Family Matters
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Stuck in the Middle- Family Driving Me CRAZY!!!

I have been having panic attacks over the past couple of weeks because of all the craziness happening in my family. What's worse is that this is following a tragedy, which just adds to my stress.

 In late October, my grandfather passed away. He was the patriarch of my small, Sicilian family. My grandmother is devastated, and doesn't even speak English, so she is dependent upon my mother and uncle to take care of her. Well...unfortunately Mom and Uncle don't get along AT ALL. There has been nothing but severe fighting ever since. My grandmother, my aunt (Uncle's wife) and I have been caught in the crossfire.  There are things that need to be taken care of...2 houses, and some money. Well, sharing the responsibilities didn't seem to go smoothly, and after some horrible fights, my uncle has washed his hands of the situation. He's leaving all the bills/responsibilities to my mom, who is disabled and doesn't have a partner to help her. She just has me, and I have my own life (I'm engaged, work full time, don't live all that close).  The problem is we still need him for certain things and he's just not cooperating. He won't even be in the same ROOM as my mother.

 This has left me in the role as "the messenger" and I've been having to relay stuff between my mom and uncle. Just this week alone, I had 3 fights with him and 2 fights with her. MY OPINION is that they just split things again, and share the responsibility, and try to make peace. Cause honestly, houses and money aren't worth breaking a family over. I would much rather just have my family back to normal. It seems like the harder I try to push for peace, the worse the fights get between me and them. Each one thinks I'm taking the other's side, when honestly I'm NEUTRAL. 

 This is becoming so bad that I can't concentrate at work. I talk about it nonstop to friends and my fiance. I dont' want it to ruin my life, but I feel like I'm the only one who will even TRY to fix it. My aunt wants to stay out of it (she says she's not blood so she doesn't want to get involved) and my grandmother is busy mourning the loss of her partner of 60 years.

Is it time for me to just step aside and let these "adults" handle it themselves? I just fear more fighting and stress for my grandmother. I also feel like I'm losing a lot of respect for both my mom and uncle and I don't want to see them in that light. But they arent making it easy when they act like children over this. They each don't trust the other and it's all so stupid. I'm considering talking to a priest or something because I can't handle this stress anymore. And there is NO relief in sight. :(

 

[IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]

Re: Stuck in the Middle- Family Driving Me CRAZY!!!

  • How much of this is stuff that a lawyer can handle?  By working with a neutral third party who has your grandmother's best interests in mind, you might be able to avoid a lot of the conflict.

    Sounds like there are estate issues to be dealt with (the extra houses) and some sort of living situation needs to be set up for Grandmother.  Is she capable of living alone?  If so, you can arrange for a cleaning person and an errand runner to help your grandmother tackle her chores.  You might try calling various elder services in the area to see if there is an Italian speaker who can help your grandmother out.

    Perhaps a trustee can be appointed to manage her bills (to take the burden off of your mother) and free her up to just visit your grandmother.  Also, with the pressure off and the financial issues behind you, the family rift might mend as well.

  • Ditto Daring 100%.  See if you can get a neutral 3rd party to handle a lot of this.

    My DH used to be an attorney.  His parents asked him if he would be the executor of their will.  he said yes, but ugh- he so did not want to.  Dealing w/ someones estate is NOT EASY and can cause a lot of stress.

    Why people turn to family members to do this- beyond me.  DH would have much rathered his parents have someone else do it.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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  • Hi!  Yes it does sound like you are being whipped around with mo end in sight and I do sympathize.  You might be right to contact a lawyer to see about some of the burden being shifted onto someone else so you can all focus on the matters at hand.

    The other thing you might consider is sitting down both people in a neutral area...just you three. Even though you might not solve all of the problems at hand, tell them in an upfront manner that what you are seeing and hearing is bothering you and for them to please put aside their differences long enough to sort out what needs to be sorted out.  Don't go begging either...go as if YOU are in charge, tell them what you want, and don't let them get mired in their squabbles. If this doesn't work--perhaps seek some therapy of some kind for all of you so you can have some kind of peace.  Who knows..some good stories may come out of it. Whatever you choose to do, give it some time and a few tissues.

    Best of luck! 

      

     

  • Thank you ladies! I think you are both right and that we need a third, neutral party. As much as I don't take sides, I'm too involved and can't solve this (not that either of them even listen to me anyway!!).  Perhaps that's just what is needed to prevent further damage to the family.

    The tricky thing is that grandmother is still alive, so it's not like we are dividing up her assets right now, but we have to divide the responsibilities. And she is an emotional wreck and keeps changing her mind about how she wants things done. That adds to all the tension and confusion between my mom/uncle. Arg!

    I just hope they can settle this before my grandmother passes away. God willing, she still has many years left, but I fear that if they don't get this stuff settled, my mom will be out of a home (she lives in the 2nd house my grandmother owns). Not too sure about government and taxes in these situations but I need to make sure my mom's home is safe. And a lawyer would know! So thanks again for your wise advice!

     

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • The first mistake you are making is playing peace-keeper with two people who do not want peace. The second and more important mistake is that you are treating this estate as your uncle's and mother's and it is NOT - it is entirely your grandmother's estate, business and burden to sort out. I get that she is incapable of managing the demands of her situation, but you fix it by putting supports around HER and HER NEEDS not the needs and desires of her children.

