DEAR AMY: My father is 91 and has dementia. He recently had a health scare. I learned he gave an advance directive with a “do not resuscitate” order to my brother several years ago.
My mother is in good health and she would miss my father if he died.
I told my brother that giving the DNR order to the doctor was condemning Dad to die and that we should follow Mom’s wishes to keep him alive.
Mom does not want confrontation and agrees with everyone she talks with, but I know what she really wants.
My father signed the directive years ago and I think my mother’s wishes should prevail. How can I get my brother to understand he is tearing our family apart by following those outdated instructions? -- Angry in Anaheim
DEAR ANGRY: If your mother agrees with everyone she talks to, then how can you be sure you know what she really wants?
If your father filled out this advance directive and DNR when he was of sound mind (and it is legally valid), then it is HIS wishes — not yours or any other family member’s — that should prevail. The whole point of instituting this directive is to ensure that the individual’s wishes are respected, and your father should be given credit for having the foresight to do this.
You are obviously having a very hard time with all of this. You should talk to a hospital social worker and family members to understand and come to terms with your father’s directive.
DEAR AMY: My uncle’s wife, “Marilyn,” is very difficult. She invites herself to other people’s Facebook accounts, tells humiliating stories about others and keeps tabs on other people’s private information.
She has been passive-aggressively taunting me for being single after my very difficult breakup with a girlfriend. I have not been in a stable relationship since my breakup, but both of my younger brothers have significant others, and Marilyn throws this in my face. She has also done this to those who have lost spouses and are still grieving, upsetting them deeply.
Marilyn even invited my ex-girlfriend to a private family gathering where she didn’t belong. My ex attended and was provocatively dressed (I feel just to embarrass me), and was revealing her reputation for shameless promiscuity.
My uncle can’t control Marilyn’s behavior. This type of harassment even got her slapped with a no-contact order by a family member, which she was clearly asking for.
How do I make it clear that I do not appreciate this type of humiliation and disrespect without resorting to such legal restraint? -- Alienated Nephew
DEAR NEPHEW: You don’t clarify what behavior got your aunt “Marilyn” slapped with a no-contact order, but none of the behavior you cite in your query seems dangerous to you, as far as I can tell.
Your aunt sounds like a serious boundary-crosser, but it isn’t necessarily harassment when she is a passive-aggressive jerk, teases or comments on your relationship status, upsets you or invites your ex to a family gathering.
So you should institute your own private and informal “no-contact order.”
It is not always possible to avoid a family member completely, but it is definitely possible to limit contact until you only have to suffer glancing brushes at events at which others are also present.
Tell your aunt, “I don’t appreciate your comments and feel very disrespected.” Do not expect her to acknowledge your discomfort or apologize to you.
After that, you should hide/block your aunt on e-mail and social media, and leave any event where you feel uncomfortable — or where you simply don’t want to be.
DEAR AMY: I understood “Resentful’s” desire to receive some financial support for her child from her ex-husband, who had been the child’s stepfather. But if the girl’s biological father died when she was 2, then the child is eligible for Social Security benefits until she graduates from high school or turns 18.
She should look into it. -- Reader
DEAR READER: Many people mentioned SS benefits; I assumed the family was already receiving them.