9/5/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

Dealing with one’s parents’ final days is always difficult, but conflicts can arise among siblings with different perspectives. A woman asks for advice in communicating with her oldest sister, who is with their mother and father during these challenging times. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy:

My 87-year-old mother and 93-year-old father are sharing a hospital room, as he nears the end of his life.

My oldest sister (the only child living nearby) deals with everything regarding our parents’ final days.

During our most recent text exchange, my sister first told me how dire dad’s health is, and then insisted that he can recover.

Having been through something similar with my late husband, I know he will not. I suggested that she talk to someone about what dad will likely experience during palliative care, and that my mother might benefit from talking to a hospital chaplain about deciding between hospice or continuing with treatment.

I also said I will support my sister regardless of what path is chosen for his care, that I know how hard a decision like this can be, but that sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to let a person go.

My sister snapped back that a priest had prayed healing prayers over both parents that day.

Praying over someone is not the same as sitting down and conversing, and my father is not going to “heal.”

man in hospital surrounded by family Katarzyna Bialasiewicz Dreamstime. Dealing with parents’ final days is hard, and conflicts can arise among siblings. See what Ask Amy says about a sister, mother, and father.

I thanked her for letting me know and ended our conversation.

Do you think my best option is to simply thank her for any updates, and keep my mouth shut about everything else?

I want to help her through this.

Upset Sister

Dear Upset Sister:

You’ve been through this with your husband’s death. Now imagine managing two parents’ end-of-life care. That’s what your sister is dealing with.

I suggest that the “healing prayers” may actually be for her benefit – and I hope they help.

You have the right to share your thoughts, but she is at their bedside. Ask her how you can be most helpful.

If possible, you should travel to be with them in order to support all of them.

Related: Managing family conflicts over elderly parents, including parents’ final days

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from family conflicts during parents’ final days to grandparenting to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson

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