DEAR ABBY: Please use your wide reach to educate well-meaning parents about how their children should behave when visiting cemeteries. I'm a funeral professional who takes pride in helping families honor their heritage and transition from grief to recovery. I especially enjoy helping to allay children's fears about death and cemeteries.
Often parents allow their children to roam the cemetery as if it were a playground or public park. I have seen kids pull up expensive flowers on other graves and "take them to Mommy." Naturally, the family who bought the flowers come back a few days later and accuses us of trashing them.
I have seen mourners leave precious personal mementos on their loved ones' graves only for kids to take them as playthings. I have seen kids deface grave markers, entertain themselves by bouncing rocks off headstones or open up brass and bronze cameos, exposing the photos to the elements.
The worst is unsupervised kids running off in packs and gathering up the little colored flags that are placed to assure a grave gets dug and set up in time for a pending service. Imagine flying in for the burial of a loved one and the grave isn't ready because some child grabbed the marking flag while the parents stood idly by. Cemetery employees have been fired for this.
Parents, please teach your children that their natural curiosity and playfulness should find their outlet in more appropriate settings. And please, keep your dogs at home. You wouldn't want a stranger's dog doing his business on your expensive marker or loved one's grave, would you? -- THE LAST PERSON TO LET YOU DOWN IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR LAST PERSON TO LET YOU DOWN: I'm happy to spread the word.
Folks, if your children are too young to understand when you tell them the cemetery isn't a playground, that they must remain quiet, respectful and not touch other people's property, then they should not be present at the burial. When entering or leaving the cemetery, children and adults should refrain from walking on the graves. Ditto for using it as a dog park.
The Golden Rule applies here: Don't do unto others what you wouldn't want them to do onto you.
DEAR ABBY: When I married, I moved away to another state and made some great new friends where I live now. My family visits every few months and I recently started including some of my friends in my family gatherings and bringing some of them home with me when my husband and I go to visit.
I recently found out that my family has been inviting my friends for weekend getaways and camping trips. They even invited my friends to spend the last long holiday weekend with them -- without inviting me!
I was hurt and offended when I found out. I have nothing against my family and friends getting along, but I always thought I'd be included. Am I overreacting? -- EXCLUDED IN ROCHESTER, N.Y.
DEAR EXCLUDED: Perhaps. Not knowing your friends or family members, I can only guess that when you introduced them they may have found some interest in common that you don't necessarily share. But don't waste time on hurt feelings or pouting because you don't own your friends, and what your relatives choose to do with their time is out of your control.
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.
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.)