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by Abigail Van Buren

Talking About Late Son Would Bring Solace to Grieving Dad

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, I wrote to your mother about the many difficulties and stress of raising a very disabled son. Her advice gave me and my wife much needed encouragement. I keep her framed handwritten letter above my desk.

Our son passed away unexpectedly 17 months ago. Our family, neighbors and community gave us lots of support. Our son was loved by all. But for the past few months, it seems as if it is taboo for anyone to ask about how we are doing. Even if I mention our son in the context of a conversation, there is no follow-up.

I can understand people may be reluctant to open up a sorrow. However, I want to let them know it is OK to ask, "How are you doing?" I won't hold them hostage to a long, maudlin discourse. It just would be nice if people would still acknowledge his life and that we all still miss him. -- ALWAYS HIS DAD IN COLORADO

DEAR DAD: I am glad you wrote because you are not alone in having this heartache. As a general rule, people are uncomfortable bringing up the subject of death because they are afraid they will cause the person more sadness. Rarely is this true. People who have suffered a loss NEED to know their loved one hasn't been forgotten. No one should be afraid to share a warm memory, or ask how a grieving family member is doing. To show that kind of sensitivity is a generous gift.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death | Etiquette & Ethics