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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Hesitates to Confess Living Arrangements to Priest

DEAR ABBY: My husband of many years has asked me to promise him that I won't inform his family and adult children when he dies. He wants no funeral or obituary -- nothing to mark his passing. I am concerned because his health isn't good and I must decide soon if I can make that promise.

His adult children and their families rarely call, visit or write to him. They never send a greeting card for any occasion. The only time he hears from them is when they want something. He says that since they don't care about him while he's living, they won't care when he dies.

I feel torn about this. Only a few members of his family like me. I don't want to cause more hard feelings. Were my husband to die next week, I would be hard-pressed to obey his final wish. I would want to notify those few family members who would be hurt if I didn't.

Please print this. Perhaps his children will see it and change their ways. But please don't mention my name or town. -- BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

DEAR BETWEEN: While I understand your husband's desire that his children, who show no concern for him, not be notified in the event of his death, I do not agree that they should not be told of their father's passing. People who feel the need to mourn should be allowed to work through their grief and achieve closure. Failure to notify them will only fuel the fire of resentment they already feel for you.

In spite of their inattentiveness, the children should be notified, whether there is to be a funeral or not. If you wish to have a memorial service of some kind to enable you and those you care about to grieve, you should be entitled to have a private one. His children can hold their own service if they need the closure.