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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Feels Guilty for Leaving Dying Husband at Home

DEAR ABBY: My husband of 21 years was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years ago. Our children are now adults. We had a fabulous life, lots of laughter, lots of travel, lots of friends. Then everything came to a screeching halt, and the past seems a dream. I try to remain optimistic, but his doctors have given us more bad news. Today he is not in pain, and his naps have slowed down. I work full-time, but he had to retire.

With COVID, it's hard to go anywhere with him. How do I stop feeling guilty if after work I want to go to a friend's house for an hour or two, or to dinner at an outdoor restaurant? Or a drive to clear my head? I know I'll soon be wishing I could sit on the couch and watch TV with him again, but lately, I just need to carve out a small slice of time for me. -- GUILTY IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR GUILTY: Do not beat yourself up for being human. When a beloved spouse is terminally ill, it is extremely stressful for both the patient and the caregiver. This is why it is important for your own health to allow time for yourself. How much time can vary from individual to individual, but it must be enough to rejuvenate.

Your husband needs you, but he also needs you to be your best self so you can provide physical and emotional support during this important final chapter. If you were to talk about this with him, I am sure he would tell you that I am right. If you let your conscience guide you, you won't go wrong, and you will have fewer regrets.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Death | Health & Safety | Covid 19