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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My 9-year-old grandson, "Grant," is in deep trouble. I must find a way to help him. Two years ago he had to take on a menopausal, reclusive stepmom. Of course, these poor children from broken homes don't get to vote their fate; they must accept whatever is thrust upon them.

Stepmom has turned Grant's downstairs playroom into a master bedroom and entertainment center. She watches TV down there with my former son-in-law (Grant's father).

Grant is not allowed to go down there unless he receives special permission. He spends most of his time alone in his upstairs bedroom playing his boom box or watching TV in the living room.

Recently, telephone privileges were cut off between Grant and me. Grant's father candidly told me that my not calling makes his home happier for his "recluse." I am sure he will cut off my visits if I try to help Grant.

Abby, I don't know what to do. Is there any way I can help him? -- HURTING INSIDE

DEAR HURTING: Don't do anything to threaten your visits with your grandson. He needs you. You must become his loving, safe harbor. See him as often as you can. Help him to express his feelings. Let him know he can tell you anything, and you will not be judgmental or get angry.

Do things a 9-year-old boy will enjoy so he can bond closely and experience some happiness with you. Let him know he can count on you when things seem the darkest.

If his father and stepmother do cut off your visits, then call ChildHelp USA (1-800-422-4453) for expert advice on this sad case of emotional child abuse.

DEAR ABBY: I hope you can stand one more letter about funerals. I read your "eulogy" articles on July 31. It was the day after my husband was buried.

My darling wore a red Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses. I included photographs, a back-scratcher, money clip, blue rose and a 1-inch-tall bear, a white rosary and a toy skunk that sang, "How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You." I wrote the eulogy and took lots of pictures. I had an open casket at the graveside service. An American flag draped the silver metal casket.

His family was horrified that I buried their family member in this manner. I had only known him 8 1/2 years and they knew him a lifetime.

I kissed him "bye" and let the skunk do its thing while I left. I had the funeral director give the flag to my husband's sister instead of to me.

Everyone should do what they feel is right in their heart, not what people tell them is right.

I sleep peacefully every night because I buried my friend, my husband, my lover in a manner he would have been proud of. -- SAD IN LAKE CITY, FLA.

DEAR SAD: A-A-A-men! (I'll bet he's glad you packed only the essentials.)

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600