I’m a happily married man, age 36, with a good job, a wife I love, and three great youngsters. But I’m very sad and disturbed after hearing of the death of my first serious girlfriend and the reaction of my former best guy friend.
We met in university, the three of us from different countries, all good students with big dreams for our futures.
I felt so lucky back then to have met and connected with my girlfriend. I was also glad to be close with my buddy who was very smart and seemed destined for a big role in whatever field he’d choose.
When we graduated, we all went separate ways for the necessary task of getting work which would ultimately affect our deciding where we’d each settle. As expected, we landed in three different countries again, and so, over time, kept contact less and less.
I visited my girlfriend once after a couple of years, and still felt close to her based on our shared memories. But I had recently started to date my now-wife.
Learning from a former classmate who kept track of us all, that my dear friend has died suddenly from a ruptured brain aneurysm, has disrupted my world. I told my wife all about her, and she’s very understanding of my sadness.
But what’s made this news even harder to bear, is that my once-best friend wrote for our class newsletter that my girlfriend had been his great love!
How could he have gone behind my back to be with her romantically? She and I were a known twosome. He’s the one who went on to live in several other countries over years, climbing his success ladder. They were never openly a couple.
Now I’m double-shattered, by her tragically early death, and his hidden poaching of the girl he knew I cared about so deeply.
Do I call him out on this? Or end any further contact?
Shattered and Sorrowful
Grief brings back many memories and sometimes revelations you weren’t expecting, all of which are part of the sorrow you’re feeling.
The sudden passing of your girlfriend from the happily remembered days of university bonding is very sad. You’re fortunate to have an empathetic wife for support and children for distraction.
While the information from your once-close male friend was disturbing, he apparently didn’t say that he and your girlfriend were ever lovers. She may’ve been his ideal or fantasy love, while he respected that you and she were openly together.
It’s shock and heartache that are disturbing your thoughts. Don’t dwell on speculation. All three of you went separate ways.
Your grief will ease over time. Keep the happy memories of that past period and gain strength from the full and rewarding life you now have.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man suffering from painful triggered memories (August 2):
Reader – “Besides getting professional help, he should tackle the issues by doing self-research in subjects applicable to him, e.g., psychology, psychiatry, law and health.
“It’ll enable him to ask more directed, pertinent questions during his professional help sessions.
“I was around his age when I became more educated in employment law. I too had “allowed” myself to be bullied in the workplace. The first time I stood up to the bullying it was extremely stressful with much anxiety.
“But when the “bully” and the employer received the letter from my lawyer I was suddenly commanding new respect and had gained much self-confidence.”
Reader #2 - “I have the deepest sympathy for the letter-writer and I can powerfully relate to him.
“In my family of origin, I was raised by a narcissist mother, a raging and alcoholic father, and damaged siblings.
“I was scapegoated, shunned and estranged, and it was mostly due to my mother. She spreads malicious, outrageous lies and incites siblings against each other.
“My precious sons, husband and I have had to live our lives with no close extended family at all. But I have managed to protect my sons the best I could from the toxic, damaging emotional abuse of those people.
“The letter-writer should consider himself fortunate that he discovered the verbal abuse and malicious slander now, rather than years later.
“I want him to know that there are many others of us, like him, and that we also deal with estrangement and he is not alone.”
Tip of the day:
Every source of grief is hurtful. Focus on the strength and joys you have in the present.