DEAR ABBY: My wife died recently. We were very happy. We had six beautiful children and were married for 58 wonderful years.
It has been a month since her funeral, and I have been able to cope somewhat with her loss. But suddenly, a couple of days ago, I experienced a tremendous wave of grief and thought I would go crazy with not being able to see her again. I began to be afraid I'd have to be hospitalized, perhaps in a psychiatric ward and medicated. But my son told me this condition (everything "hitting" you in a delayed reaction) has been documented in a majority of cases. Is this true? -- GRIEVING TEXAN
DEAR GRIEVING TEXAN: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your wife. I am sure you feel her loss profoundly.
Not everyone grieves in the same way. Some feel numb and can't understand why they can't feel anything after a loved one dies. Others feel the loss immediately and can't sleep, eat or stop crying.
Your son is absolutely right. What happened to you is not unusual. However, if feelings of being out of control persist, you should discuss them with your doctor.
DEAR ABBY: One of our in-laws recently confessed about a long-term affair. The details are widely known. The closest family members, and especially the couple's adult children, are shocked, devastated and angry. No one wants to even talk to the cheater.
The aggrieved spouse wants to keep the marriage together. It is hard to imagine that time will heal these wounds. How can my wife and I support the aggrieved spouse and the devastated children? Should we try to re-establish ties with the cheater? If so, do we just talk about the weather, or do we acknowledge the elephant in the room? -- TRYING TO DO WHAT'S RIGHT
DEAR TRYING: If you truly want to support the spouse and adult children, let them know you are there for them if they want to talk. If you socialize with the husband and wife as a couple, continue to behave as you always have with them and discuss the topics you always did. Couples can get past turbulence in their marriage more easily without unsolicited interference.
DEAR ABBY: I was paying bills and saw that my husband sent his mother flowers for Mother's Day. It stung because I received nothing from him. ZIP. In the past, he has stated that I am not his mom, suggesting there's no reason to celebrate the mother of HIS child who birthed HIS child on Mother's Day 10 years ago. Should I be annoyed? -- UNSURE IN OREGON
DEAR UNSURE: Most husbands have more brains than the cheap, insensitive man you married. I am tempted to suggest that you "forget" him on Father's Day and when he asks why, tell him he's not your father. You are a mother because he helped you become one, and he shouldn't forget that fact.
DEAR ABBY: My psychiatrist's office called and left a very sensitive voicemail about my bulimia on a message machine shared with other individuals. Our voicemails are sent transcribed to everyone's email accounts.
Since my complaint (which was an argument during which the nurse who left the private information hung up on me), human resources and the office manager have contacted me to try to alleviate the tension, but I have received no apology from anyone for violating HIPAA or embarrassing me. Should I throw in the towel and find a new doctor or revoke my contact information from their files? I don't know how to proceed from here. -- PERSONAL TO PUBLIC
DEAR PERSONAL: If you provided a shared phone number as your point of contact, you should not have blamed the person who left the message for using it. I see no reason to change doctors, but you should definitely alter your client information so this doesn't happen in the future.
That said, does your psychiatrist know one of his/her employees hung up on you? If not, the doctor should be informed, and you should be offered an apology.
DEAR ABBY: I suffer from a debilitating, rare, chronic illness. Two years ago, my parents convinced me to move across the country to live with them in a city I've never lived in. They promised it would be "only for a year," they'd pay the cost of moving and finance a "year of wellness." I was to receive acupuncture, massage therapy, physical therapy, help from doctors, a personal trainer, etc.
They paid to move me, but have not followed through with any of their promises to help treat my disorder. What's more, I have had to fit an entire apartment's worth of furniture and other items into a small bedroom, and I'm not allowed to use the rest of the house.
Now that I am here, I can't afford to pay to move back east or possibly find a place to live or work without being established in this new city. Is there a way to address the predicament I am now in and the fact that they relocated me without keeping their promises? I'm extremely shy and have made no friends in this town these past two years. -- DESPERATE DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: You should not be isolated the way you are. And you need more help than I can give you in a letter. From your description, you are a prisoner in your parents' home. Contact your doctor back east about what has been going on. Of course, if you have friends there, you should alert them, too.
You will not get better living as you are. For your parents to have promised help and reneged is inexcusable. If there is an organization that supports your rare illness, it should be contacted too. Please do not wait.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 22 and I'm dating this amazing guy a couple of years older than me. He really checks off so many things on my "list," I can't help but be attracted to and appreciate him. He is a good guy, good looking, real smart and our values match up. We also have a really good vibe together.
Here's the issue: He is not as tall as I would prefer. He's not super short, but we are the same height and when I wear shoes with a small heel, he's slightly shorter.
I don't know why I'm still thinking about the height thing when I could really see us together long term. Am I being superficial? What should I do? -- UNSURE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR UNSURE: Ask yourself this: Is your self-confidence so lacking that you would seriously allow his height to bother you? If the fact that you would be self-conscious wearing heels with him could deter you from a long-term relationship, you should let him go because your values are not as alike as you would like to think.
DEAR ABBY: I am 19 and love my boyfriend a lot. He is very sweet and would do anything for me. However, I am beginning to think there may be someone else. The someone else is male.
My boyfriend has become very secretive lately with his phone, and I've noticed he's followed a lot of male modeling accounts on Instagram. Should I confront him about it, or am I overthinking things? -- CONFLICTED IN IOWA
DEAR CONFLICTED: You are not overthinking. Because you are having doubts about your boyfriend's faithfulness, ask him why he has become secretive with his phone and why he is viewing male models on Instagram. Unless he's trying to become a model, it is possible that he may be bisexual. If that's the case -- and you are correct that he would "do anything" for you -- he should level with you about it.
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P.S. If you have been having unprotected sex with this young man, I urge you to be tested for STDs as soon as possible.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 15-year-old girl in my sophomore year. School is going really good, I'm getting my grades up, I made the varsity lacrosse team, and I have amazing friends. But our school tells us that during our sophomore school year, we should start to look at colleges. Neither of my parents went to college, and I'm not sure what I should be doing to prepare. I'm only an average student, and I don't really know what I should ask my guidance counselor or look for in a college. What do you think I should do? -- STUDENT IN NEW YORK
DEAR STUDENT: That your parents didn't go to college doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't. If your grades need improvement, ask your teachers what you need to do to earn better grades. Make an appointment with your guidance counselor and explain exactly what you have told me. When you do, I am sure the person will be glad to help you.
DEAR ABBY: My best friend is being married, and the wedding invitation lists the attire as "black tie." I understand this usually means the men should wear tuxedos. Several of the men who have been invited have told me they plan to wear dark suits instead. Is this appropriate for a black tie event? I suppose there's no way to force anyone to wear something they don't want to, but I'm wondering if black tie is a requirement or a suggestion. -- WEDDING ATTIRE ETIQUETTE
DEAR ATTIRE: If an invitation specifies "black tie," it means that formal attire is preferred. The rules of etiquette dictate that guests should comply. However, breaking a rule of etiquette is not a felony. If these invitees prefer not to go to the expense of renting a tux, ask your best friend if he/she would be offended if they wore dark suits and conservative ties to the wedding instead.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 70-year-old male former teacher and social worker. I stopped dating 30 years ago because the only women I had loved had all dumped me. I felt I was only a temporary convenience to them.
Since then, I haven't been romantically involved with anyone so I would not be dumped again. However, I am lonely for female companionship and afraid I'll die without ever having had another girlfriend.
I'm not attracted to women my age, and I don't see younger women being attracted to an overweight old guy who isn't even scraping by on Social Security. Dating services don't screen their members. Is there a solution for this problem? -- HOPELESS IN MISSOURI
DEAR HOPELESS: I'm sorry women in your age range don't qualify, because it would be easier for you if they did. To be appreciated for the person you are, you will have to meet through mutual friends, church or an activity you enjoy -- something that will allow women to see the strengths you have.
However, if that doesn't open some doors and some hearts, because you're looking for unconditional love, consider adopting a puppy.
DEAR ABBY: My middle-schooler noticed that the family of one of her classmates is struggling financially. The boy wears eyeglasses with a crooked frame and one missing lens. His clothing and shoes are shabby and worn.
Not knowing the student or his family, I know my options are limited. They rely on public transportation, and none of the other students know where they live.
Education is paramount to getting out of this jam. Without something as simple as glasses, I'm afraid it can't be done. Do you have any recommendations on how to help get this student a pair? Since I don't know the family, how do I even offer a ride to an optometrist's without fear of being labeled a kidnapper? -- TRYING TO HELP IN THE WEST
DEAR TRYING TO HELP: A diplomatic way to handle it would be to discuss this with your daughter's teacher or the school principal. I agree a child who can't see the blackboard has little chance of academic success. If you would like to provide transportation or pay for glasses for the boy, speaking with school staff would be the path with the least potential for embarrassment.
DEAR ABBY: I am currently in a relationship that's great except for one thing. She knows what "buttons" to push to make me angry, and she'll continue to push them.
No matter what I do, she's in my face. It just seems she wants to argue until I reach the point of exploding. I try to walk away, go to another room, ignore her, tell her she's making me angry -- yet she continues. I'm all for being able to walk away and then talk about it later -- and I have confronted her on this. What do I do? -- FRUSTRATED IN FLORIDA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: What do you do? You break up with this toxic individual who enjoys goading you to the point of exploding, and find a woman who is a lot more compatible.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 29. I had a son six years ago and left my ex because he didn't want to be a father. He chose to party instead. I had to file a name change for my son, and custody was hard to fight for because the father refused to show up.
Since then, I've worked two and sometimes three jobs just to stay ahead. My child hardly sees me. I work so much that my son has stopped calling me "Mommy" and instead calls me by my name. I feel hopeless and that I'm working for nothing. Have I made a mistake working so much? -- MOMMY IN MARYLAND
DEAR MOMMY: If you are working those long hours in order to pay your bills, you are doing what a parent is supposed to do -- providing for your child. Because your ex isn't doing his share, get on the internet and research "child support for single mothers." Resources are available to help you.
As to your son no longer calling you "Mommy," I would have to ask where he got the idea he would call you anything else. (Have you asked him?) Rather than accept it, make clear that he has only one mommy, you are it, and you will not tolerate being called anything else.
DEAR ABBY: I've been seeing someone for six or seven months, but we have been together for only three. He's quite the package, except he can't handle confrontation and doesn't communicate well. His way of handling uncomfortable conversations is to avoid them, while I, on the other hand, tend to be very communicative.
Is there a way for both of us to be happy when dealing with difficult conversations? Is there anything I can do to make him more comfortable with them? I should add that he hasn't been in a relationship in forever. I'm happy with him, but communication is important to me. -- VERBAL IN THE WEST
DEAR VERBAL: Has it occurred to you that this man may not have been in a relationship "in forever" BECAUSE he can't deal with uncomfortable conversations? For many women, that would be a deal-breaker.
While not all men are comfortable with long, heartfelt conversations, the only way to arrive at a compromise is to talk with each other. Give him more time because your relationship is still new. But if he isn't capable of opening up, recognize it as an important red flag if you are contemplating a long relationship with him.
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