    So, you have to begin and end with your grandmother's best interest. And her best interest is not being served by a son who has "washed his hands" of it yet still withholds needed information. And it is not served by dumping it all on a daughter who is disabled and overwhelmed.

    It would be served by a laywer who speaks Italian who has a background and experience in estate planning and elder issues. The laywer MUST speak Italian, gain your grandmother's trust and be empowered to act on her behalf.

    If your grandmother is active in her parish, I suggest you speak to a priest in your grandmother's parish and ask for a recommendation of an Italian-speaking lawyer in the community. If your grandmother trusts the priest, I would then ask the priest to help introduce the new lawyer. Then I would set it up and stop involving myself in this mess. You can't make your grandmother deal with her property and estate but you can give her the resources and support to do so. She is still an adult, and if she wishes to swander her property, so be it. It might be frustrating, but it is her right to do so. This isn't about solving your mother/uncle relationship, it is about solving your grandmother's lack of support.

    I'd also get a prescription for Zanax from my health care provider and take it, as medically recommended, when panick attacks surface. 

  • I would find out how much money it would take for a professional to handle everything (lawyer, account, cleaning service, etc.).

    Then have your mom tell your uncle that she will not do any work on her own.  Either he helps out, or she will hire someone to handle the work on their behalf.  It will cost $XX, which will come out of mom (grandma's) money, or their share, or whatever - so that he realizes that there is a dollar value to his standing back.

    Who is the executor?  And if there is an executor, do they get paid?  The executor should handle most things, and if your mom is the executor, she has the authority to hire anyone (within reason) to take care of the business side of the estate.

     

  • image livingitup:

    The first mistake you are making is playing peace-keeper with two people who do not want peace. The second and more important mistake is that you are treating this estate as your uncle's and mother's and it is NOT - it is entirely your grandmother's estate, business and burden to sort out. I get that she is incapable of managing the demands of her situation, but you fix it by putting supports around HER and HER NEEDS not the needs and desires of her children.

    So, you have to begin and end with your grandmother's best interest. And her best interest is not being served by a son who has "washed his hands" of it yet still withholds needed information. And it is not served by dumping it all on a daughter who is disabled and overwhelmed.

    It would be served by a laywer who speaks Italian who has a background and experience in estate planning and elder issues. The laywer MUST speak Italian, gain your grandmother's trust and be empowered to act on her behalf.

    If your grandmother is active in her parish, I suggest you speak to a priest in your grandmother's parish and ask for a recommendation of an Italian-speaking lawyer in the community. If your grandmother trusts the priest, I would then ask the priest to help introduce the new lawyer. Then I would set it up and stop involving myself in this mess. You can't make your grandmother deal with her property and estate but you can give her the resources and support to do so. She is still an adult, and if she wishes to swander her property, so be it. It might be frustrating, but it is her right to do so. This isn't about solving your mother/uncle relationship, it is about solving your grandmother's lack of support.

    I'd also get a prescription for Zanax from my health care provider and take it, as medically recommended, when panick attacks surface. 

    Ditto this 100%

    Plus, how much do you want to bet that, once your grandma has a lawyer who is "on her side," your uncle suddenly develops an interest in how the estate is being handled?  Because once he is "out of the loop," he will want to know how his (future) money is being handled.

  • I think you are all absolutely right. We will need a third party involved. This can't be solved with two people who don't WANT peace.

    But I don't feel like I'm treating this estate like it's my mom and uncle's.  As I had said in my first post, houses and money are NOT worth ruining the family over. I'm not concerned so much with who gets what in a material sense, but concerned with how the RESPONSIBILITIES are divided. Meaning, who is paying my grandmother's electric bill, who is taking care of the shovelling in front of her house, who is picking up groceries for her and making sure that she eats, or has the heat on in this cold weather. These are things that are not being communicated between my mom and uncle, and it's stressing me out. It's all getting done... I don't want anyone to assume that there is any kind of neglect going on, but it's like every little thing leads to a fight between the two. And my grandmother is full-on Sicilian mourning. It's pretty intense to say the least.

    I worry for not only my grandmother, but also my mom because of her condition, and in NYC it's been snowing like crazy every couple of days. She can't get around well in this weather, and it really pisses me off that my uncle has no compassion for her. She has worn out his patience though with their verbal fights. So I understand he's angry, but he shouldn't shirk his responsibilities as a son and a brother.

    I just wish there was a way to open the lines of communication again between them. There is too much at stake with my grandmother. The stress of this is taking its toll on her as well as me. As far as her estate goes, it is the lifetime legacy of my grandparents' hard work. So as much as I hate seeing people fight over material things, I do want it to be protected, and saved for our family, like it's supposed to be. It would be terrible if all of their hard work fell apart because of my mom and uncle acting like spoiled children. There are a bunch of legal steps that are supposed to be taken and I fear it won't get done if they can't just sit down and put their heads together.

     

    OK...WOW. I just realized I worry WAAAAAAY too much about all of this. This is why I'm having panic attacks. FYI I'm 28 years old. My mom and uncle are in their 50s. I think it's time to let the "adults" handle this. Zanax sounds pretty good right about now. Or at the very least, a little bit of wine. Whew!

     

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
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