DEAR ABBY: I feel like I'm all alone. My daughter's father was recently murdered, and I can't seem to get over it. Even though we hadn't been close for months before his passing, he was all I have known since I was 13. I'm trying to move on, but it's so hard.
I don't know how to help my daughter with her issues because I'm still grieving for my own father, who was killed in Baghdad several years ago.
Am I a bad mother for not talking to her enough about it? Frankly, I try to avoid the subject every chance I get. But it's eating me up inside, and I can't stop crying.
How will I ever move on to another relationship when I can't even get past the last one? How can I help my child when I feel like I can't even help myself? -- DESPERATE FOR HELP IN NEW YORK
DEAR DESPERATE FOR HELP: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the double loss in your life -- the death of your father and the tragedy that befell your daughter's father. If you are going to heal yourself and your girl, it is imperative that you find help for both of you. She needs to talk about her feelings so she can deal with them -- and so do you. Avoiding the subject, painful as it is, doesn't work, as you are finding out.
I recommend that you find a grief-support group for you and for your daughter, a safe place in which to share your feelings of loss, pain and possibly anger. An excellent place to start would be to ask your clergyperson. Please don't put it off because help is available.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 25 and my boyfriend, "Dave," is 32. I love him dearly. He's my best friend, and I know we cherish each other, but I always feel like I'm No. 2, 3 or 4 in his life.
Dave has a 4-year-old son and is occupied with the boy three nights a week. On those nights I am not welcome. There are no phone calls, and I feel alienated and lonely. Also, he stays in a job he claims he hates because he can't afford to miss one payment to his estranged wife.
Dave refuses to get a divorce because it's expensive, and he is afraid that she will abuse him financially. Yet he gives her extra money on a regular basis despite his 50/50 custody (at present), and he's often broke because of some demand or another she had made. She has a great job as a nurse, but I know very little about her situation so I can't judge her.
I am frustrated. When I try to discuss it, Dave tells me he's sorry, "things will change" and eventually I'll be able to share his life with him and his son. But it's been more than a year, and nothing has changed. Should I hold on? This is driving me crazy. -- LOSING PATIENCE IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR LOSING PATIENCE: Your boyfriend appears to be a conscientious parent, but he is married and not available for what you want. He may be satisfied with the status quo, which is why he has made no move to divorce or to further include you.
Dave is not your "best friend." Best friends discuss their problems and work out compromises. Please consider moving on, because if you allow this situation to drag on another year or two or three -- and I suspect it will -- you'd have to be crazy.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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