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Widow's heart is vulnerable

Dear Abby: One of my closest friends from childhood, "Penny," lost her husband of 30 years five months ago, after a short illness. We reconnected via the Internet and have become close again. It has been a blessing. Penny has moved back to California and has been to visit me a couple of times.

One of Penny's relatives signed her up on some online dating sites, and a seemingly nice man from across the country immediately contacted her with a beautiful email. She responded to him once, explaining her recent loss, and he has been courting her with extremely romantic daily emails ever since. Penny asked me for advice, and I told her that her loss is fresh and raw, and she should give herself time to grieve for her husband.

Penny has never been alone, and I know she's scared. However, I see big red flags, and I'm worried about her. I advised that they should keep in casual contact, and if it's real now, it will still be real in another year. I think she needs time to heal. Should I stay out of it and mind my own business, or should I reiterate my concerns?

-- Conflicted in Coastal California

Dear Conflicted: I see nothing wrong with continuing to share your thinking with your friend. You gave her good advice. Although some beautiful relationships have been formed online, this one seems to have blossomed unusually quickly.

Encourage Penny to take her time, invite him to visit eventually, and go visit him so she can meet his friends and family and get to know him better.


Still Mrs. Brown

Dear Abby: My husband left me after 38 years of marriage. All my adult life I have been known personally and professionally as "Mrs. Brown." Now that I'm being divorced, can I legally still be known as Mrs. Brown?

-- Keeping My Name

Dear Keeping: Yes. Although you will no longer be "Mrs. John Brown," you will be Mrs. JULIA Brown or Ms. Brown if you prefer.