Article Content

As an RN, I've helped my patients' grieving family members deal with death. But now I've got problems closer to home. My husband's widowed mother died last spring. On the last day of the school year, he had a gift for our 7-year-old daughter, Becky, from "Gammy." I let that go, but then he did the same thing for Becky's birthday in July, for her first day of school in September, and last month, for Christmas. All of the gifts were signed "Gammy." I've told my husband that I don't think this is a good idea, but he says he wants to make sure Becky never forgets her grandmother.


Last week, Becky asked me if Gammy was somewhere on a trip-even though she attended the funeral!! My husband needs to stop, but how can I make that happen?-S.H., MO.


Consider whom this activity is intended to please. I believe it's your husband, who's quite naturally still grieving the death of his mother. It's he who doesn't want to forget her.


I suggest you tell him that Becky has been asking about Gammy's whereabouts. This will help him realize that he's confusing his little girl and encourage him to find better alternatives for keeping his mother's memory alive. For example, he could sit down with Becky and reminisce about his childhood while looking at photographs of his parents. If he wants to continue giving gifts from Gammy, he needs to explain to Becky that this is something he thought his mother would have wanted Becky to have, but that he made the purchase himself.


It's normal for someone to have a sense of aloneness after the death of a parent. Even adults who are married and have their own children may say they feel orphaned when their parents die. Talking about his mother and father, laughing and crying about their life together, is a good way to honor their memory.