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Compassionate friends help parents cope with their loss

Dear Abby: My little girl was born with a heart defect. She made it through the first heart surgery, but passed away a week later right in front of me while the doctors and nurses tried to save her.

As the date of her death gets closer, I am becoming more and more depressed. How can I remember her and share my memories in a good way, when all I want to do is stay in bed and cry?

– Heartbroken Mommy in North Carolina

Dear Mommy: I am so sorry for your loss. A way to remember your little girl and share those memories would be to contact a group called The Compassionate Friends. It’s a national self-help support organization for families grieving the death of a child and was started to help families cope with the loss of children of any age and from any cause.

It sponsors a worldwide candle lighting on the second Sunday of December each year. The event is held at 7 p.m. local time and lasts for 1 hour. Services are also held throughout the day in hundreds of locations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as in other countries around the world. You can post a memorial message for your daughter in the online memorial book.

To locate a service near you and learn more about the work this organization does and what it offers, visit www.compassionatefriends.org, or call toll-free 877-969-0010. This is a valuable resource for anyone who has lost a child.

Dear Abby: I recently went on a business trip that required me to share meals with my co-workers. I became the target of criticism from them over my eating habits, because I like to eat my dessert first. It doesn’t keep me from eating the rest of the meal; I just do it in a different order than most people.

When the subject came up, I tried to explain that because I wasn’t allowed to do it as a child, I swore that when I was an adult, I’d eat my food in any order I wanted. But lately, it has failed to diffuse the tension.

I don’t think I’m being rude. I do this only at restaurants where it’s possible to order dessert at the same time as the meal. I’d never do it when I’m a guest in someone’s home.

Do you think I’m being rude? Should I eat in a more conventional way to avoid flak from people I’m dining with?

– Sweet Tooth in
Colorado

Dear Sweet Tooth: I’m not your mother, so I’ll refrain from lecturing you about the empty calories you consume, which reduce your appetite for the healthy food you “should” be eating at mealtime. And yes, I do think what you’re doing is rude because it is obviously making your eating companions uncomfortable, or you wouldn’t be getting flak along with your dessert.

Dear Abby: After 31 years of marriage, my wife and I have split up. We love each other, but after the kids moved out, we realized we have little in common.

What is an appropriate Christmas gift for an ex-wife? We are on friendly terms and will probably spend the holidays together with our children. I don’t want to give a gift that will offend or encourage her.

– Free Man in
Pennsylvania

Dear Free Man: How about a gift card from her favorite store, or a lovely scarf or colorful shawl, or if she has a hobby, something to do with it? None of them would send the wrong message.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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