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by Abigail Van Buren

Siblings Feel Abandoned by Their Widowed Mother

DEAR ABBY: Last year, my elderly father fell, suffering a head injury that caused his death. Dad had a chronic illness that kept him housebound during the last year of his life.

Prior to his death, my mother began corresponding with, and inviting, an old high school boyfriend to visit. (He lived six hours away.) This man, "Milton," moved in with Mother while my father was still alive.

Mom has been with Milton ever since, first at her home and now at his winter home down south. My siblings and I are aghast at her behavior. She phones and sends cheery e-mails as if she were on an extended holiday and having the time of her life. Meanwhile, we are still mourning our father's loss.

We have tried to share our feelings with her, but she refuses to acknowledge them. She says she "understands," but we don't think she does. Otherwise, why would she move away from her children at this sad time? -- LOST OUR MOTHER, TOO

DEAR LOST: Your mother may have done it because she went through much of the grieving process long before your father actually passed away. She does understand your feelings, but in an emotional -- and now physical -- sense she has moved on. I don't know the circumstances of your parents' marriage, but if she made your father happy while he was alive, then try to be happy for her now.