I have fallen out with my brother over my late mother’s financial estate.
Her funeral was in March — we’ve not been in touch since May. He insisted he should have more money he was ‘owed’.
I gave him £8,000 from my NHS pension because of his inheritance expectations. He didn’t understand there was no money to inherit — since the costs of the funeral were more than expected. He accused me of spending too much — but I told him Mum’s money was stipulated for care and funeral costs.
On our last phone call in May he was really awful — demanding more money. A bully. Threatening behaviour.
Thought of the day
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footsteps on the sands of time…
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (U.S. poet 1807-1882)
I advised him to get a solicitor (he’d have to pay!) and not to contact or visit me.
Over the past five to ten years, he had a lot of money from Mum — never paying back.
His money problems are endless. He’s married with two children, living in a council house with never enough.
His children showed no interest in Mum, who was never allowed to be a grandmother. He was very hurtful to her; my impression was that he was interested only in her money.
These issues mean I’d now prefer not to be involved with him and his family. Certainly not the wife — who is heavily influencing him to act and l think has been encouraging him to demand money. I think it’s very stressful for him and suspect he can’t cope mentally.
I was Mum’s full-time carer and I’m not working now. I decided to have some time out and bereavement counselling. Before being a carer I was a qualified nurse and have financial security from my pension.
I’m feeling very angry about all this — betrayed, in fact. I would love some advice.
This week Bel advises a woman who has fallen out with her brother over her mother’s inheritance
THIS is a difficult hand to play — and is a problem I know well: a sibling more like a creature from another planet than a product of the same parents.
Although you two finally fell out in May this year, you were probably having difficulties for years. Your mother’s death and funeral may have triggered a hostility not far below the surface. Am I right?
Sibling issues are hardly new to this column. Inevitably, I say: don’t look backwards; accept a family relationship may be over but leave the door open at the same time; and vow to step outside the family and control your own life.
Money is so often the poisonous serpent in the family garden — yet if siblings already have a good relationship I doubt filthy lucre would corrupt it. But if they’ve not really got on, the stage is set for a terminal disruption.
From what you’ve said, I suspect this situation is unmendable. You despise your brother for sponging off your mother when she was alive and believe he has done little with his life. You dislike his wife and feel angry she did not encourage her children to have a good (or any) relationship with their grandmother.
The final straw was this man whingeing about money when your mother was barely in her grave, so that he sponged off you (£8,000 is a lot of money) as he did your mother. No wonder you don’t want to speak to him again.
Yet when you mention his ‘stress’ and mental health, I detect a note of pity. Who knows whether, in the future, you and he might become reconciled?
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Sometimes, in families, an immediate break is necessary. Toxicity is draining and, anyway, isn’t this the point when, having been a good daughter and carer, you need to make a new start?
You need to recognise that you’re probably feeling a double whammy of grief: for your mother (obviously), but also for the brother you’d have liked to have had. Feeling ‘very angry’ will do you no good; rage and resentment just serve to turn the key in the lock on the unhappy present.
What you need is to open that door and cut loose.
What will you do now? You are a retired nurse with an NHS pension — and this country is crying out for skills like yours. Have you thought of returning to your profession in some capacity?
Would it not take your mind off your mother and your brother — as well as money — to investigate ways and means?
You could not help your mother’s decline and death, nor your brother’s unpleasant greed. But you can now be in control of your own life. For all I know, you may already be making these plans. Have a look at this website: healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/nursing/returning-nursing and see if it triggers some ideas.
And another website might help you by sharing the experiences of others: allnurses.com/ retired-nurses-c160
I wish you positivity and peace.
I’ve thrown out my straying husband
I read your column every Saturday to find support for my problem — one which I blew wide open recently.
I’ve been married for 27 years and after many years of wondering if my husband had someone else, he had become careless and I found clues. So I dug deeper and started monitoring his activities when he went away on business weekends.
The breaking point came when I drove more than 100 miles to a hotel where I knew he was staying on business. There he was with this other woman walking into the bar for a pre-dinner drink.
Now I have locked him out of our home and he has sat outside wanting to talk, sometimes pleading, sometimes threatening. He claims the woman is his best friend and there is no romance, only mutual interest in her hobby.
She is a collector and he is a dealer in an antique specialty, and he has been taking her (instead of me) to weekend fairs and auctions for the past (possibly) ten years.
I used to go with him before this friendship started. I forgot to say he is nearly 75 years old, and sadly I still love him. But do I want to take him back and spend the remainder of my life wondering?
