DEAR ABBY: I am a gay man who is in the middle of a nasty divorce, ending a 10-year marriage. I married to hide the fact that I am gay from my conservative religious parents and family.
This divorce has been a terrible experience for both my wife and me, and we will bear the scars of this broken relationship for many years to come. The irony is, my parents have fully accepted my homosexuality and are extremely supportive.
How I wish I had waited until I was strong enough to deal honestly with my sexuality instead of getting married. Young men who are in my shoes need to heed my advice: "Give yourselves time to come to terms with your sexuality." Lesbians, too, should know that they can be happy and live rewarding and productive lives if they accept themselves as they are.
Abby, my effort to become a heterosexual was a total farce for me! Gays and lesbians should find a supportive therapist and give themselves time to mature. If one person learns from my terrible mistake, it will make it worth the pain. -- 20/20 HINDSIGHT IN NEW YORK
DEAR 20/20: Thank you for sending a message that many people -- gay and straight -- will appreciate. I am reminded of a quote from Shakespeare: "This above all: To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
DEAR ABBY: Several years ago, you ran a letter signed "Grieving" that listed some things people should not say to a couple who has lost a child by miscarriage. I still hurt after 15 years, and I'm the grandmother. You may use my name. -- NANA IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR NANA: I'm sorry. Losing a child is one of life's most painful tragedies -- one almost too difficult to bear. Of course I will print the column again so that well-meaning people will not offer sympathetic comments that only increase the pain:
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I wanted so much to have this child, and we almost made it, but I miscarried a baby boy in my sixth month and he couldn't be saved. This tragedy was heartbreaking enough, but some of the "comforting" comments from well-meaning friends made it even worse.
Abby, will you please ask your readers NEVER to try to comfort a woman who has lost a premature baby with any of the following comments -- and if you can add anything, please do:
-- "Cheer up, you're still young. You can try again."
-- "You have one child already. Be thankful for what you have."
-- "It was God's will. Praise the Lord."
-- "You could have been lucky; it might not have been normal."
-- "Don't be so downhearted -- it isn't as though you lost a CHILD." -- GRIEVING
DEAR GRIEVING: To the above well-intentioned but inappropriate comments, I can repeat some advice I have frequently offered: To the parents, a miscarriage is the loss of a child. They have anticipated, planned for and prepared for the child, which they will never have. Regardless of how many other children they may have, one child will never replace the one who was lost.
If a friend loses a child through miscarriage, express your feelings of sorrow as though she had lost a "living" child. Because she has.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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