Hospice vol­un­teer’s woe­ful tales wear her fam­ily down

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - ABI­GAIL VAN BUREN Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. AN­DREWS MCMEEL SYN­DI­CA­TION

DEAR ABBY: My mother has been a hospice vol­un­teer for six months. I think that’s great. The prob­lem is, all she ever talks about any­more is the fam­i­lies and pa­tients she helps. I’m tired of com­ing home from school or work and hear­ing about her lat­est pa­tient’s fam­ily drama or the de­tails about how they died. My grand­mother, who also lives with us, is burned out from it, too.

I have changed the sub­ject or asked her po­litely sev­eral times not to con­tinue telling me these sto­ries, to no avail. I have also men­tioned that it is a vi­o­la­tion of HIPAA laws, but her an­swer is, “Not if I don’t tell you their names, and you don’t re­peat these sto­ries.”

My boyfriend doesn’t like to come over any­more be­cause he thinks her sto­ries are mor­bid. I even over­heard Mom telling these sto­ries to the yard man re­cently. Mov­ing out is not an op­tion, or I would al­ready be gone. Help! — TIRED OF MOR­BID STO­RIES

DEAR TIRED: Your mother is do­ing ex­tremely stress­ful work. It’s pos­si­ble she needs to vent to re­lieve it. How­ever, for her to re­peat­edly dump on you (and the gar­dener?!) is wrong.

That said, there’s no law you have to lis­ten, so if she per­sists, get up and leave the room. I agree that what she’s do­ing is a vi­o­la­tion of HIPAA, which could cost her her po­si­tion, so sug­gest that if she needs to “de­stress,” she should go jog­ging or buy a tread­mill and do it that way, or keep a jour­nal.

DEAR ABBY: I’m in my mid-20s. I’ve done a lot in my life that I’m proud of. But one nag­ging is­sue I have is that I have never been in a re­la­tion­ship or even been kissed.

At first I felt proud of my independence and for not throw­ing my­self into silly re­la­tion­ships. But as I see my friends en­ter new phases of their lives that I haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced — a first kiss, a sig­nif­i­cant other, love and mar­riage — it’s in­creas­ingly harder to not feel left be­hind.

I have a hard time talk­ing to my friends about it be­cause I don’t want them to think of me as self-pity­ing. If the sub­ject arises, I make a flip­pant com­ment and move on.

I have tried wait­ing for the other per­son to make the first move. I have also tried be­ing bold and di­rect. I throw my­self into work and hob­bies. But when every song, TV show and movie fix­ates on ro­man­tic love, it’s hard to not per­son­al­ize it.

In ad­di­tion to ask­ing for your ad­vice, I’d like to pose a ques­tion to your read­ers: Are any of you in the same boat? And if so, what do you do to cope? — TRY­ING TO COPE IN WASH­ING­TON

DEAR TRY­ING: It’s time to talk frankly with your male and fe­male friends and ask them for some hon­est in­put. I don’t know whether you are sim­ply a late bloomer — many peo­ple are — or whether you are try­ing too hard and send­ing out “des­per­ate” sig­nals that drive peo­ple away. But of this I AM cer­tain: You are not alone in this lonely boat. Read­ers?

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