DEAR ABBY

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dear Abby:

My mother died last December from internal bleeding. Against her wishes, I put her on a respirator. I wanted her to be around until all her family could be with her. I know that taking her off the respirator was the right thing to do. Five doctors said there was no hope. But I was looked down on by her brother and my sister. Everyone had me second-guessing myself.

My ex-husband agrees that what I did was right, because Mom wouldn't have wanted to survive with no quality of life.

My father has been ill for a long time, but recently has taken a turn for the worse. I'm doing the best I can to care for him and do the right thing, but it's like dealing with my mother's death all over again. My sister makes me feel like I'm trying to hurry Dad into the grave, but I don't feel that I am. Dad and Mom were married 51 years; he has been very lonely without her.

Dad suffers from lung cancer, congestive heart failure and poor circulation because of diabetes. My sister doesn't want to let him go, and I don't want him to linger. I want him to be happy and go in peace to where he wants to be.

I have arranged for hospice and we're keeping Dad medicated for comfort. But my sister thinks I'm keeping him drugged up to push him to die. I'm emotionally exhausted and tired of battling with my sister. I'm still mourning the loss of Mom. Can you give me some words of wisdom or help?

Heartbroken in Missouri

Assuming the role of head of the family is never easy, and my hat is off to you for stepping up to the plate as you have.

Your father could not have been placed in a hospice program unless his doctor(s) agreed that he has less than six months to live. Hospice assures that the time he has left will be spent as comfortably as possible, but it also does more than that. It offers spiritual counseling to the patient's family during their own time of need. I urge you to discuss with the hospice staff the pressure you're under, so that both you and your sister can receive some much-needed counseling and support. They can help the both of you through this transition. You have my sympathy.

Readers, for information about hospice, contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at http://www.caringinfo.org , or call toll-free 800-658-8898.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

2005Universal Press Syndicate


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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