DEAR ABBY: My parents are both dead and have been for quite some time. Visiting the cemetery is, and always has been, very depressing to me, so I choose not to go.
My problem is I have an older relative who says not going to the graves is a sign of disrespect. (She spits out the word with such venom!) Abby, I don't disrespect my parents at all. I just don't want to go to the cemetery and have all those sad memories flood back and cause me to feel awful again.
I'd love to tell her that just because I don't agree with her doesn't make me wrong. So, is it a sign of disrespect not to visit a grave? I feel my parents are in heaven, not in the ground. -- SAD DAUGHTER IN JACKSON, MO.
DEAR SAD DAUGHTER: Whether to visit someone's grave -- and that includes one's parents' -- is a personal choice. Going to the cemetery is not "proof of respect," because a person can be going to curse the grave as easily as to mourn.
Your letter brings to mind a conversation I had with my mother years ago. Her mother was felled by a stroke at 57, when Mamma was only 23. I once asked her why she never went back to visit her mother's grave. Her reply: "Because she isn't there. She's in my heart."
Your relative is wrong to try to make you feel guilty. The next time she does it, tune her out or change the subject.