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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Braces for Loss of Sister's Beloved Pet

DEAR ABBY: My sister "Marcie" is very attached to her dog, "Doodles." She had two. They were quite old, and one passed last year. It was traumatic for the entire family because we were concerned about Marcie's mental state. Now Doodles looks close to the end, and she's in a constant state of distress.

Marcie takes the dog with her everywhere, whether it's appropriate or not. When her in-laws invited her and her husband on a cruise next spring, she burst into tears at the thought of leaving Doodles for a week.

I'm beside myself with worry over my sister's mental state and afraid of what her dog's passing will bring. It's not just Doodles' age and declining health; Marcie has always let her animals run/ruin her life. Thousands of dollars have been spent replacing carpeting, wood floors, urine-stained curtains, rugs and furniture.

Any thoughts? How can she be prepared for what we all know is coming? -- TOO ATTACHED IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TOO ATTACHED: If you think there is anything the family can do to prepare your sister, forget it. She will go through a period of grieving for the animal companion she has grown to love. To her, Doodles is a full-fledged family member.

When the inevitable happens, be patient, be understanding, be prepared to listen when she pours out her grief and, if necessary, go online to help her find a grief support group for people who are mourning the loss of a pet.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death