Ferne Kotlyar

What do you do when your family chooses to walk out of your life? How do you win them back?  

In this episode of Fridays with Ferne, Ferne describes a woman named Rosa who doesn’t understand how her family walked out of her life. When Rosa’s uncle died, he chose to give his massive inheritance to only some of his nieces and nephews. Those that did not receive anything were furious. Since Rosa was the proprietor of the will, they expected her to change what her uncle wrote.

Rosa felt that not only was it not her place to do that, but it was also unethical, wrong, and straight-up illegal. When she refused to change her uncle’s will, those cousins that were once closer than siblings, cut her off. They stopped talking to her and didn’t invite her to any family events; she was ex-communicated. Rosa was heartbroken. She felt lost and alone and didn’t know how to win them back.  

My first piece of advice to Rosa is to step back and give her cousins and herself room to calm down and think things through. The second piece is to help Rosa stop feeling guilty for the way she executed the will; she was just following through on her dead uncle’s last wishes and sticking to her values.

I suggest that after some time, Rosa writes a letter to her cousins telling them how she feels and that she misses them. From there, if they still don’t come back, Rosa needs to move on. She must find another source of support and leave the door open for this family if they want to come back into her life (if that’s what she wants).

What would YOU do? Let us know!

Have you found yourself in a situation like this? Do you have an interesting case you’d like to share? Let’s talk! If you want to share your experiences and/or thoughts on this episode or the show, please reach out to us!



Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. This is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast. Today is Fridays with Ferne, and I'd like to introduce you to Ferne. She's my daughter and every week she comes to us with a new challenging case.

Ferne, welcome!

[00:00:23] Ferne Kotlyar:
Hi, thank you so much! Are you ready for your case today?

[00:00:26] Kim Ades:
I'm so ready. What do you got for me?

[00:00:29] Ferne Kotlyar:
All right here it goes. So today the case is about a woman named Rosa. Now, Rosa grew up in a large Italian family, where she spent a lot of time with all of her cousins. it was a super tight net. Really, really close. And essentially she lived with some of these cousins and they were basically her siblings. And in fact, one of them was literally her best friend. She told her everything. And as they got older, you know, and they continued to have dinners together and big family gatherings.

And you know, Rosa had a tough life. She was a widow at a young age and she had to take care of her. And so this family really, really meant a lot to her. They took care of her. They brought her in, everything like that. And so, later on, Rosa had-- they all had this uncle who didn't have any immediate family other than them, right?

So he didn't have children or parents that were still alive. And so he made Rosa the proprietor of his will. And so she was in charge of as well, and he passed away. And when he passed away, she saw that essentially he gave all of his money, and he was a fairly rich uncle, only to his godchildren. So not to all the cousins, just his godchildren.

And so, all the cousins that didn't get any of this money or were really, really angry and they were mad specifically at Rosa because she was in charge of the will. I know that she doesn't have the power to change the will and she found that, you know, it was not only unethical and not right to change his words, his will, but it was also illegal to change his will.

And so the cousins were mad that she didn't do that and that she didn't do anything so that they could get more money. And what happened was that, given that they were so mad, they cut her off completely. They stopped talking to her, they stopped answering her calls, they stopped inviting her. And all they did was basically slander her online, on social media and just say terrible things about her.

And Rosa was devastated. She felt so alone, she felt so heartbroken. These were her closest friends, closest relatives. Like, these were people so important to her and she didn't know what to do. Like, she didn't understand how they could do this to her. And so, not only she didn't understand, but she didn't know how to get them back. And she just felt honestly lost and heartbroken.

And so I guess the question here would be, how do we move Rosa from this place to a better one?

[00:03:11] Kim Ades:
Yeah, this is a good, interesting story. So Rosa was the executor of the will. The uncle basically said "here's what I want you to do. Please give the money to my godchildren". And I'm assuming the godchildren were not the children of her cousins. Is that accurate?

[00:03:30] Ferne Kotlyar:
Well, it wasn't like her cousins' children, it was her and maybe her sister, and some other people, but not her cousins themselves. And this uncle didn't actually tell her what was in the will, he just asked if she could execute it when the time was right.

[00:03:50] Kim Ades:
Okay. So she had no idea what was in the will. Okay. And what exactly did the cousins expect?

[00:03:58] Ferne Kotlyar:
I think at some point they may have tried to convince him to change it. Like, the uncle when he was still alive, or--

[00:04:06] Kim Ades:
So they knew what was in the will before he died or they didn't know?

