Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Your readers may be interested to know that the Funeral Consumers Alliance Inc. provides an end-of-life planning kit that includes a 20-page booklet, "Before I Go, You Should Know," in which they can record their wishes. It comes in a plastic document pouch, with a refrigerator magnet to indicate its storage location. It contains a checklist of other documents that should also be added to the pouch. (Veterans, for example, might want to add their DD 214 discharge papers that will be needed to get the free cemetery marker and American flag.) Most important, the pouch includes a state-specified living will and durable power of attorney for health care.

Surveys show that 85 percent of the public supports the idea of living wills -- but only 25 percent have done anything about it.

We want to get the kits into the refrigerator of every adult American. Why the refrigerator? Because most people have one, and it's likely to survive a fire. By having a specific place to "file" these papers, perhaps more families will actually get it done. We hope that more families will begin talking about their choices, as recommended in the pamphlet from Partnership in Caring that is enclosed in the kit.

Also included is a brochure titled "Death Away From Home" that's meant to be popped into a suitcase or RV when traveling.

Abby, I hope you'll agree this is something worth mentioning to your readers. End-of-life issues are never pleasant to talk about -- but death (and taxes!) are facts of life. -- LISA CARLSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

DEAR LISA: I agree. I was so impressed by the packet you are offering that I ordered some for my staff. I know the subject is difficult, especially when people are in the best of health, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Don't put it off.

Because the alliance is a small, nonprofit office, mail orders are preferred. Send $10 (check or money order in U.S. funds; no cash, please) to: Funeral Consumers Alliance, P.O. Box 10, Hinesburg, VT 05461. (The kit is also available via the Internet at

DEAR ABBY: I am 17 and have met a man I love dearly. He is sweet, caring and intelligent. He is 25. I know that seems like a big age difference, but it doesn't bother us.

My father is nine years older than my mom. They began dating when my mother was my age. I don't see a problem. However, my mother wants me to stop seeing him. I don't want to do that. I am very much in love. What should I do? -- YOUNG, BUT NOT FOOLISH

DEAR YOUNG: Although it's hard to do, try to disengage your emotions from your thought processes for a moment. Your mother has your best interests at heart and may be trying to tell you something important. She may see things in your boyfriend that you do not. Or, she may regret that she missed out on some opportunities because she became involved with your father so early.

You are old enough to have adult conversations with your mother. Try to draw her out about this and give her a fair hearing. If this love is here to stay, it will survive until you are 18. It's not that far away.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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