Friend’s death cloaked in secrecy and silence

Published 8:39 am Thursday, December 23, 2021

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DEAR ABBY: A dear friend of mine, “Dirk,” died by suicide a couple of years ago. We were very close when we were young but saw each other only occasionally as adults. However, on the occasions we did get together, it always felt like we picked up where we left off.
I found out about my friend’s death from a family member after I discovered his phone number was no longer working and his Facebook and Messenger accounts had been deleted. He had died a few months earlier. Dirk’s family asked me not to tell anyone that the death was a suicide. They didn’t want his memory to be about that final decision. Because there was no obituary in the newspaper (they didn’t want one), it feels as though my friend has been erased with no trace.
I’m still having a hard time with his death. I feel like I should put an in-memoriam obituary in the paper. I also feel a need to talk about it with others (both for myself and as a warning to others). My mother thinks I should abide by the wishes of the family. What do you think? — MISSING MY FRIEND IN OHIO

DEAR MISSING: When someone takes their own life, there are usually a range of emotions experienced by the survivors. These can include shame, guilt and anger. Fortunately, there are mental health programs that can help with these if the family is aware they are available. A call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) could guide them if they reach out. I sincerely hope you will listen to your mother and respect the wishes of the deceased’s family, even though you do not agree. If you do what you are contemplating, it could cause the family even more pain.
DEAR ABBY: Our 26-year-old married son currently lives with us. His wife of three years (close in age) was raised in a different culture and has recently started living with her parents in a city four hours away. My son has a stable, well-paying job and cannot relocate. They talk on the phone many times a day and night, and both say their marriage is “fine.”
She doesn’t work and doesn’t finish anything she starts. She contributes to her family’s household by using the car and money our son provides. She says she became depressed when she lived in our town but is happy with her parents and really doesn’t see moving out. We feel she is immature, controlling and taking advantage of our son. We have told him as much. He understands he has a situation but seems too weak to change it. What more can we do? — FLUSTERED PARENTS IN TEXAS

DEAR PARENTS: Your son knows your opinion. You can — and should — do nothing more than you already have. Because he and his wife say they are happy with the situation, keep your mouths shut and refrain from stirring the pot. At some point, one of them will want to make changes, which may mean your son will have to relocate. But this is his problem, and one he must resolve on his 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 P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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