Frequently Asked Questions

Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Accepting Family Slights During Mourning
Q My husband's mother passed away. My sister-in-law wrote the thank-you notes and signed them with just her father's, her name and brother's names... I have been in the family for 20 years and this deeply hurt my feelings... Is it appropriate to sign thank-you notes in this way or am I just wearing my feelings on my shoulders...

A Yes, you are wearing your heart on your sleeve, but that's OK because you are grieving as well. Traditionally, the acknowledgment would come from, say, "The Family of Janet Walker Henderson." Or your sister-in-law would have written, "The family joins me in thanking you for the beautiful arrangement of white lilies - they were her very favorite, Allison Henderson."

When you say sister-in-law, I am assuming you mean the deceased's daughter and not her daughter-in-law. It's true, traditionally the next of kin or blood relative writes the thank-you notes, although she should have mentioned "the family thanks you" or "On behalf of our family, I'm writing to thank you for ..."

I'm sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your mother-in-law under such circumstances. I don't think there was any intention of slighting you, we must gently cut those in mourning some slack because they are not always looking at the big picture. If anything, go up the ladder and gracefully compliment her on taking care of the thank-you notes so graciously. You have to remember that writing those thank-you notes was cathartic for your sister-in-law in helping her accept her mother's death and moving on in the mourning process.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgements: Daughter-In-Law on the Death of Her Mother
Q Should we send flowers or a card to our daughter-in-law as her mother has passed away.

A Flowers and a card would be lovely and greatly appreciated. You do not have to send flowers, but it would be a nice thing to do. Be sure to send a condolence or sympathy card.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgements: Death of Child
Q A friend's son recently died in a tragic accident. Some flowers and memorial gifts were sent by friends of his grandfather. (The parents do not know these folks). Who writes the thank-you? The parents or the grandfather?

A The parents, or someone representing them on their behalf, sends the acknowledgments. There is NOTHING worse than the death of a child. Quite frankly, nobody should have to write a thank-you note in this situation and nobody will fault your family for not sending an acknowledgement.

In a perfect world, you send a simple acknowledgment card printed for family members to share and send for the acknowledgements. Better stationery stores have boxed cards you can share with other family member "to get the job done." Just add a short personal note specifically thanking the person for flowers, a check, cheesecake, whatever.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgements: Donation: Tax Receipt
Q Regarding Donations for scholarship in my (deceased) brother's name:

Should I send a separate thank-you note or should I be included with my name in the same thank-you note of his wife and grown married children? Or should I just be part of the thank-you note that just states "the family"?

A Unofficially, this becomes a tax record for the donor. Best to send him/her a separate note acknowledging the donation in case the school doesn't follow through with the tax receipt. You can never thank people too much.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgements: Return Address
Q What return address do you use on a thank-you card when both parents are deceased?

A You wouldn't have to have a return address and let all those using the card write in their own name and return address. If you're not having them printed to share, and you're the only one sending acknowledgements, then use your name and address as the return address.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgements: When Partner Doesn't Acknowledge
Q My father passed away 1 month ago and my life partner who lives with me and came to the nursing home with me the day he died has not done anything to offer condolences since. Maybe I am being over sensitive due to my situation but I just thought a card, handwritten note or flowers would have been a nice gesture. Your thoughts?

A What you have to keep in mind is this. Families mourn differently. There is no right or wrong way to mourn. If displays of mourning weren't shown in your partner's family while he/she was growing up, then they're not tuned into the conventional rituals of mourning. It is not part of their family culture.

Talk to your partner about this in a non-confrontational way. Gently, ask him about how his family mourned. Did they have a wake, memorial service, graveside burial? Did people come back to the house for the reception or did they go to restaurant for a simple lunch? Did friends and family send flowers to the family of the deceased or church? Did people send condolence cards? If he says no, then that is your answer.

In some cultures, for instance Christian Science, there is no service of any kind because it is assumed that the person's spirit is alive and well in heaven. Different cultures mourn in their own way. Ask questions and then tell your partner that you had thought he/she would have brought you flowers or a card. If your partner doesn't know what your expectations are, they cannot please you.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgements: When to Send
Q Do you send thank-you cards to people who sent a card after my father died or just to those who sent a memorial gift?

A You don't have to send thank-you notes to those who sent a card; however, in order to sustain the relationship, you would acknowledge that the person had sent a card. Either through an email, thank-you card, or personal note. Even a phone call would do. You could also just mention that you were grateful for the card the next time you ran into them. To a younger person, you could acknowledge with a text, but not to your father's friends or contemporaries. I'm sorry for your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgements: Writing for One's Spouse
Q My mother-in-law recently passed. My husband is too upset to respond to the many sympathy cards and baskets sent. Would it be proper for me to send them for him? Do I include myself in the thank-you?

A You can include your husband by writing as the opening line wording such as this: John joins me in thanking you for the beautiful flowers you sent in memory of his mother.

It will sound as though you're working on the acknowledgements together as a team.

In closing write: John sends his love (best wishes, kindest regards), as do I, with much appreciation, Annie Brown

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledging Anniversary of Father-In-Law's Death
Q Tomorrow is the anniversary of my father-in-law's passing. Is there a proper way to acknowledge our memory of him to my mother-in-law? A card, dinner, phone call?? Help!!

A Definitely call her. Since it might be an emotionally exhausting day for her, why not take her for lunch instead of dinner? Or ask her which she prefers.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledging Death in Conversation
Q I missed my boss's mother-in-law's memorial service (I did send a memorial monetary gift in her name to a Heart Society) but never sent a sympathy card to her personally -I will see her tomorrow at the annual dinner dance- probably the only time I see her each year - do I mention my condolences???

A In conversation you might say, "I am so sorry about your mother-in-law." Since you didn't know her, there is not much more you can say about her, so that's all you need to say. Just acknowledging a loss is enough.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledging Estranged Family Members
Q Recently my father-in-law passed away. The cemetery/funeral home and the church were 30 minutes away, so the family decided to have a private family burial first and a memorial service at the church second. My mother-in-law has been at odds with my father-in-law's 4 sisters for 60 years and intentionally (unbeknownst to us) did not inform the 4 sisters (who traveled out of state) about the private burial. The 4 sisters are understandably very hurt. My husband and I would like to send them a thank-you card, but aren't sure how to word it since they are suffering a loss just as we are.

A It's complicated; therefore it is best not to address the subject of your mother-in-law. Who knows what the fallout was about? The sisters might have snubbed her in some horrible way. Families can be clannish, especially when there are more than two off-spring. The four sisters might have been very protective about who their brother married and ganged up on her. So forget about whatever happened between your father-in-law's sisters and his wife.

What I want you and your husband to do is jointly to write them all basically the same thank-you note/acknowledgment, mentioning whatever it was they contributed to the funeral and say something such as this:

You are in our prayers and in our hearts because we know you are mourning as deeply as we are.

Something to that extent. You want to connect about the fact that you are connecting over a huge loss. Then mention that you hope to see them at a less solemn occasion in the future. If your husband wants to sign the letter, then his closing sentence could say something such as this, "Alice joins me sending our love and prayers to you and your family", John.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledging Plant from Co-workers
Q I have to send a thank-you note to my place of employment. My mother died and the company sent a beautiful plant. Do I say to all at---? How do I start?

A If the plant was from six co-workers or less, you might send each a short thank-you note called an acknowledgment. If the plant is from a large group, address the acknowledgment to all the names on the gift card. You did not say if the plant was sent to you, to the graveside, or the funeral. You might say something such as this: "My family deeply appreciates and gratefully acknowledges your kind expression of sympathy. We are devastated by our loss. Thank you for the beautiful plant in my mother's memory."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledging Sympathy Cards
Q Are you expected to acknowledge each sympathy card individually, just the ones with personal notes or memorials, or what?

A Traditionally, all expressions of sympathy are acknowledged. Whether you acknowledge each one with a handwritten note or in conversation is up to you and depends upon the individual situation. Often if you thank someone in conversation and say, "I'll get a note to you shortly," the friend will respond by telling you that you need not write as you've just said that you appreciated his or her expression of sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgment to Mourners
Q Dear Didi,

My uncle is dying from cancer. We have been blessed with help from many friends and I am beginning the process of writing the thank-you notes. We are a large family with many different last names. How should I sign the cards? The Smith's and extend family? The Smith, Jones, Doe, etc,. families?

A I recommend having a white, or off-white (ecru), card using a sheet of paper (7 1/2" x 5 1/4") printed up (in black ink) with these words on the outside bottom half of the sheet:

The family of
(insert first, middle and last name of deceased)
deeply appreciates
your kind expression of sympathy

Then inside whoever is writing the note can add a personal message thanking the recipient for the casserole, floral arrangement, condolence card, etc., before signing his/her name.

By using this method, you can divide the thank-you note writing process between different members of your extended family using the same acknowledgment. If, say, you write a note inside, after signing your name you can write (niece) or (Mary's daughter) in parentheses. For the return address on the envelope, you can have three or four last names printed separately above one address or just write in your own name and address, like this:

Abbot/Bailey/Carter/White
(your return address)


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgment to Mourners: Color of Ink: Black or Blue
Q Is it proper to write on the interior of an engraved funeral note of thanks from the family in blue ink? Just wondered because of the fact that the engraving is in black.


A Black and blue work together very well. It is a matter of taste. Some will think you have to match the inks, but blue sets your message aside from the printing, which can make it seem more special.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments
Q Do I send thank-you notes to everyone who attends a funeral view/funeral or only those who sent flowers/cards/memorials?

A Usually the funeral parlor will give you acknowledgment cards to send out to all those who sent flowers, cards and memorials. Stationery stores might also have preprinted cards. Or you might have fold over cards printed on ecru paper that say:

The family of
Insert first middle and last name of deceased
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

You might want to personalize the cards with a couple of sentences of your own inside.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments
Q Sending thank-you notes for funeral condolences--who do/don't you send to?? Those who sent flowers, gifts, meals, and of course all those who attended the service, but what about those who sent cards?

A It is customary to send out acknowledgment cards for all of the above. The only exception might be if a mourner attended at the service but did Not send a personal note, card, gift, flowers are meals. If you have an acknowledgment card printed up, you can divide the list between family members, and divvy up the task. Try to include a couple of personal words in the inside before signing your name. Use the deceased name instead of this one and center the lines on the ecru card with black ink:

The family of
Charles Winston Dickens
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments
Q My etiquette question is...My mother-in-Law passed away a few weeks ago. I had thank-you cards made to send to people who sent flowers, mass cards, and fruit baskets. What I am wondering is do I need to send 'thank-you' cards to the people who sent only a sympathy card? I thought so, two other people told me I should send them, but my sister-in-law said that you don't need to send thank-you cards for just a card. What is proper etiquette for this situation? I Would love to know the correct thing to do. Thanks...Char

A Your sister-in-law is correct you do not need to send a card for a card; however, a lot of people do and therefore a lot of people think it is proper and expect a card. It is really your call. If the card is from a person whose relationship you would like to sustain, you would send a card. At the very least you would acknowledge that card in conversation the next time you spoke to him or her.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments
Q My grandmother died 3 weeks ago and the funeral parlor gave me acknowledgment note cards. On the front it says "Your kind expression of sympathy is gratefully acknowledged and deeply appreciated". On the inside it is blank. What is the proper thing to write on the inside of these note cards? Also the cards do not say my grandmother's name on the outside and I would like to put her name on the inside but not repeat the wording on the outside. Thank you.

A The inside of the card is where you write a personal line or two before signing your name. It is where you thank the person for the flowers, food, or other kindness. You also include your grandmother's name. "Nana loved yellow roses, it was so thoughtful of you to send her favorite flowers."

Or you can start the note with, "My grandmother, Mary Louise Wilson, was a wonderful grandmother, mother, and role model. Everyday I will think of her and remember her wisdom and humor."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments
Q Dear Didi,

This is of utmost importance to me. My husband passed away after a brave battle with brain cancer. I could never begin to express my loss of my one true love. I plan to write acknowledgment notes to all who have sent flowers and made donations in his name. Now the question is do I also need to write acknowledgment notes to all who wrote me a sympathy card? I am concerned because I have a few hundred of these, yet I want to do what is appropriate. I would greatly appreciate your guidance as soon as possible.

A I am sorry for your loss.

In my opinion, the best way to handle this is to have simple acknowledgments made up at your local printer or stationery store. For instance Cranes has a simple off-white, or ecru, fold-over that is five and a quarter inches horizontally and three and three quarters inches vertically when folded. On the front you would have these lines, or your own, centered in black or dark blue:

The family of
Charles Dickens
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

Then over time, in the inside you can write out a couple of personal lines before signing your name. This is where you say, "Thank you for your generous donation in Charles' name." Or, "Thank you for the beautiful vase of red roses that you sent to the house after the funeral."

When the spirit moves you, you can write as little or as much as you like. Nobody expects to be thanked right away. People know that their cards and donations have been appreciated, they just basically want to be sure that you received their sympathy card, donation, or flowers. All you need to do is to acknowledge the gift or card. With people you don't really know, you can just say thank you for your note and sign your name. The reason that they are called acknowledgments is because they only need to be just that.

Sometimes acknowledgments are just white with black or navy blue lettering, others might have a navy blue or black boarder; or, as in the Catholic church, a mass card with the deceased's photo and perhaps a poem is included with the acknowledgment.

Make this easy for yourself, make it an ongoing way of mourning your husband by acknowledging that others mourn him as well.

A good stationery store will have boxes of acknowledgments already printed up that you can personalize, if you don't want to have your own printed up. You would do the same thing: write a line or two in the inside before signing your name.



Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments
Q I am the treasurer of a family organization. A few days ago a member sent me a check and asked that I acknowledge the donation as follows:
In memory of John Smith
Merry Christmas, JacEven if k and Sue

Send to:
(and here the donor provided three names and addresses
that I should send the acknowledgment to).

Please let me know how I need to respond. Thank you for your assistance.

A In my opinion, as treasurer, you have to communicate what you are doing with all the members of your family organization. I would respond this way:

I am very happy to send the acknowledgment to everyone in the family in receipt of this generous gift.







Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments for Sympathy Cards
Q Is it necessary to write thank-you notes for sympathy cards after a death in the family?

A Usually the funeral home will give the family cards to send out or you can have printed up quickly fold-over ecru sheets of paper where printed in black might be these words:

The family of
Charles William Dickens
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

Inside family members can write a personal sentence or two and sign it.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments to Mourners
Q I just lost my 23-year-old daughter 1 1/2 weeks ago, she was the passenger in a vehicle operated by a friend who was drunk! I asked that donations be made to MADD in lieu of flowers. Many people still sent flowers to her memorial service. After the service her father's side of the family asked to take their flowers to the site of the crash, I felt this was a beautiful gesture. The flowers that were left were delivered to my home the following day by the funeral home who are great friends of mine. Unfortunately the cards attached to the flowers had been removed from their arrangements, and in the box were only 2 cards but 7 arrangements. I do not know who sent them, nor does the funeral home or family members. I learned from a co-worker that she thinks our agency may have sent one, but because they're in another location, she was unsure. How do I acknowledge flowers if I don't know where they came from? Also how do I acknowledge any donations that may have been made to MADD? Do I call them and ask? Also, the funeral home has an online guest book, do I acknowledge the guest book there also?

A Please, know that your friends and family will understand, if they don't receive an acknowledgment. There are several ways to express your gratitude.

You could place a small announcement in your local news paper thanking everyone for their support, their flowers, and their prayers. That would certainly cover all the bases. You could also contact the florists in your area to find out who delivered flowers in that time frame to the memorial service and funeral home. Additionally, you can send an acknowledgment card to all those who signed the online guest book, or an online message to all the email addresses. By making the message non-specific, you will be covering everything from flowers and cards to donations to MADD.

Customarily, you would have an acknowledgment card printed up. On a fold-over card, you would center these lines on the front, then inside you have the option of adding a personal line in your own handwriting such as, "Thank you for your support," or for the flowers or donation. You would just sign your first name under the message, or to your daughter's friends sign your full name:

The family of
(insert your daughter's name)
deeply appreciates
your kind expression of sympathy

As to friends and families who donated to MADD, within the next several weeks the foundation will send you a list of names and addresses of all those who made donations in your daughter's name. That will give you time to have an acknowledgment made up.

I am sorry that you have to go through the death of a child. There is nothing more tragic. I am sorry for your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: For Mother-In-Law
Q My mother-in-law asked me to send a thank-you card to my side of the family for sending a plant to the funeral of my father-in-law. What is the correct way to say thank you and how should it be signed, since it is also from my mother-in-law?

A It is customary for family to share the writing of the acknowledgments. You are good to do so. Write something such as this:

Alice asked me to thank you on behalf of the family for the lovely white lily that you sent to the church in memory of Jack. If you only knew how much Alice loves white lilies! She was delighted to see it and now to have it at home with her. In her own time and in her own way, I am sure that Alice will thank you in conversation personally. Again, Jack's family deeply appreciates and gratefully acknowledges your kind expression of sympathy. Lots of love always, Connie


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: Former Wife: Her Thank-You Notes
Q My ex-husband died two weeks ago. Many of my friends, my 17-year-old daughter's friends and parents, as well as my 25-year-old son's friends and parents attended the funeral. In addition, his friends from college whom I know well, attended. Is it customary to send a thank-you for attending the funeral to these people as the ex-wife? He is not remarried. His parents have the sign-in book.

