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by Abigail Van Buren

Friend Doesn't Know How to React to Lonely Widower

DEAR ABBY: Three weeks ago, a dear friend, "Mary," died, only four days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. I spent those four days in the hospital with her, sleeping in a chair by her bed at night.

Her husband, "Jim," was also by her side. He held her hand and spoke to her even though she could no longer speak due to the morphine that was controlling her pain. The time we spent at the hospital was only the second time I had met him. We talked for hours while we sat in Mary's room. I thought Jim was a very sweet man.

Last week, Jim said he wanted to see me. I didn't think much about it because I had helped him with some insurance documents. When we met, I was surprised when he expressed a desire to spend time with me.

Abby, I'm not sure Jim should be dating anyone at this time. I think he may be lonely. Any suggestions? -- E.H. IN VIRGINIA BEACH

DEAR E.H.: I agree that Jim is lonely, and it's too soon for him to make any important decisions. However, I see no reason why you and he can't see each other on a more or less platonic basis for a few months -- until the shock of losing his wife subsides. You appear to be a caring and sensible woman. He may -- or may not -- be transferring his feelings for Mary to you because you were such a good friend. Trust your judgment.

DEAR ABBY: I am 15. I just found out my father was married before he married my mother. He had a couple of kids with his first wife.

My parents are very upset that I know and are against my having any relationship with my half-siblings. I realize I didn't grow up with them, but it would be nice to meet them since I am an only child.

Can you think of anything I can do to convince my parents to let me talk to them? -- LONELY SIBLING IN NOVA SCOTIA

DEAR LONELY SIB: Not at this time. Since they are uncomfortable with your contacting your siblings, wait until you are 18.

Family secrets like the one you have described usually have a way of revealing themselves sooner or later. I don't know the circumstances of your father's divorce, but it's important to prepare yourself for the possibility that the children your dad left behind might not know about -- or want a relationship with -- you. It sometimes happens.

DEAR ABBY: "Vicki," my best friend for 30 years, is under a doctor's care. The trouble is, she's been lying to him about taking anti-depressants and painkillers while still consuming large amounts of alcohol. For the past six months, Vicki has pushed away all those who love her.

Abby, Vicki and I are treated by the same doctor. I was wondering if it would be breaking a trust to tell him what Vicki is doing. I think he should know. What do you think? -- WORRIED FRIEND IN MISSISSIPPI

DEAR WORRIED FRIEND: By all means tell your doctor about your concerns. Through some "routine" questions, the doctor will have the opportunity to intervene without revealing who tipped him off. Please don't wait. It could save your friend's life, because alcohol and prescription drugs can be a lethal combination.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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