DEAR ABBY: As a funeral director for 26 years, I had to reply to your recent column on the high cost of funerals and the American tradition of viewing the body.
One of the privileges of living in a free country is the right to make one's feelings known, as Jessica Mitford has done for years on the subject of funerals and funeral directors.Concerning the "bizarre ritual" of viewing the deceased - funeral directors did not originate that tradition; the families of the deceased did.
Instead of writing to a memorial society for information on "dignified, low-cost funerals," as you suggested, why not call your local funeral director and tell him what you want? He will gladly go over your options and discuss price with you.
As for people going into debt to provide lavish, expensive funerals as an indication of the value they placed on the deceased - I am proud to say that I do not know of one funeral director who would try to take advantage of anyone. - DAVID B. RICHARDSON, LYNN, MASS.
DEAR MR. RICHARDSON: Thank you for writing. I am pleased to give funeral directors equal time.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I just received what at first appeared to be a formal invitation to attend the graduation ceremonies of a young man whose father was "immensely" proud of his son's record.
Actually, it was not an invitation; it was more like an apology. It stated: "Since there is limited seating in the auditorium, there is no room for you, but we want you to know that our son is graduating from this fine old Virginia prep school." Then a "few" of the boy's accomplishments were listed.
How do you size this up, Abby? - APPALLED
DEAR APPALLED: Please don't blame the boy. His father was so prideful, he wanted you to know that even though "there was no room for you," his son was being graduated from a fine old Virginia prep school. I would give the father an A for good intentions, and a D minus for taste.
DEAR ABBY: AIDS has reached epidemic proportions, horrifying numbers of crack babies are being born, abusive parents are slaughtering their children, tens of thousands of teenagers are getting pregnant, homeless people crowd our streets, adolescent alcoholism plagues our schools, our elderly are sadly neglected, our mentally ill are vegetating because treatment is unaffordable, our banks are failing, our planet is badly polluted, our prisons are overcrowded and crime is rampant.
And "Mrs. Springer in Mesa" is completely pushed out of shape because five years ago, a clerk in a small business establishment asked what her first name was, and her priest called her "Sherri."
Tell her to lighten up, Abby. And thanks for the best laugh I've had in a very long time. - FED UP
DEAR ABBY: I'm married to a terrific man. He's good-looking with a terrific build, caring, doesn't drink or chase around with other women, hardworking, and in fact, is fairly wealthy (he makes an upper-middle-class income).
My problem is that I just don't feel like I love him. Although I do care deeply for him, I'm just not "in love" with him. Abby, I have friends who would love to have my dream house, my husband, my car and my extra spending money. Should I stay with him just because it's such a good arrangement, or should I leave him to find someone who gives me that "in love" feeling that I've been missing? - LOVE-STARVED
DEAR LOVE-STARVED: It all depends on what you have going for you. As my sainted grandmother used to say, "Don't throw away cake to start looking for crumbs."
Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)