Dear Annie: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to losing a spouse

Dear Annie: I read your column daily. I live in the Deep South. When I was 23, I finally accepted my sexual orientation and began a relationship with a friend four years older than me. He and I began a decades-long loving relationship that culminated in our legal marriage.

We had strong support from some but strong resistance from others. The fact that we had to work and pray so hard to protect our bond (there were really no significant support groups such as mainline churches or large family support; even doctors initially were a challenge) made the relationship paramount. It was not always easy, but it grew very strong.

Just how strong was after surviving the AIDS epidemic, my husband, who was only in his 50s, was diagnosed with a rare cancer called cholangiocarcinoma, also known as bile duct cancer. He fought valiantly. I would have willingly given my life. He was not spared. He was very brave and loving. He inspired so many.

I know you and others affirm love after a loss, and second relationships, but I have a request. Please mention and honor the decision of widows and widowers, particularly of long marriages, that it is a valid decision to decide to not remarry. No one can replace my husband. He fulfilled that need in my life. I believe I will be with him in eternity. If you could print this, it would be a testament to him (I know so little what to do to show my love), and it would raise awareness for people over 50 to have liver scans for cholangiocarcinoma.

I have found peace and love in widowhood as a widower. — A Grieving Widower in the South

Dear Grieving Widower: You and your husband have a beautiful love story and an unbreakable bond. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

Of course a widower has no obligation to remarry. And of course a second marriage can never replace a first marriage. For some, however, it can be a beautiful new chapter in life. It is not a substitute but rather something new entirely.

There are no right answers or one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to losing a spouse. It sounds like you have found your peace in the wake of tragedy, and I commend you for that.

Dear Annie: I met a girl who I came to have a very close friendship with. Even though people warned me, I didn’t listen. I ended our friendship because she was taking up all my free time and could be quite controlling. For instance, as I planned to go to homecoming with my boyfriend, she said to me, “No, you’re staying home.” I told her I obviously couldn’t do that.

Despite this and other instances, I kind of miss being friends with her, and I regret that I ended our friendship. I don’t want to feel bad, but I do. What do you think I should do? Should I try to apologize, or let her go? — Fickle Friends

Dear Fickle: Don’t apologize — you didn’t do anything wrong — but don’t hesitate to reach out to her if you really miss her. But if you do that, explain about boundaries and how good friendships don’t include controlling, almost obsessive behavior.

I would also say that if your relationship with this girl entailed that sort of treatment most of the time, you’re better off pursuing and growing the bonds you have with people who support you and want your true happiness over their own self-interest.

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