Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My cousin "Larry" was diagnosed with liver cancer. His mother, siblings and I arranged a fundraiser benefit and opened up a bank account in his name to raise money to cover his medical costs. Larry is a father of five school-age children, and prior to the diagnosis he was working full time. His wife, "Sally," is a stay-at-home mom. Prior to starting the fundraiser, Larry's mother and siblings told him about it so he would be aware of it. We received a lot of support from everyone until Sally told us to stop the fundraiser immediately and said they would not accept any of the money. Members of Sally's church are bringing meals to her every day, so it's obvious that she will accept help. Donations from members of her church are acceptable, but she is not willing to accept any donations from our family? We are shocked and saddened by her behavior. We have never encountered someone refusing a gift. Her actions have offended my entire extended family. All we were trying to do was to help and support a member of our family, and we wanted a way to help. Sally is now trying to turn Larry against us by refusing our offer. How should we react to this?
DEAR SAD: You should react to this more gracefully than you have so far.
Your offer sounds generous, but you have delivered it with a sledgehammer.
It is disrespectful to conduct a fundraiser on someone else's behalf without that person's permission. Your relative might have decided in retrospect that he did not want his health challenges announced to the world, and taking money might embarrass or offend him and/or his wife.
Stop blaming this family for being who they are and keep your focus on the issue at hand, which is how to assist a family member with a very tough road ahead.
DEAR AMY: Regarding your response to "Flummoxed," I respectfully ask: Are you nuts? This stupid 37-year-old pregnant woman is being totally unrealistic. Her mother has a duty to try to guide her to a smarter decision such as giving the baby up for adoption or having an abortion (if it isn't too late). She makes $100/week, will need to sue her boyfriend for child support and wants to go back to school? Some people just don't have a clue.
DEAR DISGUSTED: Adoption and abortion are off the table, because the daughter is keeping the baby. After that, the duty of both mothers should be to commit to raising this child in the safest environment possible.