Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Cousin wants to cut ties with relative on death bed

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am the youngest first cousin in a very large family. I grew up in a different state, but visited the family frequently until my father's death in 1986.

I intentionally strayed away from my relatives because our views drastically differ. Many of them are high school dropouts with multiple children from many different relationships. They also rely heavily on public assistance as a means of support. I do not condone this, especially when an individual is CAPABLE of employment. My spouse and I are married for 28 years with two grown children. They are both college graduates going on to pursue their master's degrees.

The family is well aware of my own health issues and my mantra about life.

They have mocked me for completing a college degree as an adult student with the desire to attend law school in my mid-40s.

Four of the said relatives are in their 70s with various health issues, including stage four cancer.

I want to help out because I am the youngest, despite my distance in travel and my own personal health issues.


Overall, they do not call, write, or even ask how I am doing on any occasion when I have reached out to them.

My husband said to cut off ties like before. He sees how upset I become after talking to them. Overall, is it OK to break ties with a relative when they are terminally ill?

-- Fed Up Youngest Cousin

Dear Fed Up: I must ask the obvious: After so much time living far away from family and having (what seems like) minimal contact anyway, why bother to cut ties now - just before your relative's death? Do you feel it is important to make a final punishing statement to this dying family member as you exit from your extended family?


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