Your email subject line was ‘pensioners in crisis’, leaving no doubt about the seriousness of this moment of acute pain in your life. Which way will you go?
I doubt any reader (at least the female ones) will blame you for suspicions which seem to be well-founded. Your husband can deny he was having an affair with the woman all he likes — yet such attention paid, so many meetings, such shared interests (and presumably confidences) and worst of all so many lies. What can one think?
A person can be unfaithful even if sex has never happened. The ‘romance’ lies in the stories told and the trysts.
So what can you do? As a regular reader of this column, you will know that I often counsel forgiveness and new starts. Why? Because a marriage is a huge thing to throw away because one of the partners has been a deceitful fool.
Sometimes a marriage just has to end because it has run its course. Yet — especially when you are older and contemplate the whole pack of cards falling about your ears and then a future in unaccustomed solitude — it is wise to consider whether the end is inevitable. You love your husband and clearly want him back. If he wishes to come back home, then the terms are yours to set.
First, though, you have to ask yourself why you stopped going to the fairs with him. There was a process there, of which you were a part. I find it hard to believe he just suddenly refused; you need to ask yourself whether in fact you lost interest in his dealing and preferred to stay put. It won’t alter the present, but people who suspect their partners have sometimes played their own part in the sequence of events.
If I were you, I would insist the pair of you seek counselling (relate.org.uk) as an urgent condition of his return. Even if he continues to insist there was no ‘romance’, the Relate counsellor will surely ask him to consider the effect of his behaviour on you, his wife.
I’ve changed your name but I think you should show him this letter on the page to indicate the seriousness of his behaviour.
Then ask him how he sees the future. I just hope that soon you will be travelling off to auctions together and rebuilding your marriage. And that the woman who has been the cause of your pain will disappear in search of something unusual and appealing to add to her collection — which isn’t somebody else’s husband.
A HEARTFELT PLEA from a reader . . .
Betty and I met in Glasgow in 1954 when I was 11 and she was 24 and a mum of three. We were very close even after she moved to Tamworth in Staffordshire in the Sixties. Eventually, she told me in one phone call she had memory problems. I continued to phone; she always chatted happily, even with Alzheimer’s. In 2017, her phone was no longer answered. I tried repeatedly. No reply. I sent my usual Christmas card saying I really wanted contact. No reply. I’m now 76 and she’d be 89. It really hurts not to know what happened to Betty. She may no longer remember me, but my heart remembers her.
Could you please ask families of older relatives with this sad illness to let distant friends know if their relative moves away or dies? We still care and want to know.
SHEENA, Galston, Scotland
And finally…Why we all need some good news
I don’t often have a mini meltdown and this one was sorrow. Last Sunday, I was horrified and moved by the harrowing storylines in BBC1’s gripping new serial about World War II, World On Fire.
It’s my custom to watch the 10pm news every night, but I switched off after eight minutes because it was unbearable: the killing, the bombs, the grief, the anger, the hatred, the evil. All over again; this time Kurds, Turks and Syrians. And on and on; lives destroyed by conflict.
Sometimes it feels hard to continue ordinary life, fretting about this and that, while all the time implacable forces are waged against each other all over the world — and we’re shown images of women and children fleeing, stumbling with belongings in bundles, as they have for hundreds of years.
Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email bel.mo[email protected]
A pseudonym will be used if you wish.
Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
That evening I walked out into the darkness to seek consolation in the harvest moon hanging in the sky; utterly beautiful, pure, distant — and pitiless.
Usually the natural world can offer consolation — but not that night. Oh, I admit other things were going on in my life. My daughter Kitty was unwell and I felt so worried. My charity SANDS’s support of Baby Loss Awareness Week had brought back sad memories (sands.org.uk/baby-loss-awareness-week).
Last of all, I was feeling depressed by British politics and the never-ending saga of Brexit. Sometimes it all rolls together into a great boulder and flattens you, doesn’t it?
But then I read a lovely warm email from Jennie E. who said: ‘Thank you, Bel, you keep me inspired to continue trying to be the best I can be, to keep a smile on my face…’ And she sent a picture of her ‘angels’: three beautiful grandchildren, ‘to put a smile on your face’. It did!
Then on Facebook Julia W. posted on my timeline: ‘The world seems very scary right now. Have you ever looked at the website humanprogress.org? It’s immensely cheering xx’.
So I visited the site full of good news and, yes, felt much better. Try it.
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