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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: The woman who asked if there were any rules of etiquette or guidelines for when an ex-spouse is hospitalized or dies, reminded me of a painful incident.

When my beloved husband died, his ex-wife was not only at the funeral home thanking everyone for coming (as though she were the bereaved widow), but she spoke at length at the Catholic Mass about how she found "acceptance, forgiveness, blah, blah, blah ..."

That woman had been married to my husband for only seven years, and they had been divorced for 13 years when I married him. We had been married for 13 happy years. That I couldn't bury my dear husband without this woman's interference was very upsetting. -- STILL UPSET IN FLORIDA

DEAR STILL UPSET: If it's any comfort, I'm sure other mourners at the funeral found the former wife's behavior as bizarre as you did. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your reply to the ex-wife concerning whether or not to attend her ex-spouse's funeral left out an important component. You advised her to ask permission from wife No. 2 about attending. What about the wishes of the children?

If Mom's presence was desired at graduations, weddings and baptisms, then my guess is the kids would want her to attend their father's funeral.

It would be insulting to have to "ask permission" for your own mother to attend your father's funeral. Children of divorce are the victims of a relationship gone awry. When a parent dies, they shouldn't be victimized again. Allow the children closure, no matter what wife No. 2 prefers. The funeral will be the last time the children see their parents "together," and there will be enough grief already. -- SUZI GIBBONS, RICHARDSON, TEXAS

DEAR SUZI: You have a point. I don't think the children should have to ask permission. However, the considerate thing to do would be for wife No. 1 to call wife No. 2 and express her condolences -- and for her to ask if her presence at the funeral would be disruptive or painful.

DEAR ABBY: I am a wife and mother of four who works full time. My time with my family is limited. Over the past four months, it has become even more so because of a weekend house guest.

Ever since my best friend, "Loretta," began dating my brother, she has invited herself to spend every weekend at my house. This is due to the fact that she lives a couple of hours from the city in which we all reside.

What makes matters worse is that Loretta baby-sits for other people while they go out of town, and she'll bring the child (or children) with her to our house!

I was raised to believe that you don't just invite yourself to someone else's home, and I consider Loretta's behavior extremely rude. How can I stop this without reducing myself to her level of rudeness? Abby, please help! -- WANTING MY HOUSE BACK IN KENTUCKY

DEAR WANTING: Speak with candor; being honest is not rudeness. Until you stiffen your backbone this situation will continue -- so stop postponing the inevitable and speak up.

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