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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Must Deliver a Message to Husband Opening Her Mail

DEAR ABBY: I have a question that isn't earth-shaking, but concerns a lot of people my age. Each year as I grow older and read my friends' obituaries I think about my own and how I would personally like mine to read. I would like to spare my family the difficulty of trying to sort through the details of my life.

I'm wondering just what is supposed to go into an obituary. As a professional, I have information about that side of my life. It's the personal part I'm wondering about. Are there any rules on this? What is expected or accepted? I'm sure there are others who would also welcome suggestions on this. -- THINKING AHEAD IN EAU CLAIRE, WIS.

DEAR THINKING AHEAD: Most obituaries are paid advertisements, and they can be as long or brief as the family wishes. Some are simple, mentioning date and place of birth, the names of the deceased's parents, as well as spouse, siblings, children and grandchildren. Business and personal achievements are often, but not always, included. However, I have also seen obituaries that were excerpted from eulogies. To find out more information, you should inquire at your local newspaper.