A No, you would not be expected to send acknowledgements of any kind as the former wife. However, it is at your discretion if you wish to thank someone personally, but you would not be thanking on behalf of the family (meaning his parents, etc.), although you would say, "Our children, Charlotte and George, join me in thanking you for attending the funeral."

We like hearing from you and we're here to help whenever we can.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: How Long Is Too Long to Send Them?
Q Hello - It has been four months since my beloved father passed away, and I have been struggling. Consequently, I have allowed many responsibilities to lapse, including finishing up the majority of acknowledgment cards. I very much would like to send them, if it isn't too late. Is it? Should I apologize for my belated thanks? This has been weighing heavily on my mind; I greatly look forward to your professional opinion.

With thanks and appreciation,
Noreen S. McShane

A In your own time, you will finish up the rest of your acknowledgment cards. Everyone will understand that you are in mourning and grieving. At some point, you'll understand why it is therapeutic to write acknowledgments, as they will eventually give you a feeling of relief.

By the way, there is no reason to apologize. No need to apologize, no need to explain. Everyone at some point has been in your position and therefore, they understand. You actually have up to a year; however, six months might be long enough.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: Multiple Food Donations: One Thank-You
Q Is it a no-no to send just one thank-you note for food that was given at the death of an individual, when there were multiple senders involved that were of one family, but not of one household or business?

A An acknowledgement is sent for all gifts. Assuming in this situation a gift basket was sent from an extended family who had all chipped in, only one acknowledgement would be sent to the family in care of the person the recipient knew best.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: Personal Touch
Q Here is my question. I had printed cards made up to send to those who sent flowers, prayer cards etc. Do I have also to sign these already printed cards? Also, my dad was Chief of Police in our town and he had a Police Honor Guard. However, I don't know there names. Should I send it to the Police Dept., attention Honor Guard?

A Take a thin felt pen or whatever you use and sign your name on the the already printed cards after writing, "Thanks, Didi," (and then add your signature without the last name, if they know you).

The second question is interesting, because I think you should address the acknowledgment this way: "To all my dad's friends and colleagues." You aren't expected to address them all individually, but referring to them as friends first and then adding colleagues will make them feel more special.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: Personal Touch
Q What is proper acknowledgment about death of sister-in-law's grandmother?

A Assuming you are asking, how do we word an acknowledgment for my sister-in-law's grandmother death?

Customarily, the family has an acknowledgment printed up simply. For instance a 7 1/2" by 5 1/4" sheet of cream colored stationery paper which is folded over, often the sheet is bordered with a thin black line. Then printed in black on the front words similar to these are centered on the bottom half of the fold-over:

The family of
Alice Brown Adams
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

Then family member can divide up the acknowledgments between them to send and write a few personal lines inside. For instance: Dear Jane and George, Thank you for the beautiful arrangement of white lilies, as you know white lilies were Alice's favorite. She will be dearly missed. Many thanks, love, Mary

For a sympathy card, they just have to write: Thank you, Mary


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: Sister-In-Law Hasn't Acknowledged Death
Q My sister-in-law did not attend my grandfather's funeral, she didn't offer condolences to my Dad or anyone else, she did not send a card. My father is very hurt and the entire family is asking me why she didn't attend. Her excuse was work. Should I tell her how disappointed I am with her or not?

A Firstly, I don't know how tight you are with your sister-in-law. It sounds as though your sister-in-law either has a very difficult time dealing with death or is too self-absorbed to send her condolences. As I don't know your relationship, I personally think that you should let it go. In her own time, in her own way, she will find the time to tell your father, or you, that she is sorry for your loss.

We all deal with death differently depending upon past experiences. Try not to judge her, especially if you don't know what's going on with her. Perhaps she is having difficulties at work keeping up with her job, or perhaps there are troubles with her marriage or children which are in the forefront of her mind. Often when we go through difficulty times, we cannot handle one more negative situation. The brain protects us from anymore pain by pulling an invisible curtain around our emotions protecting us from having to deal with one more bloody negative thing.

If you care about her, take her for lunch or coffee and get her talking about her job, her children, see where the conversation goes. You might find that your sister-in-law is overwhelmed by having to balance work and family. Find a way that you can relieve some of that burden, by, say, offering to take her kids for a night so that she and your brother can have quality time together, or just listen and learn. I find that women don't necessarily want you to solve their problems for them, as much as they want to know that someone is listening, that someone cares. That's why asking her what's going on, without making any reference to your grandfather's funeral, might be the way to go. Remember, once you open that door you will have to be prepared to support what she says in some way, even if you don't approve. Working to improve your friendship with your sister-in-law should be the intention here.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: To Send or Not to Send
Q Hello,

My mother passed away and her ex-daughter-in-law sent a floral arrangement to the Church. They were not close for many years and the ex-daughter-in-law was not supportive to my mother in her final years/months with her illness, or to us, with no communication or compassion. It hurt all of us deeply.

Do we send a thank you note to her under these circumstances?

A This could be her way of reconciling. I wouldn't fault her for it. Send her a heartfelt thank-you note to acknowledge her thoughtfulness, and you'll feel the better person for doing so.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowledgments: Who Writes Them
Q My stepfather died and the funeral was just last Saturday. My brother and I are the only children. Sunday a.m. when calling my brother's house, his wife indicated that she and their daughter looked at all the memorials and filled out cards. As I had not seen the book or memorials, I feel she was totally out of place by doing this. Am I wrong to be so disgusted with them?

A In my opinion, you can never thank people enough. Ask to see the book of memorials and extend your own personal acknowledgments. As you know, criticism destroys relationships, so the last thing you want to do is to criticize your brother and sister-in-law. You are not wrong in being disgusted with them, but you need to let the blame go. Just go about your business and get down to business by extending your own acknowledgments.

This might not be the answer that you wanted, but the faux pas has been made and there is truly nothing you can do but send out your own acknowledgments. Just tell them that this is something that you wish to do on behalf of your mother and your side of the family. Leave it at that. Take back control with dignity. You can do this.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Acknowleding Memorial Donations
Q Is it ever appropriate to acknowledge the amount of a memorial donation to the family?

A If you're the charity writing acknowledgments for memorial donations, after acknowledging the gift and the amount you would send a list to the deceased's family of the names of those who sent donations, their address, and the amount. Because they will write their own acknowledgments, but they are not required to remind them of the amount of the check. The family would say, "thank you for your generous expression of sympathy (or generous donation)." And never mention the exact amount.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Addressing Condolence Card
Q Should a card be addressed to Mr. and Mrs. XYZ when sending a sympathy card to a sister's husband after his Mom passed?

My sister sent cards, yes, several, in my husband's name only. She did not address the card...
To:
Mr. and Mrs. William Luddington, as I would have. Am I wrong?
Thank you for your time,
Karen

A Customarily, you address the condolence envelope and the inside card to the blood relative or the partner/spouse. Inside the card you can close off with mention of the spouse/partner like this: My best to you and MMM (name of spouse/partner).


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Addressing Letters of Sympathy
Q What is the correct way to address the envelope and sign cards when one parent of a married couple dies? Do you address the envelope to both of them and write your note inside and note the name of the one who lost a parent?

A You would address the envelope to the spouse that is still alive. The salutation of the note would be to Dear Alice, or Dear John, whichever is still alive. However, you would mention the deceased's name by saying something such as, "John had such a marvelous sense of humor, I will miss his wit and banter." Or, "No woman I know could play golf as well as Alice." Then sign your name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Addressing Sympathy Card: Married Doctors
Q How do I address a sympathy card to a female doctor and her husband who is a doctor?

A Address the card to the Doctors Smith (if Smith is their last name) or to Dr. Allison Smith and Dr. John Wilson (if she uses her maiden name). You would address the sympathy card to the female doctor only, if she is the one who has lost a family member. If the couple lost a child, then you would address them together as The Doctors Smith (if Smith is their last name). Then inside the card you would say Dear Allison and George, etc.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Addressing Sympathy to Someone Who Is Married
Q If a friend's father dies and you want to send a sympathy, card should you send it to Mr. & Mrs...... or to just her?


A You would address the sympathy card envelope to the blood relative. However, in your handwritten message on the card, you would mention the spouse's name in your closing. For instance:

Much love to you and George,
You and George are in my prayers and heart,

If you have a spouse/partner, you can include both of their names in the closing:

Charlie joins me in sending you and George our deepest sympathy, love,


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Addressing: Emeritus
Q At an educational institution, do you continue to list someone as emeritus if they have passed away?

A This is not a question about etiquette, rather a question having to do with the esoteric practices of the academic community. Nonetheless, out of curiosity, I'm trying to get you the best answer I can. Please, be patient. I have a call into a former dean of students at one of the ivies and I'll follow up when I've learn more. Until then, thanks to Wikipedia - see paragraphs below number two and three - along with my guess to date:

Each institution of higher learning has their traditions and standards; the appropriate esteem that should be accorded to the person and those standards of the university should be widely consulted and deftly implemented. Due considerations should be given to the continuing prestige associated with the professor, officer or director at the institution.

A person who has the post-positive adjective emeritus used to designate a retired educator or professional, if voted on, could continue to be listed emeritus after death. However, interestingly enough, the female equivalent, emerita - although widely used - the phrase professor emerita is not proper usage according to Latin Grammar.

In the United States emeritus is customarily used for a retired professor. Whether emeritus is used after he dies is an esoteric academic decision. Of course, you can list the deceased in an obituary as a former emeritus professor.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: After Husband's Death Do You Send Christmas Cards?
Q Would it be proper to send Christmas cards after losing my husband 8 months ago?

A If you have always sent cards at Christmas, then carry on the tradition. Especially when you have children it is important to embrace your family's holiday festivities. Since Christmas is a time of great merriment, you wouldn't want to mention anything sad or grim on the card, but you know that. You want family and friends to know that your husband would want you to continue to send them a greeting. You want people believing that you are OK, because you are alright. Plus, the pleasure will be in receiving more cards when you send cards, then if you don't. Send them.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Announcements: Former Wife's Death
Q My first wife has died; we have two children aged 41 and 39. We divorced 20 years ago and I have remarried 18 years ago. Should I place a death notice in the newspaper of a rural town?

A Consult with your children and/or the executor of your former wife's estate to find out the plans for announcing her death. You wouldn't want to step on anyone's toes. On the other hand, your children may welcome your support at this time, but consult them first.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Asking For Help Paying Funerial + Burial Expenses
Q This year Jan 8th my 15-year-old granddaughter, Shea, was crossing an intersection and was struck by a car "hit & run"; she has sustained severe brain injuries. Her mother is at home taking care of her with one other person and I, the grandmother, help out also. Cari, my daughter Shea's mom, works 35 hours a week, three days. Cari's father just passed away suddenly and we are now planning an event for him, he was a very fine musician and we're going to have a a musical party/memorial event.

My question to you is this, which another friend of mine did for Shea when her husband passed away, a Giant's pro football player. She asked that people donate to Shea instead of sending flowers. Being the granddmother how can we ethically ask for the same type of thing here with Shea's grandfather just passing at his memorial party? What would be ethical?

A I am so very sorry for all your difficulties. At this time, it is right and good of you to ask for help financially.

Please, know that through word-of-mouth you can get the word out that the family needs checks, not flowers, to pay funeral and burial expenses.

Be honest and authentic. By asking that all checks are made out directly to the funeral parlor or the gravestone company, you will be showing contributors that they are giving directly to solving the need of the deceased's estate. Be sure the funeral parlor includes that information in the obituary. That information can also be voiced at the funeral. Talk to your minister about how he can help you get the word out. Please, don't feel you are the only family in need of solving funeral and burial bills, because many families are in your same situation, so, please, ask for help.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Asking For Help Paying Funerial and Burial Expenses
Q How do you ask for donations to help with funeral expenses for someone who doesn't have life insurance or family members to help? What is the correct wording for asking for help?

A I'm confused, are you setting up a fund for someone who is frail and failing, or is the person deceased and you need help paying the funeral costs?

Either way, in my opinion, out of respect for the deceased (or critically ill), you would verbally ask the deceased's friends for help. There is no cute easy way to do this. Say that in lieu of flowers, you need money to cover the burial and funeral expenses. Be authentic and honest when asking for help and the word will spread; through word of mouth, you will get help. When someone steps up to help, and says, "I can give you a hundred dollars," then have that person make the check out directly to the funeral parlor or the gravestone company that is making the marker. By having all checks made out specifically to the vendor, you are protecting yourself. I am sorry for your loss and that you are left having to deal with such a difficult situation. On a positive note, doing this for your friend will help you through the mourning process.

Additionally, ask the funeral parlor director if he knows of any local foundation that you could apply to for a one- time donation to cover the costs.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Asking for Her Daughter's Ashes
Q Dear Didi,

How do I get my ex to let me have half my daughter's ashes? K.I., Providence

A Dear K.I.,

Since your former partner is in possession of the ashes, you're going to have to ask him to make a compromise. Tell him that civilized people divide the ashes when there are others who feel strongly about having them as well. It would be helpful if you could have a lawyer to talk him. Or even a friend or relative that you both communicate with who could state the case for dividing the ashes. Lastly, you could talk to the minister who performed the service to see if he could put in a good word for you. I am sorry for your loss. Sadly, I can't help you further but if he is in possession of the ashes, you will have to ask him to compromise, especially if you did not have custody of your daughter at the time of her death. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Asking Former Family Member Not to Attend Service + Reception
Q My father's memorial service and reception will be next week and I just found out that my ex-sister-in-law is planning to attend and sit with the family. My father was very angry with this woman for what she did to my brother and their 2 young children. She remarried a man who also had 2 young children, less than a year after divorcing my brother. The rest of my family is not thrilled with her, and having her sit with us in the front of the church will be extremely awkward. She will probably go to the reception afterwards where she will also not be welcome. I'm not sure how to handle this situation, my brother is not up to the task of telling her to stay away. I was thinking possibly the minister could talk to her and tell her, out of respect, to stay away. Any suggestions for how to deal with this?

A Customarily the immediate family arrives early to meet with the minister to discuss who sits where, by arriving even earlier you can explain the situation to the that clergy person ahead of time. It is the minister's job to handle the precession, seating, and readers.

In the meantime, either pick up the phone and talk to your former sister-in-law directly or call a mutual friend, for instance, her brother or best friend, to say that the family would rather that your former sister-in-law did not attend the funeral or reception.

You can't ban your former sister-in-law from entering the church, but if she does show up at the service you can head her off by telling her that she is "not invited" to the reception. Or have someone you trust take her aside to tell her that "the family requests that she does not attend the reception."

I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through this difficult situation. It makes sense to deal with this problem ahead of time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attendance: Former Boyfriend When You've Remarried
Q I was in a relationship with a man that ended 3 years ago, but was very serious. It ended due to issues surrounding his dependency on alcohol, which I didn't want around my two young children. I have since remarried a different man, but recently the former BF died in an boating accident. His father invited me to the funeral; is it inappropriate to have my new husband attend? The funeral is in another state, and requires a several day trip.

A By the way, you are not required to attend the funeral. Sending your former boyfriend's parents a handwritten, heartfelt note is all that you need to do. In the note or card, remind them of the traits you appreciated in their son.

However, if you wish to attend the funeral, you should do so and having your husband escort you would be protocol.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attendance: Former Wife of Shared Children
Q My ex-husband passed away. His family is having a memorial service. My 18 and 20 year old sons and I will attend. I have since remarried. Where do I sit? My sons will participate in the service; I would think they would sit in the family area or front row of the church. Could you email me some advice? Thank you. Theresa email at brandontyler2@comcast.net

A As the former wife with two children you share with the deceased, you would sit just behind the immediate family pews on the left. Or behind wherever your sons are. You sit on the side where your sons are seated to show your support. You and your current spouse/partner and family are seated behind your shared sons.

If there is an open invitation to the reception--often extended by the pastor or listed on the program--, you are of course welcome to attend. If your sons want you to be at the burial site, they will take you with them or give you directions. You must understand that often in second marriages the burial is private. It is widow's call.

The code of conduct is that you take the lead from your sons. Do what they say. Be there for them.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attendance: Granddaughter Cannot Attend
Q My daughter and her boyfriend live in Boston and could not attend the funeral of her grandfather in Texas. She asked me if she should send some money and if so, how much? I have never heard of this. She did not have time to send flowers. Debbie M.

A In instances where funeral and burial costs might possibly prove a burden for the family, mourners send cards with money to help defray the costs and to, say, help the widow pay her bills.

In your daughter's situation, since this is her grandfather, she's trying to find a way to make it up to you because she wasn't able to go to Texas for the funeral. If funds are not necessary, tell her so. Also, tell her a few good things to remember about her grandfather. For instance, he was kind, he was generous, he was loyal, he was honest, he had a marvelous sense of humor. Traits that you want her to identify with and remember when she thinks of her grandfather. Recall stories to illustrate those traits that she will remember always.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attendance: Relative by Marriage
Q My sister-in-law's father passed. I live 3 hours away. Do I need to attend the funeral if I didn't know him?

