DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a pretty strained relationship with my grandfather. He was not a great parent, and my father hasn't spoken to him in over 20 years.
Recently, I've learned from my cousin that my grandpa is going to pass within a matter of weeks. I already know my father would never go overseas for a funeral, but I think he may want me to. How do I broach this sensitive subject? My dad likes to pretend he doesn't care about anything pertaining to his father, but I know he secretly does. -- To Fly or Not to Fly, Cincinnati
DEAR TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY: My experience with the death of a family member or loved one, even when the relationship is strained, is that it is best to do everything you can to create closure before the person leaves the planet. The fact that your grandfather has had a strained relationship with you and an estranged relationship with your father is all the more reason why it would be good for you to get on a plane and go to say goodbye to him.
Rather than asking your father if he wants you to go, tell him that you plan to travel to visit your grandfather with the intention of offering your love and blessings for his transition. I also recommend that you do your best to forgive your grandfather for whatever bad things occurred between the two of you and between him and your father. Forgiveness is healing on both sides. It can make your grandfather’s transition more easeful, and it can help you to release any bad feelings that you have been harboring. You can ask your father if he wants you to share a message with his father during your visit. If not, tell him you will offer his love and blessings.