DEAR ABBY: I'm convinced my father's wife killed him and I don't know where to turn. He had fought complications from quadruple bypass surgery for a few years, and had been in hospice for months prior to his death. My siblings and I didn't put all the pieces together until afterward.
Although I'm sure Dad was killed, based on facts and discussions with social workers, I'm pretty sure it was assisted suicide, which is illegal in most states, including the state where he lived. I feel cheated and angry at my father's wife for not having the guts to talk to us about his plans, and Dad for relying on her to tell us when she never had a good relationship with any of us. I'm also angry with myself for not stopping what I witnessed as it happened before my eyes. How could I have been so blind?
It has been several years now, and I still feel guilty for letting it happen, although I'm not sure how I could have stopped it. Your thoughts would be appreciated. -- ANGRY SON IN GEORGIA
DEAR ANGRY SON: I'm sorry for your pain and anger, emotions that are not uncommon when a loved one dies. But for your own sake, accept that if your father had an advance health care directive, and trusted his wife to carry it out, then she was following his wishes. While today's medical interventions can prolong someone's life, they can also prolong death.
Hospice offers grief counseling for family members for a period of time after a death occurs, and you and your siblings should have received some. It would have helped you to stop blaming the wife, and let go of any negative feelings so you could go on with your life. And that, I assure you, is what your father would have wanted.