Ten­sion lingers af­ter fam­ily’s tragedy

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Amy’s col­umn ap­pears seven days a week at www.wash­ing­ton­post.com/ ad­vice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribpub.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611. © 2015 by the Chicago Tri­bune AMY DICKINSON

Dear Amy: I have been through a lot with a child­hood friend of mine. Three years ago her 25year-old son was found dead. He drank heav­ily and had got­ten in a fight with his live-in girl­friend. His death was vi­o­lent.

The author­i­ties ruled it as a sui­cide but my friend thinks that the girl mur­dered him. Ev­ery time we get to­gether our visit starts out well and then she starts talk­ing about how that girl needs to pay for what she did. She starts telling me the story again (I have heard it a hun­dred times), and it al­ways ends with us both cry­ing. This makes me very un­com­fort­able.

I love her to death and I can­not imag­ine the pain she is go­ing through, but I get to where I don’t want to be around her. Our hus­bands are good friends and I keep mak­ing ex­cuses not to be around them. How can I help her to find clo­sure and peace? I have sug­gested coun­sel­ing and she says it wouldn’t help. Please help me.

Dev­as­tated Friend

This is truly tragic, il­lus­trat­ing how a trau­matic death con­tin­ues to res­onate in widen­ing cir­cles over time. I’m as­sum­ing that the po­lice in­ves­ti­gated this death and have ruled out any in­volve­ment on the girl­friend’s part.

For­get about clo­sure. When a par­ent loses a child to sui­cide, there is no such thing as clo­sure. The most a par­ent can hope for is the abil­ity to cope day-to-day, so that the loss gets eas­ier to bear over time.

Your friend def­i­nitely needs pro­fes­sional help. She may be avoid­ing it in part be­cause she needs to cling to her own ideas of how her son died. Sui­cide is the hard­est kind of death to bear; the unan­swered ques­tions rat­tle around and are never re­solved. Fam­ily mem­bers of a sui­cide death are at an in­creased risk of de­pres­sion and sui­cide them­selves.

To pre­serve your friend­ship, you should be hon­est with her. When her ru­mi­nat­ing starts, in­ter­rupt the cy­cle by putting a hand on her arm and of­fer her a hug. “I’m so sorry. I feel pow­er­less. Please get help.” Of­fer to take your friend to a sur­vivor group of par­ents whose chil­dren have died. Check out the Web site of the Com­pas­sion­ate Friends for the lo­ca­tion for a lo­cal be­reave­ment group ( com­pas­sion­ate­friends. Grief is iso­lat­ing. Please don’t give up on her.

Dear Amy: I met my part­ner online. We’ve been liv­ing to­gether for two years. When we got se­ri­ous, she re­moved her dat­ing pro­file but lately I see her hid­ing her com­puter screen from me and typ­ing furtively. This raised sus­pi­cions. I have dis­cov­ered that she has a new and ac­tive pro­file with the same well-known dat­ing site where we met.

This is a new pro­file and shows her as ac­tive within a day ofmy check­ing. I would like to know how to go about con­fronting her with­out caus­ing a huge blowup.


You can hope for a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to this, but per­haps a big blowup is in­evitable. Don’t rule it out — or be afraid of it.

Ob­vi­ously you have some­thing im­por­tant to dis­cuss, and this in­ci­dent will cause you both to face it. Share your hon­est re­ac­tion with her and ask her to de­scribe what she was think­ing when she chose to start shop­ping her­self online.

Try to pre­pare your­self for de­nials and re­crim­i­na­tions — and also for bad news. Un­less you can come to a ra­tio­nal un­der­stand­ing, this should be a deal-breaker for you.

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