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No one at work knows my husband is dying

Dec 23, 2012

My husband is going to die - soon - of late stage AIDS. He's only 32 and has kept his illness a secret from everyone outside of my immediate family. If people that I work with know he's dying, I won't be able to hold it together, but I can't help feeling that I should tell someone. Should I go to Human Resources now or wait until after my husband passes? Is it okay to write a letter outlining the information I would like conveyed to my coworkers or is that like texting a break-up?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. I'm sorry to hear about your husband. It is extremely stressful to experience such a difficult process and keep it from others. It is extremely important for you to be able to find an outlet to express your feelings and get support. That said, how much to reveal in the workplace is a subjective decision based on your relationships with your colleagues, their need to know, their ability to support you, as well as the wishes of your husband.

Speak with your human resources department to get help with this decision. If your decide to disclose your situation, I would do what feels comfortable for you. A letter may be a better alternative to your repeatedly explaining the situation.

The important thing to remember is that this is an emotionally painful situation for you and your husband. Put your needs (the two of you), which may include getting support from some people at work, before anything else.

Take care,


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