DEAR ABBY: I don't usually go in for writing to columnists, but I feel compelled to respond to Jessica Mitford's letter concerning funeral practices. Miss Mitford, who is indeed an authority on "The American Way of Death," states categorically: "The open-casket practice is unique to the United States and Canada. In no other country is the bizarre ritual of `viewing' the deceased a part of any funeral service."

Abby, does "no other country" include those in Asia? Apparently Miss Mitford is not aware that here in the Philippines, the open casket is a time-honored tradition.It is not uncommon for English and American writers to dismiss as unimportant what happens in Asian countries, but I would suggest it would improve world understanding if they catch up. - BETH DAY RO-MULO, MANILA, PHILIPPINES

DEAR BETH DAY ROMULO: The face with the egg on it is mine. By this time I have heard from a small army of readers informing me of Miss Mitford's misinformation, which in my ignorance, I published. Mea culpa.

DEAR ABBY: May I tell you about my wonderful birthday gift? Several years ago, I told my children that their father and I no longer wanted them to give us birthday, anniversary or Christmas gifts. Instead, they should do something in our honor for charity, the community, their church, etc. We said we already have everything we need or want.

Our daughter, who is a single working parent, and her daughters - Kelly, age 10, and Jenny, age 7 - decided to give me a concert at their home in honor of my 72nd birthday.

They made tickets that were collected at the door. They even made programs for the evening's entertainment.

First, Kelly opened with "Happy Birthday" on the trumpet. Then she played the theme from "Top Gun" on the piano. Next, Jenny sang "Memories" from "Cats," and for the big finish, our daughter played "Rhapsody in Blue" on the piano, and believe me, it sounded as good as Oscar Levant with the Paul White-man Orchestra.

In these times when you hear only negative things about children, I thought you might enjoy something happy and uplifting. - EDNA M. PAULSON, WICHITA

DEAR EDNA: Thanks for the upper. You taught your daughter proper values - and she in turn passed that valuable gift along to her daughters. Congratulations on your birthday, Edna, and may you celebrate many more.

DEAR ABBY: With all the talk these days about "mercy killing," I have yet to find what I consider any real justification for it.

Are not all those who are lying sick and helpless in their old age atoning for their past sins, and thus meriting heaven when they die? And by the same token, are not those caring for the sick ones (especially close relatives) securing for themselves a place in heaven?

And regarding putting suffering animals out of their misery: How can anyone compare humans to animals? An animal has no soul, and for an animal, death is final. However, hu-mans do have souls, and the way we handle life's challenges - especially incurable illnesses - will decide our fate in the hereafter.

Today, people deny the fact that there is a heaven and a hell, and thus we have strayed so far from the basic truths. What sayest thou? - DEVOUT IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR DEVOUT: You have a right to your opinion, and so have I; sorry, we are in total disagreement.

Come "Judgment Day,' I believe that we will be judged not on how we suffered and died, but on how we have treated our fellow men and lived.

DEAR ABBY: Like "Had It in Hawaii," I also had a neighbor who borrowed eggs, butter, peanut butter, mayonnaise, shampoo, etc. and never paid anything back.

Once during a Minnesota blizzard when no one could get to a grocery store, she sent one of her kids over to borrow some coffee. I phoned her up and offered to sell her a three-pound can. She said she didn't want "that much," so I filled a one-cup measuring cup with coffee and sent it to her.

She never did repay me, but she never asked to borrow anything after that. - HAD IT IN MINNEAPOLIS