Doc: Son still mired in grief long after father’s death

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: It has been a little over two years since I lost my father to leukemia. The progression of his illness and death was rapid and unforeseen. It has been a tremendous emotional strain on the family, but I seem to be having a hard time “ending” my grieving and finding even simple happiness in things I used to enjoy. I know the death of a loved one can change a person’s perspective forever, but I’m wondering if my process has turned into something else.

I am somewhat prone to depression (especially around the winter months), but have stuck with my doctor’s orders about medication and exercise on a regular basis. I was in counseling, but that seemed to reach its conclusion about a year ago.

I’m married with three wonderful children, and I feel like I could be a better husband and father if I could figure out how to move on. Abby, please help.

Trying To Move On

Dear Trying To Move On: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your father. The inability to find happiness in things that used to bring you joy is one of the symptoms of clinical depression. After two years, you should be doing better than you are.

For that reason I’m suggesting you discuss what’s going on with you with a psychiatrist, a doctor who has the training and certification to give you a definite diagnosis and medicate you, if necessary. Please don’t wait to ask your doctor or your insurance company for a referral.

Dear Abby: My brother lives in a different state, and every year he comes “home” for a week. I’m one of six siblings who live in the area, but “Jim” always stays with us. After the first time he stayed here he said, “I’ll just keep your key for next year.”

I love my brother, but this means giving him my bedroom for a week or more. We have no other bedrooms, so I have to share with my husband and get no sleep. I’m in my 70s, and after a week with no sleep I feel awful.

I have hinted to Jim about him staying with his son, but he says “no.” The other siblings don’t offer because he is so critical. Everything we do has to be his way.

I really need to tell him he must stay elsewhere, but I can’t seem to find the right words. My siblings say just tell him. What should I do?

Needs My Sleep

Dear Needs Sleep: Just tell him! Permit me to suggest a few phrases: “Jim, you will have to make other arrangements when you come to town because you can no longer stay with us. Going without sleep for a week while you use my bed is affecting my health, so please return our house key. We love you and would like to visit with you while you’re here, and we hope you understand.”

Do not feel guilty for saying any of it because you have been more than generous to your brother.

Dear Readers: Today, we remember the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who in 1968 was martyred in the cause of civil rights. His philosophy still rings true: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.