My sister left home, or disappeared, five years ago when she was in her mid-teens. We did not hear from her or see her again until she showed up at my parent’s home with two children in tow. My parents struggled for those five years without knowing if she was dead or alive, or what terrible fate she may have met. The police investigation was useless and after months the case went cold. Eventually my parents were forced to try to move on with their lives, but they were never able to get over the loss and uncertainty of what had happened to their daughter.
When Heather reappeared we were all shocked, but extremely happy, it was like a dream come true for all of us, especially my parents. As the excitement wore off, I started to wonder what had happened to Heather. She has not offered any information or explanation for her disappearance. My excitement and relief has begun to turn to anger and resentment, wondering why she won’t explain what happened. Although I’m scared to push the issue for fear Heather will get her back up and leave, I feel we all need to know what happened. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to handle this situation? Should I push Heather or just back off.
So sorry for what your family has gone through, it must have been an incredibly traumatic event for everyone. I can understand your frustration and need to know what happened, however you are going to have to wait until your sister is ready to talk. The story will most likely come out in bits and pieces, so you will have to pay attention and listen for the details. At this point you may be able to follow up with a question to get the conversation going, but don’t push your sister, let her set the pace of the conversation. I sense from your letter that you are thinking your sister may have done this on purpose, but that may not be the case. As a teenager she may have left home on her own, but afterward something terrible might have happened to her which prevented her from contacting the family. As your sister and her children settle into life with your family, hopefully she will become comfortable enough to disclose the last five years of her life. Ultimately she may need to see a counsellor to be able to deal with her past. It’s a very mysterious situation, but with the support and love of your family it will eventually be resolved. In the meantime enjoy having your sister and her family safely home.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.