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Will she always be my stepdaughter?

Dear Annie: I am a stepmother to a beautiful woman whom I love very much. She has given us three beautiful granddaughters and a handsome grandson. Sadly, my husband has a very rare and very aggressive form of cancer and it looks terminal.

My question for you: Do I continue to be a stepmother after his passing? I know it’s most likely up to her, but I was curious about the proper protocol. This will help me determine how I introduce her to others. Will she always be my stepdaughter, or does she become my late husband’s daughter? — Stumped Step

Dear Stumped: I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I encourage you to continue calling her “stepdaughter” and treating her as a daughter. You two will need each other more than ever in the years to come.

Dear Annie: A few weeks ago, my husband and I were supposed to attend a funeral of a very dear friend, two hours away from our home. The service was at 2 p.m. The morning of the funeral, I woke up with a migraine and quickly took some meds. I fixed my husband’s breakfast, and he told me he was waiting to hear from another friend about having lunch together prior to the services. I asked why he hadn’t told me about the plans, and he said he shouldn’t have to. (We’ve been married 50 years.) I was hoping for a little more time to allow the migraine to diminish and told him that. We would have to leave by 10 o’clock, and I had not even showered.

Instead, he started accusing me of not letting him see his friends. He was livid and left to go alone… at 10:00 without having heard from anyone. The funeral was at 2 p.m.

My migraine had not gotten any better (and the circumstances probably made it worse), so I ended up staying home.

Was I wrong to be upset because he didn’t share his plans for us with me? If he’d told me, I could at least have tried to get ready to leave earlier. — Sad Wife

Dear Sad: Talk to your husband about what happened. But rather than focusing on who was wrong or right, simply let him know how it made you feel.

While there’s no good excuse for his storming out in that manner and leaving you behind, I’m inclined to give people more leeway right now. Everyone is feeling a little on edge lately, more than a year into a global pandemic. Add to that the fact that you two had just lost a good friend, and it’s not surprising that emotions have been running high. I’m sorry for your loss.

Dear Annie: I think it would be beneficial for you to let your readers know about DivorceCare, a network of support groups offering a 13-week seminar helping people who have been through a divorce. People who are separated or divorced can get great help by visiting www.divorcecare.org and looking up a place that offers this fantastic program near their ZIP code. — M.S.

Dear M.S.: Thanks so much for recommending this resource. If someone is unable to connect with a DivorceCare group in their area, I’ve heard good things about the online support groups at Psych Central, which can be accessed at www.psychcentralforums.com/divorce-and-separation

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“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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