Guilt after the death of a friend calls for forgiveness


DEAR ABBY: My dearest friend passed away five years ago. He was a severe alcoholic, and his death resulted. I was aware of the seriousness of things and tried to convince him to ask for help. I live across the country, but have visited him often and spoken with him. I was considering telling his parents how bad things were since they were mostly supporting him, but I was torn because he was an adult, and I wasn’t sure if that would be appropriate.

Now, while I was thinking about it, he passed away, and I couldn’t get over the guilt. I feel like I should have done more. I have a strong urge to tell his parents that I knew how he was and that I was considering telling them and how sorry I am that I didn’t. Would it be selfish, like putting salt on their wounds, just so I can find some kind of peace? I’ve been going back and forth with this since his death. I regret so much that I didn’t do something more. I don’t know if their forgiveness would help me, or if I would just hurt them more. Your advice on this would be helpful. – FULL OF REGRETS

Jeanne Phillips

DEAR FULL: Please forgive yourself and stop guessing. You are guilty of nothing more than being a caring friend. The deceased was responsible for his own alcohol-related death. If his parents were supporting him financially, they already knew that their son had a serious problem. Because after five years you cannot stop flogging yourself, you have two options: discuss it with your religious advisor, or ask your doctor or your insurer to refer you for a few sessions with a licensed psychotherapist with who you can work through that.


DEAR ABBY: I’ve had a girlfriend for about three years, but recently I’ve started to feel indifferent about our relationship. We have to travel at least 45 minutes to see each other and we don’t always see each other on weekends. I tried to convince her to move into my townhouse, but something new pops up every time I mention it.

Recently, a young woman (she’s 21, I’m 32) got interested in me during one of my sports matches. I have spoken to him and I will not let any relationship develop other than being friends. She’s religious and I’m not, and it’s a breakup for me. I’m torn between continuing to try to build my current relationship, trying to chase the new one, or stepping back from relationships to focus on my personal goals. Any idea, Abby? – REFLECTION IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR THOUGHT: It doesn’t seem like you OR your three year old girlfriend are really ready to take things to the next level. If you were, you wouldn’t be debating whether to trade it in for a newer model. As for the youngest, you have just clearly stated that her religiosity is a decisive factor for you. Your third option makes the most sense. Focus on your personal goals for a while, and over time your love life will improve on its own.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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