DEAR ABBY:

I'm 15. I lost my dad two months ago. I found him when I got out of the shower. He had overdosed on heroin.

Heroin controlled Dad's life ever since I was little, but that never stopped me from being me. My family has had it pretty rough, but that never stopped me from being me, either.

I can't process the thought of losing my dad completely. I'm scared without him. The mental picture comes back to me randomly throughout the day. I can't take it anymore. I know he's at peace now, but I still feel like it's my fault that he's dead because I took a shower and wasn't with him. I feel like it should have been me, not him. He had just gotten out of jail a month before he died.

I can't keep crying myself to sleep. I need a way to cope and right now I feel like I'm at rock bottom and can't return. I just want to be normal like the kids I go to school with. Why can't I be a normal teen?

- Rock Bottom Teen

DEAR ROCK BOTTOM: I am so sorry for what you have been going through. You are a normal teen, and, in my opinion, you are much more resilient than you think you are.

You have had a terrible shock, and in addition to the normal grieving process, you may be suffering from survivor guilt. Your father did not die because you took a shower. He died because he had a heroin addiction he couldn't conquer.

It is very important that you talk with a grief counselor and possibly join a grief support group. If your family can't arrange counseling for you, please talk with a school counselor or your clergyperson. There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, and you'll start seeing it once you get some professional help.

Faulted for eating too much at family dinner

DEAR ABBY: I've been reading your column for years but never thought I'd have to write to you. This year, my aunt hosted a family dinner and did a wonderful job - everything was delicious. There was only one problem. She was upset (everyone at the table could see it and feel the tension) because I ate "too much" meat and she didn't have enough for leftovers.

I did eat more than everyone else that night (doesn't happen often), but I say if the food is on the table, it's fair game. If you don't want people to eat it, don't serve it. I'm asking for an official ruling, please.

- Overate in Buffalo

DEAR OVERATE: A gracious host or hostess should not become upset if a guest eats the food that's presented. If the host or hostess doesn't want guests to polish off everything that has been prepared, the food should be plated in advance.