Life Advice



Ask Amy: Family estrangement continues to the end

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My grandmother recently went into hospice care. She has suffered from dementia for the last five years, and in that time my mother has been her sole caretaker.

That (and money issues) has caused my mom and her brother to cut ties.

Only my immediate family knows that my grandmother is dying.

Should I reach out to my uncle and others in the extended family (mainly my grandmother’s in-laws) to let them know what’s going on?

My mom argues that they weren’t there for my grandmother during her decline into dementia, so why should they be called at the end?

My partner says to keep my nose out of it because it could lead to more drama if I reach out. However, I can’t imagine reading about your mother, grandmother, or sister-in-law’s death through an obit. What are your thoughts?


— Lost

Dear Lost: These extended family members have the wherewithal to contact your mother by phone or email, or – if rebuffed or ignored – show up to her house to find out how your grandmother is doing.

This is not about what these family members “deserve” to know. They seem to have completely backed away.

Your grandmother’s feelings and wishes should be taken into account, however, even if her memory is gone and she is unable to express them. What would she want?


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