Amy: Cousin told widow of abuse at funeral

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • Chicago Tribune
  • December 29, 2012 - 1:01 PM

Dear Amy: Please encourage people who have been abused to confront their abusers in life, not wait until they are dead to "share" accusations with family members.

I was devastated when a cousin told me -- at my husband's funeral -- that he was a victim of sexual abuse by my husband when they were both young.

I have no idea if the abuse really happened, and I have no way to find out. The story I was told doesn't really hold together, and it certainly doesn't fit the man I was married to for many years. What is worse is that my husband is no longer alive to defend himself.

The pain this has caused is tremendous, and I fail to see how anyone benefited from the disclosure.

Why did the cousin have to share this with me on the worst day of my life and then be surprised when I got upset? If you can't find the courage to confront your abusers, don't settle for sucker punching those who loved them.

Amy says: I am so sorry for your loss and the additional pain this accusation has caused you. I agree with you that this disclosure was horribly and insensitively timed and hope that you can learn the truth to resolve any unanswered questions. You and the person who made the allegation both need to heal.

Sympathy thank-yous needed

Dear Amy: My mother recently died. We received a number of plants and sympathy cards, some containing money or masses to be said on Mom's behalf. My sisters want to send thank-you cards.

I don't think it's necessary. Many times the cards and gifts are sent by people you have thanked in person for being at the funeral.

I know that when I attend a funeral, I am there out of support, respect, love and friendship. I don't expect a thank-you card for grieving with family and friends and really think it's kind of creepy. What do you think?

Amy says: This is really not debatable. When someone shows you a specific sort of kindness, through a gift or donation of remembrance, it is not only thoughtful but also necessary to acknowledge this kindness through a specific thank you, preferably in writing.

Funeral directors will carefully note and provide the names of people who sent flowers. Charities will often send the names of those who donated money to honor your loved one.

There is nothing creepy about thanking those who have been so thoughtful, but if you can't bring yourself to do this, I hope there is another family member who will.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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