[00:04:10] Ferne Kotlyar:
Oh, sorry! They didn't convince him to change it. They convinced him to make them the executer, if that makes sense.

[00:04:18] Kim Ades:
They tried to convince the uncle to pass along executorship.

[00:04:25] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:04:26] Kim Ades:
Okay. And did Rosa know that?

[00:04:31] Ferne Kotlyar:
Not until later.

[00:04:33] Kim Ades:
So later on she found out that they tried to get that rule from her?

[00:04:39] Ferne Kotlyar:
Exactly. Yeah.

[00:04:40] Kim Ades:
Got it. Okay. So she's devastated. She's upset. How do we help her move past?

Okay. So I have found that a lot of times when some kind of adversity happens, we discover how people react and respond to it. And so we see that in her case, the people she cares for have reacted and responded in two very different ways, right?

When she became a widow, these were the people who really embraced her, who took care of her, who helped her through things. And at the same time, when her uncle died and she became the executor, they did the opposite, they got mad at her.

And so you see on one hand, they're warm, they're loving, they're caring, they're compassionate. On the other hand, they're not understanding what's going on. And then they get angry and then they really lash out. And so the question becomes, what does Rosa do?

Does she need to lash out? Does she need to get angry too? The answer is no. Right? The last thing she needs to do is join them in their rage, in their anger. She doesn't need to fight back, lash out, contradict their slander online. She doesn't need to get into the ring with them. That's first and foremost. They're upset. Okay. They can be upset by themselves.

[00:06:06] Ferne Kotlyar:
I think more than angry... I mean, she was angry, but I think more than that, she was really sad and really just tried to kind of explain herself and get them back. Not necessarily be rude or mean or angry at them.

[00:06:21] Kim Ades:
Yeah. And sometimes when you try to explain yourself to someone who is only seeing things in one way, it's very hard to do that, right? So you can talk as much as you want, but if they already have a preconceived notion and a preconceived idea of what you've done and how terrible, awful and wrong it is, then they're not listening. They're not hearing anyways.

So for Rosa, the course of action for her is number one is to kind of step away and give it a little space. Give it a little breathing room, allow it to settle down a little bit. The second thing she can do is obviously, you know, Italians are very lively and passionate and sounds like her family is like that too. And what you want to do is, is try to approach it in a bit of a less passionate manner. Right?

[00:07:12] Ferne Kotlyar:
How come?

[00:07:13] Kim Ades:
Well, because when she becomes passionate, they become passionate, and then there's that clash that takes place. Right? So they're not hearing each other when they're actually verbalizing to one another, it sounds like that's what's happening.

So she's trying to express herself and explain, but they're not really listening. And they just have one point of view and they want her to hear their point of view. And so that's not happening in the room together.

And so my advice to Rosa is number one, you know, they're upset. Okay. It's okay for them to be upset. Unfortunately it's not entirely in your hands. And so be at peace with the fact that you're just following through on instructions, by someone who passed away. And so this is not a decision you made. It's a decision he made. And so be okay with it. Like, what I'm really trying to do is help Rosa not feel guilty about what she did and how she did it.

Number two is I would encourage Rosa to write down her thoughts and review it. Review it over and over again until she feels comfortable sharing that with her cousins. You know, "Hey, here's how it went down for me. Here's what took place. Here's how I felt. Here's why I did what I did. Here's what was asked of me. Here's what's legal and here's how I feel".

Now, if Rosa wants to, she can take her share of the will, what she received, and she can say "you know what? Here's what I received and here's what I'm willing to do. Here's what I want to do. I want to share this with you". Right? She can do that. If she really feels the desire to do that.

But I would not do that until she got to a place of peace with her cousins. So it's not like... I'm not trading your love and affection for a part of the will. I want to get to a place of understanding and then if at some point I want to share what I received, I can do that. But not as a barter piece.

The whole thing is that Rosa has received a lot of support from her family that has suddenly been taken away. And so it's very important for Rosa to find another source of support, another area or another group of friends, another Italian family, another source of support.

And that's very important because when we are unsupported, we cannot think clearly, we cannot see clearly, and we're not making decisions clearly. And so the question for her is, in Rosa's case, when you make a decision moving forward, how are you making this decision? And very often I encourage people to use a very specific strategy to make the decision.

So, number one, is it healthy? Number two, is it engaging? In other words, does it keep you involved in something you want to be involved with? Is it interesting? And is it good for you on a mental level? Number three, is it aligned with your values? So in Rosa's case, does sharing part of her gift align with her values versus "Hey, I'm taking care of this man's will, and this was his desire and that's much more aligned with my values".

