Dear Diane Column — August 19, 2012

Dear Diane,

My cousin is my only living relative and he has been like a brother to me. I love him more than I could ever say.   He and his wife have been married for nearly fifty years, and have been like sweethearts the entire time.  Recently a lot of things have been happening, including her being diagnosed with cancer.  He was forced to change his work hours, and has started staying after work and drinking with his boss.

Until recently, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him have more than a beer or two, but he’s been coming home with a really bad attitude and passing out. He screams horrible things at his wife,  then denies that he ever said anything. She says he had a blackout a couple of weeks ago and woke up passed out in his car.  I made a very minor comment about being careful with his drinking, and he just about took my head off.

I know it’s not my business to interfere with their marriage, but I can tell that her health is affected by the stress. I don’t want my cousin to remember his final days with his wife as a period of drunken blackouts. I have never even suspected that such a mean and cruel person existed in my cousin. He’s always been very sweet. How can I make him understand? He only has her and me.  When he is sober he is as mild as a lamb.

C. H.

Dear C.H.,

I’m sorry to hear about all of the problems that your loved ones are going through. They are lucky to have your support and love, but there are limits to what you can do.

You may wish to contact Al-Anon, as they are experts at helping friends and family to understand the addictive process. Often an intervention from loved ones can help, but in this case I suspect that  it may take more.

I sense several things about the situation, including the fact that this man loves his family deeply.  I feel that he truly has no memory of his behavior, so it’s time to help him to face the music.  If possible, you and your cousin’s wife need to keep voice activated recorders at hand, placing them out of his general view. When he comes home in an abusive drunken rage, make certain to have a conversation with him within range of your devices. It may take a couple of tries, but when you capture an episode of this man at his worst, it will be time to confront him.

I’m glad that you mentioned his docile behavior when he’s sober. This is the perfect time to play back the tape and allow him to hear what he is doing to himself and others. While the two of you may be a small intervention team, I feel that his own voice will have a great impact. You may not see this problem resolve right away, but I see him trying to get to the bottom of his issues.

I pick up that he is terrified of losing his wife, yet he feels helpless to improve her situation. By spending time with his boss, he is hoping to secure his job prospects in a tight economy.

The good news is, I feel improvement for both your cousin and his wife by the end of the year. My prayers are with you all.


Dear Diane, 

My mother is living alone in India since my father passed last year.  I would like to bring her to the states to stay with my husband and I, as we are worried about her being alone. She was born 11/5/1939, and she is an only child. She says she doesn’t want to leave her friends and the world she is used to, but my sister and I and all of her grandchildren are here.  She could live in our house or have an apartment nearby. I just worry about not being there if something happens. Do you think that she will move here?


Dear L.U,

I pick up your mother as being a pretty complex lady. She has indeed been depressed, but she is quite stubborn when it comes to doing things her own way.  If you try to press her into doing things your way, you will find out how strong minded she can be.

I see that travel is a wonderful balm for your mother’s spirit, so why not invite her for a short vacation to visit you? You can plan to have her visit for a month or so, then perhaps she can visit with your sister.  Your mom’s energy feels quite strong, so you can count on being able to explore some local activities too.

While your mom has an open and adventurous energy, I sense that she doesn’t enjoy feeling trapped, so by inviting her for frequent vacations, she’ll have more control over her time.  I see her being around for quite a while, traveling and visiting friends. Losing your dad was hard for her, but she is a survivor.  Enjoy her visits!


Dear Diane, 

We recently lost our elderly dog, Lyla, to cancer, and I can’t stop crying. My husband wants to adopt another dog right away, but I can’t bring myself to replace my baby. I can understand that he misses her, but I’m just not ready.  Do you have any advice?

So Sad

Dear Sad,

My heart aches for you.  My animal friends are my family, and whenever I remember those that have passed, it is with great respect and love.

There is no way for you to replace Lyla, as she was and is a beautiful one of a kind spirit.  I believe that our animal companions live on, and that we will see them again.

You no doubt need some more time to grieve, and I know that your husband will understand this. When you eventually decide to adopt another friend (or two) from a local shelter, remember that Lyla would be so proud that you are saving these beautiful lives in her honor.

Please accept my condolences.


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