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by Abigail Van Buren

Obituary Full of Details Adds to Family's Grief

DEAR ABBY: How lucky we are to be living in West Virginia. The newspapers here, as a matter of policy, do not publish the cause of death in their obituaries. I understand that in some states the cause of death is required. A friend who works at the local mortuary told me that a newspaper editor in another state refused to print an obituary unless "cause of death" was disclosed.

Abby, why would this information be important to the general public? The friends and relatives of the deceased know the cause of death without having it in print for all the world to see. -- N.J.G. IN WHEELING

DEAR N.J.G.: The cause of death is not the business of the public, but some newspaper editors feel that no obituary is complete unless it is included.

When the cause of death is a suicide, some obituaries disclose the details: "suicide by hanging," "suffocation," "overdose," "shotgun to the head," "slashed wrists," etc.

Bless those sensitive editors who show compassion and report deaths without disclosing facts that may be painful to the survivors. The good Lord knows they have already suffered enough.

DEAR ABBY: We recently learned an important lesson in child safety that should be common knowledge. During a stay at the beach, my 11-year-old son and his 10-year-old cousin dug a small cave in the sand where there is a small incline. While my son was inside the small cave, it collapsed on him. His cousin immediately started digging and called others nearby for help. Someone called 911, and when we dug my son out of the sand, thank God he was still breathing -- but unconscious. He spent the night in the hospital and is fine now.

The ambulance crew said it was the third "cave-in" incident this summer -- the other two children did not survive!

Abby, just as children are taught never to play in the ocean without an adult, they should be taught never to tunnel or dig straight-sided holes in dirt or sand. Also, children should be taught not to climb steep sand or sandstone banks. Be aware that sand is very unstable and can cause suffocation within minutes!

We feel extremely lucky and thankful that we can put this lesson to use to warn others. -- WISER IN OREGON

DEAR WISER: Because you took the time and made the effort to warn others about this possible death trap, you may prevent a potential tragedy. Bless you for writing.

DEAR ABBY: This is for the bride who was aggravated because the hotel did not hold the bridal suite that had been reserved, so the newlyweds spent their wedding night in a tiny room with a fold-out bed that broke down, and they both ended up on the floor!

I assure you, in the years to come she will have more fun telling about her crazy wedding night than anything she could have described had she occupied the bridal suite. -- FREDERICK F. COHN IN CHICAGO

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