A You don't necessarily have to know the person to go to his funeral. He's dead, he's not going to know you didn't attend. You go to your sister-in-law's father's funeral in support of your sister-in-law and her family and your nieces and nephews. Whether you really need to go or not is a gut feeling. Just the fact that you haven't already weaseled out of going with a lame excuse, and you're writing to me instead, should help you decide what's best for the living, not for the dead.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attendance: Wakes + Funerals
Q My sister's father-in-law passed away and the wake and funeral are in the next few days. We have no idea what proper protocol is about attending the wake and the funeral. Is it expected that my sister's siblings be at both the wake and the funeral? Yes, we knew her father-in-law and we love her husband, but we all have jobs and the wake is on and the funeral is Thursday.

A Catholics take wakes and funerals very seriously. It is not so much about your sister's father-in-law as about supporting his wife and your brother-in-law. Believe me, they will remember that you attended both the wake and the funeral. If you all don't, they will remember that, too. It is not so much about being seen as it is about it being remembered that you and your siblings were there to support the life of your father-in-law. I'm sure if you tell your bosses you have to attend a family wake and funeral, they will understand. You'll be glad you were in attendance.

The catchy thing about wakes is that the hours are long, sometimes as long as four or five hours and they always run after the work day in order to make it easier for all the mourners to show up, even those who work a nine to five day. Rally your siblings, show your support for your sister's extended family.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Cousin's Mother-in-Law's Funeral:
Q My cousin's mother-in-law passed away. What is proper etiquette? I did not know her very well.

A As you did not know her well, you wouldn't be expected to travel any great distance to attend the wake, viewing, or funeral service. You would send flowers if the mother-in-law had sent flowers to you or to a funeral of someone in your close family.

If the service is in the town where you live, then make an effort to attend in support of your cousin and their spouse. People can get rather fussy about someone not attending a close relative's funeral, so it's best to be on the safe side and attend if you live nearby. You will still need to send a card, but not necessarily flowers, unless your family received flowers from them.

The nicest thing to do is to send a sympathy card to your cousin's spouse, saying how sorry you are for their loss. You can also send a card to the mother-in-law's spouse. If you know any of her children well, send them cards as well. When sending a card -- as opposed to a condolence letter -- add a few personal lines in your own words expressing your sorrow for their loss referring to the deceased by name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Sibling's Funeral: When You Can't Get There
Q Hi Didi!
My younger brother Francis died unexpectedly a week ago today - my older brother and I discussed attending the funeral but my older brother stated he couldn't fly half way round the world (although he had spent the last couple of years visiting them for up to a month at a time as he is retired). Because I had not heard anything from him, I called only to find out that he had gone ahead a booked a flight for Today and then he informed me that the service is on Monday! We are in England and I am a single parent but my daughter is 18 and told me she would be OK on her own- however I feel I cannot fly alone - suffer with anxiety and have had mild stroke a couple of years ago - Am so angry with older brother for not communicating with me his plans....Have tried to speak to my sister-in-law but unable to do so - She is in shock I know - Have also tried to check the obituary notices for address of Funeral Home - to send flowers in my absence - What should I do now? Please advise and Thank you so much in advance.

A First, let me say that I am sorry for your loss. It is terrible to have to go through the death of a sibling and then have the logistics of attending the funeral be so complicated. Understandably, you're feeling a lot of anger towards your older brother for not communicating and because you are not able to attend your younger brother's funeral. Your sister-in-law is in shock, but you may be, too. Focus on your daughter and being there for her. Hold her close. As a single mother, your health should be your greatest concern because an eighteen-year-old daughter needs her mother. Maybe you two can do something this weekend together that Francis would have liked to do, such as visiting a museum, going to church, or seeing a playing. Just taking a walk together could be therapeutic.

The stress of trying to get to the funeral is too much to handle on top of having to accept the death of your younger brother and worry about your daughter. It's a very long flight both ways, which in itself can be stressful.

The funeral will take place and you can be there in spirit. In your own way and in your own time, you will find a way to memorialize your younger brother Francis. Take some time to see where you fit in. He may have a child or partner in need that you can reach out and comfort. As his older sister, your role is to give ongoing comfort to his family and in turn they will comfort you.

Lastly, try to forgive your older brother. He, too, is in shock. Yes, it was wrong of him not to fly with you. However, when one is in mourning, one doesn't always think about the feelings of others. Your brother is wrapped up in his own mourning right now and dealing with his own grief. It may be more than enough for him to handle. We all go through the mourning process in our own way and in our own time.

Keep in touch with your sister-in-law. The time when she will need your comfort the most will be after close family and friends have gone back to their homes and she is alone. Make a plan to SKYPE, telephone, or email her once a week to find out how she is doing. Conjure up memories to illustrate what a great younger brother he was for her to pass along to his children. Your job as big sister is to shepherd his family along, even though it may be from afar.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending a Friend's Parent's Wake or Funeral
Q Hello Didi
My father passed away recently and, although several people from my workplace attended the wake, many did not. I was surprised how much it meant to have support from family and friends at this difficult time. However I was also very hurt and angry that people I felt were my friends did not attend the wake or funeral. It has only been a month and half and two people at work had their parents pass away. They did not attend my Dad's, should I attend theirs? I know this sounds petty but I really am not sure what to do. My husband says I should not feel like I need to go. What is the right thing to do?

A Attending a wake or funeral is such a spiritual occasion that you would follow your gut feeling. If you didn't know the deceased, you would be attending in support of the friend. It is not a tit-for-tat situation. Either you feel spiritually moved to attend, or you don't. You might feel that one of the friends is more of a kindred spirit than the other. Go with your heart.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending a Parent's Funeral: When You Live Far Away
Q Dear Didi,
My Father just passed away and the funeral is in two days. I can not afford to go home. My sister and husband live four hours from me and are driving to the funeral. I have mentioned that I would help with gas if they wanted to share but have not had an offer as of yet. Do I send flowers and a card? What is the proper thing to do?

A I am terribly sorry for your loss. It is extremely difficult to lose a parent. The proper thing to do is to go to your father's funeral. Take a train or bus to your sister's town as soon as you can. Offer to help with the gas and the driving. I'm afraid if you don't make the effort, you will regret not having gone to your father's funeral.

What I want you to understand is that you are in a lot of pain from your loss and being in the comfort of your family is the place to be. Your family will be at the funeral and they no doubt will feed you and help you get around because that's what families do in times of mourning. It will help you through the difficult mourning process if you are there to say your last good-bye to your father. You wouldn't need to send flowers or a card to your father because he is no longer receiving such things and people should be making it easier for you to attend his funeral. That's what families and close friends do for one another. Therefore, I want you to ask them for help.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Boss's Father's Funeral When You Never Met Him
Q My boss's father passed away. I did not know him. I am from New Jersey but I live in the South where people go to funerals all the time it seems. Is it right to go to funerals for people you don't know? Would it be okay to go to just the receiving, but not stay for the service?


A If you didn't know your boss's father, there is absolutely no reason to go to the funeral of someone you didn't know, just because he is the father of your boss. Personally, I feel hypocritical attending the funeral of someone I didn't know. If you go, you are going in support of your boss and not because you are mourning his father. It is hard to mourn someone you didn't know. Go with your gut instinct.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Estranged Brother's Funeral: When Wife Doesn't Like You
Q My brother just passed away and his family never notified me of his death ...I had to read it in the paper: (his wife hates me)...how do I present myself at the funeral?
Thanks, Rita

A Present yourself with dignity and grace. Dress in an elegant skirt suit or dress and wear beautiful shoes. If you're well dressed, you'll feel better about yourself. Traditionally, close family members arrive at the church at least a half hour early so the clergy can help them sort out who sits where and who walks in the processional. You can arrive early and announce to the priest that you are the deceased's sister but you've been estranged from his wife, and then ask him/her where you should sit. Priests deal with this kind of difficult situation all the time. Your sister-in-law is not going to be in any shape to get into an argument with the priest. Tell her you are deeply sorry for her loss and leave it at that. Unless you want to ask her if there is anything that you can do to help her.

Aside from that, be pleasant. Shake hands and greet family and friends with your usual good grace. Should you decide not to arrive early to talk to the priest, then sit as close to the altar as you feel comfortable sitting. If there is an impromptu receiving line after the service, give her your condolences. At that time, she should have the good grace to invite you to the reception or the burial. If she doesn't, talk to someone in the family that you are fond of for advice as to whether you should attend the burial or not. Do not attend the reception if you are not asked. On the other hand, there is no reason why you shouldn't attend the burial.

A church is a house of worship and your sister-in-law cannot keep you from attending the funeral, likewise the burial. I know you are in mourning, too, but you must send her a condolence card and if possible send flowers. I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your brother under such difficult circumstances.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Estranged Brother's Funeral: When Wife Doesn't Want You to Attend
Q Hi Didi
My brother died of cancer after a two month stay in the hospital. We did not get along. And I refused to visit him while in the hospital. My mother, brother, and two sisters were all against me for not visiting him, saying that I should let bygones be bygones being that he was sick. Now that he has died, his wife says I shouldn't come to the wake or funeral being that I didn't bother coming to the hospital to see him while he was alive. My mother, brother and two sisters will be extremely angry fixing don't attend. I don't really want to go, but I hate hurting my mother, and certainly don't want the rest of the relatives wondering where I'm at. The wake is tomorrow, and doubt that I will get any sleep tonight wondering what to do. Thanks

A In my opinion, you wouldn't attend the wake because wakes are more personal and private. You would go to the funeral, but sit in back of the family or on the other side of the aisle. I'm sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your brother.

Out of respect for your sister-in-law, it would be best to keep out of her space, but in order to sustain a good relationship with your mother and siblings, you should attend the funeral. You can request that a mourner not attend the wake, burial or reception, but you cannot keep them entering a place of worship. Anyone can enter a church for a funeral. You are also a mourner is this situation and therefore you can go to the house of worship.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Fiance's Former Father-in-Law's Funeral
Q CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT THE PROPER ETIQUETTE IS FOR THIS SITUATION? My fiance is attending his ex-father-in-law's funeral as a pallbearer, he has been divorced for 15+ years, we have been together for 8 yrs. He has not asked me to attend the funeral with him; would it be proper for me not to attend since he has not asked me to go with him?
What is the proper thing to do!

A This funeral is all about your fiance's relationship with his former father-in-law and not so much about his relationship with his former wife. He was asked to be a pallbearer, which is a great honor, because of his past closeness to the deceased.

As you are not married, your fiance probably doesn't want to have to worry about you, where you'll be sitting, and the fact that he can't be paying attention to you because members of his former grieving family might need his attention, too. As a pallbearer, he has been called to duty and often that duty entails hugging all the old aunties and shaking hands with his former father-in-law's friends, family, and colleagues. He might even be enlisted to give rides to some of the older mourners.

This is a guy thing for him. If he has children with his former wife, then he has been invited in that capacity as well and he is there in support of his children, who will no doubt need his attention no matter how old they seem.

This is also one of those situations where you have to say to yourself, "My fiance is grieving for his old friend, who just died, and so is his old family, and I need to step back and let him do his own thing and allow him to mourn." This is not the time to be insecure and clingy by making him choose between you or them.

So don't push his buttons on this. Let your fiance grieve in his own way and in his own time. If you do that, you will show great maturity and respect for him and his emotions. Use the time instead to catch up with your own family members or old friends. And when he comes home be sweet and curious about all the old acquaintances, and don't be bitter or jealous. Remember this is a funeral and your fiance is grieving and might be feeling sad about this for several months. He needs your unconditional love and support at this time and I know that you'll do the right thing and give him just that.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Boyfriend's Grandmother's Funeral
Q My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 years but are on the verge of breaking up, but are still very good friends. His grandmother just passed away. I have visited my boyfriend's parents' house, where his grandmother lived, on many occasions. However I have never communicated with his grandmother in any way aside from greetings due to a language barrier. If I send a sympathy card to my boyfriend's parents, can it be very generic or does it have to be more personal? Also, would it be very inappropriate for me to miss the funeral? If I do attend then what is my role? Thanks.

A You would attend your former boyfriend's grandmother's funeral in support of your friendship. If you're looking to sustain the relationship with your former boyfriend's parents, then you would send them a condolence card. However, you would address the card to the child of the grandparent, but in closing you would send your best wishes to "you and your husband" (insert other parent's name), before signing your name.

Your role would be that of friend. Introducing yourself to friends of the family, you would say your name and state that you are a friend of Jake's (insert former boyfriend's name).


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Brother-In-Law's Funeral
Q My ex-husband's brother lived with us for a number of years before we divorced. My brother-in-law is due to be disconnected from life support. Is it appropriate to attend his funeral? His family was there for me when my son died and even offered a cemetery plot.

A It is best to go with your gut feeling. If you feel your brother-in-law's family would be all right seeing you there, then by all means attend the funeral. On the flip side, if you think it would make the family uncomfortable, then don't go. In your own way you can mourn him without being physically present.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Extended Family Member's Funeral
Q My wife's ex-husband's second wife for over 20 years passed away. They had no children, but my wife and her ex have two grown children together. The children have stepped up in great support for their dad and stepmother and my question is: Should my wife visit the home of her ex- husband to give her condolences? If so should I go with her? We sent flowers and plan to attend the funeral and a reception afterwards. Would this be appropriate? We spoke to them and attended grandchildren births with them, but weren't close to them socially. Thanks for your opinion and answer.


A Go with your gut feeling. Your participation, at any and every level, is in support of your wife's children. With that intention in mind, go forward with your instincts, which, by the way, are totally appropriate and correct.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Father-In-Law's Visitation or Funeral
Q I and my husband are currently separated and will divorce soon. His father died on Tuesday. Should I go to the visitation or the funeral? We are friendly and it is the second marriage for both of us.

A You would go to the visitation and the funeral in support of any children you had with your former husband. Otherwise, if you were fond of your former father-in-law, by all means pay your respects. If you didn't like him, you don't need to go. Follow your gut instinct.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Girlfriend's Funeral
Q My husband of 11 years would like to attend an ex- girlfriend's funeral without me rather than with me, because he says it's disrespectful to her.

I was a bit offended as I thought a spouse is one you would most want with you in time of support.

You'd think it would be more awkward for her current spouse should my husband go it alone? What do I do? Let him go alone or go?

Thank you for your help, Kimi

A Please, don't feel slighted by the fact that your husband wants to attend a former girlfriend's funeral. If you knew the deceased, then you would attend for all the right reasons. If you didn't know her, then once you got there you might feel slightly hypocritical attending the funeral of someone you didn't know.

From what little you've told me, it sounds as though your husband doesn't need support and that he is dealing with her death in his own way. Everyone goes through the mourning process the best they can. Men usually compartmentalize their wife from former girlfriends. She's dead. You're happily married. Unless you knew her, let him attend her funeral with your blessing.

As I said, I know so little; however, if your husband left this former girlfriend for you, he might feel it's disrespectful to her. You can't change the way he feels.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Husband's Funeral
Q My ex-husband passed away on Friday and I was planning on going to the funeral to support our 2 sons. However, is it considered mandatory or permissible also to attend the visitation the night before the service. I have not been asked to go to that one but need to know what to say or do.
Many of his co-workers will be there I am sure, even though I have remarried and we divorced 18 years ago, I feel there will be curiosity all around.
Thanks for your response and help.

A With funerals and visitations, you have to go with your heart. Going to the funeral in support of your two children is a good think to do. Whether you go to the visitation is up to how your children feel about your going. If they want you to attend, try to be there to support them. If they don't care, and you don't want to go, then don't go.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Spouse's Brother's Funeral with Fiancee
Q My ex-brother-in-law died and I am engaged to be married to a new partner. My children who are all adults do not want me to attend with my new partner as they say it will upset their mother. My new partner would like to go as she has met my ex-brother-in-law and his wife. My 2 sons and daughter have threatened never to see me again if I go with my new partner. Although I had a good relationship with my ex-brother-in-law I feel staying away is the best solution. What do you think?

A I think you should listen to what your family and former family is trying to tell you. Don't go. Or if you attend, don't bring your new wife. This funeral is not about socializing. Relatives of the your former brother-in-law are in deep mourning and you don't want to trivialize their emotions by disregarding their requests. This is not the time for your fiancee to schmooze with your former family. A happier occasion, such as a wedding or bridal shower, would be a more appropriate setting in which she could get to know your former family better. This is not that window of opportunity. It would be in bad taste to show up, at this point in time, with your new partner when you know she is not welcome.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Spouse's Father's Funeral
Q If an ex-spouse's father dies, should I attend the funeral, attend the viewing or send flowers? I have made a personal call expressing sympathy. We are both re-married. We have 2 grown children together and were married for 30 years but have been divorced for 12 years.

A Go with your gut feeling. Unless you were close to your former husband's parents, you may feel that you don't need to go. On the other hand, you still might consider attending in support of your two grown children and their children. As parents we are the memory makers and role models.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Spouse's Father's Funeral When You've Been Separated for Ten Years. (2)
Q This kind of a question is for an expert such as yourself. My wife and I haven't lived together for the past 10 years. No legal paperwork exists. Everyone on my side thinks we are divorced including my girlfriend. My wife and I just never had money to divorce and since we are both in our 50s figured we wouldn't remarry. Her father just passed away, should I attend the wake? I knew him for 30 plus years, but we just hadn't seen each other in at least 10.

