DEAR ABBY: After a lot of talk and no action, I finally made the decision to further my education with a master's degree. At present, I have one more required undergraduate credit to complete at the local university. My husband and I are excited that I finally made the decision and am following through.
The problem is my mother-in-law. She has told everyone I have been accepted into the master's program at a prestigious school in my area -- one I am hoping to get into. Abby, we recently threw a surprise party for her mother and everyone was congratulating me. I was embarrassed and had to correct them, saying that was my hope, but I haven't yet applied.
I have asked her to please stop, but it continues. I know she's excited and proud of me, and for that I am thankful, but now I'm incredibly nervous that if I don't get in I'll look like a failure. Suggestions? -- NERVOUS IN THE EAST
DEAR NERVOUS: I am unsure why your mother-in-law would continue to spread information she knows isn't true. Perhaps it's wishful thinking. If you tell her that what she's doing only increases the pressure on you, she may pipe down, but don't count on it.
Because you can't control what comes out of her mouth -- and the cat is out of the bag, so to speak -- you have two choices. Gain admission to that master's program or, if that doesn't turn out to be possible, level with the people who prematurely congratulate you and explain that your MIL jumped the gun and acceptance wasn't a sure thing. The only thing you shouldn't do is allow yourself to be embarrassed about it.
DEAR ABBY: A recent death in my family has affected me greatly. Her love for others was boundless; her enthusiasm for life unparalleled. Her sense of humor was remarkable. When my spirits were down, she greeted me with love every day and was a positive influence.
I'm speaking about my labradoodle, Molly. I was lucky enough to have her in my life for nine years. My problem is, people don't get it. Molly was family. I loved her, she died and I'm heartbroken. I'm being told to "get over it" -- she was "just a dog."
I understand that some people don't like dogs and that's OK. What I don't get is that they can't seem to grasp that I have experienced a great loss. Am I being silly? I feel like I have lost a child. Your input would be greatly appreciated. -- GRIEVING IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR GRIEVING: You are not being silly. Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your precious Molly.
Unless someone has experienced what you have, it can be difficult to empathize. Because you are grieving, I hope you will reach out to Molly's veterinarian and ask if he or she knows about a support group you can join to help you through this difficult period. Being able to discuss all of your feelings with people who have suffered the same loss can be healing.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)