In considering Kumar's case, I realized yet again that the simple principle of respect for differences that we apply to grieving families is just as important in how we understand each others approaches to therapy. Kumar did an exceptional job with this family, enabling them to find closure and healing. And yet, simply because I'm not Kumar, I probably would have handled the case using other approaches.
Here are a few aspects of the case I think I might have done differently.
Long before Tracy brought up the affair, I'd have initiated ongoing couple and family meetings, as well as meetings between Tracy and each of her children. I'd have encouraged family members to write to Tracy, describing what she'd meant to them, the memories they had of her, and other things that were on their minds. I'd have strongly recommended that Tracy write them also before she got too sick.
Once Tracy brought up the affair and separation, particularly if I already had a therapeutic relationship with John, I might have asked John and Tracy to meet together with me, even if there was only time for just one session. I'd have supported her need not to forgive and to stay separated. I'd also have encouraged John to really try to understand and fully acknowledge what his profound betrayal had done to Tracy. Not only had he harmed his wife by having the affair itself, but by keeping it a secret, he'd probably soiled for her, as she neared death, the memory of all the intervening years when she hadn't known. John's acknowledgement of how he'd harmed her might have allowed him to feel that at least he'd done everything he could do to make amends to his wife before she died.
Assuming I'd had a good working relationship with the family members before Tracy's death, I might have tried to keep the alcoholic daughter and the distant son engaged in the treatment, because their complicated grief was just as central as John's.