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Couple feels cast adrift after friend’s diagnosis

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have dear friends, one of whom has been diagnosed with untreatable cancer. The doctors told him to go home and maximize his quality of life. The first step he took was to completely cut us out.
We had been friends for years. They watched the big football games with us at our house. When he was diagnosed, I was the first person outside of his family he called. They stood up with us when we renewed our vows. I have cut cords of firewood for them. We traveled together.
Recently, the wife posted on Facebook that when undergoing trials you find out who your friends really are. We have been tossed aside like worn-out shoes.
My question is, when he passes, if we learn about it, would it be appropriate to attend the funeral to say goodbye to this man we dearly love and offer our condolences to the widow? — ALREADY BEREAVED IN KANSAS

DEAR ALREADY BEREAVED: Everyone reacts differently after receiving a diagnosis like the one your friend received. Some people reach out for support, but a sizable number do the opposite. They “circle the wagons,” which may be what this man has done.
It would be interesting to know if his wife was aware of the message you were given, because from what she posted, she may not have been. I think it is time to reach out to her privately and ask her how you can be supportive — if only to her. And yes, when he passes you should pay your respects and offer condolences. Funerals are for the living.
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DEAR ABBY: For the past few months I’ve been seeing a gentleman in his late 50s who lost his last girlfriend, “Vera,” in a tragic accident. Her death was less than a year ago and he is still grieving, which I respect and am not uncomfortable with. My beau has low self-esteem. He thinks the relationship he had with Vera made him a better person, and that without her he will be less so.
I understand his sorrow and that he needs more time to sort through his feelings but, if things work out with us, and we continue to see each other, I want to know how I can also make him feel like I’m helping him be a better person. He says it was “just the relationship they had” and that he doesn’t know how to put it into words.
I don’t want to replace Vera or copy her, but I do wish I could understand what she did to help him believe positive things about himself. — NEW GIRLFRIEND IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR GIRLFRIEND: In order to understand that, it would be helpful to see if he can explain the reason for his low self-esteem. Was it hypercritical parents? Difficulty fitting in with peers that started when he was in school? Not receiving enough positive feedback in his youth?
Once you gain more insight, you may be able to find the answers you are looking for. Both partners in a relationship should use whatever attributes they have to make EACH OTHER feel positive. However, please recognize it should not be your responsibility to prop him up on a continuing basis.
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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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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