DEAR ABBY: In 1972, when I was 12, my father died by suicide. I was told it was an accident. I was given an explanation, but the facts didn’t add up. I suspected it was suicide. In 1998, my brother also died by suicide. Afterward, I asked Mom if Dad had done it, too. She denied it, but I knew better.
Around the time of my brother’s death, I lost my best friend/co-worker/father figure of 17 years to suicide. His son was told his dad had had a heart attack.
He is now a father in his 40s, and I think he deserves to know. Should I remain silent as I have for more than 20 years?
— IN A MORAL DILEMMA
DEAR DILEMMA: Years ago, when a family member died by suicide, it was considered shameful and kept a family secret.
Because depression can run in families, these kinds of secrets can be harmful. Today we know more, and there are programs available to help families who have suffered this kind of tragic loss. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) offers support to surviving family members.
I do think you should talk to your friend’s son. Introduce the topic by telling him what happened in your family, how much his father meant to you and your concern for him and his own family, which is why you are bringing it up now.
DEAR ABBY: It’s not the first time, but certainly will be the last time I’m invited to a close friend’s house without my baby girl, my 12-year-old retired therapy dog, “Lady.” Everyone loves Lady. So does my friend. (I even have her portrait tattooed on my leg.) Is it rude to not want to visit my friend because Lady is not welcome?
— LOVES MY LADY
DEAR LOVES: It’s not rude. It is a choice. What I DO think is rude is attempting to blackmail someone into allowing a loved, but unwanted, pet into their home knowing it isn’t welcome. If Lady were still a therapy dog, I might feel differently, but Lady is now retired, and her presence is no longer a medical necessity.
DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine has recently discovered that her husband of 40-plus years has been hiding a decades-long porn addiction. The discovery has caused a problem in their marriage. They have had counseling.
He says he wants to save their marriage and has vowed to give up the porn. I was told he told his wife that if she decides to divorce him, he will tell the entire family and their children that SHE was the one addicted to porn, and it is the reason he’s divorcing her. My question is, what kind of person would treat his wife this way and think this is an appropriate way to save the marriage?
— TWISTED IN KENTUCKY
DEAR TWISTED: Unfortunately, the husband has a problem greater than his porn addiction. It’s his lack of character and honesty.
His threat is not only inappropriate, but also a valid reason to end the marriage.
P.S. I can’t imagine why her family would buy that lie.
DEAR ABBY is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.