Ask Amy: Abuse disclosure at funeral upsets widow

DEAR AMY: Please encourage people who have been abused in childhood to confront their abusers in life, and not wait until they are dead to “share” their accusations with family members.

I was devastated when a cousin informed me — at my husband’s funeral — that he was a victim of sexual abuse by my husband when they were both young.

I have no idea if the abuse really happened, and I have no way to find out. The story I was told doesn’t really hold together, and it certainly doesn’t fit the man I was married to for many years. What is worse is that my husband is no longer alive to defend himself.

The pain this has caused is tremendous, and I fail to see how anyone benefited from the disclosure. The cousin kept silent for a lifetime.

Why did he have to share this with me on the worst day of my life and then be surprised when I got upset? If you can’t find the courage to confront your abusers, don’t settle for sucker-punching those who loved them. -- Grieving Widow

DEAR GRIEVING: I am so sorry for your loss and the additional pain this accusation has caused you.

I agree with you that this disclosure was horribly and insensitively timed and hope you can learn the truth to resolve any unanswered questions. You and the person who made the allegation both need to heal.

DEAR AMY: My mother recently passed away. We received a number of plants and sympathy cards, some containing money or Masses to be said on mom’s behalf. My sisters want to send thank-you cards. I went on the Internet to see what the correct etiquette is, and, of course, there is really no clear answer.

I don’t think it’s necessary. Many times the cards and gifts are sent by people you have already thanked in person for being at the funeral.

I know that when I attend a funeral, I am there out of support, respect, love and friendship. I don’t expect a thank-you card for grieving with family and friends and really think it’s kind of creepy. What do you think? -- Grieving

DEAR GRIEVING: This is really not debatable. When someone shows you a specific sort of kindness, through a gift or donation of remembrance, it is not only thoughtful but also necessary to acknowledge this kindness through a specific thank you, preferably in writing.

Funeral directors will carefully note and provide the names of people who sent flowers. Charities will often send the names of those who donated money to honor your loved one.

There is nothing creepy about thanking those who have been so thoughtful, but if you can’t bring yourself to do this, I hope there is another family member who will.

DEAR AMY: A few years ago, I started dating a man a couple of years older than I am, and we ultimately became a couple.

I find that I have to admonish him for things that he should know already. He has tried washing the dishes after I’ve cooked, only for me to have to rewash everything. I’ve lost my patience several times, when, after he goes to the bathroom, my floor is wet around the toilet. I’ve had to teach him to cook (he lived off fast food), properly make a bed, etc.

I’ve found that when I have to “teach” him (or get on his case for something he has done wrong) that I lose some of my attraction to him, feeling more like his mother than his girlfriend.

I also feel he’s been in “training” with me for so long that, if I end things, some other woman could snatch him up and reap the benefits of my hard work. Any advice? -- Reluctant Teacher

DEAR TEACHER: If you lose your attraction to this man because you are always having to “teach” him things, imagine how he feels, knowing that everything he does requires correction?

This is not a healthy dynamic. In my view, you should release him and find a partner who has already mastered the life skills you require.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

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