Dear Abby | Old friend seeks encouraging words for mother of a criminal

Dear Abby: What do you say when a friend’s son has committed a horrific crime? Does one say, “I’m sorry” or “Call me,” or merely pat them on the shoulder and move on? Or, what?

I know she is suffering and blames herself for his crime. How do I even approach her? I knew her quite well until I moved away and started my life on an opposite coast. Telling her what her son did is not her fault somehow seems trite.

I’m sure other people have been in this kind of situation. I found out about the young man’s crime from the news media. I haven’t been in contact with his mother for some time, which makes me feel awkward. – Lost For Words

Dear Lost: The time to be a friend is when somebody needs one. I’m sure your friend could use some emotional support right now. If you have her phone number, call her and tell her you know she’s hurting, and she’s in your thoughts and prayers. Tell her you are with her in spirit and hope she knows you care about her and her son. Then listen. There’s not much more you can do than that.

Dear Abby: I’ve been seeing this guy, “Jason,” for a year and eight months. I love him and he loves me, but I’ve been offered a really good job about three hours from where we live. It is a job I’ve been wanting for a long time, with retirement, pension and other benefits. Once I get in and there’s an opening here, I can apply and move back.

Jason doesn’t want me to accept the job because he says long-distance relationships never work. I told him I’m willing to try. Is it selfish of me to accept this job in spite of being in a relationship with someone I want a future with, knowing it could possibly break us up? – Confused in the West

Dear Confused: It’s not selfish. “Selfish” is a boyfriend (not even a fiance) who would expect you to pass up an opportunity that offers retirement, pension and other benefits knowing how important it is to you. Mature adults are able to defer gratification and forgo an immediate reward in anticipation of a later one. Please remember that.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.