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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for responding to "Crystal in Nevada's" June 7 question about her aunt and her aunt's baby who was stillborn. Few people talk openly about pregnancy loss, yet I worry your response might discourage parents from remembering their children out loud, for fear it might seem too morbid for others.

My daughter, Evelyn, was born at 21 weeks gestation and died at birth. She would turn 7 this fall. I think about her every day. In the wake of her death, I sought help from a pastor, and I also belong to a support group.

Every year on her birthday, my spouse and I put a birthday candle on a cake or a stack of pancakes or a tiny cookie. This is important to us, and this is how we remember her. I wonder if this is "truly sad." How ought we remember her? She was real to us.

People remember anniversaries around grief in different ways, and we should be cautious about judging what is and is not appropriate. If a person's grief gets in the way of everyday living, then she or he should seek counseling. But a person acting out their grief on the anniversary of a loss should evoke our empathy rather than judgment. I hope Crystal's aunt knows there is a whole sisterhood/brotherhood out here who will remember her baby with her. -- ADRIANNE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR ADRIANNE: I'm glad you wrote. I appreciate your reminding me that there are many ways to grieve. If it brings comfort to those who have suffered a loss, no judgment should be passed. I apologize to any and all grieving parents who were affected by my answer because it's clear that my response caused hurt feelings, and for that I am truly sorry.

Read more in: Death

DEAR ABBY: I'm a professional, independent female in my early 40s. I'm not sure how to handle a friend I've known for nearly 10 years. She's beautiful, with a magnetic personality, but she has a terrible habit of lying and embellishing about things big and small, inconsequential and serious.

There have been times I've been appalled by the enormity of her lies, and embarrassed for her when someone indicates they're aware that what she's said isn't true. I have gently reminded her more than once that it'll catch up to her and encouraged her to be honest. She persists.

My problem: A few years ago, when she expressed a desire to "expand her circle," she incorporated some of my closest friends and their friends. Boundaries have been blurred and the need to impress others (lie, greatly exaggerate) has grown worse. These new friends are drawn to her dynamic personality, yet I can no longer stomach her rampant dishonesty. Will I possibly lose or damage other relationships by ending my friendship with her? Should I label her a liar and watch her react? I don't know if this friendship can be salvaged or if I even want to. -- SICK TO MY STOMACH

DEAR SICK: You don't have to make any grand announcements regarding this poor woman. Stepping back from a relationship with a compulsive liar should not damage your other friendships. People will soon recognize her for what she is, and will likely follow your example. If, however, you are asked why you no longer socialize with her, I think you should quietly answer the question truthfully.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors

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