Ask Amy: Friends wrestle with disclosure dilemma

March 28, 2012

DEAR AMY: I have a fairly large group of friends I’ve known for more than 20 years. We would like the opinion of an outsider.

Three years ago, a friend of ours, “Stan,” was killed in a car accident

He was 41. Stan was gay, and we were all close with his partner, “Jim.”

In the two months before his death, Stan told us he was planning on leaving Jim. He said he no longer had any love left for him, and although some of us encouraged him to consider couples therapy, his mind was made up.

The only reason he didn’t break it off at that point was because it was near the holidays, and he apparently felt breaking up with him then would just be too cruel.

He died a week after Thanksgiving.

Jim can’t move on. He has been on a few dates but says he always feels like he’s betraying Stan. (They were together for 10 years). He feels Stan was the love of his life, and no one can live up to his memory. Amy, he is miserable.

We all care about him dearly and love him, but we don’t know what to do.

How do you tell someone that the person he loved died no longer loving him?

Should we just let him believe the lie?

Nothing we’ve suggested has worked, not even a grief support group.Should we tell him? And if not, what else can we do? -- Worried Friends

DEAR FRIENDS: You have a certain amount of information, but you cannot know what lurks within the human heart.

You know what “Stan” said to you, but you don’t know what he might have done. He died as part of a couple. Had he lived, there is every possibility that he would have stayed in the relationship.

You telling “Jim” that his partner didn’t love him could serve no purpose: It might not be true; he might not believe it; and it would probably create a wedge in the relationships he has with you at a time when he needs you.

Reassure Jim that Stan would not have wanted him to be stuck in this grief state. Urge him to work with a counselor one-on-one (not in a group).

DEAR AMY: Our daughter is getting married this fall, and an issue has come up regarding inviting her ex-boyfriend.

They had a tough breakup several years ago. She was devastated, and now they don’t speak. She is adamant that she does not want to invite him.

My wife and I are very close friends with his parents and have been for many years — even prior to our daughter dating their son.

We fear that if we do not invite him it will be the end of our friendship with his parents.

This has placed us in an awkward spot.

We love our daughter but were hoping she could put the breakup behind her and extend the invitation.

How can we resolve this? -- Father of the Bride

DEAR FATHER: You and this other couple have a friendship that predated the other relationship. And your friendship seems to have survived the tough breakup and estrangement between the younger couple.

The ex should not be invited to the wedding, because the prospective bride (and presumably the groom) do not want him to be there.

Additionally, it is hard to imagine that someone who no longer speaks to your daughter would expect to be invited to her wedding.

You should count on your friends being mature enough to understand that when it comes to affairs of the heart, wise parents stay out of it.

This goes for you, too. Let the marrying couple decide on their guest list and, if the older couple has a question about the guest list, you can direct them to ask your daughter.

DEAR AMY: “Too Young to Feel Old” was wrestling with what to call her middle-aged sweetheart. In our (African American) culture, we use “my man,” “my woman,” or “my lady.”

In informal settings, we refer to our men as “my baby.” -- Michele

DEAR MICHELE: Thank you — I like these options.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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