A Don't you think it is time to tidy up your affairs? It is disingenuous of you to keep the fact that you are legally married from your girlfriend. Let alone from your family. It is time to come clean. Your girlfriend may not care one way or the other, because it has been ten years since you separated from your wife and she's with you now. However, if she finds out on her own, she may wonder if you're hiding more than just your marital status.

When deciding whether or not to attend your father-in-law's wake, remember that people who think you are still married will wonder why you didn't attend. What's more, you knew the man for thirty years. If you held him in high regard and have fond memories of him, you should go out of respect. If you couldn't stand him, it would be hypocritical to attend his wake.

The wake may be the window of opportunity you need to ask your wife if she's ready for a divorce, after a respectable time of mourning. At the very least, phone her to find out how she would feel about making your ten year separation legal. At this point in time, it should be fairly easy because 50 states and the District of Columbia allow for no-fault divorces; it really comes down to paperwork.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Wife's Mother's Funeral
Q My ex-mother-in-law just died and I wanted to pay my respects even though the divorce isn't settled with my ex-wife. Also, my daughter, who has not returned my calls or been seen by me in over a year, will be there. I don't want to push her away further but quite the opposite. What is my safest option on all fronts?

A Interestingly enough funerals and other family gatherings, planned or unplanned, are an opportunity to reconnect with family members. It sounds as though your daughter has closed the door on your relationship. If you attend her grandmother's funeral, you would be putting your foot through the threshold of that door giving her the opportunity to reconnect. She might well responded favorably to having an opportunity, as sad as this is, to bridge the gap in your relationship. Smile when you see her and tell her how beautiful she is and how much you miss her. The rest is up to her. Keep knocking on that door because perseverance often wins and daughters deep down really love their daddy, yet sometimes they don't know how to backtrack and save face. Attend the service and ask your former wife or your daughter if it would be all right for you to attend the reception. Services in houses of worship are open to the public, anyone can go. You would need to make sure you would be welcome at the reception before attending.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Former Wife's Sister's Funeral
Q Didi,
I just returned from a funeral, the deceased was my ex- sister-in-law of which I was very fond of and always welcomed to her home even after my divorce 8 years ago. I traveled 2.5 hours to the funeral home with my fiancee (we have been together for five years). We have been to other family functions on both family sides before. My ex-wife was totally pissed off when I showed up with my fiancee at this funeral! We both paid our respects and didn't feel as though we were not welcome! When we left the burial site and all of the attendees were invited to a restaurant to eat and extend our condolences, my daughter, whom I love dearly and we are very close, came up to me and said " You and Ali are not invited to the restaurant". I was so dismayed and hurt! Was I wrong attending this funeral with my fiancee?

Hurt in Conn.

A Your former wife is obviously going through a very difficult time and it might have seemed a bit "in your face" to have you there with your fiancee. Personally, I would have left my new love interest at home knowing you were going to have to support your daughter and whatever other children you had together, as well as your sister-in-law's spouse and children. The focus should have been on your children and their family. It was not appropriate, but how could you have known? Next time, find out first if your fiancee is welcome. My only fear now is that it will be harder to take your fiancee to future family functions without calling ahead first to make sure she is welcome.

Backtrack, make amends by writing your former wife a heartfelt, handwritten note telling her how sorry you are for her loss and that you're sorry she has to go through the death of her sister. Don't make excuses or explain why you brought your fiancee, because this is clearly not the time to bring her into the picture so soon again.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Funeral of Boyfriend's Sister
Q I have been dating a guy for 5 months, his sister just passed away. I have not met any of his family. Is it proper to attend the visitation and funeral? Or should I only attend the visitation?

A It would be best if you asked your guy. Tell him that you would like to be with him at this time and attend the visitation and funeral, but that you do not want to be intrusive. Say that you want him to tell you what he wants you to do, or not do. The problem is that if you don't do anything, he might silently hold it against you, but on the other hand you did not know her. If you are in a committed relationship, then you want to be openly supportive of your guy. Five months seems like a long enough time to be able to talk to him honestly. Try saying, "I don't want to intrude but I would like to be supportive." Perhaps if you told him that you would stay in the background and sit towards the back, that might give him the kind of space that he needs in order to tell you what he wants you to do. By all means, if you really care about this guy, you will want to be near him in order to comfort him without being intrusive.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Funeral of Former Extended Family
Q Recently, suddenly, and violently, my husband's ex-wife's sister was taken. I have a warm relationship with his ex-wife; however, my relationship with their 2 children (my stepkids, and the niece and nephew of the deceased) has lately been strained. I have met the deceased on several occasions, and have been pleased to say that we were very pleasant with each other. My husband is waiting on an invitation to his former sister-in-law's memorial from his ex. I have mentioned that the family may not have had the time or inclination to make a guest list, and the memorial service is not listed as private; therefore all are welcome to pay their respects. He indicates he will not attend without an invite, or at least a notification of the services. I would be willing to bet that there will be no such notification as it has been posted publicly. Is it appropriate for me to attend without him in support of this lovely family, or would it be best (since he is the reason I've met them) to send a card, donation, food, etc.? Also, due to the strained nature of my relationship with the 2 stepkids (with whom I would dearly love to reconcile) would my presence show love and support, or only serve to further upset them? I know, tough to answer that last without the nature of the disagreement, but still...
Many thanks.

A Plan to attend the service because you are moved to do so. The family is obviously grieving and is in deep shock so they might not invite anyone individually. People don't do that any more, unless to notify those who don't live nearby, because the information is listed in the obituary columns of the newspapers and news Web sites. If your husband decides to accompany you, then of course he should go. It is hypocritical to attend a service when you're not moved to do so; therefore let him be. He might come around when he realizes that the death is not about him, but about supporting this grieving family. Be cordial to the two stepchildren, they will probably be having to deal with lots of people they are not too keen on seeing. Funerals are a window of opportunity, a foot in the door to reconnect with those with whom we were once friendly, so take advantage of the option. Whether you send flowers or not is up to you. I always think it is best to send a gift to the designated charity. The family is in deep mourning and needs support of family and friends.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Funeral of Former Mother-In-Law
Q My boyfriend's ex mother-in-law passed away. He does not speak to his ex. He has two children with his ex and is close with his children. What is the proper etiquette as far as the funeral, etc.


A Your boyfriend would attend in support of his children. However, if he feels people would be uncomfortable in his presence, then he shouldn't attend. It could depend on the ages of the children. If they are adult children, then it's not so important because they've experienced being around death before. However, if they are young, his being their could well be a great comfort to them. Perhaps he could call a former brother or sister-in-law to ask if it would be OK for him to attend in support of his children.

He wouldn't sit with them, but he could sit on the same side of the church a few pews back so when they turned around they could see that he is alive and well.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Funeral of Person You Didn't Know
Q What should I do when a friend's Aunt died (who she is very close to) and I didn't know the deceased. Am I expected to attend the visitation or funeral?

A As in all friendships, it depends upon the depth and strength of the friendship. If this friend has gone out of their way for you, you would attend the funeral in support of your friend. However, if you fear feeling like an intruder, tell your friend just that. Instead, write your friend a heartfelt condolence letter to tell her that you are sorry she has to go through the death of her aunt to whom she was so close. Tell her you are deeply sorry for her loss. Then in the weeks to follow, while chatting with her, either in person or on the phone, try to get her to talk about her aunt. Often the bereaved feel that nobody wants to talk about the deceased. Show her that you care she is grieving by engaging her in conversation about her aunt. A relationship with an aunt or uncle can be very special and incredibly meaningful, especially if the friend has already lost a parent or the aunt had mentored her or taken care of her. To make a long answer short, no. You do not have to attend the funeral of someone you did not know if it would make you hypocritical or self-conscious.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Funeral of Person You Didn't Know
Q My co-worker's husband passed away suddenly and several co-workers are going to the wake; I prefer not to go. Am I wrong?

A You have to go with your gut. If you didn't know the husband, understandably you would feel like an intruder at his wake. However, to sustain your relationship with your co-worker, you would need to send a heartfelt letter of condolence, or card with a handwritten closure offering your deepest sympathy before signing. There is no right or wrong. Many people would feel hypocritical attending the wake of someone they either didn't know or didn't like.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Funeral of Someone You Don't Know
Q My cousin just recently passed away. My parents told me that it would be inappropriate for me to bring my fiancee to the funeral, but that doesn't sound right to me. My extended family has never met her before and my parents seem to be concerned that it would look bad if my other family members met her on this occasion. Should I bring her with me anyway or should I respect my parents' wishes? My parents were not exactly close to my cousin, so I'm not sure their wishes should be taken into account. Please let me know what to do because the funeral is in 2 days. Thanks.

A There are those who think it is hypocritical to attend the funeral of someone you don't know. On the other hand, if she is your fiancee, you should take her with you wherever you go. If the deceased person meant a lot to you, then she is there in support of your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending if Not a Family Member
Q WOULD IT BE PROPER TO ATTEND THE VIEWING AND THE FUNERAL IF YOU ARE NOT A FAMILY MEMBER?

A Yes, as long as you knew the deceased you are welcome to the viewing and the funeral. Whether you go to the reception following the funeral depends on whether the priest or family announces all are welcome, or if the location of the reception is listed in the program.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Someone You Don't Know's Funeral
Q I would like to know whether I should attend the viewing or funeral for someone I never met. The funeral is for my brother's fiancee's sister. My brother and his fiancee have been together for just over 2 years but I never had a chance to meet the sister who died of cancer at 46 years old.

A If your gut feeling is telling you shouldn't attend the funeral of someone you didn't know, then go with that feeling. In this case, you would be going not so much for the deceased, but in support of your brother's fiancee and her family.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending Stepchildren's Father's Funeral
Q This is somewhat complicated but I will try my best to explain. The mother of my stepchildren and I are now divorced. My stepchildren's father just passed away this morning; my question is, is it etiquettely correct for me to attend the funeral of their father, we have met previously, but are not friends by any means. At the very least I would like to show support to my stepchildren as we are still very close. I am not sure if their mother (my ex) will be attending; if she does and I am there she may cause a scene which I do not want any part of.

A As you say, you would attend the funeral in support of your stepchildren, as you were probably an important part of their life. You don't have to talk to your former wife and I seriously doubt that she would make a fuss about your being there in front of her children and former in-laws. You can sit toward the back of the church. As I don't know the ages of the children, you'll have to decide if you can call one of them to ask if you can attend the funeral. If they say, "No, it might not be a good idea," then forget it. Don't go. As a house of worship is open to everyone, nobody can keep you out, but you want to make this all about the children and if your stepchildren will be uplifted by seeing you, then definitely attend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending the Funeral When You Haven't Seen Your Dad In 20 Years
Q I have not seen my dad in over 20 years, he passed away last week and his funeral is this weekend. I am feeling very uneasy about this. I have sent him cards, pictures, letters over the years. I invited him to his granddaughter's wedding and his wife sent a message over Facebook just saying NO. I am not sure what I should do. Could you please help.

A You have my double condolences for having to go through such a difficult situation. First off, you don't have to attend your father's funeral, just because he's your father. It sounds as though he deserted you emotionally decades ago. It is actually hypocritical to go to a funeral when you have bad feelings about the deceased. So you are off the hook about feeling you have to attend. Nor do you have to write to his wife or send a card or flowers. After all, you were the one who was treated badly.

On the other hand, it could be cathartic to attend the funeral out of curiosity. However, you should be accompanied by a spouse, partner or friend, because you shouldn't go alone, as you could become overwhelmed with emotions and it wouldn't be a good idea for you to drive.

It sounds as though you have put this unhappy relationship behind you. There is no reason to open old wounds. I know if it were me, I would want to ask his widow why my father didn't want anything to do with me. That said, do you think you really need to put yourself through the ordeal of attending his funeral?

Lastly, funerals can be an opportunity to mend fences, if that is your goal with your stepmother. If not, don't go. You can always visit your father's gravestone later on.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attending With a Former Spouse
Q My husband is attending the funeral of a family friend with his ex-spouse rather than me. This was a friend with his former wife and I never met him. I am uncomfortable. Do I have cause to be?

A My dear, please don't stress about this because your husband is in a period of mourning that will take him a while to work through and you need to be patient and understanding. First off, this is not about you. It is about shared times and memories of a beloved family friend who has recently passed away. Let your husband mourn in his own way. Perhaps it is time to meet his former wife so that you can see that he is done with her and has moved on to you.

I understand that you are uncomfortable, but you needn't be. When a dear friends dies, we find temporary comfort in common acquaintances because it keeps the deceased alive in our mind. Remember that there are several stages of mourning. It can take three or four months for the mourner to grasp the reality that the deceased is actually dead. Then it can take up to a year for the mourner to come to grips with his loss. Please, be patient with your husband and show him the same compassion you would need if the family friend was yours.

You might be feeling a bit left out at the moment, but I'm sure if you invited your husband's former wife, along with her new husband or partner, you might find that often former spouses can be just friends once they've moved on. You can also encourage your husband to tell you about the deceased. Listen carefully and engage him in a heartfelt conversation because it will help him enormously in getting through the mourning process if he can talk to you about the deceased.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Attire
Q What to wear and what to do at a funeral service/viewing?

A Wear a well-cut, dark, lightweight suit. If you are a woman wear a skirt-suit, a hat or scarf, short gloves, dark shoes and bag. If you are a man, wear a good shirt with a collar and a tie, dark shoes and socks matching the trousers. If it is raining, take an umbrella.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Banning Mourners From a Funeral
Q Hi Didi, how can arrange for certain family members not to attend my funeral, etc.? Considering I won't be able to say anything. However, there are a few people that I'd like to be banned from attending my funeral. I would like it to be advice to them that they weren't there when I was alive, why come visit when I'm dead.

A Unless the funeral is being held in a private facility such as a funeral home, that will be hard to do. Unless you make the funeral by invitation only, which was done in the case of Jackie Kennedy Onassis because the church couldn't have held all her fans. At a private funeral not in a funeral home, you would messenger an invitation along with admittance card, which would have the number of the pew on it telling the invited mourner where to sit. Because all houses of worship are open to the public (when the doors are open for a funeral or wedding, for instance,) there is no gatekeeper to keep mourners out. What you can do is to have a portion of the church roped off for "Invited Guests Only." Then everybody knows that those in the uninvited area are there without an invitation.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Blending Families for the Memorial Service
Q My ex-husband just passed away unexpectedly. We have a 16-year-old son. He never remarried or had other children. He was only 41. My son is his only blood relative although he has thousands of friends. Some of his closest friends and I are planning a memorial service for him in Las Vegas where the majority of his friends are. I am remarried and live with my husband and two children (my current husband and I have 10-year-old daughter) in Texas. I have remained very close to my ex over the years and he and my husband were friendly. My question is should just my son and I fly out for the memorial service, or should my daughter and husband come also? My current husband wants to come, but my son is distraught and needs time to grieve with those closest to his Daddy. I also don't want my current husband to get upset or feel uncomfortable when our mutual friends from when me and my ex were married share stories and laughs. I don't have much time, please help. Thank you!

A Take the whole family to LV. Tell your husband you need to focus on your son and you want him to spend time with your daughter bonding and having fun, but you need them both for support while you and your son deal with his mourning and grieving. It will give you balance having the happy go lucky ten-year-old and your husband doing fun activities you can hear about after the fact, and having to tend to your hurting son. You need to take care for yourself, because of course you are the good wife grieving as well. Having your daughter and husband with you will be a comfort, a support system, and a nice distraction. For your son, it will remind him that he has a close family and that he hasn't been abandoned. In times of family crisis, keep your family close. But try to keep the drama of the crisis at a minimum. Remind your family that a memorial service is a celebration of a life.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boss's Funeral: Unsure What to Do
Q MY BOSS JUST PASSED AWAY SO I HAVE SENT FLOWERS AND WAS PLANNING ON ATTENDING THE VIEWING THE NIGHT BEFORE THE FUNERAL. MY QUESTION IS: should I BE ATTENDING FUNERAL AS WELL?

A Follow your gut, follow your heart.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManner.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend + Former Husband Need to Make Compromises
Q My girlfriend of 4 years' mother is dying. She was married and had 1 son with her ex. The mother and the ex-husband are close, which I hate but... what can you do. My girl- friend & her ex have a civil relationship for the 12- year-old child they have. The son and I are very close also. I do not get along with the ex-husband at all, so my question is, does he belong in the family's receiving line at funeral? Or do I? And should he go in the hearse with us to the cemetery which is 5 hours round trip. I do not want to add any more pressure on my girlfriend. Please do NOT reprint. TY

A For the sake of the child, and to show solidarity in your respect for the child's feelings, both you and your girlfriend's former husband should escort the child. Make sure he isn't alone. Remember that you and his father are his role models and how you both behave is very important to his present state of mind, as well as his future.

I want you to do the right thing and put your feelings about the former husband aside. Keep your opinions to yourself. Your girlfriend would probably find great comfort in knowing that you and the former husband have her son's best interest at heart.

As to sitting in the hearse, it might be possible for the two of you to share the backseat with the child, while the other one sits up front. Ask. You can switch when you take breaks. That might also give the child more room to sleep, so you could use that as the reason.

