Hospice volunteer’s woeful tales wear her family down

My mother has been a hospice volunteer for six months.

Dear Abby: My mother has been a hospice volunteer for six months. I think that’s great. The problem is, all she ever talks about anymore is the families and patients she helps. I’m tired of coming home from school or work and hearing about her latest patient’s family drama or the details about how they died. My grandmother, who also lives with us, is burned out from it, too.

I have changed the subject or asked her politely several times not to continue telling me these stories, to no avail. I have also mentioned that it is a violation of HIPAA laws, but her answer is, “Not if I don’t tell you their names, and you don’t repeat these stories.”

My boyfriend doesn’t like to come over anymore because he thinks her stories are morbid. I even overheard Mom telling these stories to the yard man recently. Moving out is not an option, or I would already be gone. Help!

Tired of Morbid Stories

Dear Tired: Your mother is doing extremely stressful work. It’s possible she needs to vent to relieve it. However, for her to repeatedly dump on you (and the gardener?!) is wrong.

That said, there’s no law you have to listen, so if she persists, get up and leave the room. I agree that what she’s doing is a violation of HIPAA, which could cost her her position, so suggest that if she needs to “de-stress,” she should go jogging or buy a treadmill and do it that way, or keep a journal.

Dear Abby: I’m in my mid-20s. I’ve done a lot in my life that I’m proud of. But one nagging issue I have is that I have never been in a relationship or even been kissed.

At first I felt proud of my independence and for not throwing myself into silly relationships. But as I see my friends enter new phases of their lives that I haven’t experienced — a first kiss, a significant other, love and marriage — it’s increasingly harder to not feel left behind.

I have a hard time talking to my friends about it because I don’t want them to think of me as self-pitying. If the subject arises, I make a flippant comment and move on.

I have tried waiting for the other person to make the first move. I have also tried being bold and direct. I throw myself into work and hobbies. But when every song, TV show and movie fixates on romantic love, it’s hard to not personalize it.

In addition to asking for your advice, I’d like to pose a question to your readers: Are any of you in the same boat? And if so, what do you do to cope?

Trying to Cope

In Washington

Dear Trying: It’s time to talk frankly with your male and female friends and ask them for some honest input. I don’t know whether you are simply a late bloomer — many people are — or whether you are trying too hard and sending out “desperate” signals that drive people away. But of this I AM certain: You are not alone in this lonely boat. Readers?

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.