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Hospice Volunteer's Woeful Tales Wear Her Family Down

DEAR ABBY: My mother has been a hospice volunteer for six months. I think that's great. The problem is, all she ever talks about anymore is the families and patients she helps. I'm tired of coming home from school or work and hearing about her latest patient's family drama or the details about how they died. My grandmother, who also lives with us, is burned out from it, too.

I have changed the subject or asked her politely several times not to continue telling me these stories, to no avail. I have also mentioned that it is a violation of HIPAA laws, but her answer is, "Not if I don't tell you their names, and you don't repeat these stories."

My boyfriend doesn't like to come over anymore because he thinks her stories are morbid. I even overheard Mom telling these stories to the yard man recently. Moving out is not an option, or I would already be gone. Help! -- TIRED OF MORBID STORIES

DEAR TIRED: Your mother is doing extremely stressful work. It's possible she needs to vent to relieve it. However, for her to repeatedly dump on you (and the gardener?!) is wrong.

That said, there's no law you have to listen, so if she persists, get up and leave the room. I agree that what she's doing is a violation of HIPAA, which could cost her her position, so suggest that if she needs to "de-stress," she should go jogging or buy a treadmill and do it that way, or keep a journal.

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