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DEAR ABBY: "Mary" and I worked in the same department for 20 years. We would occasionally socialize outside of work along with our husbands. They eventually divorced, but I stayed friends with Mary. She remarried, transferred out of my department a few years ago, and we now see each other only at work-related functions.

I recently heard that her ex had passed away suddenly. I don't know whether I should send her a condolence card, call her or not mention anything until we bump into each other again. What is the proper procedure for acknowledging -- or not -- the death of an ex-spouse? -- ROCHELLE IN HAMILTON, N.Y.

DEAR ROCHELLE: If Mary's first marriage ended in a bitter divorce, drop her a line and let her know what you heard. She may not have heard the news. If the divorce was a friendly one, then give her a call and offer condolences. Not only would it be a gesture of support, but also an opportunity for the two of you to catch up.

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