DEAR ABBY: I live next door to a 75-year-old man whose wife died a few months ago. I'm fairly new to the neighborhood and heard of his loss just before Easter. As a caring gesture, I took him a homemade casserole and left my number in case he needed help going to the store or a cup of coffee. Since then, he has been over once with flowers to chat and have coffee, and is now calling me every few days inviting me for lunch, a glass of wine, etc.
I am engaged to be married and he knows this, but my fiance lives in another town. I realize my neighbor is lonely, but he appears to be thinking romantically. I am 30 years his junior and busy with my life. I only just met him and have nothing to say except to listen, which would be OK if I didn't think he was looking for more.
When he was here for coffee, he kissed my forehead several times when he left and wanted several hugs. I feel so sorry for him, but I don't want to lead him on or hurt him more than he already has been. Could this man actually be thinking of another woman this soon after his wife's death? How should I handle this? Please reply ASAP! -- LUCY IN LAS VEGAS
DEAR LUCY: It is not unheard of for a widower (or a widow) to miss physical contact and companionship after the loss of a spouse, and start thinking romantically within months of her or his death. You were kind to reach out to comfort your neighbor in his grief, but the time has come to make it clear that you are not available for the kind of companionship he is looking for.
Remind him again that you are engaged to be married, and that he should find a grief support group that can help him work through his loss and re-establish a social life. To do so is neither rude nor unfeeling, and it may be the push in the right direction he needs to get moving with his life again -- because right now he is barking up the wrong tree.