So she has to make a decision. And number four is, does it lead to a goal or outcome that she desires?

[00:10:43] Ferne Kotlyar:
Do you mean number four?

[00:10:45] Kim Ades:
Number four, I'm sorry. And so very important question for Rosa is what do you want out of this? Do you want to reconvene with your cousins? Or do you want to kind of just take a step back and be okay with it? So that's a very, very important thing in this conversation.

[00:11:04] Ferne Kotlyar:
What if she just wants things to go back to as they were? You know, she just wants her cousins back.

[00:11:09] Kim Ades:
Well, so the goal is she wants a relationship with her cousins. So the question is... not what will it take to get a relationship back, because I'm not a fan of that. I'm not a fan of the whole barter concept, right? She doesn't want to buy her cousins off. But the question is, can they go back?

They can't really go back to the way things were. What can happen now? Right? How can we develop a relationship from here on end? And maybe it's a relationship with some of the cousins as opposed to all of the cousins. And could that be okay? Right? But she has to kind of step back and say, "what is it that I want here? And what do my values allow me to do?"

[00:11:55] Ferne Kotlyar:
And at what point does she stop trying? Like, let's say she keeps trying, she keeps trying, she keeps doing all the things that you supposed to do, you know, she's an absolute angel in this case, you know? And really doesn't get angry and tries to explain herself and tries to be nice to them, she does all the steps and they still don't yield. At what point does she stop trying?

[00:12:19] Kim Ades:
She stops now. She leaves the door open and says "Hey, you know, I feel like... I love you. I care about you. I would love a relationship with you. My door is open. I feel like I've done what I've been asked to do, and here I am, you know where to find me".

And it's very, very important for her to build a life, to build other relationships, to find outside friends, to build a new family, in a way, and leave the door open for them, if and when they want to come back. But it's not her job to go and beg after them. Right?

So leave the door open, understand that they're mad, don't lash out with their anger and kind of step back and say "here I am".

And I guess my next question would be, how does she come to peace with the fact that they may not want to talk to her anymore?

It's an interesting question, but you know, peace comes from the acceptance of what is. You know? So when do we feel pain? We feel pain when we think things should be different than they are. Right? So she's looking for something that she's not getting, and then she's getting frustrated with them.

But once she just kind of accepts "Hey, this is the way things are" her pain level, her frustration, her disappointment, her sadness reduces. And so, it's sometimes hard to accept things the way they are. But for her, she's had a lot of adversity, right? She lost her husband. She was a widow young, how do we accept that? And so her lesson in life is to learn to accept what is.

And it's hard, but when we resist, that's when we experience pain and suffering. And so, for her, we want to help her learn to reduce her pain and suffering.

[00:14:26] Ferne Kotlyar:
Definitely. So if you had one last piece of advice for Rosa, what would it be?

[00:14:33] Kim Ades:
For Rosa, would say to her: you do what's right. On every level, right? You behave in a way that is consistent with what's important to you, what your values are, what you care about. And when you do that consistently, at the end of the day, you can look in the mirror and say "I did the right thing. I feel good about myself. I behaved with integrity".

And if you continue to do that, the right people will step into your life and stay in your life. And so when some people go away, it's hard, it's hurtful, it's difficult. But at the end of the day, what you're doing is you're creating an environment that is a match to who you are. And so when people fall away, it's no longer a match and that's not always easy, but it's always the right thing.

[00:15:29] Ferne Kotlyar:
Definitely. Well, thank you!

[00:15:31] Kim Ades:
That was the tough one!

[00:15:33] Ferne Kotlyar:

[00:15:34] Kim Ades:
For those of you who are listening, what I described in this conversation was a decision-making process I use with clients called the H.E.A.L. Methodology. H for is it healthy? E is it engaging? A is it aligned with your values? And L does it lead to an outcome or desire you're seeking? In fact, we have some information on our website about that very thing, and if you're interested in looking for it here's the URL.

It's frameofmindcoaching.com/heal. Go, look it up. Happy for you to read a little bit more about how that works. In the meantime, Ferne, thank you for this challenging case.
For those of you who are listening, if you have a case that you want to share with us, please reach out to us. Ferne, how do people find you?

[00:16:26] Ferne Kotlyar:
People can find me on my email. fernekotlyar@live.com.

[00:16:36] Kim Ades:
And you can find me at kim@frameofmindcoaching.com.  
Until we speak again next week.

linkedin icon