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relationship woes Dear Maura: My family is using Covid-19 as an excuse for not keeping in touch


Maura O’Neill has been responding to a wide range of problems and issues for the past 20 years as Agony Aunt with the Sunday World. With a Higher Diploma in Education and counselling qualification she also draws on her own life experience in responding to readers’ letters.

Dear Maura

I feel our family is falling apart during these challenging times. Our mother was always the one who kept us together. There's my brother who is totally selfish, my older sister who is spoiled and then my younger sister who is now with the love of her life and the rest of us don't exist.

With just dad and me at home it gets very lonely at times. I'm grand because I have friends but he's limited at his age (76), with going out and meeting his pals. We haven't had a family dinner since New Year. I feel my siblings are making the virus an excuse for not calling more regularly. They ring, but it's not the same as say, sticking your head in the door for a few minutes even. The grandkids are in college or working away from home. I've no idea how Christmas will turn out.

My problem is that since we're not keeping in touch on some level we'll drift apart totally. We were never naturally close so now we have the best excuse to stay apart. Dad definitely feels it, but says nothing to me. I wonder if other families are going through the same thing.


We are all living, on some level, with separation and isolation and while people are doing their best to work through this, your family is happily subscribing to everything these issues offer.

Somewhere along the way your relationships grew threadbare and it's sad because your mother did her best to keep her brood together. Sometimes it can be just laziness and people not being bothered to make an effort. I know that you are being careful with your dad, but why not organise a walk and a coffee after with your brother and sisters, individually or in a small group. Ask them to do it for your dad's sake.

It's distance that you are dealing with not huge rows or divisions. With that in mind I'm confident that you will find a way to just meet up for a chat. But regularity is the key.

  • Ask the expert: maura.oneill@sundayworld.com

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