Dear Abby: I cared for my mother for years, but family now blames me for her death

Woman feels terrible guilt after hospital put her mom in a home and she died there alone.

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DEAR ABBY: My mom passed away a year ago, and I struggle with it every day. I had promised her I would never put her in any kind of home, but she ended up in one because the hospital placed her there. I feel so guilty for letting her down.

While she was in there, I saw her only once, through a window, but I never got to talk to her. I don’t know how to cope with this. Since her death, many family members no longer talk to me. They blame me for it. Abby, I’m the one who was with her 24/7 for years. I’m the one who cooked for her and did her laundry, yet I’m the bad person. Do I need professional help for blaming myself? Please help. — LOST DAUGHTER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR DAUGHTER: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. Your relatives are wrong to blame you for her death. Much of what happened to her was because that’s what her doctors ordered. You are not a bad daughter. You are a daughter who cared — and still cares — about the mother to whom she devoted herself. You took care of her for as long as you could. Talk with a mental health professional about this. You may find it beneficial, if only to help you stop blaming yourself for circumstances that were beyond your control.

DEAR ABBY: I had an affair with “Harold,” a man I was helping. He’s 76; I am 52. His wife stays in Florida for extended periods of time. For 34 years I have been married to a man who quit having sex with me because I stopped taking the pill. “Harold” provided me with the attention I needed.

I finally confessed to my husband after I was caught in too many lies. My husband has forgiven me, but I can no longer be friends with Harold or help him anymore. I’m worried about him living alone and needing help. Can I still help him if I have ended the affair? — WORRIED ABOUT EX-LOVER

DEAR WORRIED: No, not if you value your marriage to the man who has denied you a sex life for the last 34 years. Surely you both must have known there are/were successful methods of birth control besides the pill. Is this what you want for the rest of your life?

Because the physical aspect of your affair with Harold has ended, there is still an emotional tie that needs to be severed. You won’t be able to do this while you are taking care of him. Harold should be told he needs another caregiver, and you need to find a way to satisfy or sublimate your sex drive, because this problem isn’t going to go away.

DEAR ABBY: My husband passed five years ago. I have two grown daughters, and a granddaughter who will turn 21 soon. On her birthday I would like to give her the wedding ring my husband gave to me. Is that being rude to my daughters? — GRANDMA LOOKING AHEAD

DEAR GRANDMA: I don’t think it would be rude. I think it would solve the question of what to do with your wedding ring without creating jealousy between your daughters.

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.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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