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Carolyn Hax: Is it wrong to ask dying spouse to live a little longer?

Hi, Carolyn: My husband and partner of 37 years, age 65, has been courageously battling a neurological disease for the past 10 years. He is three years past the average life expectancy for this disease, and life is getting tough for him.

This week, he decided he no longer wants to live and asked me to set up an appointment with his doctor to talk about his death, which I did. The doctor is all for not prolonging suffering and will help him end his life.

Am I selfish to want him to, and ask him to, fight for more time together? More kisses, more sunsets, more waking up together? I think he could have another year or more, but it would be super difficult for both of us.

He wants to do what’s best for me and says he doesn’t want to be a burden. Should I respect his wishes and support his decision? Would I just be postponing the inevitable at his expense? What is the right thing to do?

— Wants More Time With Sweet Husband

Wants More Time With Sweet Husband: If extending his life would not in fact be a burden for you — if instead you would welcome it — then it is important for him to hear that.

If extending his life would be a burden for him, then it is important for you to hear that.

I hope it’s not jarring to say, amid the terrible misfortune of his illness — what a lucky man he is, to be so loved.

And how lucky you are to have found him.

Dear Carolyn: What do you say to a person who says, “I don’t think we’ve ever met”? And, in fact, you’ve met this person multiple times and this person says this each and every time? This person lives in the same community and has children of similar ages.

At this point, to me, it is a joke because I just count how many times she says it and I think it is her issue. However, my wife says it is rude and I need to stand up for myself.

You Know Me: Some people are self-absorbed or don’t pay enough attention when they’re meeting someone who doesn’t register to them as useful or interesting. This, I agree, is so rude. Not to mention shortsighted.

Some people, though, have impaired facial recognition — prosopagnosia. It’s not uncommon. They can meet someone several times without even a sense of déjà vu, especially if the people they’re meeting lack a distinctive feature. This is unfortunate, not rude — and in fact can be stressful for the people with this problem, because they walk into events knowing they’re likely to offend people they don’t mean to offend.

Either way, you’re right that it’s “her issue.” So either way, it’s perfectly appropriate for you to brush it off and not engage beyond “hello.” Or to bring the joke lightheartedly to the surface, especially if context says she isn’t a jerk. “Actually, we’ve met a few times. I’m working on being more memorable.”

I disagree with your wife that you “need” to stand up for yourself. If you want to, then do, but this community person holds no power over you. She’s not your boss, your elected representative, your kid’s teacher. From where I sit, you have nothing to lose by deciding it’s not personal and leaving this battle unfought. But if I’m wrong, that’s okay; each time you meet her, you have a clean slate to try something new.

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