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DEAR ABBY: My mom has not been herself ever since her boyfriend beat her. For example, we were baking a cake. I accidentally bumped into her and she got really mad. We used to just laugh about things like that.

As a matter of fact, she doesn't laugh at all anymore.

I miss the mom who would play games with me or blast up the music when we were in the car together. She used to dance with me, or make me soup and crackers even when I wasn't sick. Sometimes Mom would make hot chocolate with marshmallows, and we'd sit on the porch and talk about everything. All my friends thought she was the coolest, and they wished their moms were like her.

Now she's caught up with her boyfriend and college and never has time for me. We don't talk and she doesn't dance with me anymore. I miss her so much. What can I do? -- FEELS LIKE AN ORPHAN

DEAR FEELS: It's time to talk to your mother. No one has a right to raise a hand in anger against another person, and that includes her abusive boyfriend. She needs to know about the help that's available from the Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233.

I sincerely hope your mother sees the light, and that you get your loving, fun-filled parent back soon. From your description, it appears the joy has gone out of her life, too.

DEAR ABBY: Four years ago, my 68-year-old mother-in-law, "Gladys," moved into our home with us. Now I don't know how much longer I can take living in the same house with her. I have a full-time job, plus all the household duties to take care of when I get home. Gladys doesn't lift a finger to help, and does nothing but complain about how bad she feels day in and day out.

Please give me some advice. I don't want to hurt my mother-in-law's feelings, but I am burned out. I don't even like being at home anymore. -- TOO MUCH TO HANDLE IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TOO MUCH: With three adults living under the same roof, there is no reason why you have been stuck with "all the household duties" -- assuming Gladys is in reasonably good health. I don't know if your mother-in-law is depressed or if complaining is her way of communicating.

So have a frank discussion with your husband. Marital or family counseling may be in order. Gladys may be no spring chicken, but she isn't over the hill. She should have some friends and a social life of her own. It's possible that all of you might be happier if Gladys moved to an independent living complex with contemporaries.

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Delia" died recently, causing a lot of people to be very upset. Surprisingly, her death hasn't affected me at all. Friends have called, sobbing hysterically. I haven't shed a tear. Could it be because I refuse to believe it? Or that I don't really care? Please help me. I am confused. -- SCARED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SCARED: Losing a friend is traumatic, and people react to trauma in different ways. I seriously doubt that your friend's death has "not affected you at all." More likely, you're numb.

Grief is an individual process. Some people cry. Others carry around a load of anxiety or ache inside. Still others "postpone" the grieving until they can handle it. Please don't judge yourself harshly. Everyone grieves in his or her own way.

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