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Dear Abby: I could have stopped friend from drinking himself to death

Regretful reader could have informed the alcoholic’s parents about the extent of his problem, and now considers telling them how guilty he feels.

DEAR ABBY: My dearest friend passed away five years ago. He was a severe alcoholic, and his death resulted from it. I was aware of how bad things had gotten and I was trying to talk him into getting help. I live across the country but visited and spoke with him often. I was considering telling his parents how bad things were since they were mainly supporting him, but I was torn because he was an adult, and I didn’t know if it would be appropriate.

Well, while I was considering it, he passed away, and I haven’t been able to get over the guilt. I feel like I should’ve done more. I have a strong urge to tell his parents I knew how he was doing and was contemplating telling them and how sorry I am that I didn’t. Would it be selfish, like rubbing salt in their wounds, just so I can find some kind of peace? I have been going back and forth with this since his death. I have such regret that I didn’t do something more. I don’t know if their forgiveness would help me, or if I’d just be hurting them more. Your opinion on this would be helpful. — FULL OF REGRETS

DEAR FULL: Please forgive yourself and stop second-guessing. You are guilty of nothing more than being a caring friend. The deceased was responsible for his own alcohol-related death. If his parents were supporting him financially, they were already aware their son had a serious problem. Because after five years you cannot stop flogging yourself, you have two options: Discuss this with your religious adviser, or ask your doctor or your insurance provider to refer you for some sessions with a licensed psychotherapist with whom you can work through this.

DEAR ABBY: I have had a girlfriend for about three years, but I have recently begun to feel indifferent about our relationship. We have to travel at least 45 minutes to see each other and don’t always see each other on weekends. I have been trying to convince her to move into my townhome, but something new arises each time I bring it up.

Recently, a younger woman (she’s 21, I’m 32) showed an interest in me during one of my sports games. I have talked to her and won’t let any relationship develop outside of being friends. She’s religious and I’m not, and that’s a deal-breaker for me. I’m torn between continuing to try to build my current relationship, trying to pursue the new one, or taking a step back from relationships to focus on my personal goals. Any thoughts, Abby? — PONDERING IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR PONDERING: It doesn’t appear that you OR your girlfriend of three years is really ready to take things to the next level. If you were, you wouldn’t be debating whether to trade her in for a newer model. As to the younger one, you just stated clearly that her religiosity is a deal-breaker for you. Your third option makes the most sense. Concentrate on your personal goals for a while, and with time, your love life will work itself out.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)