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DEAR ABBY: I agreed to be maid of honor at my best friend's wedding. I am now planning her bridal shower and just received the guest list from her mother and the groom's mother, "Alicia."

Alicia has given me the names of about 30 guests and says there are more people she wants to invite. Abby, the entire list will amount to nearly 70 guests!

I thought showers were supposed to be for close friends and family only. Would it be out of line to suggest to Alicia that if she wants to invite that many people, she should give a separate shower? -- OVERWHELMED IN NEW YORK

DEAR OVERWHELMED: You and the groom's mother are not on the same wavelength. She may be trying to repay social obligations, while you are simply trying to perform your attendant's duties.

Because Alicia is so insensitive, you must tell her firmly the maximum number of guests you can accommodate at the shower. It would not be out of line to suggest that she ask one of her friends to also host one. If she insists on inviting everybody to your shower, ask her to share the expenses with you. (Remember, bridal showers are usually hosted by attendants, friends or relatives of the bride, but not members of her or her fiance's immediate families.)

DEAR ABBY: Please pass along this suggestion to your readers: If you're separated or getting a divorce, use discretion if you're tempted to talk about it.

The more you bad-mouth the person you are divorcing, the more people will reject you. It may not seem fair, but it's true. People will "forget" that you never complained before and say, "I didn't know she was so vindictive. No wonder he left!"

You will do yourself additional damage by ranting to co-workers. You're paid to work, not talk. Your co-workers are paid to work, not listen.

Do not confide your problems to your customers. They will stop doing business with you because they're afraid of being trapped by your pain.

If you must vent your anger and disappointment, do it in a support group. The members will empathize; others haven't a clue and don't care. A support group also can give you practical advice about lawyers, finances and emotional help.

Your pain will linger for months, but the patience of your friends and co-workers will fade. My co-worker managed to bore all of us. She quit therapy to spend the money redecorating her home to "erase him from her life." Not only did she lose all sympathy in that shortsighted, shallow act, she also lost precious time she should have spent healing and becoming strong and independent.

It's strange, Abby. People facing death don't disrupt other people's lives the way those with broken vows do. --TIRED OF LISTENING IN MARYLAND

DEAR TIRED: You make a strong case for keeping separate one's personal and professional lives. Friends and co-workers are important to anyone experiencing the trauma of divorce, but I agree that an outside source -- such as a support group -- can provide practical, impartial advice because the members can empathize without becoming emotionally involved.

Those who act this way may be looking for a sympathetic ear, but they usually wind up with a cold shoulder.

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