DEAR ABBY: Please tell your readers that a death-bed confession that can hurt a spouse is better left unsaid. Take it to your grave without hurting those left behind.
For nearly 50 years, I was married to one of the best-looking Christian men a woman could have. He was out of the house almost every night of the week doing church work. I held a job and remained at home with the children in the evenings, so he could do the Lord's work. Everyone loved him and always told me he set the best example of any man in our church.
When he was stricken with cancer, I nursed him, stayed with him, and gave up my job to help him stay alive.
One day, out of the blue, when he knew he had only a short time to live, he confessed to me that he had been a philandering cheat, and told me how many women he'd had affairs with during our marriage. I was aware that one woman in our community had left her husband for another man, but I did not know it was my husband. He also confessed that some of his girlfriends were younger than our daughters.
Only one of my children knows about his philandering. She has urged me not to tell the rest of the family.
He begged me not to hate him when I looked down on him in the casket. But I do. When I go to church people always say nice things about him and what a wonderful Christian he was. I make no comment.
I hate him so much I don't even want to be buried next to him. I am trying to avoid it by being cremated and having my ashes scattered when I die, but my children want me next to their dad. There are times when I wish I could tell them the truth. -- HURT TO THE HEART IN VIRGINIA
DEAR HURT TO THE HEART: Your feelings are understandable. Although confession may be good for the soul, it can be emotionally devastating to the person who has to hear it. And having to hear well-meaning comments about what a "good Christian" he was, while in reality he was fooling around like the devil, must be particularly hurtful.
If you would prefer your remains to be apart from your husband's, your wishes should be respected. Put your wishes in writing and give them to your lawyer and to your daughter who knows the whole story. Include a sealed letter detailing all of the reasons why you feel the way you do, to be opened only if your children are unwilling to follow your instructions. If nothing else, you deserve to have the last word.