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by Abigail Van Buren

Parents' Divorce Is Painful for Mother and Daughter

DEAR ABBY: After nearly 40 years of marriage, my parents are in the middle of a divorce. My mother is devastated and humiliated. My father is now living with "Carol," who was my mother's best friend. They are living in what used to be my grandparents' home, less than a mile from Mother.

Mother is trying to get on with her life, but how can she when Carol insists on shopping at the store where my mother works? My father acts like he's done nothing wrong.

Abby, have they lost their minds? I'd like to think my father is sane, but I'm not too sure anymore. I'd greatly appreciate some advice about how to deal with this. -- IRATE IN TEXAS

DEAR IRATE: I hope your mother has a good divorce lawyer, because after having invested 40 years in her marriage she deserves to be left with more than "devastation and humiliation."

In some ways, a divorce is like a death in the family. Your mother is going to need time to grieve and heal. Do not allow her to isolate herself. Keep her busy and help her find new activities to occupy her time and her mind. Exercise is not only good for the body, it can help to keep depression at bay. Encourage her to join a gym or enroll in exercise classes. The more social contacts your mother can make, the better. It's important that she meet new people. Assure her that this is only the end of a chapter, it's not the whole story. And please tell her she is in my prayers.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in reference to some old coins that were left to me. I have no idea how to determine their worth, if any.

I have some pennies that are dated back to 1842, 1832 and 1803. I'd really like to find out more about them, but I don't know where to begin.

I was hoping that you or one of your experts could advise me where to get an honest appraisal of these coins.

I would appreciate any help you can give me. I am a longtime fan of your column. -- J.McW. IN RIVERSIDE, N.J.

DEAR J.: To get an honest appraisal, consult several coin dealers in your area and compare their estimates. In addition, your public library will have many books on coins and other valuable collectibles, and there are also many magazines for collectors. These should also provide some guidance on the value of your coins. You might consider locating a coin collector's club in your area to learn more about your pennies.

DEAR ABBY: I want to thank you for a letter I wrote you. No, I didn't mail it, but writing the letter and sharing it with my family afterward helped me greatly. It forced me to organize my thoughts and get in touch with my feelings, and it opened up helpful, healing dialogue.

May I suggest to your readers that they try this approach to whatever might be causing their sleepless nights? SENDING the letter is optional, but WRITING it can be essential in coming to terms with, and even solving, life's problems. -- PAM HANSSEN, SAN MATEO, CALIF.

DEAR PAM: I am a firm believer in the healing power of the pen, and I'm certain that many more letters have been written to me than have crossed my desk. For years readers have closed their letters with the statement, "Thank you, Abby ... I feel better just having gotten this off my chest." I'm delighted to help in any way I can, even as a silent sounding board.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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