DEAR ABBY: Today I attended the funeral of a friend who had been killed in an auto accident. I had not seen him in several years, and was dismayed to learn that the family had decided to have a closed casket. At first, I assumed that the body was not in condition for viewing, but then I learned that this was not the case; nor was his family carrying out his wish - they simply decided it would be easier this way.

Abby, my heart goes out to those people, but I feel that they made two mistakes (easy enough to do in their grief, I realize):1. They presumed that no one besides them needed to see the loved one for a visual farewell, denying others the opportunity to cope better with reality. (To make matters worse, this man was an educator who had influenced the lives of many young people. The young people had no focus for their grief. If I can think, "Maybe it's all a mistake; I never saw him," what about kids?)

2. The family showed a lack of acknowledgment for the needs of dear friends, some of whom were far closer to the deceased than his kin.

I know that nothing can change this experience for me since I was denied my farewell, but I hope my writing can make a difference to another decision and others' grief. - UNFINISHED BUSINESS

DEAR UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The kin (regardless of how "close" or distant they were to the deceased) always have the final say in such matters, which I believe is appropriate. Everyone does not need to view the lifeless body to "focus on their grief" or accept the fact that a loved one is dead. Some prefer to remember that person as he or she was in life.

His family, for reasons of their own, chose a closed-casket funeral. Please do not fault them.

DEAR ABBY: In 1982, my brother borrowed $1,000 from our mother to buy his fiancee an engagement ring. He has never paid back the loan, or even mentioned it since.

My brother is a wonderful person and would never intentionally forget a loan. Maybe he misunderstood and thought it was a gift.

He now has a job that pays very well and has since bought a home, furniture, new cars, jewelry, etc. Mother won't mention the $1,000 for fear of hurting his feelings, and I don't think it's my place to mention it.

Our mother is divorced, retired and living on a fixed income, and could really use the money now. What should be done here? I really hope my brother reads your column. - HELPLESS

DEAR HELPLESS: So do I. But just in case he misses it, I think you should jog his memory.

DEAR ABBY: I had to laugh about the letter from "Shocked on the U.S.S. O'Brien" in a recent column. In it, he complained that the kids today do not know how to spell.

Check his first paragraph in which he says his destroyer is presently in the Persian Gulf. He means his ship is CURRENTLY sailing there. "Presently" and "currently" are not interchangeable.

"Presently" means something is about to happen. "Currently" means it is happening now. - SOUTHFIELD, MICH.

DEAR SOUTHFIELD: According to both my Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (see the usage note) and my Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, presently means "in a little while" AND "at the present time."

People are eating them up! For Abby's favorite recipes, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)