The receiving line is something that you need to discuss with the clergy person who will be meeting with you prior to the service. Tell him or her the situation and ask him how he wants you two to handle it. It is possible that you can take turns because the boy shouldn't stand in the receiving line for too long. Be sure that he takes breaks and during those breaks one of you can take turns accompanying him. Also, you and the former husband do not need to stand in the receiving line side-by-side. I know you don't think he belongs, but the boy needs all of the emotional support you both can give him to get through this terrible ordeal.

Just the way people agree to disagree, you and the former husband can agree to be unified in your handling of this difficult situation.

I know this sounds tough, but just the fact that you're looking for a solution shows that you might be willing to make a compromise for the sake of the child. I am terribly sorry that you have to shepherd this child through this grave tragedy when you, too, are grieving. You are the boy's role model and he will look up to you and learn from your behavior. If you do decide to take this advice, it might be nice if you can tell your girlfriend how you're planning to handle this tremendously difficult situation.

Just so you know, I do not include the e-mail address of the person whose question I answer.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriends + Memorial Service
Q My father passed away. I requested my b/f of almost 5 years to attend a memorial service with me 300 miles away. I told him I would cover all expenses, of course. He has met my parents once and knows my teenaged children well. They will not be able to attend. I want him to come with me. Should he accept or should he feel ashamed of himself if he declines?

A For whatever deep rooted reason(s), there are just some people who don't do events such as memorial services, funerals, or even weddings well--or at all. My husband doesn't like to go to weddings, so I've learned to go alone or not go at all. But gee, this is in memory of your father and three hundred miles isn't all that far away.

I'm afraid that this is one of those situations where you have to pick your battle. On the other hand, I don't want you to go alone. Can you take at least one of your children?

Look at it this way, if your boyfriend doesn't want to escort you to your father's memorial service, pressuring him to attend will make the occasion even more uncomfortable. Either he accepts your invitation with grace and steps up to the plate as your escort, or leave him home. Don't read more into it than exists. Focus on making this about you and your father and not about you and your boyfriend. I am sorry for your loss. I know you're not going to like this answer because you really do need your partner's support, but this might not be the time for your boyfriend to show his devotion to you.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Family Wake
Q My daughter's boyfriend of 7 months had an aunt who has just died. Having never met the boyfriend's family as of yet, we are curious as to whether we should send flowers or should we go to the wake?

A If your daughter is in a committed relationship with this fellow, it may be an opportunity for you to meet the family. Only you and your daughter can decide if it would be appropriate for you to try to connect with his family at this point in time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Father Dies: How Should She + Her Family Respond
Q My daughter who is 19 is dating a boy who is 23. His father passed away suddenly from a heart attack today. What is proper etiquette for her and us?

A As you know, as a mother, this is a great learning experience for your daughter about death, grieving, and the mourning process. Her beau is going to need a tremendous amount of support emotionally. This is a hugely maturing opportunity for your daughter. She has that separation of not being the child of the deceased, so she can be more objective and therefore more supportive.

The best advice to give her is to tell her that she should get her beau to talk about all the good things he remembers about his dad. He wants to talk about his dad, but when our parent dies - and we have nobody to talk to - we tend to fold in. Not good. If she has the patience and kindness to listen to let him talk about his dad, that is the greatest help she can be.

As to the funeral, she should attend and stay in the background so then he can see her. She should try to sit behind him with you at her side.

For you, since I don't know if you knew the man, it would be about if you knew the lad's father or not. How well you knew him, the closer you would be to the family. As to what you tell your daughter, say this, "The world is wonderful place, people die, but new people are born all the time."

We like hearing from you and many thanks for your moving question.

Didi Lorillard
Newport Manners


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Father's Funeral: What to Do When Your Boyfriend's Father dies
Q Dear Didi,

My boyfriend of five years lost his father on Thursday, the wake will be on Sunday and the funeral on Monday. The problem is that I had a large vacation planned with my parents and my friend from college, all of whom are pressuring me not to cancel. The trip includes a cruise so if I don't board the ship on Monday I might as well cancel the trip, which I would cancel if my friend was not attending. My boyfriend is so disappointed. His family is first generation and they have a protocol for these types of situations, of which I'm breaking the biggest rule. I am so torn up over this, I feel like he will never forgive me. If I do not attend, do I send a card to each sibling as well as his mother? Name and address withheld


A Dear Anonymous,

Yes, send them all cards. Go ahead with what could be an adventure of a lifetime. After all, you're young, aren't married -- or even engaged -- so take your trip in good conscience. The time when your boyfriend will really need you is after all the commotion and fanfare of his father's funeral has settled down and he is left with the reality that his father is dead. Then you can spend quality time with him asking him questions about his father and encouraging him to tell you about the good times they shared together. Later is when he'll need you most to be a good listener. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Former Partner's Daughter's Funeral
Q My boyfriend went with a lady for 15 years.. we have been dating for 3 years... her daughter passed away...I asked if he wanted me to attend the funeral with him - he snapped at me, saying that it was not my place...By the way, I did meet the young lady that passed once..! Am I wrong to be upset that he did not want me with him...or was he correct, that it was not my place...

A It is not about wrong or right. Guys mourn differently than we do. He feels a duty. Unfinished business. He wants to go alone to show his respect. Back off. Let him mourn and grieve in his way and let him take his time doing so. That doesn't mean you can't get him talking about his relationship with his former partner's daughter. Whether he or you like it or not, your boyfriend was a male role model for his former lady's daughter. You have to respect that.

The kindest, sweetest, most sensitive thing you can do is to let him handle this on his own. Be there for him as a good listener. Keep your opinions to yourself. Allow him to talk about the good memories he has of the daughter. Letting him talk about her is the kindest thing you can do for him in this situation--and letting him go alone to the funeral, if that's what he needs to do.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Friend's Funeral + His Former Wife
Q My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years. We both have 9-year-old boys. Just recently his friend Andrea from high school passed away suddenly from cancer. His ex wife, whom he's known since high school as well, was best friends with Andrea. Over their 10 year marriage he visited with Andrea, her husband and their 2 small kids. It has not yet been discussed but I wondered what the protocol was. Is is appropriate for them to go to the funeral together? Or should they drive separately?? And what if she needs support?? Should her boyfriend be there for her?? And is it inappropriate for me to go in support of my boyfriend???

I have no idea what funeral etiquette is!!?????.......??????

Thank you;)
Much love,
Ynez

A By your account, your boyfriend is with you now. Ask him what he wants you to do. If you never met the deceased, then you need not attend the funeral, unless he wants you to accompany him.

If you wish to go in support of your boyfriend, then ask, but tell him it is up to him. Let him have some space to process his friend's death without feeling that you're being insecure or needy for his attention.

So yes, it is appropriate for you to go in support of your boyfriend, if you make this all about your boyfriend and his needing space to grieve. It shouldn't be a test to see if he still has feelings for his former wife. I don't mean to sound mean, but funerals tap into people's deepest emotions.

Your boyfriend is the only one who know how he is feeling and what he needs in terms of space and conversation. Holdback, but let him know you're there for him when he's ready to talk. When he's ready, get him reminiscing about the good times and most of all the have him tell you the humorous stories of when they were young.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Mother
Q Is it in good taste to send flowers to a memorial service for an old boyfriend's mother? We went out for 6 years back in high school and college. We have since married others and have been married to others for almost 20 years.

A This is a gut feeling. Go with it. If his mum was kind and sweet to you, why would you not acknowledge her kindness?


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Mother's Memorial Service
Q Not too sure how to start this one. I am not sure of my relationship. He tells me he is my boyfriend. He is my ex-fiance. We have been seeing each other for 7 years and were engaged for 3 years. We split up for a few weeks and started seeing each other again.
His family thinks we are still engaged.
His mother died a few days ago, and I found out from his sister, not him, that the memorial is going to be Tuesday. I don't know if he just didn't think about inviting me or telling me when it is, or if he wasn't planning on my attending. (Just a side note-I do not think this relationship will last much longer, since I think he was trying to make him mother happy).

Should I ask him if he would like me to attend? If so, what would be the best way?

A Phone him to tell him you are sorry for his terrible loss. Tell him you were very fond of his mother and you want to know if he would like you to attend her memorial service. As memorial services are open to all who knew the deceased, you can go on your own whether you ask him or not.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Parents Didn't Send a Sympathy Card
Q My nineteen-year-old brother died unexpectedly a few months ago. My boyfriend of over one year flew home with me to attend to the services and be with me. He had never met my brother and neither had his family. I had met his family for dinner before, and last summer I spent a week at his parents' house, and thought that we had formed a positive relationship. The day that my boyfriend flew back to the west coast, his mother flew to be with him, as she knew how distressed he was. Other than their son's distress, their lives are going well, and there are no real stresses in their lives that would distract them. They also have an enormous extended family, so they have encountered death before. Despite the fact they they both have my phone number (my boyfriend often sends them pictures by phone) and my address (I live with their son), they did not send a sympathy card, call, or text me. I am deeply hurt by their lack of acknowledgment. I thought that these people might end up being my in-laws in the future and thought that we had a caring relationship, so this is particularly hurtful. His parents are coming here in a few weeks to visit, and I am nervous as they have offended me so deeply that I am not sure how it will feel to see them. Should I bring this up to them while they are here? My family received many beautiful cards from friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers, and they really touched me and made me feel supported. Lack of support from the people that I valued so much was surprising, and made me feel almost as though these neighbors whom I had met a few times were thinking of me more than these people who felt so important to me. The issue is putting a strain on my relationship, because he is very, very close to his parents. I feel ignored and feel that if they had time/money to book a last minute flight across the country, they would have the time to sign their names on a card and money to buy a stamp. Is it unreasonable for me to feel that they are in the wrong?

A It sounds like an oversight on their part. I don't think that you should take this personally. Look at the big picture here. Your boyfriend's parents may have different traditions about death than you do. Different cultures handle death differently. They may have felt that it would be intrusive to be part of your mourning process for a number of reasons. They had never met your brother. You are not married or engaged to their son.

Still that is no excuse. But they may just be clueless, as in out of sight, out of mind. They may not have thought to send you a note or card or even bother you with a phone call. I'm sure they'll say something to you about your brother when they come to visit. We all deal with death in our own way and in our own time. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Who knows, they may have sent you a card and the stamp fell off and it didn't have a return address. Or maybe they just didn't know they should contact you. If you love your boyfriend and in the past liked his parents, then give them the benefit of the doubt. I am sorry for your loss. It is a great tragedy when a sibling dies. Find a grieving group through your church and share memories of your brother with others going through the mourning process. Being part of a grieving group will give you the strength to move on and be even more empathetic and compassionate.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Sister: What to Say at Death of Their Father
Q I have been with my boyfriend for two years. We dated originally 18 years ago when we did actually go on holiday with his father who died on Friday last week, (the holiday included going to see one of his daughters, my boyfriend's sister). My boyfriend hadn't seen his father for several years and has only recently begun to build relationships back with his three sisters, one more so, although I don't have much to do with it. He has asked me to go to the funeral with him which is Monday. Should I send a sympathy card from me to each of his sisters? Something nice to say on the day...not sure what's appropriate...his father has been remarried several times so boyfriend's mother isn't a concern.

A It would be lovely to send your boyfriend's sisters each a sympathy card. Add a sentence or two of your own before signing your name. Funerals are often a time for repairing relationships, so take advantage of the opportunity. The problem is if you don't send one to each of them, the one left out may wonder why you didn't send her one. When you see the sisters in person say, "I'm sorry for your loss. I remember well the wonderful time we had with your father eighteen years ago. Again, I am truly sorry for your loss." Bringing up the trip reminds them that you've known their father for a long time.

Depending on your faith, many people close their sympathy cards with these words, "You are in my prayers and heart, ........" For some people that would be too mushy, but "All my best wishes," works just as well.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Boyfriend's Son Died + Girlfriend Wants to Know Her Role
Q Attending my boyfriend's son's funeral. What is the etiquette for where I sit in relation to my boyfriend's ex-wife, etc?


A At most funerals a member of the clergy meets with close family members an hour before the funeral to discuss the processional, seating, the recessional, the burial and, perhaps, the receiving line. If you're engaged, or in a committed relationship and are living together and are considered your boyfriend's partner, then you would accompany him, but hold back a bit. This is his family not yours, yet. You don't want to be pushy, but you want to show your respect and support to your husband's family.

Your husband's former wife and her family may well take charge of the funeral and burial plans, especially if your boyfriend didn't have custody. Therefore, you take your instructions from your boyfriend's former wife or her representative, usually either her husband or her sibling. If you attend the meeting prior to the service, you will be told to sit with your boyfriend in the first pew on the right hand side facing the altar. My guess is that even if you are invited to sit with your boyfriend, you won't be asked to stand in the receiving line, so hang back and don't look as if you are expecting to be part of the receiving line. Likewise, if you have not been invited to sit in the front row with your boyfriend, do the right thing and tell your boyfriend that you would feel more comfortable sitting in back of him, if he needs to sit with his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and their spouses.

Hanging back, waiting for your cues is the sensitive course of behavior. This funeral is all about your boyfriend's deceased son; it has nothing to do with your relationship with your boyfriend, so do not use this occasion as a test of his love and your relationship. He is in deep mourning and needs you to be the "good wife," unobtrusive and understanding. Be there for him, but don't make demands.

Even if you are not in the reception line, you can be friendly. Introduce yourself to those that don't know you, by stating your name and your role: "John's friend," "John's partner," "John's fiancee." Pick how you will define yourself and don't leave people having to ask. Chances are you won't have to say who you are and people will either know, or not think to ask. It goes without saying that you would never gossip or say anything unkind about your boyfriend's former wife or members of her family.

Since I don't know the details of whether the former wife remarried and has a supportive husband or whether you have met her before or how well you know her, this is a rather general answer. It may be decided that if the boy's mother doesn't have other support, your boyfriend will have to step up to the plate and escort her because she cannot bury their child alone.

Of course, if you have had long conversations with the former wife, express your shared feelings of loss to her when you go through the receiving line by saying something such as,"I am deeply sorry for your loss. John, Jr., will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him." Then say, "If there is anything I can do, please, don't hesitate to call me."

If you are invited to the reception and/or burial, again, hang back, be friendly, but not pushy. Keep your eye on your boyfriend to make sure he isn't stuck in some tedious conversation from which you could easily spring him. Be sensitive, be kind, care about the whole family, and you will gain both families' respect.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Brother Hasn't Informed His Family of Wife's Death
Q We really don't know what to do. Last week, our brother's wife of more than 30 years passed away. Unfortunately, the way we discovered this was through a posting on Facebook. Our brother never called us. We have been a fairly close family, celebrating holidays together, as well as sharing all celebrations and sadness. We are now at a loss as to how to respond. Apparently, there will be no services. Our brother is with his children and his wife's relatives, but we are excluded, leaving us dumbfounded and a bit insulted. Can you please advise us the best reaction? Obviously, time if of the essence for this sad situation.

Thank you.

A It sounds as though your brother is in shock and is having a difficult time. Understandably, he might not be able to deal with the reality of his wife's death. Pick up the phone and call him. Just say that you are deeply sorry by the sad news about Harriet (insert his wife's name) and you want to know what you can do to assist him at this time.

It seems as though your brother's wife's family is handling everything, so, if you cannot get through to your brother, call the person you think he is closest to, either one of his children or your wife's sister or brother, to say that the family wants to know how they can help.

Please, don't take this as a personal sleight. Shock is a terrible thing. We all handle death in our own way; apparently your brother is unable to reach out to you personally, which is why I am encouraging you to call him right away.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Brother Wants His Name Added to Condolence Card
Q My cousin just died, and when I called to tell my (adult) brother, also his cousin, he immediately asked me to add his name to the card I send (I guess he assumed I was going to send a card). Anyway, is this appropriate? I think he should send his own card, and not piggyback off of me. Am I being unreasonable about this?

A Just send your own card. Then call your adult brother and tell him, "Whoops, just so you know, I sent the card, but I neglected to add your name." Since you didn't cover for him, he will now have to fend for himself and send his own condolence card.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Business: Addressing Deceased Spouse
Q We have clients who receive our mail often. The husband has just passed. Do we address to the wife only? Or keep both names for an amount of time?

A It's disturbing for a widow (or widower) to receive mail with her husband's name on it. Be gentle and update your mailing list. Address to the wife only.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Business: Boss Makes Unreasonable Demand
Q My boss's father passed away suddenly and he sent out information about the services and where to send donations to the staff. The memorial service is on a Saturday 4 1/2 hours away. We have a very small staff and I am pretty sure that most of the people I work with plan to go. I know it sounds selfish but I really don't want to give up my Saturday to drive 4 hours each way and sit in a church for two hours. I have asked around and most of my friends think that going is asking a lot but other friends think I should go because it would look bad if the majority of my co-workers went and I didn't. I have asked them if they need anything and plan on sending a card and a donation. Do you think I still need to attend the memorial service?

A It can make you feel hypocritical to attend the funeral of someone that you do not know. It is not appropriate for your boss to pressure you into giving up your personal time and money. A day of your weekend to travel nine hours to attend his father's funeral is asking too much of his staff for a stranger. You need not kowtow to your boss's unreasonable demands.

