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by Abigail Van Buren

Lawyer's Loose Lips Leave Woman With Sinking Feeling

DEAR ABBY: I live in a small town where the rumor mill can get quite vicious. When I filed for divorce from my husband, I told my lawyer that for the sake of the children I didn't want to bring up any of the abuses I had to put up with during our marriage. I saw no point in airing our dirty laundry publicly, so my lawyer filed on the grounds that we had been separated for one year.

It turns out that my lawyer's wife is a terrible gossip. She discussed the problems in my marriage with anyone who would listen. (I understand that I am not the only client she has talked about.)

I am devastated. Now the whole town knows. I am sickened that our children will hear the things from which I tried so hard to protect them. It has made the situation even worse between my ex and me.

I thought that lawyers were required to keep everything confidential. The damage has been done to me and my family, so there's nothing I can do, but I would like to know what you think. -- BETRAYED

DEAR BETRAYED: Your attorney has violated the American Bar Association's code of professional conduct, which dictates that everything a client says to an attorney must be held in strictest confidence, a very serious infraction.

While it won't stop the gossip already circulating, you do have legal recourse. You can file a grievance against him by contacting your state's bar association. It will either accept the complaint or direct you to the appropriate disciplinary agency in your state.

If you have difficulty locating the disciplinary agency, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-sized envelope for a state-by-state listing to the American Bar Association, Service Center, Re: Directory of Lawyer Disciplinary Agencies, 541 N. Fairbanks Court, Chicago, Ill. 60611. Good luck.

DEAR ABBY: I have never seen my problem in your column and must therefore believe others are not as affected as I am concerning this issue.

I am afraid of dead people.

I am a white, 60-year-old female, well-educated and a product of the Deep South.

I can go to a wake or funeral as long as others are around, but I will not go into a room alone where there is someone lying in a casket.

My mother is elderly, and I live in terror of her death because I know I will be expected to kiss her. This is something a lot of families in the Deep South do.

As much as I love my mother, the thought of having to kiss her dead lips is terrifying to me.

When I was 3, I was held up over my dead great-grandfather and made to kiss his cheek. It was like kissing a cold piece of marble.

I am a Christian and don't think I am abnormal, but this is something I cannot share with anyone.

My mother and sisters have no problem kissing our dead relatives, but I just can't do it. Am I abnormal? -- ASHAMED

DEAR ASHAMED: Abnormal? No. Traumatized, yes. Children should not be forced into gestures of affection, as you were. When the time comes, do not worry about kissing your deceased mother. If anyone comments, say, "I want to remember kissing her warm cheek when she was alive."

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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