DEAR ABBY: I'm convinced my father's wife killed him and I don't know where to turn. I'm pretty sure it was assisted suicide, which is illegal in most states, including the state where he lived. I feel cheated and angry at my father's wife for not having the guts to talk to us about his plans, and Dad for relying on her to tell us when she never had a good relationship with any of us.
It has been several years now, and I still feel guilty for letting it happen, although I'm not sure how I could have stopped it. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
- Angry Son in Georgia
DEAR ANGRY SON: I'm sorry for your pain and anger, emotions that are not uncommon when a loved one dies. But for your own sake, accept that if your father had an advance health-care directive, and trusted his wife to carry it out, then she was following his wishes. While today's medical interventions can prolong someone's life, they can also prolong death. Hospice offers grief counseling for family members for a period of time after a death occurs, and you and your siblings should have received some.
DEAR ABBY: My sister "Mary" was in a car accident when she was in her 20s that left her with some brain damage. She appears normal, but has trouble with interpersonal relations, boundaries and impulse control.
When we go to restaurants, Mary has a hard time deciding what to order. When her meal arrives, she is rarely satisfied with her choice and makes a scene. We would hate to exclude her from these family outings. Can you help?
- Hard to Digest in Washington
DEAR HARD TO DIGEST: Before you take her out for a meal, explain to her what the ground rules are. If she acts out, do as you would with an unruly child and leave the restaurant until she regains control of herself.
Because of her impairment, she may need extra help with her menu choices. Luckily, many restaurants now post their menus online. If you print one out and go over it with Mary, you might be able to make ordering easier for her. It's certainly worth a try.