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by Abigail Van Buren

Sharing a House With Mother Fills Her Daughter With Dread

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Hurting in New York," I feel compelled to share my story. Her son's wife had died, but "Hurting" didn't attend the calling hours at the mortuary because there had been a falling-out after the family business split up.

Several years ago, my husband and his father also parted ways in business. He spoke to his father only if absolutely necessary. I didn't talk to anybody. A few years later, our son was killed in an accident, and my mother-in-law was one of the first people at our door. She wrapped her arms around me, and we cried together. Many years before, she had lost a son, too, and I knew she understood my pain more than anyone. Our relationship isn't perfect now, but it's much better than it was.

I know "Hurting" was trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation, but times of grief often give us the opportunity to say, "I'm sorry," in more ways than one. -- HEALING IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR HEALING: Your argument is a compelling one, and you may very well be right. However, I caution people who are trying to bridge a family rift during an emotionally charged situation to be prepared for at least the possibility of another rejection.