Dear Amy: My brother, "Harold," died unexpectedly in December.

It was a shock to me and our other brother, because he had always been the healthiest one of us.

I have never been close to my sister-in-law, and their adult kids are off living their lives. I sent a condolence card to each of them but got nothing in return.

They are the only family I have, so I am at a loss as to how to stay connected. What do you suggest?

Amy says: Because your brother died suddenly — during a pandemic — his wife and children may be reeling in their own orbits, unable to be expansive enough to understand that you, too, are grieving.

In less isolated times, when people are able to gather together to mourn, family members can circle together and comfort each other personally.

I'm so sorry you are experiencing such acute grief.

Because you want to forge a closer connection, call your sister-in-law occasionally to check in and see how she and her kids are doing.

Contact the adult children personally, as well. Social media offers a wonderful way to connect and essentially get to know people in a new way.

Cheater won't change

Dear Amy: I believe my husband is having an affair. His phone is constantly going off. He stands with his back against the wall to check his phone so I can't see it. He is constantly clearing his history. He is protective about his phone and gets defensive when I try to talk to him about it.

He is narcissistic and very into porn. He has always been dishonest. He refuses to work on our relationship and is emotionally abusive and immature.

I have prayed and done everything I can to support him, but ultimately it's his choice to continue with these behaviors. He acts like he doesn't care. He doesn't change. He won't go to counseling.

I feel taken for granted and used. I believe he has fallen out of love with me. The spark in his eyes is gone.

At this point I don't know what to do. I have already considered separation but don't feel like that will fix anything. I don't want a divorce because I love him.

Amy says: Actually, separation could fix everything. Everything.

Separation would remove you from your husband's orbit. You wouldn't have to watch him as he tries to mask what he's doing under your nose. You wouldn't be forced to look into his loveless eyes.

You wouldn't have to confront him about his dishonesty or listen to his lies and responses to your allegations.

You don't have to stop loving your husband. You do need to start loving yourself. You need to grow up, accept that you cannot force your husband to change, and take responsibility for the fact that you chose to marry someone you don't trust. Counseling would help.

You are a great believer in the power of change. So change!

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