That said. As long as you send a small check in memory of the your boss's father and send your boss a sympathy card to his house, you have done your due diligence. If he asks why you didn't attend his father's funeral, just that say you had a prior commitment. You need not elaborate. What you do during your personal time is none of his business. Your commitment could be as simple as doing your Saturday laundry and grocery shopping and taking a yoga class. You need not over-apologize or explain.

In your sympathy card, write one or two personal lines saying such as this, "I am sorry for your terrible sorry and that I did not know your father." You are not the person in mourning.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Business: Co-workers Making Contributions
Q Hi... my co-worker's father passed away today. Please help me how to write an announcement about the death and to those who are willing to give donations.

A You would post the announcement on the bulletin board and send an e-mail to all your coworkers stating that your fellow co-worker's father had died and suggest that anyone wishing to be included in the donation should see you for details. You can state, say, a ten dollar donation, if you wish and those who want to give more will. You would also list the time and place of the calling hours and funeral.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Business: Employee Dealing With Boss's Death
Q Dear Didi,
Recently my father passed away and we just had the Memorial Service this past weekend. Dad had started a company and both my brother and I have been operating and managing it for the last 5 or so years. Dad's health had kept him away from the company despite his being a very significant part of the 'technical' side of things since day one. Many employees came to the service and the family gathering after to say hello, etc. One employee was visibly absent, the one who was hired by my Dad in the Technical department and took over for him when he became ill. He reports to me and has the most technical knowledge of anyone in our company, combined with customer exposure. While he sent a nice food care package within the week after Dad passed, of which I verbally said thanks and this week am prepared to write a handwritten note as well, I was surprised that he did not show up when other fellow employees of lesser company stature and ex employees did?

Other employees today asked me if he came later, called or anything. My office manager specifically handed each of the employees last week with details about the service time and location, which casually they should have seen in the obit 2-3 weeks earlier let alone other internal comments.

In a quandary as the fellow employees are surprised and this may be leading up to a serious change for both parties.

The Boss

A First off, some people just don't do funerals. They just don't. The fact that he sent a gift basket was the best he could do. Cut the employee some slack about this and move on. In his own way and in his own time, he will most likely talk to you or your mother about your father. This might be a big step for him, so pick up on it and encourage him to talk about your dad. You never know how other people's past experience with death affected them. That said, it might take some time.

There are adults who cannot deal with death, especially when it's the death of someone they had worked with closely and with whom they spent a great deal of time. If your dad was his mentor, then he might be grieving deeply. When he starts coming through the mourning process, he'll be more apt to talk to you about your dad. At that point, try to get him to share stories about him, which will, no doubt, create ever lasting memories for you and your mother. That might be the best he can do, but for those stories, you will be eternally grateful. I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of a parent with all that it entails.

Lastly, when you say "serious change for both parties," I'm not sure to what you're referring.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Business: Getting Out of Going to the Boss's Father's Funeral
Q Dear Didi,

My boss's father passed away suddenly and he sent out information to the staff about the services and where to send donations. The memorial service is on a Saturday 4 1/2 hours away. We have a very small staff and I am pretty sure that most of the people I work with plan to go. I know it sounds selfish but I really don't want to give up my Saturday to drive 4 1/2 hours each way and sit in a church for two hours. I have asked around and most of my friends think that going is asking a lot but other friends think I should go because it would look bad if the majority of my co-workers went and I didn't.

I have asked my boss if they need anything and plan on sending a card and a donation. Do you think I still have to attend the memorial service? A.B., Winston-Salem, NC

A Dear A.B.,

It can make you feel hypocritical to attend the funeral of someone that you do not know. It is not appropriate for your boss to pressure you into giving up your personal time and money. A day of your weekend to travel nine hours to attend his father's funeral is asking too much of his staff for someone they didn't know. You need not kowtow to your boss's unreasonable demands.

That said. As long as you send a small donation in memory of your boss's father and mail your boss a sympathy card to his house, you have done your due diligence. If he asks why you didn't attend his father's funeral, just say that you had a prior commitment. You need not elaborate. What you do during your personal time is none of his business. Your commitment could be as simple as doing your Saturday laundry, grocery shopping and taking a yoga class. You need not over-apologize or explain.

In your sympathy/condolence card, write one or two personal lines saying something such as this, "I am deeply sorry for your terrible loss and that I did not have the chance to meet your father." You are not the person in mourning and you don't have to pretend to be. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Card
Q Hi Didi~
Could you please advise on the appropriate message to enclose with check for the bereaved family?
A million thank-you's for your immediate response...
Cristina















A Please know that your whole family is in our hearts and in our prayers, The Nelsons


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Card With Flowers
Q What is appropriate to say on the card that is sent along with the flowers for a dear friends funeral?...

A "With love always," and then your name. Make it simple and from the heart. It is basically to identify to the family the name of the person who sent the flowers, so do put your full name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Cards to Family Members
Q A very dear friend of mine lost her 21-year-old son yesterday. He was riding a motorcycle and was hit by an SUV. He died within 20 minutes. She never got the chance to tell him I love you one more time or to even say goodbye. It was a hit and run. The driver, a 24-year-old woman, who was drunk, was found and arrested about 3 hours later. My friend posted her son's death on Facebook and I called her immediately. I bought a sympathy card for her and one for her surviving son who used to play football with my youngest son; they are both 18. When signing the cards, do I sign my name and all of my children's names? That somehow seems cold to include all of their names but it also seems cold not to do so. Please let me know your thoughts asap.

Thank you,
Angie

A I gather you are not including your children's father's name on the card. In that case, you can sign it: My children join me in saying how deeply sorry we are for your tragic loss, Annie. That way you are not only directing your thoughts to her, but expressing the feelings of your family as well.

Or if that's not the case, you can say: Our children join us in saying that you and your son (use the surviving son's first name) are in our hearts and our prayers, we are deeply sorry for your loss, Annie and George

Since I couldn't figure out if your dear friend was married or not, I didn't include the surviving son, or his dad. You can buy your son a card to send to the surveying son. As you can well imagine, although cards show good intentions, they don't mean very much to your dear friend or her son at this point in time. But it is an excellent way of showing your son how to respond to the death of a peer. Your son must be upset, too. What would be really meaningful would be to followup your card with another phone call and then another card. My point is this, continue to make contact. Just say, "How are you doing?" and let her cry. Eventually, she won't cry so much, but she'll always remember that you cared about how she was doing.

Sadly, we often forget that after the burial and all the flowers in the vases have been thrown out, the mother and her son are left mourning. Try inviting the mother and her surviving son for dinner one night. That's the kind of gesture that really helps--the follow-up. Be consistent with your calls and invitations to get them out of the house to spend time with others. That's what a good friend does. Go to lunch with her on your own, go shopping, to a gallery, museum exhibition, or movie, or play tennis or take walks. Let her talk and don't be afraid to bring up her son. If your son remembers anything special, sweet, funny, or brilliant about her son, tell your dear friend what your son told you. She is probably longing to hear stories about him and to have someone she can talk to about him, especially if she is a single mom.

Also, remember that it will take anywhere between three and four months for the mother and surviving son to grasp fully their horrendous loss. It will take a good year for them to lay the deceased son/brother to rest in peace in their hearts. There will always be the self-recrimination of Why didn't I do this or that? Continue to be a good friend and support your friend for as long as it takes and don't be afraid to bring up the deceased son's name in conversation because she will always be longing to talk about him.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Cash Gifts to Survivors
Q When someone dies, is it appropriate to give the survivors a cash gift?

A It would depend upon your relationship to the deceased and the survivors and the financial situation of the survivors. If you know that the survivors have incurred debt from the deceased, they will surely be grateful for your help. If there is a mutual friend you can ask for advice, he might have a better take on the situation. Often friends will offer to pay for a specific thing, for instance the cremation or the cost of the bartender at the reception.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Cash Gifts: Unsolicited
Q Our brother-in-law just passed away. One of our friends left a condolence card with a $100 bill telling us to use for traveling and food expenses. We appreciate her kindness but feel we should return it to her. How do we handle this?

A Perhaps instead of sending flowers, the friend thought the money could be put to better use by the family. Put the $100 toward the funeral expenses and send her a thank-you note telling her you did just that. Alternatively, give the $100 to your brother-in-law's favorite charity in his memory, but in the friend's name. That way the charity will send her a tax deduction for the contribution.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Charitable Donations
Q What polite and correct way to ask for a charitable donation at a funeral rather than flowers?

A You would say, "In lieu of flowers a charitable donation can be made to......"


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Charitable Gifts In Memory
Q My relative passed away and my sister and I would like to send a donation to her charity as requested in her obituary. Do we send it to the charity directly or do we include it in the card? If we send it to the charity directly. do we mention it in the card or is that not polite to say we made a donation and do we say what amount? help..

A The check is made out to and sent directly to the charity along with a short note giving your names and addresses. You will receive a thank-you note acknowledging your gift from the charity as well as a receipt for tax purposes, which is why you and your sister might want to send separate checks. The charity then sends a list of all donations and the names of the donors to the family, who will then send you their own acknowledgment(s).


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Children of the Deceased: Teacher's Response to Student's Loss
Q Do you attend a funeral for a parent of students you teach (I am an art teacher) if you did not know the parent? There is a faculty posting for the service and I would like to show support to the children that came through my classroom. Also, is it appropriate to give or send a sweet note/care package to the students?

A This would be all about your student. Not about the parent you didn't know. The bereft child needs to look around and see that there are still people in his world that are alive and who will make eye contact with him/her. The more familiar faces the student recognizes at the service, the more comfortable he'll feel. Especially if he/she has to get up and say something or stand in a receiving line.

It would be best not to take anything to give him/her to the service because then it will have to be carried around and perhaps lost, but sending a sympathy card to the house is always a thoughtful gesture. Children, especially, feel neglected as well as abandoned when a parent dies. That said, be cautious because you wouldn't send a "sweet note/care package" to a child older than eight for fear that it could be misinterpreted.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Children's Caregiver's Role
Q Dear Didi,
I have been a nanny for a family for seven years taking care of the young daughter whom I have cared for this long. In the last eight months the lady of the house's mother had been diagnosed with severe dementia and going downhill Therefore I also took on the role as a caregiver for her mother to help out her dad. She was recently put into a care facility and then past away a week after she had been there. The family chose to go the cremation route, but are having a Catholic Church service for her. I am not Catholic but because I know this family well should I attend this service or should I not go? Mostly family and relatives will be attending. Please help. Jenn

A You would be attending in support of the children you have cared for the last seven years. During a family death, children are comforted by the presence of a familiar support system. If you're there when the child skin's her knee, being there at her grandmother's service would be helpful. Catholic church services are notoriously short. Then you would attend the reception afterwards and be of help in watching over the child from a distance, as the parents may be distracted.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Christmas Cards: After Death of In-Law's Father
Q I always send Christmas cards to my daughter-in-law's family (parents and siblings). They just lost their father suddenly at the end of August 2013. What is the etiquette on sending them Christmas cards this year?

A Send Christmas cards just as you did before. Christmas cards are supposed to be merry, so you wouldn't want to write anything sad in a Christmas card. Carry on as usual. You want to assume that they are all doing fine and dealing with the father's death in a normal and healthy way.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Christmas Cards: As Condolence Message
Q Hi!
I have a co-worker whose wife passed away about 5 months ago quite suddenly. I want to write something personal in his Christmas card, but don't know what. I only met his wife a handful of times, and while she seemed like a lovely woman, I didn't know her very well. I don't want it to be "mushy", but something more than "Merry Christmas". Any thoughts?

A Because Christmas cards are supposed to be Merry, one usually doesn't use one as a condolence card. You want to be cheerful by saying something such as, "Best wishes for a joyful New Year."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Christmas Cards: Sending Cards After Spouse's Death
Q My mother passed away last April. My father wants to know if he is still supposed to send Christmas cards to everyone. He thought he heard (when he was a kid) that you don't have to when one spouse dies. I told him I don't know, times may have changed.

A It sounds as though your father isn't ready to send Christmas cards so soon after your mother's death. Tell him to wait until next year to see how he feels. Have him keep a list of names, with their addresses, of those who send him cards this year and he can revisit that list next December to see how he feels about sending them. Or have him store the cards with their envelopes (for the return addresses) in a manila envelope so he knows whom to send cards to next Christmas. Nobody will expect your father to send cards so soon after his wife's death. I am sorry for your loss and that you had to go through the death of your mother.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Christmas Cards: To Friends of the Deceased
Q My father died this spring. I'd like to send Christmas cards to the people that he usually exchanges cards with. Some of the people on his list may not know of his death.

I found a few boxes of Christmas cards with his name printed on the inside of the card. Would it be appropriate for me to insert a phrase in the card like "With fond memories of your friend and my father, " before his printed name and then sign my name underneath?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Richard Mahan

A You're not going to like my answer. Personally, I would think a Christmas card from someone who is deceased weird, if not creepy. Especially if was the same Christmas card he had sent me when he was alive. I'm sorry for your loss. Christmas cards are supposed to be merry, not maudlin.

Following the death of the deceased, an acknowledgement would have been sent out to thank all those who had expressed sympathy in one way or another. For those who still don't know, only send a Christmas card of your own to those who sent your father a Christmas card. On the card add a short note to say you're sure your father would have wanted them to be notified and that you were remiss in not contacted him/her sooner.

That's the best you can do.

We like hearing from you

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com





Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Codes of Conduct: Acknowledging Death
Q My father passed away a week ago. My husband and I and my brother traveled out-of-state to his funeral. I stayed in touch with my daughter and son by phone during our trip. Even though friends and family members knew of his passing, I only received one sympathy card from a distant Aunt, my father's sister-in-law whom I have not stayed in touch with over the years.

I feel as though I should have received some acknowledgment from other family members especially my son-in-law (daughter's husband) and daughter-in-law (son's wife) during this time. They've had many happy memories of times spent together over the years when my father would visit all of us frequently here in Calif. When my mother passed in 1984, I received quite a lot of sympathy cards from family and friends.

I've even posted a few memories and pictures on Facebook of when my father passed; I had hoped I would receive a note of condolence from them but I haven't. Is it not expected for them to do this? I'm a little hurt by their not acknowledging his passing.

A Please, don't take this as a personal slight. Friends and family have lots of time to let you know in their own way that they are sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your father. Please, don't feel hurt because they will acknowledge your father's death, if you give them time. Young people aren't as tuned into death and dying as the older generation. You have to understand that they're a bit clueless. I get messages like yours every day from people who can't understand why people aren't contacting them. These tardy sympathizers know that they have time and that there is no time table for expressing sympathy.

In their own way and in their own time, they will express their condolences. I am sorry for your loss. It is very difficult to go through the death of a parent. Try talking to them about your father and help them to remember the good times they had with him. Don't be afraid to talk about him with them, because they are grieving, too.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Codes of Conduct: When Paretns Are Divorced: Accompanying Children as Support
Q Hello,

My soon to be ex sister-in-law mom's is dying. In support of their aunt, uncle, cousins and their family, I would like my children to attend the funeral (12 yrs &16 yrs). In case my ex doesn't attend, should I bring them and attend myself?
Thank you

A Your children shouldn't have to attend without a parent for support. Yes, you should accompany your children to their aunt's funeral. If you were friendly with their aunt, then you would attend to mourn yourself.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Comforting Parent + Aunt When Grandmother Dies
Q Does one send a sympathy card to their mother and aunt when their mother, one's grandmother, has passed away?

A You are in mourning as well. I'm sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your grandmother. Any words of comfort you can bring to your mother and aunt either in person, over the phone, or handwritten, would be deeply appreciated.

Try to recall memories of your grandmother that they would appreciate hearing. Tell them what you learned from her, what you loved about her, and that you will miss her. Tell them you are grateful for having had her in your life. They will probably think of her every day, but in their own way and in their own time they will get through their mourning period with your help.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence Cards
Q Dear Didi,

If you have a friend who has lost his father, and you do not know the father's spouse, do you send the condolence gift to the friend or the deceased's spouse? J.C., West Warwick


A Dear J.C.,

Look up the obituary of your friend's father online and/or in your local newspaper to find out where gifts are to be sent. As the son is the blood relative of the deceased, it wouldn't be wrong to send him a gift in memory of his father, if gifts haven't been designated otherwise. When the obituary doesn't give that information, then contact the funeral home to find out how gifts are being handled. The funeral home acts as the clearing house for such matters. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence Cards: Addressing a Doctor and Her Husband
Q I am sending a sympathy card to a couple where the husband is a lawyer and the wife is a medical doctor. How do I address that on the envelope?

A Socially, you would address the envelope to Mr. and Mrs. John Ross Kelley. If either of the couple is a business colleague, then use Dr. Janet Kelley and John Kelley, Esq.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence Cards: What to Say: Wife Committed Suicide
Q How do you write a card to your boss who's grieving about his wife's suicide??? What's the proper way?

A There is no proper way. "I am sorry for your tragic loss" comes to the point mighty fast. You only need to write a couple of heartfelt sentences from the heart before signing your name. Stay away from writing, "She is in a better place" or "She is at peace now," because not everyone believes that. It is best to stick to the facts and not write about God, blessings, or predicting how he might feel or how ill she may have been. Less words are more in a situation such as this.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence Cards: When the Deceased Died Six Months Earler
Q I had a dream the other night about my friend whom I haven't seen in 25 years. It prompted me to look her up online and what I found was that her daughter died 6 months ago. Should I not do anything or would it be okay if I send a card and note??????????????

