Tales From The Family Crypt: When Aging Parents Die, Sibling Rivalry

| May 29, 2015

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Tales From The Family Crypt: When Aging Parents Die, Sibling Rivalry Lives

This intriguing narrative nonfiction memoir reads like a novel but presents the true story of how two dysfunctional families dealt with the death of four aging parents. With each death, the dysfunction deepens and the story twists and turns into unexpected territory. This book is a must read for anyone struggling to cope with dysfunctional family members or with a rift among adult siblings due to rivalry. Readers will meet the three twisted sisters and one bizarre brother of the narrator and her husband.

Ted, the narrator’s brother-in-law, is a felon with a fraud conviction whose low self esteem causes him to commit despicable acts while he desperately seeks to prove his mother loved him best. His anger management issues cause him to act relentlessly without considering consequence. He’s a narcissist without a moral compass or conscience.

Anne, the narrator’s sister-in-law, is obsessed with control and conflates it with love. Obey her and she will be kind and generous. Fail to follow her orders and you are shunned. She destroys her extended family and never looks back.

Nan, the narrator’s other sister-in-law is a bipolar, emotionally disturbed recovering drug addict who is a hoarder. While she’s never been able to take care of herself, she rises to new heights of competence as her desperation compels her to torture her mother emotionally during her dying days in order to insure her own future.

Linda is brilliant but shy and socially awkward, dealing with a lifelong envy of her younger sister, the story’s narrator. Her acquiescence to her overbearing husband causes her to lose the little family she had.

Their actions would be intriguing in fictional characters but they’re real people doing unreal things to the people they are supposed to love. Both families wind up in court as the family rift rages over money, love, inheritance battles, adult sibling rivalry, how to care for aging parents and power. Readers will likely relate to much of the action as they recognize character traits they’ve seen in their own family members.

Although the memoir is somewhat sad, it’s written with humor and with love, Tales From the Family Crypt provides insight into the complex web of family relationships.

Similar to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, or to Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, or to Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, Tales From the Family Crypt helps readers to gain a better understanding of how to build healthy long-lasting, loving family relationships by learning more about families gone wrong.

A great read for anyone with difficult adult siblings and particularly compelling for those dealing with the illness and death of aging parents. As families gather to cope with death, relationships both weak and strong are challenged in new ways. Tales From the Family Crypt offers strategies readers will find quite helpful as they seek to attain happiness amidst the difficult and sad times.

Categories: Memoir, narrative nonfiction, parenting, parenthood, aging parents, understanding adult sibling rivalry, healing family rifts, eldercare, dysfunctional families

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