Ask Amy: A loving husband rejects unhelpful help The Denver Post

Dear Amy: I often read your column aloud to my disabled wife, who is terminally ill with a relatively rare frontotemporal dementia. She is nearing the final stage of the disease.

We are fortunate to have a great many friends and family members who are very solicitous toward her. I don’t know what we’d do without the overt emotional support and the myriad acts of kindness and generosity we receive almost daily.

But what do I say to those few (Evangelical Christian) friends who are determined to save her with assurances that God will heal her from this incurable, untreatable and terminal disease?

Recently a dear friend insisted that I talk to one of her church’s practitioners about the possibility of working a healing through Bible study and prayer.

Days later, while I was away on a well-earned respite, the caregiver I hired to stay with my wife (a woman we’ve known for nearly 20 years) spent her time with my wife reading from the Bible, praying over her, and assuring her that Jesus would make her whole if she believed hard enough.

Amy, my wife and I are practicing Christians, actively involved in our church, and we receive care and weekly visits through our church’s Stephens Ministry, and also from the hospice agency’s chaplain.

We have been up front with all our friends about the nature and outcome of my wife’s illness. We accept the fact that there is no recovery from this disease, and it’s frankly hurtful that people whom we hold in high esteem apparently lack sensitivity to our circumstances and feel such a strong further need to “help.”

Any words of wisdom?

– Faithful Husband

Dear Faithful: I am sorry this is happening, and I want to affirm your acceptance of the loving kindness and support offered by your friends and your church community. (And thank you so much for sharing my column with your wife. Please tell her how flattered and touched I am.)

You should push back firmly against any “help” which runs counter to your faith practice, or which simply makes you uncomfortable. This is your life, your home, and a shared and bittersweet journey you are taking with your wife.

Anyone who “insists” that you do any particular thing should receive a clear and firm answer from you: “That would not be helpful, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t pressure me.”

You should be honest with the person you hired to be in your home. I don’t know where you fall in terms of reading the Bible aloud, but her choice to browbeat your wife is unkind … to say the least. You should tell her, “I am upset about you pressuring my wife about her own faith at this time in her life. This makes things harder for both of us.” Don’t hire her again.

Your caretaking should extend to continuing to affirm your wife’s (and your) lifelong values. This is one more way in which you will continue to demonstrate your love for her.

Dear Amy: We are planning a wedding for this summer. We have kept the guest list very small, because of expense, COVID, and our preference to have a smaller wedding.

Guests’ names are very clear on the invitations.

The problem: I keep getting RSVPs with more people attending than were invited!

Folks think it is appropriate to “add-in” their adult children, as if it is a barbecue!

Unfortunately, in this situation, it is not the “more the merrier.”

Do I have to let this go and pay for these people I barely know to be at my special event?

Is there a tactful way to handle this?

– Bursting at the Seams

Dear Bursting: Your desire to be tactful is impressive, given the rudeness you are reacting to.

I assume the wording on your invite was standard and doesn’t include this sentence: “Please, bring along extras!”

You should contact each guest who is adding on: “Hi, we’re so excited you can come to the wedding! I apologize if the wording on the invitation wasn’t clear, but the invite is confined to only you and your spouse. We’re keeping it very small. We look forward to sharing our day with you.”

Dear Amy: “Proud Grandpa” noted that his wife has become increasingly angry and possessive of their only grandchild.

I wish you had suggested that she see a doctor. This could be a sign of dementia.

– Concerned

Dear Concerned: This grandmother definitely needed help. I suggested a therapist, but a medical checkup should come first.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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