Home Australia DEAR CAROLINE: I was a heartless scoundrel who cheated on an old flame. Forty years later, should I apologize?

DEAR CAROLINE: I was a heartless scoundrel who cheated on an old flame. Forty years later, should I apologize?

by Elijah
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 DEAR CAROLINE: I was a heartless scoundrel who cheated on an old flame. Forty years later, should I apologize?

q I am a 64-year-old man (retired, with a quiet life, children and grandchildren) who has been married, mostly happily, for more than three decades. However, I recently got the surprise of my life when a new member showed up at our golf club. She is a woman I dated over 40 years ago (before I got married, I’m glad I can say).

But I have to admit that I was pretty horrible to her at the time. She wasn’t the only woman he was seeing. She could blame it on youth and stupidity, but in reality she was quite heartless.

Since then, a family tragedy and time have made me a better person. So far I don’t think this woman has recognized me or, if she has, she hasn’t said anything.

I’d like to apologize, but I’m worried this might open a Pandora’s box. Should I stay silent?

TO Your old love could react in several ways. Perhaps she would be glad to receive an apology for being treated so poorly. Or she might feel offended because you consider yourself important enough to have had that impact on her life.

Maybe you’d rather leave the sleeping scoundrels alone. You have someone to ask about this: your wife. I know it’s embarrassing and this past relationship doesn’t reflect well on you, but like you say, you’re a better person now. And talking about difficult topics with a partner is an important part of a relationship.

So ask him for advice. What would she think if she were this woman?

It’s unlikely that the latter didn’t recognize you, so if she doesn’t mention it, maybe you shouldn’t either. If she does, an apology might be in order, but not one where you assume you broke her heart.

My son died and now Mother’s Day is so painful for me

q I lost my only son in 2017 to illness when I was 30 years old. Now Mother’s Day is one of the worst days of the year for me.

We were very close: his father left when he was three and it was always just the two of us. Since my son’s death, I often feel lost and empty, and Mother’s Day amplifies those feelings. I feel bombarded by television ads and in-store signs.

I had counseling from Marie Curie when my son died (which helped) and sometimes I feel better able to cope, but the lead up to this day always brings me back to square one.

My son and I were very close, that’s why his death has left me lost and empty.

My very supportive best friend asked me if it would be helpful to go to lunch with her and her daughter this year. Her daughter was a close friend of my son and I have stayed close to her as well.

She had a baby a few weeks ago and they wondered if it would be beneficial to be close to a new life. It’s a kind gesture and I know she and her daughter would handle it sensitively and understand if I don’t feel up to it.

Part of me wants to accept because I know I need to find a way to get through this day, but I’m not sure if that would make things better or worse.

DEAR CAROLINE I was a heartless scoundrel who cheated on

TO I am very sorry for the death of your son. Losing a child is perhaps the worst pain imaginable.

Anniversaries and special occasions are particularly difficult for the bereaved. It may be similar for widows/widowers on occasions such as Valentine’s Day or other people’s wedding anniversary parties.

And, as you say, it’s not easy when these occasions are so commercialized.

Yes, it might be helpful if you went to lunch with your friend and her daughter. They sound kind and sensitive, and since they both knew and were close to your son, it could be a good way to remember him and acknowledge that you, too, are still a mother.

It’s not easy when these occasions are so commercialized.

A new life can help. However, it could also emphasize your own loss, so if you agree, make sure they’re prepared for you to cry or leave suddenly. In the long run, I’m glad you received counseling and that it was helpful, but remember that grief is not linear; It ebbs and flows and sometimes reappears with unexpected force.

It is evident that there are other losses here too, of different types. For example, you have been single for a long time and I wonder if this is because you were too afraid of getting hurt again after your husband left.

The pain will have aggravated your feeling of loneliness. Please contact Marie Curie again on 0800 090 2309 for further assistance. You may be assigned a specially trained telephone volunteer who will provide you with regular grief support to help you find a way to move on from such an unbearable loss.

If you have any problems, please write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email c.west-meads@mailonsunday.co.uk. You can follow Caroline on X/Twitter @Ask_Caroline_. Caroline reads all your letters but she regrets not being able to answer them personally.

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