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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Offers Little Sympathy After Online Boyfriend's Death

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.

Read more in: Death | Family & Parenting