A It is never too late to express your sympathy for the death of a child or spouse/partner. There is nothing worse than the loss of a child. By all means, send a condolence card or a heartfelt note to your friend. When sending a card, be sure to personalize the message with a sentence or two of your own before signing your name.

No doubt your friend thinks about this child every day even months after the support from family and friends has subsided. Your friend is still in deep mourning and may need sympathy now more than ever. Write what you wrote to me, "You were in a dream I had recently and I was reminded that we hadn't been in touch for a very long time, then I learned about your daughter, Cynthia. I am deeply sorry for your loss and for all the pain you've been enduring." Or a similar sentiment. I find that survivors get angry when you tiptoe around the words death and died and actually find it more helpful when the friend is authentic and tells it as it is. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence Comfort + Memorial Gifts
Q Condolences such a puzzle. Other than cards and donations to named charities, any suggestions about more personal, more comforting approaches? Katy

A If the person just died, then take comfort food such as baked goods that could include cookies, pound cake, coffee cake, lemon squares, muffins, or lasagna, casserole, or stew to the house for the family to eat at their leisure. Offer to run errands or give elderly relatives and friends a ride to and from the funeral. Even taking the family dog for a run would be helpful during the period before and just after the funeral.

My personal favorite is giving a tree (a sapling) in the name of the deceased or sponsoring a park bench dedicated to the deceased. Parks and nature preserves usually have creative ideas for giving in memory of nature lovers. Likewise animal shelters, if the deceased was an animal lover.

The most personal comfort is the follow up - after the relatives and close friends have retreated back to their own lives - by simply calling the person and taking them for coffee or lunch and letting them talk. Just knowing that someone is listening to how they're feeling is hugely comforting.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence Gift to Co-worker's Children
Q We have a co-worker whose ex-husband passed very unexpectedly. Our co-worker has 2 children by the ex-husband - one child seems, at the moment, relieved that his father is no longer in the picture, the other is a special needs child who adored her father notwithstanding his failure to visit her. We in the office would like to extend condolences to the children, and perhaps do something for them, but we don't know how to phrase the condolences nor do we know what we can do. Please advise.

A Since the two children are so different, take a look at their needs. The children's ages are very important. If they are younger than teenagers, you could find an activity they would like to join that needs to be paid for and do that. I would say send them to Disneyland, but if the older child doesn't like being stuck with the younger one, that might not work. Treat them as individuals. Maybe the special needs child would appreciate taking a pottery, music, dance or theater class. The older child might thrive in a basketball, soccer, or baseball Saturday morning camp; chess or guitar lessons; or a computer class.

Ask the mother, your co-worker. Say her colleagues are looking to treat her children to specific activities. Alternatively, you could pay for her children to plant a tree or install a park bench in their neighborhood park in his memory. Find a project they take ownership of in memory of their dad.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence Letter Addressed to Relative
Q The father of one of my colleague's at work died. I want to send a note. Do I address the envelope and salutation to just my work colleague? Do I include his wife and daughter in my note (neither of whom I've met)?

A You would address the envelope and salutation to the blood relative. In closing, you could include mention of "your family" or if you know the names of his wife and child, use their first names. You wouldn't say "wife and daughter." For instance: My deepest sympathy to you your family, (your name).


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolence to Former Mother-In-Law
Q I just found out that my ex-husband's grandfather died 4 months ago. My ex and I are both remarried now. I want to send condolences to my ex-mother-in-law. I have not had any kind of relationship with them in 4 years; I was apart of their family for 10 years and have great memories of his grandfather. I want my ex-mother-in-law to know that I just found out and do not want her to think I'm just not thinking of them. She helped me so much when my mother died when I was 20...
Thanks

A The most authentic thing to do would be to write a heartfelt note telling your former mother-in-law you just found out and that you wanted to let her know how sorry you are for her loss. Then thank her for all the support she gave to you over the years adding that you will never forget her generosity. Make it short and sincere. Just let her know that you just found out and she has your deepest sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences to Estranged Old Friends?
Q Dear Didi,

I was friends with a family for many years until we had a falling out a couple of years ago and have not spoken since. My husband and I have just learned of the husband's father's passing, and we would like to send flowers to the "ex" friends, so to speak, because we know the relationship they had with the father was a sad one. Would this be appropriate? C.S., Fairhaven, MA


A Dear C.S.,

Go with your gut feeling. By sending flowers you are opening the door to further communication with your former friends. Because sending expensive flowers could be perceived as a move toward rekindling the friendship and making a rapprochement. Whereas, if you send a simple condolence card with just your names, it would be less attention grabbing. Flowers are a symbol of love. A card is a formality. The former friends don't necessarily have to acknowledge a card from a former friend, but to have accepted flowers may make them feel they have to respond with a thank-you note or phone call. Are you ready for that? ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: Addressing: Friend Who Kept Her Maiden Name
Q Hello,

I am wondering how to address a sympathy card to a friend who just lost her father.

My friend is married and has kept her maiden name. Her husband uses his name and their children use both names hyphenated.

Thank you for your help.
Joan



A You would address the envelope to your friend by the name she uses. The sympathy card is sent to the blood relative. In closing you can send your best wishes or "love to George and your children." But you would not address the envelope to the husband and her children, because she is your friend and you're not related to them.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
Newport Manners


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: Addressing: Including Partner's Name
Q Should you include a girlfriend's name on a sympathy acknowledgement card or just the family?

ex the family of John Smith and Barbara Jones

A Usually a card of sympathy is addressed to the blood relative or spouse/partner. If the girlfriend signed the sympathy card, then you would address it to her as well. If you're asking, would you include her name in the wording of the acknowledgement card, it would depend how long they had been together and if they cohabited. Another words if they lived together and he died, she would be considered his partner.

Another way to do this would be to use:

The family and friends of John Smith

By including the word 'friends,' you included all those close friends who are mourning John Smith. Which is a sweet thing to do.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: Better Late Than Never
Q Hi Didi,
In September an old friend and I had a falling out (long story) and I haven't spoken to her since then but just recently I just found out that her father past away in November. Being that it is the end of March, is it too late to send a sympathy card? Even though we had a falling out, I know her father meant so much to her and felt bad for that she lost her father so soon. Not sure if she would want a card from me or not and even if she did, is it too late and what should I write if i do send her one? Michelle

A Michelle, it is not too late to send a sympathy card. Just add a few lines of your own. Say, "I'm so sorry for your loss, I know how much you must be missing your father. I would have written you sooner, but I only recently heard about your loss". As they say, better late than never. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: Better Late Than Never
Q Dear Didi,

I am on the Board of an Home Owners Association. A neighbor's dad passed almost two months ago. He was a resident in our subdivision. We just heard about his death. Is it too late to send a card, flowers, etc.? W.L., Needham, MA


A Dear W.L.,

It is never too late to send a condolence card. Better late than never. Although you might not want to send one a year after the death saying you just found out. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: Co-worker
Q One of my co-worker's had a death in her family - her brother. I am not close to her and was unable to attend the funeral since I take care of my mother on the weekends. In sending a card, do I address it to Mr and Mrs or Just Mrs. since it was her brother?

A Customarily, you send the card to the spouse or blood relative. In closing, you can add a personal note before signing your name that sends best wishes to her and her husband, using his name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: Infedelity: Accepting Money From Former LoveC
Q Dear Didi,
My father-in-law passed away and my wife's ex-lover sent her mom $1000 with a card. In turn, my wife, her sisters, and my mother-in-law made a decision not to tell me. I feel betrayed by this action and have concerns as to whom I can trust. J.P., Boston

A Dear J.P.,
This isn't the first time your wife betrayed you. In order to survive, sound marriages need full disclosure. Your wife should have told you that her former lover sent a check and a card. If there is need in order to cover the cost of your wife's father's funeral, the money could certainly be used for that purpose. This is a question of ethics as much as etiquette. In my opinion, if the financial help isn't needed, your wife's mother should return the check with a short thank-you note. In other words, your wife shouldn't use the check to buy herself a new outfit, shoes, and handbag.

As to the behavior of the mother and sisters, they betrayed you as well by not encouraging your wife to tell you about it. The big question is this. What else isn't your wife telling you? ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: Sending a Card to an Old Girlfriend
Q This past week a former girlfriend from over 20 years ago lost her husband. We dated for three full years while in High School and we parted on fairly decent terms when we went to college. We both married others and have our own children. While we are not best of friends and rarely see each other, I do have sincere sympathy for her loss. My wife is aware of the serious relationship I had with this girl many years ago, but we've been happily married for these many years.

All that said, is it appropriate for me to send a card of sympathy to this woman and her children? If so, do I sign my name only, include my wife's name, or just include my family's last name?

I do not think I would offend her or her family by sending her a card, but I don't know if it is "etiquettely" appropriate. Thank you so much.

A Sending a condolence card is always appropriate. If your wife has never met her, she doesn't sign the card. However, you can always include a line on the card that says something such as this: Emily joins me in sending you and your family our deepest sympathy, John.

Cards and handwritten notes of sympathy are always appreciated.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: When Your Good Friend's Father Dies + His Mom Doesn't Like You
Q My good friend's dad died but his mom hates me because of a petty incident. I would like to pay my respects, but my friend is keeping to himself because of his mom. What should I do?

A Send your friend a sympathy card. Add a line saying you are sorry for his loss and you hope he and his mother are O.K. Retell a good memory of his father, if you can. Should you go to the funeral, show your respect by sitting toward the back and do not approach his mother after the service. If he seeks you out, keep it short. Ask if there is anything you can do to help and to call you if he thinks of anything. Be sweet by showing your support. It would be best not to go to the reception unless he urges you to come.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Condolences: When Your Sister Dies
Q My sister has just died. Should I send a Sympathy card to my brother-in-law and my niece?

A I am so very sorry for your terrible loss. Go with your gut feeling. If you feel you need to express your condolences to your brother-in-law and his daughter, your niece, by all means do so. Add a couple of personal lines of your own to remind them of how truly special you think your sister was.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Connecting with Distant Relatives + Friends Who Are Getting Old
Q Didi, thank God someone like you can help a mutt like me....I'm 65 yrs. old and now I've got older friends sick and going to pass on and I've got a brother-in-law as well as very elderly parents that are sickly and right now if any of them die, because of lack of money and distance away from these people approx 1600 miles because I am in Texas and these people live in Calif. and New Jersey....what do I do, call them and tell them and their spouses that I can't make it or what????????

A Since you live so far away, you wouldn't be expected to incur expenses to visit them while they are ill or attend their funeral. That doesn't excuse you from not keeping up. Email them or telephone them periodically. When winding up a phone call, say you'll call again next month (or next week) because they will want something to look forward to having happen. Keep the phone call short unless you feel the person is lonely and needs to talk. Try to get the name and number of the person they are the most closely connected to so that you have someone to contact should the person be unable to reply to your calls or emails.

Then when the person dies, you can find out from your contact where to send flowers or to which charity you can send a donation in the deceased's name in lieu of sending flowers.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Consoling the Deceased's Survivors
Q Hello, my ex-husband committed suicide this year 01/2013. We have to two kids together. Well my question is about my ex-mother-in-law's birthday today. And I don't know what to say to her. Even though it's not a so happy birthday for her, I'm at lost with words to say to her. Can you please help me put something together that's comforting for her to hear. Thank you

A I am sorry for your and your children's loss. Call your former mother-in-law to say you were thinking of her on her birthday and what a full life she has had. Talk about her grandchildren. Then say something such as, "Jack (use his name), would be so proud of them." Bring your former husband's name up in a positive way and then wait for her to talk about him herself.

Often survivors want to talk about the deceased but they are afraid of being tiresome to the listener. Show that you are up to talking about him. Encourage her by retelling your favorite memory of him. It might be difficult, but at some point try to say, "Your son loved you very much." Then let her do the talking. She may not want to talk, but at least you tried. Be sensitive as to when to say good-bye. The biggest mistake we make is not talking about the deceased, because reminiscing helps us to heal. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Contribution Use
Q Didi, my father died. We had the funeral. My two brothers are the "executors" of the estate. My friend came to the visitation, left a card, and enclosed a check for $20.00. The check was made out to me and my family.

My brothers said the money was to be put in the "pot". So they made me pay them $20.00 and then I could cash the check made out to me.

I don't know the proper etiquette. Can you give me your thoughts? How I feel is that this person gave my family $20 so we can use it to get our minds off "things".
I am open to the correct answer.

A You are not going to like my answer, but the check was intended to be put towards burial costs and any other expenses that incurred due to your dad's death. You certainly do have the right to be reimbursed for any output of expenses by your brothers. Show the receipt and they should in all fairness reimburse you. Even if you bought food for the house or paid for gas to drive around relatives in your own car, you should be reimbursed.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Controlling the Numbers at the Reception: When It Goes from a Small Lunch to A Reception
Q My father just passed away, and he has many, many cousins whom I have never met, and he knew, but not well. We are of course inviting everyone to the funeral. We are also arranging a lunch at a restaurant after the funeral, and we were going to invite immediate family only. My aunt has been going around inviting everyone to the reception, including all the cousins, and the number of people who are now on the list for attending this reception is now longer than the number of people who attended my wedding! The idea of being in a room full of people I don't know and having to talk with them, and having them feel sorry for me fills me with dread. I want to call the whole thing off and just invite my immediate family (12-15 people). I feel as though it is not right for my aunt to be inviting people, also because she is not paying for the event, which will cost about $40 per person. I don't even think this is what my father would have wanted. Can I ask my aunt to un-invite all these cousins and just have a small family gathering instead?

A Certainly this has gotten out of hand. You have to understand that some people really do think that a funeral is a major social event. As one friend of mine says, "If you put out a ham, people will come." What I'm not clear about is if you are talking about two events or one. A luncheon for close friends is one thing, but a reception is a cattle call. My guess is that your once intimate lunch has turned into a free for all.

If that is the case, then arrange to have dinner later on in the day for the 12-15 close family members, but don't tell anyone else. Then go ahead with the reception, but keep it simple. No food with plates. Either do a feeding standing with fruit, cheeses, and crackers or have passed canapes. When that food is gone and the bartender is told to stop serving drinks of any kind, the mourners will leave.

At this point it is the best you can do. If your aunt squawks, then suggest that she pay for the reception and you pay for the dinner. Another way to cut down on the numbers is no tot ask the clergyman to announce, "The family invites you all to the Black Pearl Restaurant immediately following the service." If he says that, most everyone who doesn't have to get back to work will attend.

Of course, if your aunt won't spring for the reception, then you can make it a cash bar and let the mourners eat the free peanuts. This is clearly a big social occasion for your aunt. But you can make it clear that you're not in a celebratory mood and you need for her to respect that. You can ask her to disinvite all these people, although she would probably rather help you cover the cost than have the humiliating task of disinviting them. That generation expects a reception where they can raise a glass to the dearly deceased and traditions such as this are difficult to change. If the funeral information was in the obituary, you can expect people to attend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Co-Worker Contribution
Q My father recently pasted away. My co-workers took up up a collection and presented to me in a card. It is a very small amount....enough to buy a floral arrangement. My question is: should the money go to my mother or should I keep it since it from my co-workers? Thanks.

A If you incurred expenses from your father's service, then you are entitled to reimburse yourself. Otherwise, you should probably give your mother the money. Either way, tell your mother because you wouldn't want her to find out.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Co-Worker Relative: Sympathy Card
Q How do you address a sympathy card to a co-worker if she is married but it was her relative that passed away? Mrs. xxxxx and Family or Mr. and Mrs.XXXXX?


A You address the envelope to your co-worker at her home address. Before signing the card, add a personal note mentioning the name of the deceased.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Co-workers Donating to Fellow Co-worker's Friend's Charity
Q Dear DiDi,
My father passed away recently and out of six siblings, I was left with the responsibility of making all his funeral arrangements, caring for my Mom, taking care of all their finances, etc...After the funeral I was approached by my sister-in-law who said that her company had sent flowers to the funeral and that she would like to have them. After the flowers were sent to my home (my mother was staying with me), my sister went through them all and began raging that a favorite aunt's flowers were not there - she said the aunt wanted her flowers to remember my father by - even though she had not spoken to him in 20 yrs. A few other family members made requests of certain floral arrangements. I was so overwhelmed this that I am still stunned by it all. I did my best to accommodate everyone.
What is the proper etiquette for the funeral flowers. Thanks so much for your advice

A The flowers would either go to the next of kin, your mother, or they could be designated to go to a nursing home. Please, don't let their display of bad manners bother you. People just don't know how to behave and end up doing the silliest things, especially concerning death and it's aftermath. Just stick to the etiquette, should anyone say anything, again tell them that all of the flowers would go to the next of kin unless they specified otherwise. Giving flowers and taking them back is like being an Indian giver. Don't let this bad behavior taint the memory of your father. I am sorry you have to go through the loss of your father and all the duties it entailed. You've gone way beyond the call of duty in doing more than your share, please, don't feel badly about this. It is they who should be thanking you for taking care of everything so nicely.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Co-workers Former Husband's Viewing + Funeral: Do You Go?
Q Should I go to the viewing or funeral of a co-worker's ex-husband?

