SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

November 20, 2012

Dear Abby: Doctor’s silence after wife’s death adds to widower’s grief

:Dear Abby: My wife, “Margie,” recently lost her five-year battle with leukemia. I’m still grieving this huge loss. Something I found particularly upsetting was the apathetic attitude of her doctor and his staff.

Margie was seeing a specialist in a city 300 miles from our home. It involved many trips to his office, as well as extended hospital treatments. During this period, we considered the doctor and his staff more than health care providers. We thought of them as our friends. Margie would often bring them home-cooked meals or pastries from a bakery. In addition, because she did fine needlework, she made all the women a set of dish towels.

After my wife passed away at home, I sent a note to the doctor and his staff, thanking them and expressing gratitude for all they had done for her. I never received one message in return. I understand they treat many patients, but don’t you think SOMEONE could have given me a call or sent a sympathy card?

I attend a bereavement support group and was surprised that I am not the only one who has had the same experience. Is it normal for health care providers to stop all contact with spouses after a loved one dies?

Still Grieving in Arkansas

Dear Still Grieving: I’m very sorry for your loss, and for your disappointment. However, everyone deals with death and dying differently and doctors are people, too. In the field of oncology, for every victory, there are also many deaths. Emotional detachment is sometimes the way that these physicians and staff protect themselves from emotional pain. Please forgive them.

Dear Abby: My son-in-law “Ralph” is a good father and good husband, and we have gotten along well for nearly 20 years. But an issue has come up that has me really upset.

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