My girlfriend brings up her dead husband every time we meet – is that healthy?

DEAR ABBY: I have a dear friend whose husband passed away six years ago. They had a 45-year marriage with many ups and downs. She is 81 and in excellent health. You would think she would be 60 if you met her. She is very young and full of energy.

The problem is when I’m with her she keeps talking about her late husband as if he were still with us: “Oh Joe would love that”, “Joe always said…”, “Joe would say…” etc. Meanwhile, at a luncheon, she mentioned him 20 times as if he were sitting with us! In hindsight, their marriage seems to have become the greatest love story of all time, and Joe has risen to sainthood. It’s unsettling.

Is this healthy behavior? It seems excessive to me. On the anniversary of his death, she says she will “stay home and be with Joe,” meaning she’s home alone, getting depressed, and crying. I hear how sad and emotionally drained she is afterwards. I don’t know what to do, if anything. I offer her an open ear, but should I tell her something, and if so, what? She has a grief counselor and I wonder if he’s really helping her move forward.

My friend seems stuck in the role of the grieving widow. I don’t want to be insensitive to the loss of a significant other, but I am concerned about her mental health. Please let me know what I can say or do to help her. DOES NOT SEEM NORMAL IN CALIFORNIA

Rather not: I’m relatively new to the grieving experience, having lost my husband three and a half years ago, but allow me to share some insights. The adage that there is no timetable for grieving is true. Some widows and widowers can move on quickly. For others, the pain takes a long time to subside and they are aware of their spouse on a daily basis. If your girlfriend has to idealize her 45-year marriage with ups and downs, please don’t get on her nerves. Let them enjoy the fantasy if there is one. And if you know she’s going to be depressed and cry on those milestone anniversaries, invite her over to lunch or dinner so she’s not as isolated as she’s feeling. If necessary, tell her that after such a big loss, it’s no wonder she feels terrible. and she should mention it to her therapist.

DEAR ABBY: Instead of a normal “pizza night” some good friends took my wife and I to an upscale restaurant. We arranged. We had a good dinner and a nice evening. When our individual checks arrived, our friends paid their checks with a gift card. Ours was awesome and the reason they wanted to eat there was pretty obvious.

I was upset because I felt our friends should have applied their gift card to the entire bill and then we split it up. My wife says we had a lovely evening and I shouldn’t be upset but I still think we were mistreated. What do you think? – HEAVY BILL IN THE SOUTH

DEAR HEFTY BILL: It would have been nice if your friends used the gift card universally. However, you are both good friends with this couple. You had a great time and enjoyed your meal. It’s not worth holding a grudge about it, so let it be.

Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, aka Jeanne Phillips, and founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Caroline Bleakley

Caroline Bleakley is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Caroline Bleakley joined USTimeToday in 2022 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Caroline Bleakley by emailing

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