Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: Please print this for me on behalf of myself and all the other well-intentioned folks out there who have lent money to others.

"Dear Friend, Family Member or Co-Worker: You came to me in a state of panic — unable to make your car payment, pay your lawyer's fee, your taxes or the light bill. You asked for my help. I gave it to you because I respected and trusted you enough to go out on a limb for you. Please honor your promise to repay me without my having to ask you.

"Please don't show up in a new car or with photos on your new cell phone from your exotic vacation until I have been repaid. Please don't invent a reason to be 'mad' at me, as if that erases the loan. And please do not ask for another loan while you still owe me money!"

Abby, I know you'll say I should have drawn up official papers for the loan but, the truth is, few people expect to be shafted by the people they care about. All someone who owes money has to do is pick up the phone, initiate a payment plan and then stick to it.

— FEELING USED IN NEW BRIGHTON, PA.

DEAR FEELING USED: Your problem isn't a new one. William Shakespeare wrote, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." I would be remiss if I didn't stress to you — and the rest of my readers — the importance of talking to a lawyer or CPA before lending any significant amount of money to anyone. (By "significant" I mean any amount that you can't afford to lose.) If papers are drawn up and for some reason the borrower is unable to repay the loan, there could be a tax benefit for the lender.

DEAR ABBY: I have just learned that my husband of 28 years has end-stage leukemia. I worked in the medical field for years and have been around a lot of sick people, but this is "unreal" for me. I'm in a state of shock, and terrified about what lies ahead.

I have told all our children except our daughter, "Pearl." Pearl is pregnant and has miscarried three times. She knows her father hasn't been well, but she doesn't know the current facts. When her father first became ill, Pearl told me that if I ever withheld any critical information about it from her she would never forgive me. She lives in another state, far from us. I am worried if I tell her about her dad's condition she'll have complications with her pregnancy. But if I don't and her dad worsens, Pearl might not get to see him in time.

Am I wrong to keep this from her? Should I tell her? I don't want to increase her stress and risk of having another problem with her pregnancy.

— SUFFERING IN SILENCE

DEAR SUFFERING: When Pearl first learned of her father's diagnosis, she put you on notice. Because your other children know your husband's condition has worsened, what is to prevent one of them from letting something slip?

Call your daughter and let her know her dad's condition has worsened, but that he's getting the best treatment available. Do not announce that he is dying. She'll catch on to that fact as she talks to you, her other siblings and to her father as time progresses.

Much as you would like to, you can't protect Pearl from this reality. Better she experience the loss of her father along with you and her siblings than to learn later that she was left out.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.