Carolyn Hax: Step-caregiver blamed for step-dad’s death


Adapted from an online discussion.

Carolina: My beloved stepfather came to live with me and my husband in the last year of his life. He was mentally perfect but physically flawed and made all of his own medical decisions until a week before his death. Because of a layoff, I ended up being his caregiver — taking him to the doctor, etc. His daughter chose to interact with him over the phone but not to visit him, which did not change when he moved in with us. After his death we had a funeral and everything was sad but fine.

Months later, at Thanksgiving at our house, my sister-in-law announced to my sisters and all my family that I had killed my stepfather because I hadn’t aggressively made him do things he didn’t want. not do, so somehow not keep him alive.

Stunned expressions and silence, as you can imagine, ensued.

Since then, we have had limited interactions with her. But I just found out that my sister-in-law kept posting on Facebook that I killed my stepfather. Nonstop. I only know because one of my sisters mentioned it — neither my husband nor I use Facebook. We are puzzled. Do we confront her about it or do we let it go?

My first thought was to let her howl into her own abyss. For example, what she says and does is so insane that it doesn’t warrant a response. You also have the option to block it; not being on Facebook conveniently insulates you from the impulse to react.

I thought I might change my mind after I had some time to think about it, and I changed, but not dramatically: I think it’s important that your husband (try to) come into contact with her to state the obvious, that her behavior is not only seriously inappropriate, but also deeply concerning. I don’t expect that to change anything.

When other people bring up the sister-in-law’s behavior with you, try, “Thank you, we know about it and are concerned about her. Looks like it’s time to be.

If people accept his madness to the point that there are consequences for you, then talk to a lawyer.

Tell us: What’s your favorite Carolyn Hax love story?

· This kind of persistently irrational behavior is truly disturbing. I suspect some sort of mixture of guilt and grief is fueling it, but not only is that unfair and defamatory to you, it would also suggest to me that the sister-in-law really needs help. Does she have anyone else in her life – spouse, children, good friends, other siblings, etc. – who could your husband talk to? I would be afraid that she would become a danger, for others or for herself.

If it’s any comfort to you, I don’t know of any sane person who would read that kind of Facebook post and believe it, you know? I think a lot more people would think, “Wow, the sister-in-law really has a hard time with this.”

· I see tremendous guilt on the part of the sister-in-law for not being there for her dying father. The writer of letters has been there for his stepfather. Maybe not much comfort for the defendant, but maybe it can help explain Facebook’s behavior.

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