Dear Abby: "Sad Dad in Arizona" (May 2) wrote that he was concerned because his teenage son didn't want to attend his mother's funeral and preferred to remember her "the way she was."
Please tell Dad to contact his local hospice. Many hospices provide support counseling during this difficult time. We assign a social worker as well as a nurse and chaplain to each family who comes to us.Hospice is here to help with everything that has an impact on the patient at this time. Please urge that family to get support now and not wait until the end. Pam, R.N., Hospice of the Florida Suncoast
Dear Pam: Your suggestion to seek the assistance of a local hospice is excellent. Readers, to locate your nearest hospice, please visit one of the following Web sites: www.hospicenet.org or www.hospicefoundation.org. Read on:
Dear Abby: I was deployed overseas when my grandfather was diagnosed as terminal and passed away. Due to military regulations, I was not allowed to return stateside and attend his funeral.
The last time I saw my grandfather I hugged him goodbye and told him how much I loved him. (He had been like a father to me.) I was spared the grief involved in watching my grandfather buried, so I understand exactly where this young man is coming from in his desire to remember his mother alive, because that is how I remember my grandfather.Please let "Sad Dad's" son know that while a living memory is a wonderful final memory to have, he will wish forever that he had been there to honor his mother. I'm in exactly the situation that he wishes to be in, and I would trade everything I have to go back and honor my family at the funeral. Matthew in Port Gibson, Miss.
Dear Abby: I wholeheartedly agree with your reply to "Sad Dad." I was 19 when my mother died suddenly. Unfortunately, our father was not sensitive to my feelings and needs or those of my siblings. We were forced to not only attend our mother's memorial but also to be greeters at the door of the church. Participating in the service did not provide us "closure" but additional trauma.I fully support "Sad Dad" in allowing his son to decide whether or not he is comfortable attending, and I commend him for putting his child's needs before his own. Still Healing in Livingston, Mont.
Dear Abby: Most funeral homes today will videotape the funeral. If the son wants to view it at a later date, it will be available to him. Also, encourage him to keep a journal of his thoughts or to write letters to his mother after she dies. It will help him to express his feelings. A local hospice may have a grief support group for youths that he may or may not wish to seek out.Encourage him, but don't push. Be sure to have lots of love ready for him when he needs it, and let him do it his way, just as you will have to grieve in your own way. One Who Has Been There in Iowa
Dear Abby: The statement that "funerals are good for people because they give a sense of closure" has some merit. However, many people do not think an open casket is either necessary or desirable. Tradition, encouraged by an active "funeral industry," perpetuates the practice.Frankly, I prefer the living memories and have found memorial services without a casket to be far warmer and uplifting. Do not be overly constrained by tradition; explore what others are doing. Old Doc in Los Altos, Calif.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate