DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old woman. A few months ago, my boyfriend (my very first boyfriend) committed suicide. I feel absolutely destroyed.
The problem is, my family doesn’t regard my feelings of grief seriously because our relationship was started and maintained online. We lived several states apart, and while we never met in person, we talked every night and video-chatted many, many times. My feelings for him were real. I broke down when I heard the news, and I still hurt, but my family thinks I’m overreacting. They can’t understand how a relationship with someone online can be serious.
How can I make them recognize how much pain I’m in? The fact they refuse to recognize this loss hurts me so much more. What do I do? — ALL ALONE IN LOUISIANA
DEAR ALL ALONE: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of someone you cared about so deeply. That your parents would minimize your feelings is sad, but it says more about them and their level of sensitivity than the depth of your relationship with him. Many serious relationships have started online, and marriages as well, and I understand you are left mourning all the things that might have been.
At 20, you are no longer a child. You can find emotional support elsewhere. Talk to your clergyperson, if you have one, or look online for a grief support group you can join. There you will be able to safely vent about your feelings with others who understand what you are experiencing right now.
DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced four years ago. Mom currently lives with my husband and me. We have a great relationship with her, and she never speaks ill of my father. She has moved on, found a new direction in life and a new boyfriend we all like very much.
Dad moved in with the woman he cheated on Mom with, but their relationship fell apart. He has never stopped speaking ill of Mom. When things aren’t going well for him, he causes trouble by showing up at Mom’s workplace and making a scene. He’ll also come over to our house unannounced to talk badly about her. He was a great father until a few years ago when all this trouble started.
I feel torn between trying to continue a relationship with him or cutting him out of my life like a bad daughter. What should I do? — CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CAUGHT: Your father’s behavior is sick. Depending upon how disruptive he is when he shows up at your mother’s workplace, suggest she consider getting a restraining order preventing him from acting out that way. She must have a very understanding employer to have tolerated it, because that kind of disruption has been known to cost people their jobs.
And when your dad shows up at your home unannounced, speak up. Tell him you and your husband don’t like it. Make clear that his nasty comments about your mother aren’t welcome, and neither will he be, unless he calls first to see if a visit is all right with everyone.
His misbehavior continues because you have allowed it.
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 http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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