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Ask Rev.Dr. August Abbott Your Own Question
Rev.Dr. August Abbott
Rev.Dr. August Abbott, Clergy
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7627
Experience:  Ordained minister: Counselor (spiritual/life)
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A friend of mine told me about a woman who gave up her Catholic

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A friend of mine told me about a woman who gave up her Catholic nun-ship to marry a man who she had provided nursing services to (in a hospital) only to have the man cheat on her, pass AIDS to her, and she died from the disease.

My dilemma is that I said it was her fault, but instead of my friend letting me finish, he got very mad (and hurt I suppose, because I found out it was his first cousin) and cut me off. I wanted to express my sympathy about the loss and that her surviving husband was indeed a beast for what he did. But he never gave me the chance. I feel terrible that he may think I actually feel it was her fault when in reality, I feel she was let down by a female support system that should have guided or counseled her that a woman who loses herself in a relationship and gives up who she is (her vows to God, for instance) never really gets proper respect from a man and should have stuck to her beliefs. And that a nurse who marries her patient tends to always be the caregiver in the relationship. In other words, she may always be on the short end of receiving in the relationship. What should I do?

You don't know how much counseling this woman sought before she left and you really don't know how painful making the decision was. You don't know how hard the convent tried to keep her or how much they supported her in her leaving. Yes, when a calling to serve as a nun is a mistake or a calling changes it is not at all unusual for the convent to be supportive and happy for their sister following a new path.

All in all your comment was based on lack of full information and even if you were privy to every heartache, prayer and agonizing moment this woman went through, God gives us each our own life to live and our duty to be true to ourselves. Trying to live someone else's life is a mistake in personal judgement and a violation of 'thou shalt not steal' (it is not our life to live)

The only truly proper way to have expressed yourself would have been to say how sorry you were for the loss. Offer your support and a good ear to listen, without conditions, without judgment.

Approach your friend in this manner and keep it simple. Tell them that there is no good excuse for your comment and all you can say is that you're sorry.

Tell your friend that you weren't thinking - that these things happen, mistakes that is and the only words you can offer with the hope of erasing the unkind words are, "I'm sorry".

Fight any urge to explain yourself. If you are admonished and scolded, let it go.

The best we can hope for in this situation is that your friend allows it to be forgotten and that you carry the lesson so there is no 'next time'.

And don't be too hard on yourself. Our humanity guarantees us many "mistakes" in our lifetimes. As long as we learn something, they serve a purpose.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dear Rev. Dr. August Abbott,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. One question remains: my friend wouldn't take my phone call when I tried to contact him. May I send an appropriate (blank) note card with a handwritten apology?

Thank you.

-- Your friend is hurt and probably very confused about whether or not his opinion of you has been wrong. In order for him to have shared what he did, he trusted you.

Yes, send him a note by mail in order to do your part to mend this rift. Again, keep it simple and make no excuses. Something to the effect, "John, please accept my deepest and most sincere apology for my remark. I was wrong and I misspoke. I value our friendship and hope that you will extend your forgiveness for my most human faux pas"

After that there is no more you can do. We are either forgiven or we are not. What matters is that we are sorry, we extend our hand and live the best life we can. If he holds a grudge or continues to want to make you suffer, it's HIS problem and you can only move on.

Please let me know how this all goes, ok?

Rev.Dr. August Abbott and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dear Rev. Dr. Abbott,

To follow up on this situation, I found a nice card (in his favorite black and white photograph) with a single gardenia on the front. I wrote the note, as advised. Put the card in the crisp cream-colored envelope and slipped it into a small manila envelope so as not to soil the card in delivery. I printed postage from my computer and opted for delivery confirmation so I would know if it was successfully delivered. Well, I haven't received any confirmation on the delivery and I've heard nothing from him. I don't know if the USPS messed up or what. I mailed it on June 5 and the USPS had it in his home town -- out for delivery -- on the very next day. I opened a case to trace it and will have to wait and see.

For him to just shut me down, not take a phone call or anything. I'm so confused.

Thank you,


Check the USPS confirmation number online. The post office isn't sending back 'confirmations' like they used to in the mail anymore.

Either way we have to be confident that it did arrive and now all you can do is let it be. You have done everything proper and kind; all things within your power to do. From here on out if he continues to hold a grudge or clasp anger near to his heart, this is HIS burden and HIS darkness to haul around with him. Even though we think we can compartmentalize our ill will, anger and bad feelings, the truth is that it DOES touch all other areas of our lives.

He will not sleep as well as he should; he will be distracted, he will harbor a shorter temper. His being unforgiving and judgmental will weigh heavy like the anchor it is, preventing him from ever truly moving forward

You must not let it do the same to you. Let the whole thing go. Reaffirm to yourself that you did all you could and you can walk forward with a clear conscience and open heart.

And at least one lesson you learned, other than to think twice before speaking, is what kind of 'friend' he really is.

That's a painful lesson, but a valuable one.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

You had asked that I follow up and let you know how it all worked out. I guess time will tell.

Is this considered an additional question with an additional charge?

Many thanks.

No, no, not at all. You do not have to press accept on this and just ignore any computer generated notices that imply you should. I am sincerely happy to work with you and I understand your pain over all of this.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your kindness.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dear Dr. August Abbott,

Thank you for the follow-up. It has been about three weeks since this incident occurred. I have heard nothing from my friend.

The USPS has yet to confirm delivery; however, they did place a notice in my friend's mailbox, requesting that he either email or phone the USPS and confirm his receipt of the item. [This delivery involved temporary cluster boxes due to construction at the site, and also a contractor mail service at that particular location. Could it get any more complicated?]

I have thought of little else, because the background is much more complex than I originally anticipated.

I met this man just two weeks before I graduated from an intense 2-yr paralegal program. I suspect I was also carrying baggage due to losing my career during a 20-year marriage that ended in divorce. I honestly believe I imploded. I hadn't had any time to rediscover myself after school -- to find my joy again. Instead, this nice man that I really like witnessed this embarrassing mess. I am beside myself in how to deal with this whole situation.

I don't know what to do now.

Thank you.


I understand how anxious you are and you're very smart, that's obvious. You have sharp insights and knowing that you had an outburst that was misplaced is one thing, while getting your friend to listen is quite different.

As difficult as this is for you, do not suspend your life and forward motion based on this. You have to be prepared for him to reject your apology right? You have to be prepared for him to not even look or listen.

What's important is that you did the right thing (and you did)

You can't control what others do, think or feel. And by focusing so much on this it may actually be becoming your 'justification' for not moving forward or an excuse for future apologies. You know, 'Well, John didn't let me apologize so why should I even try with anyone else, ever?'


Instead, it's more healthy to think, "Well, John didn't even care to listen to my apology. I did my best, that's all I can do. John isn't the man I thought he was and I'm better off without people who are unforgiving in my life"

Make that your mantra and give yourself permission to forgive yourself and keep going forward.

You have to do this Diane. You really have to.