DEAR ABBY: My father has had several heart attacks. He currently has a pacemaker, which helps to maintain his heart rate.
Daddy has become obsessed with the idea that he could have a heart attack at any moment. He keeps his blood pressure monitor strapped to his arm at all times and constantly checks the levels to see if there is a problem.
Can you please tell me how to get through to him that he is stressing himself out so much worrying about having a heart attack that he's more likely to HAVE one? His mother worried so much about dying that she caused herself to have the stroke that killed her. Daddy is now acting just like she did.
Daddy says Mom and I don't understand what this kind of fear is like, but my father-in-law suffered through colon cancer before his death and never once complained or burdened us with his illness.
Abby, please help. My family is falling apart over this. -- ANXIOUS DAUGHTER IN TROY, N.Y.
DEAR ANXIOUS DAUGHTER: Death is a fact of life, and no two people react to the reality of impending mortality in the same way. Having had a brush with his own, your father's reaction is understandable.
Some people in his position make up their minds to live every moment of the rest of their lives to the fullest, postponing none of their pleasures. Others -- and I have known two -- spend their precious time living in fear and magnifying every twinge or anxiety. Both of them died anyway.
I can't live your father's life for him and neither can you. But perhaps a psychotherapist could help your father understand that nobody has a contract with God, so he should live his life as joyfully and healthfully as possible so he can make the best of whatever time is allotted to him -- which could be decades.