Dear Abby: Man once said he’d prefer to be buried, but son moves forward with cremation

Siblings split on the final wishes of their father, who now has severe dementia and cancer.

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DEAR ABBY: My mother died two years ago. Both of my parents traveled extensively before their declining health prevented it. They purchased a prepaid cremation package that included shipping the cremains back to their home.

My mother was cremated, but we had to wait more than six weeks for her cremains so we could have a funeral. Waiting for the funeral devastated my dad.

While he was able to communicate and make decisions, he stated that he did not want to be cremated. So I took Dad to a funeral home and selected a funeral package that included a traditional burial, and called to cancel the cremation package. My sibling, who is the power of attorney, talked him out of it and reactivated the package!

Now my father has been diagnosed with severe dementia and cancer. We don’t know how long he has, but I’m concerned that his final wishes won’t be followed. If he is cremated, I am considering skipping his funeral. How can I get through to my sibling that this was wrong, and I won’t be a part of not following his wishes? — NOT WHAT HE WANTED

DEAR NOT: Your father appointed your sibling to be his power of attorney for a reason. I will assume that your father was in his right mind when he decided that he wanted to be cremated after all. I think it would be in your interest to calmly discuss this with your sibling and find out why your father changed his mind after telling you he preferred to be buried. Could the reason have been financial, that burials are expensive and he wanted to leave more to his children? You won’t know until you ask.

If you do not attend your father’s funeral service, I am concerned that it will cause a permanent rift in the family and be something you may regret for the rest of your life.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I took in our almost 20-year-old step-grandson, “Philip.” He has been with us almost a year. He was really appreciative when he moved in and when my husband helped him get a car.

Philip has said in the past that my husband’s political views scare him, and I can understand that. Today when my husband and I were at lunch, he mentioned that when Philip came in this morning, he ignored him. My husband asked me if he had done something wrong, so I explained the political thing.

I can understand the difference in political views. What I can’t understand and don’t know how to handle is the sudden show of disrespect. This isn’t the first time my husband has mentioned this to me, and it’s not the first time I have brought it to Philip’s attention. — KEEPING THE PEACE IN ARIZONA

DEAR KEEPING: Allowing yourself to be the go-between apparently hasn’t worked, so step out of the middle. Tell your husband the next time your step-grandson is rude that HE should take it up with the young man.

Philip has enjoyed your hospitality for nearly a year, and what he’s doing is not only rude but also ungrateful. Because the reason for his behavior is your husband’s political beliefs, he needs to realize that your husband’s views are as valid as his are. Philip should either find a better way to deal with it or move.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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