DEAR AMY: My mom has stage 4 lung cancer and is now under hospice care. She has lost at least 80 pounds since diagnosis.
Why do people come up to her and say things like, “Oh my — you’re so terribly thin?” She already knows that. She is dying. She is embarrassed about how thin she is!
Please ask your readers to use some common sense and not mention to ill patients how thin or bad they look.
Instead, comment on how nice her hat looks or how good it is to see her. We realize that it may be a shock to see someone look so different. However, we believe our mother has never looked more beautiful, and her inner beauty outshines her weight loss.
Why don’t people just think a little more before they open their mouths? We need to ask ourselves: What would you want someone to say to you if you were terminally ill? -- Grieving
DEAR GRIEVING: I completely understand your frustration.
It can help to prepare people in advance of a visit by telling them, “Mom is very thin and weak but she’s still the same woman inside. I want to prepare you for that so when you see her you can be in the moment with her and let her enjoy your company.”
I also think it’s fine to specifically direct people: “Mom is very thin. Please don’t mention it when you see her. She seems to like it the most when people stay positive and not dwell on her condition.”
DEAR AMY: I have had an idea for years that I would love to promote.
Except for very small restaurants, I suggest they all have a section for “adults only.”
Truck stops often have a separate section for “professional drivers.” Dining out is too expensive to be ruined by thoughtless families.
Most places, especially the national chain restaurants, have several rooms of tables. I think they should designate space for adults. For decades we accommodated smoking/nonsmoking areas, so we know it can be done.
I personally ask the greeter for the adult section and then tell them, “I am not kidding” as they giggle at the request. -- Barbara in Oregon
DEAR BARBARA: I know of a couple of restaurants that already do this. I am thinking of one, in particular, where I just know not to go near “The Back Room.” There are toddlers back there, and they mean business.
DEAR AMY: “It Got Better” wrote about his abusive parents, who emotionally harassed him after he came out as gay when he was a teenager. Now he is wondering if/how to have a relationship with them.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting limits for yourself when it comes to family relationships. While we are born into situations that may or may not fit us, we can (almost) always choose to make relationships that do fit. If these include your biological family, that’s wonderful. If not, you should choose others to serve as your family.
I’m trying to say that “family” is not just a biological concept. Many of us have learned this the hard way. -- Family Member to Many
DEAR FAMILY: I completely agree. So many people write to me detailing horrific treatment that goes far beyond the normal challenges of family life. For these people, choosing a family is the healthiest, most positive route to take.
DEAR AMY: I appreciate your advocacy for literacy by giving books as gifts. As granny to five (and soon to be six) joys of my world, I adopted a similar approach to this concept.
Every Christmas Eve, they all get to open the one special gift from granny. In the box are new Christmas jammies and a new book. Thus setting in motion another year of reading and cozying up with mom or dad. Thank you for inspiring the love of reading to so many! -- Granny
DEAR GRANNY: As someone who was read to as a child (and now reads to children), I am absolutely certain that reading makes every challenge surmountable. Thank you for spreading the love.