My adult son passed away two years ago at a young age. We were very close while he was growing up. He married young, and I maintained a great relationship with both him and his wife. They gave me the most precious grandchildren any woman could ask for, and I am extremely active in their little lives.

My daughter-in-law has moved on. She met a nice young man, and they are planning to be married in the near future. Do you think I would be out of line to request to have my son's ashes back home with me? We live near each other, I love her very much, and we still have a great relationship. I don't want to damage it by asking this if it's not appropriate.

I would pass his ashes on to his children when they grow up, of course, but for now, I'd love to have my son back home with me and his dad because she has started her new life. My husband is noncommittal about the subject. I really have no one to ask or confide in about this. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

- Still brokenhearted in N.C.

DEAR STILL BROKENHEARTED: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your clearly dearly beloved son. If you would like to have his ashes after his widow remarries, I doubt she would be offended if you asked what her plans are for them and if you could have them or split them with her.

I can understand why you would want them, but I'm not at all certain your grandchildren would welcome that responsibility when they become adults. Your husband may be reluctant to discuss this because he is still grieving and hurting, too. Please consider grief counseling and joining a grief support group.

Negative friend

DEAR ABBY: I have an elderly friend who complains nonstop when I phone her. She lives a three-hour drive from me and expects me to be the one to call. She doesn't carry long-distance on her home phone, and her sight is too poor to dial numbers, although she's able to see the TV.

I feel sad for her, but I dread calling her because of her negative attitude about life in general. It's a shame to end a 40-year friendship, but I don't believe I'm helping her or myself by listening to all her complaints.

- Feeling bad for her, but ...

DEAR FEELING BAD: If the alternative to telling your elderly friend how her constant negativity affects you would be to drop her entirely, convey to her what you have written to me. The woman appears to be very isolated and possibly depressed. Contact with other seniors might give her outlook a much-needed boost.