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Doctor’s silence adds to widower’s grief

Updated: December 21, 2012 6:05AM



Dear Abby: My wife, “Margie,” recently lost her five-year battle with leukemia. I’m still grieving this huge loss. Something I found particularly upsetting was the apathetic attitude of her doctor and his staff.

Margie was seeing a specialist in a city 300 miles from our home. It involved many trips to his office as well as extended hospital treatments. During this period, we considered the doctor and his staff more than health care providers. We thought of them as our friends. Margie would often bring them home-cooked meals or pastries from a bakery. In addition, because she did needlework, she made all the women dishtowels.

After my wife passed away at home, I sent a note to the doctor and his staff, thanking them and expressing gratitude for all they had done for her. I never received one message in return. I understand they treat many patients, but don’t you think someone could have given me a call or sent a sympathy card?

I attend a bereavement support group and was surprised that I am not the only one who has had the same experience. Is it normal for health care providers to stop all contact with spouses after a loved one dies?

Still Grieving in Arkansas

Dear Still Grieving: I’m very sorry for your loss, and for your disappointment. Everyone deals with death and dying differently and doctors are people, too. In the field of oncology, for every victory there are also many deaths. Emotional detachment is sometimes the way that these physicians and staff protect themselves from emotional pain. Please forgive them.

Dear Abby: My son-in-law “Ralph” is a good father and good husband, and we have gotten along well for nearly 20 years. But an issue has come up that has me really upset.

Ralph was an exceptional wrestler in high school until a shoulder injury ended his career. Now he wants his 10-year-old son, “Carter,” to wrestle. Carter went to a few practices in early elementary school, but showed no real interest in the sport. However, he does like basketball and shows potential to be a decent player.

Right now, my grandson’s dream is to have a cellphone, and Ralph has promised to get him one — if he goes out for wrestling. I said I’d buy him a phone so he won’t have to go out for wrestling just to get one.

I’m afraid Carter could get hurt while participating in a sport he has no real desire for, and could end up being unable to play the sport of his choice. I know there’s danger of injury in any sport, but at least if an injury did occur, it would be while doing something he wants to do. And injuries aside, he should be able to pursue the sport of his choice, not his dad’s.

Frustrated Grandma in Iowa

Dear Grandma: I agree with you, and for the sensible reasons you stated. However, I would add this: It appears your son-in-law may be attempting to relive a chapter of his life in which he failed to succeed because of his injury. To lure his son away from the sport he likes by bribing him to go into wrestling is unfair to the boy. I hope you and your daughter will talk to Ralph and tell him you think this is a bad idea, and that he will listen to you.

Write to Dear Abby at
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