she was that day and giving them the chance to answer / apologise would be fine I think. Yes your sisters feelings are important but you’re going to cause a scene - have a big argument. I’d also ask them not to repeat anything, even though I know your colleague has already said it. I’d want to know I’d said that to them myself.

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TeddybearBaby · 30/10/2018 11:32

*NOT going to cause a scene!!

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LisbethM · 30/10/2018 11:33

No butchyrestingface I am not angry at myself. I had no idea information given in confidence at work would be spread like that. I am a lawyer. My colleague is a lawyer. Confidentiality is next to godliness. I don’t lie to my colleagues or “come up with excuses”. I am honest. And I expect privacy and respect.

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