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by Abigail Van Buren

Estranged Mother Nears Death

DEAR ABBY: My mother is close to death. I haven't had contact with her in 30 years. While we were growing up and even into adulthood, she was incredibly abusive, neglectful and manipulative. She didn't provide the basic needs of food and clothing for us. She prioritized her boyfriend over us kids and engaged in crazy behavior. She would chase us with knives, walk around naked and expect us to accompany her to throw garbage on her boyfriend's car.

I'm not a bad person. I don't wish any harm on her, but she's not part of my life for a reason. As she approaches death, how do I deal with this? No one should die alone. None of my siblings want anything to do with her, either. What do I even say? -- POST-TRAUMATIC IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR POST-TRAUMATIC: What do you even say ... to whom? To the person who informed you that your mother has little time left? To your mother if you choose to be with her? Are you sure your mother wants you there?

Because you asked for my advice, I am suggesting that you may have fewer regrets -- and less anger, righteous as it may be -- if you are with her at the end. You don't have to say anything more than, "Mom, I'm here for you," if you don't wish to. From your description of her, your mother may have had serious emotional problems for much of her life. Please allow me to offer my sympathy.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death | Abuse