Dear Bel

Spring will mark six years since I’ve seen my son, daughter-in-law or youngest daughter. Because no one else has ever allowed me to explain, or apologize for what I did or said I do not yet know. I have been ‘ghosted’.

In the middle of that time, I was in phone contact with my daughter, but she still wouldn’t (or couldn’t) explain what I’d done wrong.

My partner was found dead on my kitchen floor, one day after I had returned from shopping. My daughter was 20 miles away, but she didn’t come. I didn’t share my sadness because I didn’t want to face the silence again.

In August last year, my daughter began to talk on the telephone about how she cared for her inlaws. She didn’t mention that I would be there.

She blocked me from her cell phone because I had spoken out. I tried to call at least 11 times between then and Christmas — but no luck.

My youngest brother, who was only seven years old at Christmas time, was in Covid intensive care. My sister told me I should let my daughter know, but she didn’t care — and used it as another reason to have a go at me.

I’ve heard nothing since. I’m 75 now and have three grandchildren. I could be a great-grandmother or have lost one of the family to Covid, but wouldn’t know.

I spent Christmas on my own — and I’m crying as I write this because it drives home the futility of an existence I’d swap in a heartbeat with someone on a Covid ward whose family loves them.

Being ‘dumped’ also impinges on other relationships. How can you reveal that your family don’t want you? My little dog is getting older so I was able to spend a lot more time with him.

My two brothers and sister have their own lives and I don’t want to bring them down with my sad story.

I hope this doesn’t depress you, Bel, but it’s helped me to release some of the pent-up misery I carry all the time. Are you able to offer any suggestions?


This week Bel answers a question from a 75-year-old woman who has been cut off from her family without warning

Bel answered a question about a 75 year-old woman who had been abruptly removed from her family.

Why shouldn’t I be depressed by your story? There is no other answer.

Truth to tell, of all the problems I see, it is exactly this kind of family issue which makes me saddest of all — and all of us can bow our heads before the sorrows of others.

What is the point of family members hurting each other? What is the point of parents being ignored or neglected by their children?

The thought of the day 

These are sometimes our hearts. 

You must have sweet and seasonable showers 

Of sorrows; sometimes the frosty chill despair 

Make our desired sunshine seem more fair…. 

Francis Quarles, an English poet (1592-1644), adapted From On Change Of Weathers

Again and again I have heard what you tell me — that the rejected person has no idea what went wrong. But surely, something happened.

This is a cue to repeat the words which open Tolstoy’s tragic novel, Anna Karenina: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’

The result is that happy families share many common traits which can lead to happiness. However, any personality problem, quarrel or other circumstance could make a family break down.

Which explanation could your adult children offer if I asked them?

Why is it that 75-year old woman feels alone during Christmas Day? What can she do to console herself and not feel the need to share her pain with strangers?

Please don’t write to tell me that of course there are always ‘reasons’ . . . And I’m not talking about secretive abuse.

There are always two sides to a story in normal human life. I print this letter because there’s really no ‘answer’ I can offer Jane, who may be more sinned against than sinning. She can unload her sadness by using this column.

But I will plead with those of you who recognise the situation and are like Jane’s children — unwilling or unable (for whatever reason) to reach out a hand to a sad, lonely, bewildered parent.

You might have been uncritical of them as a child.

Can you forgive others? You can’t forgive your grandchildren.

Can you not show some pity for Mum’s loneliness or Dad’s grumpy isolation? Just imagine me on my creaky knees — begging. Don’t let your parent die alone.

Jane, tell your siblings the truth. Don’t seek to protect them from your unhappiness. You and your companion dog are getting older. Why not rescue a puppy or young dog to give them a second chance at life?

You can send your children a cheerful, positive greeting card to New Year’s Eve, wishing them a Happy New Year!

This is a terrible situation. Please accept my sincere condolences.

Money is the only thing that can end my loneliness

Dear Bel

At nearly 32 I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve never kissed a woman, held hands, or been in a situation beyond friendship.

I’ve had a couple of long-term crushes — infatuations, really. They either divorced me or I had to be there as their marriages took place.

And why wouldn’t they? I’m not much to look at and I’m socially awkward. Every time I talk to someone I feel scared, like they’ll immediately turn on me. I came from a very nice family but high school was hard for my, being a peculiar kid.

I spent years of my life being told that people hate me, that I’m ugly, that I’m a failure.

