DEAR ABBY: I am a stay-at-home mom with two little girls. My problem is that my father-in-law insists on visiting us when his son -- my husband -- is at work. I find it weird and imposing. I have already voiced my discomfort to my husband. He tells me I am being ridiculous and selfish. Is that so?
My father-in-law also shows up at my part-time job unannounced to "visit" me. Am I being ridiculous? -- INVADED IN SHORT HILLS, N.J.
DEAR INVADED: Could your father-in-law be bored, lonely or physically attracted to you? Wanting to spend time with the grandchildren is understandable, but visiting you at your job sends another message. At the very least, assuming he can drop by any time and you will entertain him is presumptuous.
You are neither ridiculous nor selfish. Your father-in-law appears to have no boundaries. He owes you the courtesy of calling before coming over to ask if it would be convenient. If you are uncomfortable alone with him, listen to your gut and refuse to have him over unless your husband is at home.
DEAR ABBY: My 3-year-old son, "Jared," died of cancer a year ago last August. Before then, I was afraid to die. Now that Jared is gone I'm no longer scared to die. This may sound bad, but now I can't wait to die.
I would never kill myself because if I did, I wouldn't go to heaven. I'm not formally religious and never have been, but I know that heaven is where Jared is, and I badly want to reunite with him.
Before I was 21, I did a lot of bad things. I am now 28, and I deeply regret them. I stole money from family members. I also took things from stores and drank a lot. (I still drink.) I also did drugs and lied. (Sometimes I still do.)
What can I do to make sure that when I die I'll be with my beautiful boy? Jared was my life, and the only thing getting me through his death is knowing I'll see him again. Please help. -- UNSURE WHERE I'LL END UP
DEAR UNSURE: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your little boy. I know you are in pain, and while you say you are not formally religious, your faith is what is getting you through this.
While it is impossible to change one's past behavior, there is much you can do to improve your future. First and foremost, cut out the drinking, drugging and lying, and find a way to constructively contribute to this life. Once you do, you will not only begin to feel better about yourself, but will also begin paving the way to heaven. The mistakes of your youth should not prevent this.
I urge you to discuss your concerns with a clergyperson who can offer you guidance. You can also find comfort in talking with other parents who have lost children. They will identify with your pain in a way that no one else can.
A group I have mentioned in my column recently is The Compassionate Friends. There are hundreds of chapters, and if you check its Web site (www.compassionatefriends.org), it can refer you to local meetings. Please don't wait to contact it.
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