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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to "Still Upset in Florida," who shared how painful it was when her husband's ex-wife (of 13 years) took over and dominated his funeral.

My parents had been married 20 years, then divorced for 17 when my father died suddenly in an accident. My stepmother (of 10 years) had an extremely hard time coping emotionally and was unable to plan Dad's funeral. My six siblings and I are all adults, so together we planned the funeral, and my mother (Dad's first wife) arranged for the flowers.

At the viewing, my stepmother entered and was noticeably upset as she approached the coffin. My mother went to her, put her arm around her, walked her to Dad's coffin and held her long enough for her to get her bearings. Mom then backed off to give my stepmother her time alone with Dad.

When it was time to close the casket, the eight beautiful roses Mom had arranged to be placed on top were given to my six siblings and me. The eighth rose went not to my Mom, but to my stepmother -- just as Mom had planned.

I realized my mother was able to be there for her children and Dad's current wife. Ex-wives aren't always the monsters they're portrayed to be. Sometimes they can be a blessing. -- PROUD SON IN BURBANK, CALIF.

DEAR PROUD SON: I agree. However, much depends upon the circumstances of the divorce and the level of maturity of the individuals involved. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My 8-year-old son's father, "Hal," passed away last summer due to complications of surgery. Hal and I were never married and had not lived together for seven years. My son and Hal had a close and loving relationship.

Hal's family did not consult me or my son as to whether or not he wanted to participate in his father's funeral. We attended, keeping a low profile and my mouth shut. After the services, I asked for a private viewing so my son could have closure. Hal's mother refused and became belligerent.

I realize some adults react poorly to death, especially sudden deaths, but when there are young children involved, someone has to remember what's best for them and let go of personal grievances. -- MARY IN CATSKILL, N.Y.

DEAR MARY: It's regrettable, but funerals sometimes bring out the worst in people. When people are in pain they are not at their best.

DEAR ABBY: My husband was unfaithful to me for 15 years. When he died, his girlfriend and her family came to the mortuary with a huge basket of flowers and sat by the casket.

My daughter instructed the funeral director to remove the flowers, the girlfriend and her family from the funeral home. -- NOT-SO-GRIEVING WIDOW

DEAR WIDOW: For your husband's mistress and her family to have made such a public show of what had been a private affair (literally) was in the worst possible taste. She should have paid her respects privately at the grave after you and your child -- or children -- had left.

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