DEAR AMY: My sister and I cannot agree on whether to tell my 96-year-old aunt that my 92-year-old father (her brother) passed away. Our aunt is in a memory care facility with some dementia. There are times that she is really with it, and then there are other times that I have to explain to her who I am. If we want to talk to her, she has to come to the phone in the common area. My dad was an executor of her will, along with two of my cousins. My sister feels that she would freak out about the fact that my dad died, and then fret over her will, even though my cousins are perfectly capable of handling her estate. My sister feels that we should keep this information from her, to keep her from getting upset. I, on the other hand, feel that we should tell her. She has a right to know. I don’t believe in treating adults like children. I know that I would be hurt if my family kept information from me. But then again, I’m not elderly and suffering from dementia. I believe that we both want what is best for my aunt, but we are definitely coming at this from two very different directions. My sister and I constantly argue over things like this. Honestly, once our father’s estate is settled, I don’t think we’ll have much of a relationship left. Your thoughts?
At My Wits’ End
DEAR WITS’ END: I come down on your side of this issue, but there are many variables. Your aunt is not a child; she is an adult with a cognitive illness. Surely her illness will have an impact on how she processes this information, but I do agree that she has a right to know about her brother’s death.
You (and/or your sister) should discuss this with your cousins (her children), and they should seek the counsel of a social worker where your aunt is living in order to arrive at the best way to convey this information.
Your cousins (and you and/or your sister) should be with your aunt when she is told about this. Even if her memory is impaired, she needs and deserves personal contact and comfort.
I hope your relationship with your sister survives this very tough period in your family’s life. Everybody processes loss differently, and you both might be acting out of your own sense of grief. This is a time when everyone should soften as much as possible, in order to be gentle with yourselves — and others.
DEAR AMY: I met a wonderful man about a year ago. I love him, we are both widowed, and we are practicing Christians. I had a wonderful and fulfilling marriage; his was dysfunctional at best. I would like to remarry. He has stated in the past he has no desire to. I broke up with him briefly, but we were both heartbroken, and have not left each other’s side since. What should I do? I don’t believe in ultimatums, but I’ll be 65 on my next birthday, and I’m tired of living in limbo, and driving back and forth to each other’s houses has gotten old. I know he loves me, but I’m not sure if that’s enough. Your advice?
DEAR TIRED: Once you decide where you stand, then you should stalwartly stand there, ready to assume full responsibility for your stance, and accept the consequences. You tell your partner, “I no longer want to conduct our relationship this way. It is important to me that we get married.”
This is not an ultimatum, but simply stating your own truth.
Then it’s his turn to weigh in. If he doesn’t want to get married, then you will have a choice to make. You should make this choice according to your own values and purpose, and not as a way of manipulating him.
DEAR AMY: “Torn” is a professional musician whose wife wants him to stop playing at night. I am in that jazz world. Our workplace is the clubs. These gigs can be hard to come by. Most of us have day jobs too. Torn’s day job is caring for his daughter. His wife is essentially asking him to give up his career. His wife is being unreasonable. She knew he was a musician when she married him.
DEAR NATIVESAX: I am hoping that with some compromise, they can both continue in their professions.