DEAR ABBY: I spent an evening with a guy I've been wanting to date for some time. After a few drinks he confided to me that he has a serious heart condition. He said he doesn't expect to live past age 23 and he could die any day.
I don't know the details of his condition, but I'm sure he believes what he told me. Because of this his life has taken a downward spiral. He has been drinking a lot, failed multiple classes last semester and feels like studying is futile if he may only live a year after graduating.
For lack of evidence to the contrary, I accepted his statement as accurate. I don't think he'd make up something like that. What can I say or do to show my support? How can I encourage him not to give up on his dreams and his goals? He's only 19. How can I be strong for him?
Since he told me about his heart I haven't been able to think about anything else. I don't know how to process this information. How do you comfort someone you care about who's facing mortality at such a young age? -- BROKENHEARTED GUY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR BROKENHEARTED GUY: If you want to be a friend to this young man, ask how many doctors have told him about his poor prognosis. If the answer is only one, urge him to get a second opinion because there are medical advances in cardiology happening every day, and he may not be nearly as close to the end as he fears.
You say he's still in school. Suggest he talk to someone at the student health center about his depression because it is interfering with his grades. And while you're at it, suggest he stop drinking and neglecting his studies because, in the end, he might live.