My family and alcohol

9 Feb 2023

Longstanding Moodscopers may remember my issues with my alcoholic sister, Nicky, who died in 2018. The support I received here from many of you was a huge help – thank-you!

What you won’t know is that my “baby” sister, Milly, was also an alcoholic and she died in 2020.

Unlike Nicky, Milly had long periods when she was sober – weeks, months on end. When she drank, she would drink all day and every day. When mum was dying in 2016, Milly stopped drinking and moved in with her in the final weeks, coping very successfully with everything. So why, oh why did she start again? Why couldn’t she, wouldn’t she stop? She was warned by my cousin’s husband, a doctor, that if she didn’t stop drinking she would be dead within the year – in fact she died fourteen months later.

In 2018, the last time she came to stay with us, she arrived, clutching two wine boxes. She drank from morning to evening. Her social skills were zilch. She barely spoke. Her personal hygiene and appearance were dreadful. She would sit at the table pushing her food around her plate and retching, and refuse to leave the table… She was like a black hole, sucking all joy and light into herself. I don’t know if she realised that from then on I stopped ringing her, stopped initiating any communication. I would respond to any emails or messages, but there weren’t that many.  

Apparently during the first lockdown in 2020 she stopped drinking. Sadly, it was too late by then. She wasn’t eating, and she refused to seek professional help. My brother blames himself for not realising how bad she had become and for not forcing her to get help – but it was lockdown so how could he know? When she died I felt numb. Not surprised in the slightest, just numb.  

Now, here’s the thing: I have always talked openly about Nicky and her issues, primarily because of the damaging effect they had on the family and on me. However I have never talked about Milly’s issues and I have never admitted to her alcoholism. When I had to give a reason for her death aged in her early fifties I said that she stopped eating (which was true) and that she had mental health issues (which she did). I omitted the alcoholism.

I don’t think that I have grieved her passing. We have cleared and sold her house, wound up her estate as far as we can (can’t finalise as we are still waiting for probate on Nicky’s estate who didn’t write a will). Maybe my anger with her in 2018 is the only grief I have expressed.  

I just don’t want to talk or even think about her, but should I?


A Moodscope member

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