DEAR ANNIE: This is written in desperation. I have seven children, and my middle son, "Randall," age 57, is in the grip of psychosis. His late father was a schizophrenic who refused treatment and regularly beat me.
I lived with him for years, not understanding what I was doing wrong, until I drew up enough courage to ask a psychiatrist for advice. This doctor told me to leave him before he killed me. I did, and struggled raising my children. I was rarely home because I held multiple low-paying jobs, and the kids grew up in deprivation.
Randall began to use cocaine in the late '80s, when people thought it was cool and didn't realize how addictive it was. He got clean in his determination to be a good father to his now-adult son.
As a result of this upheaval, Randall has begun using meth and is behaving psychotically. His brother has had to sell his home and his savings are dwindling. He doesn't want to abandon Randall, who is now penniless and cannot support himself or his wife and young child.
How can we help Randall? His insurance has lapsed and no one has the funds to get him back into rehab. My only income is social security, but my late husband was a WWII veteran. Am I eligible for any widow benefits? -- Frantic Mom
DEAR FRANTIC: Check the website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (va.gov) to see if you are eligible for survivor benefits. Then we recommend you contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (samhsa.gov) at 1-800-662-HELP for referrals to treatment centers or local state services for those without insurance. But Randall must be willing to go.
DEAR ANNIE: I am responding to "Gary" about appropriate dress for a funeral.
A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law died unexpectedly. She was an incredible person. She came from an Irish family, and there was a huge wake to celebrate her life. There was lots of food and an Irish band and a bagpiper. There was storytelling about the wonderful times we each spent with her. The celebration went on for hours. Her family discouraged wearing somber clothing.
The next day, there was a memorial service that was more traditional. I can honestly say that I do not remember what anyone wore to either. -- Carol
DEAR CAROL: The clothing one remembers tends to be outrageously inappropriate and calls attention to the wearer. Such outfits should be avoided, because they distract mourners and can cause distress to the family.
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.