Ask Amy: Readers share suggestions

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • January 4, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Dear Amy: My mom has stage 4 lung cancer and is now under hospice care. She has lost at least 80 pounds since diagnosis.

Why do people come up to her and say things like, “You’re so terribly thin”? She knows that. She is dying. She is embarrassed about how thin she is!

Instead, comment on how nice her hat looks or how good it is to see her. We realize that it may be a shock to see someone look so different.

Please ask your readers to use some common sense and not mention to ill patients how thin or bad they look.

Amy says: I completely understand your frustration.

It can help to prepare people in advance of a visit by telling them, “Mom is very thin and weak, but she’s still the same woman inside. I want to prepare you for that so when you see her you can be in the moment with her and let her enjoy your company.”

I also think it’s fine to direct people: “Mom is very thin. Please don’t mention it when you see her. She seems to like it the most when people stay positive and not dwell on her condition.”

‘Adults only’ dining

Dear Amy: I think restaurants should designate an “adults only” space. For decades we accommodated smoking/nonsmoking areas, so we know it can be done. I personally ask the greeter for the adult section and then tell them, “I am not kidding” as they giggle at the request.

Amy says: I know of a couple of restaurants that do this. I am thinking of one, in particular, where I just know not to go near “the backroom.” There are toddlers back there, and they mean business.

Finding your ‘family’

Dear Amy: A letter writer said his abusive parents emotionally harassed him after he came out as gay when he was a teenager. Now he is wondering if/how to have a relationship with them.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting limits for yourself when it comes to family relationships.

If your biological family doesn’t “fit” you, you should choose others to serve as your family.

I’m trying to say that “family” is not just a biological concept. Many of us have learned this the hard way.

Amy says: I completely agree. So many people write to me detailing horrific treatment that goes far beyond the normal challenges of family life. For these people, choosing a family is the healthiest, most positive route to take.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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