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DEAR ABBY: My daughter-in-law, "Brooke," lost her grandfather five weeks ago. She has chosen not to tell her 4- and 10-year-old kids about it. She has ordered my husband, me and our son not to mention it. The kids see her grandmother at least once a week, and she is not supposed to tell them either.

I didn't know the kids hadn't been told and I started to say something at a family dinner. The 10-year-old heard me, and I got shushed. I'm mad at the whole situation. Brooke refuses to tell them "until she's ready," and I couldn't disagree more. I understand her grief. I have lost grandparents and parents. The services won't be for several weeks. I understand she can't deal with the loss yet, but denying her kids the truth only delays her grieving process and also doesn't allow them their time to grieve and process.

Now Brooke is mad and screaming and crying about it. I'm trying to back off, but I'm angry that her needs are being put first and at being told I made a horrible mistake by offering the love and caring I thought they needed. How can I repair the perceived mistake I have made? — VEXED IN VERMONT

DEAR VEXED: If you were unaware that your DIL was trying to shield her kids from the reality of their great-grandfather's death when you spoke out, you did nothing wrong. However, you should have offered an apology to her privately. Back off and lie low until the funeral. Your DIL is not herself right now. She needs time to cool off and regain some perspective. It would be interesting to know how your son feels about the way she's handling this. With luck, he can smooth things over.

DEAR ABBY: When my husband leaves town for a work trip or a vacation, or if I'm out of town for any period of time, we are suddenly in love again! We miss each other like crazy and send loving texts and exchange mushy phone calls like we're still newlyweds.

When he's home and we're living life with jobs, kids, bills and aresponsibilities, we are disconnected and distant. We interact more as partners and friends than romantic lovers. We've been married for 21 years, and it's always been this way. Does absence truly make the heart grow fonder, or can we stand each other only when we're not together? — PERPLEXED IN TEXAS

DEAR PERPLEXED: Absence doesn't always make the heart grow fonder, nor does it necessarily drive a wedge between a couple whose marriage has a strong foundation. That when you are apart you and your husband feel the need for the romantic connection that brought you together tells me your marriage is strong in spite of the responsibilities of your daily lives. Have you considered treating yourselves to an occasional date night, just the two of you, away from the distractions of the children? If you haven't, I'll bet you would both enjoy it.

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

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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Jeanne Phillips
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