DEAR ABBY: I am 34. My last living grandparent is my grandmother, "Gladys," who is 87. Ever since my grandfather died eight years ago, she has been depressed without showing signs of getting any better. The only thing that gives Granny Gladys any pleasure is seeing her family -- but it's never enough for her. No matter how often she sees anyone in the family, she tries to make us feel guilty for not spending more time with her.
I moved to another state last year, and whenever Granny Gladys calls she tries to make me feel guilty for moving. She has no interest in making friends, and if I suggest she join a senior citizens group, she complains that "all old people do is gripe about their aches and pains," and she doesn't want to listen to people complain all day. But Abby, all my grandmother does is complain about how lonely she is!
How can I ease my guilt about moving to another state? And how can I help her to be less depressed and stop laying guilt trips on our family? -- WORRIED ABOUT GRANNY, MORRISVILLE, N.C.
DEAR WORRIED ABOUT GRANNY: You appear to be a sweet, caring person, but it should not be your responsibility to lift Granny Gladys out of her eight-year "depression." Your grandmother appears to be prejudiced against people of her own generation. Many women are widowed after long marriages and go on to live satisfying lives.
You know as well as I do that older people do a lot more than "gripe about their aches and pains." As their health permits, they donate time to the community, socialize and keep themselves active and involved.
Your grandmother appears to have chosen to do none of those things. In fact, she seems to be happy in her misery. So please don't try to change her -- because if you succeed, you'll take away what appears to be her favorite topic of conversation.