When I excelled at something, people seemed to love me. It was a pleasure for me to be funny and do well with assignments.

It was a favorite of my parents when I told jokes and did what they requested. My running impressed everyone, and I became an eater.

I’ve been told all my life that the only way I’ll stand out in a good way is if I’m exceptional in some form.

My passion is writing, and I’m currently working on my book. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s more than that now — if I am successful, everything I’ve gone through will have been worth it.

If I’m rich and have social prestige, then someone will want to be with me. I can’t imagine someone liking me for me.

I love writing. I would like to live a happy life. But I can’t shake the feeling that this is my last chance to find love and start a family. It may be too late. How do I move on?


Although you are young and have a lot of life ahead, you still have a lot to do. Before I get into the heartbreak that underpins your email, let me give you advice on these writing goals.

Of course, the novel you are writing might become a smash hit and bring you fame and fortune, but it’s more likely that it won’t.

So I beg you not to pin all hopes of turning your life around on the view of a publisher’s reader. That would be more heart-breaking than everything else you feel you haven’t experienced.


Bel Mooney’s Daily Mail Column: More

Believe me, I’ve had a lot of fiction published (for adults and children) and know many writers, too — so should warn you that the whole business brings as much disappointment as delight. There’s also poverty. Carry on, of course — but because you enjoy the process, not because you’re putting all your fragile eggs in that basket.

Your email subject line said: ‘I feel I need to be exceptional for someone to love me.’ Isn’t that a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum? Surely the most ordinary people — with no particular qualities of good looks, brains, talent or personality — become ‘exceptional’ because they are loved? What’s more, being able to give love is one test of character that does not depend on exceptionalism.

A thing that I strongly believe in is the value of talking to a professional counselor about any fears you may have.

Find somebody near you by using or This could help you to see the bigger picture and pinpoint what was wrong.

When you get to my age you shake your head at somebody not yet 32 writing, ‘I’m worried it may already be too late’. Your years are ahead of you. You can develop your personality and have new experiences. Meet people. Get advice on how to dress and what to eat.

Years ago I knew a young woman — the most socially gauche person you could imagine: shy, awkward, clumsy, with no boyfriends. Recently I heard she had married for the first time — in her 50s.

Why not try to put a different spin on reality by telling yourself you’re going to make sense of your life by talking to someone — and realising that loving and being loved can happen at any time?

Your assumption that you will be able to achieve good fortune through the superficial pursuit of wealth will keep your present unsatisfactory.

And finally… No need to be jealous of happiness

Last week’s column introduced the Finnish concept of ‘Sisu’ which means grit or resilience, and I contrasted it with Danish ‘hygge’, or cosiness. I poked a bit of fun at that (‘snuggling under a soft blanket’), although I love being cosy.

But one reader, D, picked out two phrases (‘. . . and perhaps somebody lovely to talk to’ and ‘. . . add three little dogs’) and commented: ‘This morning I seem to have taken offence at the ease with which you describe a scene that we can picture in our mind’s eye, and which causes me an innate sense of loss.

‘I can only think it’s due to not being in the same envious position that you find yourself in.’

Reach out to Bel 

Each week Bel responds to readers’ queries about emotional and relational problems.

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email

To protect identity, names are altered.

Bel enjoys reading letters, although she is disappointed that personal correspondence cannot be entered into.

Oh dear. D told me that her husband died three years ago from dementia and she doesn’t like living alone.

Two of her family members have Covid at the moment, and she adds: ‘This is not helping my low feeling. I know I am very lucky to have a comfortable life, but when I read your article it filled me with dissatisfaction and sadness.’

But the vital point of that particular column was about ‘staying determined to cope, whatever life chucks at you’.

D was so relieved that she had asked me to tell her about my worries, and the osteoarthritis that causes her pain.

But I’m glad she wrote because it made me reflect on how, when passing people in the street, we have no idea of their troubles. Even if someone seems to be in control of the universe, they might actually feel the burden of the entire world crushing them.

So let’s be generous. Please don’t be jealous of the apparent happiness of others. Don’t dismiss the good news just because you’ve had bad news. Don’t sneer at happy families, because yours made you sad, mad, hurt. Don’t pour scorn on romance but try to rejoice at the fact that love exists.

Remember that one of the most beautiful phrases in our language is: ‘I’m so glad for you’.