DEAR NATALIE: My brother has recently married a person who doesn’t “believe” in COVID-19. I am immunocompromised and begged them to wear masks when they came for Thanksgiving. I begged them because they were both sick with “sinus infections.” Of course, those infections turned out to be COVID-19 and now I have it, as well as my partner. What’s even worse is that my brother is a physician and was seeing patients while symptomatic the day before Thanksgiving. Who knows how many people he gave it to. I’m livid. I don’t want them in my house for Christmas, even though we have always spent the holiday together. We used to be very close, but his flippant behavior about COVID-19 and how it impacts others has turned me off to him. His partner only makes it worse. They are both very sick and his partner had to go to the ER because of his breathing issues. How do I uninvite them to the holiday? I need to make a point here about safety and family. What should I do? –COVID ISN’T OVER
DEAR COVID ISN’T OVER: I am at a total loss with the lack of community care that we are seeing all around us. This “me” mentality is literally killing us. I am so sorry that you were exposed and caught this dangerous and very contagious virus. I would just be honest with yourself at this point about who your brother is and what his priorities are. You may have to love him from a distance for the foreseeable future. If they can’t respect the rules of your house, then they shouldn't be invited. If they can’t simply tell you ahead of time if they feel unwell, if they refuse to wear a mask knowing you are immunocompromised, and if they continue to gaslight everyone around them about the reality of this disease, why should you stand for it? Tell him, “I’ll see you next year,” and give yourself the gift of a COVID-free holiday.
DEAR NATALIE: My father has dementia and it has gotten much worse over the past few months. It is at the point where he doesn’t really recognize anyone, but the nurses say that when I’m there, he is much calmer. So, I continue to visit him every day. But I am emotionally exhausted. My partner and our two children want to go to a beautiful cabin for Christmas which is about an hour away from our home. I have a lot of guilt about not seeing my dad for three days. I don’t know how much longer he will be around and while we can’t communicate, I know that me being there and holding his hand makes his day. It makes mine, too, in a lot of ways. I’m an only child and my mother is dead, so he is all I have left. Would it be wrong of me to skip Christmas? But then I worry I will hurt my family. Would it be wrong of me to skip seeing my dad for a few days? But, what if something happens? I am torn. What should I do? –DIFFICULT TIME OF YEAR
DEAR DIFFICULT TIME OF YEAR: What if you went to see your dad on the morning before you leave for the cabin, since it is so close? Then, on the way home, you could also stop by for a short visit. You would only be missing one full day. On the other hand, it is not unreasonable for you to take a break for a few days. It sounds as though you are burned out and incredibly diligent about always making space and time for him. I don’t know about your relationship with your father, but it sounds like you had a good one. What would he say? If you think he would tell you to go and enjoy the holiday break, then you should do so. Be with your kids. Be with your partner. Perhaps it is best to spend time in nature for a few days and come back recharged and ready to handle whatever else is thrown your way. It’s clear that you cherish your dad and I’m sure that even though he can’t communicate it, he feels it in his heart.
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to
Check out her new radio show every Saturday from 2-5pm EST on KDKA Radio 1020AM, 100.1FM or stream it on the Audacy app or at kdkaradio.com
Watch her new video series with Pennsylvania Capital Star, Facts Over Fear on their website, penncapital-star.com
Follow her on Instagram and TikTok