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Dear Counsellor

Published:Tuesday | March 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Q. I am a second-year, 22-year-old university student. My father died earlier this year and I feel all alone.

I was his only child and I lived at his home and he took good care of me. My mother lives somewhere abroad and I hardly know her because she left me when I was five years old. My aunts and cousins tried to be there for me when my father was ill and immediately after the funeral but, as time went on, the more distant they became. They have resumed their regular lives without me.

My father left the house, cars, bank accounts and life insurance for me. As a young person, I am comfortable, financially. I can, therefore, pay my bills. With all this, I am feeling sad and very stressed all the time - close to the point of depression - and this is beginning to affect my everyday life. Every day becomes harder and harder from the moment I wake all alone. Most times, I wish my daddy was alive to give me advice and guidance. I try to immerse myself in my schoolwork, which takes up a lot of time, but most times I am sad.

However, for the last two months, this 39-year-old man has been visiting me and I feel better when he is around. He proposed to me and I accepted. We are planning a small wedding in June. When I was with Daddy, he was very protective and I wish he was here to make this decision for me. What should I do?

. It is good to know you had a good relationship with your daddy and that not all dads are deadbeat. However, it appears in his eagerness to be a good dad he was over-protective and you are not prepared to make decisions. In any case, everybody needs a second opinion, at times, so it is no problem seeking advice.

It is natural for you to miss your dad and for you to feel sad. You were obviously very close to him and his death would have been painful and stressful. The death of a loving parent and spouse are two of the most stressful things in life. You are alone and family members have gone back to their daily routine, which does not put much emphasis on your needs and comforts. In addition, it is only three months since your father died, so it is still fresh in your memory and you will miss him most as you try to adjust to the reality that he is no longer physically present.

It seems you are in this relationship with someone 17 years your senior because of the need for a father figure. He might be doing a good job of keeping your company, but getting married is an important step. Two months is normally too short a time to know someone. I doubt you know him well enough. You do not claim that you are in love with this man, who is almost twice your age.

You need to share, with the relative that you are closest, thoughts about the marriage. Your relatives need to meet him and give you a confidential opinion about him. You also need some premarital counselling. How do you know this man is not after your money? Does he have children? Was he ever married? Have you met his family and friends? There is much more work to do in this relationship. You need to take time to know him.

In the meantime, try and get involved in social activities at university and meeting new people. Furthermore, you can give some of your time to charity work.

Contact the counsellor at editor@gleanerjm.com.