A If you did not know the co-worker's former husband, then you needn't attend the viewing or the funeral. A lot of people feel it is hypocritical to attend a viewing or a funeral of someone you don't know. You can certainly talk to her about her former husband and say something such as, "It must have been a shock (blow) to you, how are you doing?" Then, you can say, "I'm sorry for your loss." Usually, people want to talk about the deceased, so you can say, "What do you remember best about him?" Then you can be a good listener.

On the other hand, if you are a really good friend of the co-worker and she had children from her marriage with the deceased, you might go to the viewing and/or funeral in support of her children, even if you didn't know their father.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Co-workers Former Husband's Viewing + Funeral: Do You Go?
Q Dear Didi,
Should I go to the viewing or funeral of a co-worker's ex-husband?
L.C., New Haven, CT


A Dear L.C.,
If you did not know the co-worker's former husband, then you needn't attend the viewing--or the funeral. A lot of people feel it is hypocritical to attend a viewing/funeral of someone they don't know. Certainly you can talk to her about her former husband and say something such as, "It must have been a shock (blow) to you, how are you doing?" Then, you can say, "I'm sorry for your loss." Often, people want to talk about the deceased, so you can say, "What do you remember best about him?" Be a good listener.

On the other hand, if you are a really good friend of the coworker and she had children from her marriage with the deceased, you would go to the viewing and/or funeral in support of her children, even if you didn't know their father. It's important for children to see that although their parents were divorced, their parents' friends came together to celebrate the life of their father. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Crying at Funerals
Q I feel so stupid because I always cry at funerals even when they aren't relatives. How stupid is this? I can't help it.

A You would be surprised at how many people weep at funerals. Funerals are not just about the recently departed, they dredge up feelings from the past; they are just as much about the other dearly departed who are no longer in our lives.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Daughter-In-Law Behaving Badly: Checking Checkbook
Q Dear Didi,

My best friend's mom passed away and right after she died her daughter-in-law picked up her purse and started going though her mother-in-law's checkbook. She did this right in front of her father-in-law. What should have been said or done? Thank you, I.S., Woonsocket


A Dear I.S.,

Someone should have stepped up and said, "Excuse me, what are you doing?" Then taken the checkbook away from the daughter-in-law and handed it over to the father-in-law, who no doubt was in shock at her action as well as in mourning. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deaceased Business Partner
Q One of my partners has passed away at an early age. His family has assumed his shares of the company. They are asking for a larger check for his last paycheck as like a severance pay. I don't get it! Please advise me! Thank you!

A Get a lawyer. Terms of partnership are set forth in an agreement. A written agreement determines severance.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dealing with Bitter Relatives
Q My husband of 28 years just died. His mom is upset that my mother and siblings did not send her a card. My family was very close with my husband but he was not close to his family; during the entire death and funeral she never acknowledged me or my loss, it is all about her! I got fed up when she kept complaining about my family's rudeness and replied perhaps my family was more concerned with me than her. Is she right?

A There is no right or wrong here. You are the widow who lost her husband of 28 years, and she is the mother of the deceased. You are both going through the various stages of mourning. A family death can bring out the best in a family and the worst in a family. She is angry and taking it out on you. Don't let her. In her own time and in her own way, she might come to see things more clearly. It will take time; however, if she is in any stage of dementia, she probably is not ever going to take this well because she's probably "not herself." Nothing can be done unless you, perhaps, send her a handwritten, very sweet note telling her how much all of you miss your husband and assure her that you know that she misses him, too.

By being "the adult" here and going up the ladder, taking the high road, you inadvertently gain control of the situation. It will then be your mother-in-law's turn to show you respect, now that you've shown her the respect that she feels she deserves. If both of you can manage to show respect for one another's feelings, fences can be mended. Unfortunately for you, it is you--the stronger of the two--who has to make the first move.

Is she right? You both have to learn to respect one another's feelings. Not easy, but you can at least start the process; it will help you get through the stages of mourning that you both so badly need to get through.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Death of a Child: When Parent Is Left Out
Q I really need an answer today. Can the mother of a child who has just passed away prohibit the father from viewing the child's body early? Can she actually tell the funeral home not to let him see her? The father has been bending over backwards to please the mother. I thought they let the parents grieve before everyone got to attend the funeral.

A The mother of the child is overwrought with grief. Can you blame? No. Is she behaving rationally? There is a reason she won't let the father see her daughter's body. In her mind, her reasoning is justified. If she has custody, then she is in control of the funeral. In this tragic situation, everyone has to step back and act in a compassionate, considerate, and compromising manner.

My best advice is to have the father contact the funeral director directly to say that he would like to see his child on his own when the mother is not present. It would be hard for the director to deny such a request. Should that fail, he should contact the minister who is officiating at the service to ask for advice. I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through this incredibly tragic situation.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Death of Childhood Friend's Sister
Q I just discovered (through the internet) that the sister of my childhood friend passed away 2 months ago. My friend and I have not spoken in about 5 years (his wife is from another country and not comfortable with our friendship as I am single now). How can I send my condolences and not offend anyone? I keep thinking it would have been nice for him to reach out to me anyway but that is crying over spilt milk!
Should I send a card, a Mass card, an arrangement? How and what do I say after 2 months of his loss and 5 years of us not speaking?

A Send a sympathy card but add a person note saying you were sorry to learn of the death of his sister because you have fun and fond memories of her and you know he cared about her deeply. Say you are sorry that he has to go through the death of a sibling and that you are deeply sorry for his loss. Close the personal message by saying something such as this: You and Cindy (substitute his wife's name) are in my heart and prayers at this time, Robin

By sending a sympathy card (fairly impersonal), but adding a direct personal line or two of condolence to him and closing with best wishes to both he and his wife, you are covering all bases.
You can go further by also sending a sympathy card to his parents.

Please, don't be offended that he didn't let you know because he probably had a lot to deal with at the time and is still in mourning. Don't be afraid to use real words such as death and dead because it means you're not walking on egg shells trying to honey-coat her death.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Death of Extended Family Member
Q My sister-in-law's brother died a sudden and unexpected death. He was in his twenties. I know her family well but am not sure what to send to let them know that I care and am thinking of them. What is the proper response from me?

A As I don't know the timing here, this is a broad choice of ways to respond to the death of an extended family member. Your first response should be to telephone your brother's sister to find out how you and your husband can be helpful. Remember that the entire family will be stunned by the death and unable or uninterested in attending to the daily chores of life. Offer your hands to assist in picking up incoming family members at the bus station or airport, help with arrangements for the service, transportation, and reception, especially if you are familiar with the workings of the church; just being there to answer phones or take floral deliveries, make coffee or run the vacuumn cleaner over the living room carpet, or unload the dishwasher are all very useful ways of helping out. You wouldn't be there to talk, just to help your sister-in-law in her daily routine of coping through this terrible time of mourning. Offer to do anything, anything at all: help write her brother's obituary for the local paper, help choose the the hymns for the service, organize the transportation, order the food and refreshments for the reception, help the families with their outfits. These are all things that the immediate family won't be interested in and might need your assistance. Let his sister know that you are both eager to do anything you can to help out.

Then ask if you and your husband could bring a meal to the house, either to the sister-in-law's or the her parents' house. Suggest comfort food that can be heated up without fuss. For instance, a casserole, a stew, meatloaf, lasagna, or a big chocolate cake, coffee cakes, cookies, platters of cheese and fruit with crackers. Just having food on hand that has already been made is a great help.

If you live far from them and none of the above is possible, then send flowers to the funeral home and then flowers to your sister-in-law. Go online and read the brother's obituary in the local paper to see if the family has asked that a donation be made in their son's name to a charity, in lieu of sending flowers. Often when a person dies so young, the family is swamped with flowers that seem to have little meaning. Making a donation in your sister-in-law's brother's memory would be a lovely way to celebrate his short life. You would receive a tax receipt for a full deduction and the family will be notified of your gift.

No matter what you do, send a handwritten note of sympathy or a card that you write a personal line or two before signing your name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deceased Future Mother-In-Law's Fur as Brithday Gift
Q My fiance's mother passed away in October and left her entire estate to him. He gave me one of her fur coats for my birthday gift in February. Although I love the fur, I can't help but feel it is not a birthday gift but an heirloom. He did not give me anything else for my birthday. Am I wrong to feel slighted?

A In his mind, he has given you a very special birthday present. It may be an heirloom, but if the estate hasn't been probated and you're getting married, he may be concerned about wedding expenses until the probate. If he had given you a piece of family jewelry, silver, or work of art that came down through generations would you feel the same way, that he should have bought you something new?

I don't think you should feel slighted, you just may have different values. Being of the same mind about money can make or break an engagement or marriage. Perhaps this is really a wake-up call of sorts that inadvertently is telling you about his values and how he handles money. If you don't have the same values, you need to talk to your fiance because his values aren't going to change once you're married.

What you learn with a husband is that you have to guide him as to what you want. If you hinted you wanted something else and he didn't listen or explain he didn't get it for you, then that's another thing to think about.

To be honest, a lot of families don't make a big deal of birthday presents once a child turns eighteen. It may not be part of his family culture to buy big presents for a birthday. So you may have to get used to that.

Of course, I don't know what you gave your fiance for his birthday, but if you bought it and it was expensive, then you obviously do feel slighted. Please, remember that your fiance is mourning the death of mother and that we all mourn differently; in his own time and in his own way, but it will take time.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deceased Was Divorced: Girl Friend Not Respected
Q A close personal friend recently passed away. He was divorced with three grown children and for the past four years was living with his girlfriend, they actually purchased a house together and he wanted to start a new life. At the wake his ex-wife stood on the receiving line with her three sons and their family while his girlfriend and her children were not receiving but mingling with the mourners not out of choice. My friend's girlfriend was his primary caretaker during his illness. My friend's ex-wife has obvious hate for the girlfriend and blames her for the breakup of the marriage. Was it proper etiquette for the ex-wife to be on the receiving line or should his girlfriend have been offered the option?

A Live and learn. This detail should have been taken care of during the illness. But who in that situation thinks ahead when clinging to life? The executor of the estate dictates who does what - as the deceased so instructed.

What you have to remember is that in this case it is all about the children and and their children. Empathy, compassion and consideration are important when looking at the big picture. Sadly, during the funeral and burial process things get arranged so quickly that if there isn't someone in charge to make sure that the deceased's wishes are carried out, situations such as this happen.

One would think it would make sense that one of your friend's adult children had the good manners and sense to invite the girlfriend, the caregiver and their father's partner in death, to stand in the receiving line out of respect for their father's wishes.

No, it is never proper to do something nonsensical, especially when it comes to a funeral. I'm sorry for your loss. It is always difficult to lose a close personal friend. My best advise at this point is for you to continue to emotionally support your close friend's partner as a friend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deceased's Daughter Makes Demands About Another Memorial
Q Hi Didi,
My father passed away suddenly a year ago. He was married to a lovely woman for 22 years, she was his 5th wife. The reason I write to you now is that she is planning the internment and military honors ceremony since my father was cremaated. We had a "celebration of life" 6 days after his death, where I was told I was "not allowed to cry." My 3 sisters and I were not involved in any aspect of the planning of either one. I tried to suggest bible verses I knew were special to him, but was laughed at and told she had it under control and my help was not needed. She also scheduled it during a holiday week, which quadrupled airfare, hotel, and rental car prices, and I am a single mom and live paycheck to paycheck and have no credit cards. Now she is doing the exact same thing with the second ceremony, scheduling it for the week of July 4th. I told her I might not be able to attend then since there are already several co-workers on vacation that week. I requested the first time that when she planned the second ceremony she give me at least 2 months' notice and not schedule it near a holiday since I have to fly cross-country to attend. She respected neither request. She has not finalized anything yet, but didn't even miss a beat and said it's no big deal-she missed plenty of family members' funerals back when she was working for a living. He's not some distant relative, he's my father! There were many slights the first time, with her grandchildren being listed individually but his simply stating how many he had. Her son gave the eulogy. There were collages with pictures of her and her kids and grandkids, but only a couple of his. One grandchild was not even on any of them and was very hurt by the slight, they were very close. During the marriage, there were many of these slights, and we learned to live with them. She does not care for his children very much, and was pretty vocal about it. Countless times plans were cancelled with his kids to do some last-minute thing with hers. Am I wrong to think that the children of a deceased person should be consulted when planning these things, at least to make sure they can attend? I am very hurt and feel she is selfish to go about it this way. When I asked her if I could have a personal memento to remember him by, like one of his golf cardigans, she went into this thing about how he left her all the money and everything belongs to her. I didn't ask about his estate, I just wanted a sweater to remember my father by! What gives? What is the proper response? Is it ok to let her know she is hurting us? Is it ok for her to go about it this way? I mean, I realize she was his wife, but I was his daughter for twice as long as she was his wife. Not that I have ever pointed that out...

A The key phrase here is,"He was married to a lovely woman." What happened? Why is she not so lovely now?

It sounds as though you have laid your father to rest and you are at peace with that. What I want you to understand is this: We all deal with the death of a loved one in our own way and in our own time. As his daughter, you dealt with your father's death in a manner that was comfortable to you. Be consoled that he would have wanted you to handle his death in a mature fashion. Right? You had to do so. You have a job and your own family on which to focus. It sounds as though your fifth stepmother is looking for the professional widow status. Which is all very good and well for her, but she shouldn't be imposing her beliefs and values on her deceased husband's children.

You have absolutely no obligation, whatsoever, to extend yourself any further. If she balks say, "We all deal with death in our own time and in our way. I think of my dad every day and that's my memorial to him. If you want me to participate in your memorial to him in the future, then you need to give me notice way in advance."

Don't let her pull your heart strings and guilt trip you. And remember, you don't have to travel to some pompous ceremony to pray for or remember someone you miss dearly. You can pray anywhere. When you think of him, you might not realize it but it is a prayer to him. And that prayer is just between you and your dad. When we're thinking about someone who is deceased, essentially, we're praying for him.

Again, I'll say it. We are all individuals and in our own time and in our own way we grieve. Just because you don't go into debt to attend another ceremony, doesn't mean that your father didn't love you any more than he did. He's not going to love you any less for not going.

Full disclosure here with the stepmother is necessary and the sooner the better. Say, "I support my family, I cannot afford to take off the time to be there, but you and my father are in my heart and in prayers so I will be there in spirit." Please, don't let her hold you back. Look to your future.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deceased's Son's Partner
Q Didi,

My live-in boyfriend of 2 1/2 yrs' father has passed away. The problem is he is still married to the mother of his young child. They are separated after 8 years of marriage and planning to divorce but nothing has happened yet. I am very close to his family; however, they informed me that they have to add her to the obit because they are still legally married and wanted to make sure I was going to be comfortable with that. Well, I told them I was ok but really I am not and feel there was no need to add her when I am going to be the one riding and sitting with him and doing everything with the family. My older children from a previous relationship will be there, too, and didn't know he was married so should I tell them so they won't be surprised after the obit is read? Also, after it is read, should I stand in the receiving line or will people think I am her? She will also be there but not with us. HELP!

A This is going to be fine. From what you said, you are the current partner of the deceased's father. That's established. What I want you to do is to stand back. Be there for your live-in boyfriend, but hold back. Be friendly and introduce yourself, but understand your place. Have the confidence of knowing where you fit into the scheme of things. It is a fine line here. You are partners, and yet not legit. Act as though you belong in the role that you are playing, which means you have to be incredibly sensitive to what everyone says. The obituary will run for one or two days. Your relationship with your partner is eternal.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deceased's Spouse Not Mentioned In Obituary
Q My father-in-law recently passed away. In 2009, he became ill and was placed in a nursing home for rehabilitation. He did not thrive in that environment. My husband and I were approached by my father-in-law's nephew (an attorney) suggesting his father buy a modest home with his savings and would we be willing to move in with him and care for him until his death. So, we agreed and moved (from another state). Even though my father-in-law had an aide in the mornings and my husband, I was also part of the care-team, something my father-in-law acknowledged but never his family. I am hurt that when my sister-in-law typed up the obituary she mentioned the children and spouses and omitted me. These grown adult children did nothing for their father. My husband was not exactly the nurturing kind of guy and was "angry" caring for his father. I even threatened my husband that if he didn't take better care of his dad I would file for custody. (He could have the house, I would just care for his Dad until the end). I am hurt being snubbed, should - be?

A It was thoughtless of your sister-in-law to leave you out of the obituary. If you and your husband don't have children together, it could have been an oversight. Spouses of the deceased's children aren't necessarily named in obituaries and sometimes only if they are the mother of his grandchildren. Please, don't take this as a personal slight.

When relatives are grieving they don't always have their wits about them and therefore aren't always able to make the best decisions. Usually the family representative fills out a form with the funeral parlor clerk that lists next of kin, etc. Then that information goes to the local newspapers. If the deceased hadn't specified in his burial plans what information would appear in his obituary, chances are it was put together rather quickly. Please, don't feel snubbed. It was an oversight. You know your father-in-law was grateful for your care, devotion and companionship; let that be your memory.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deciding to Attend a Funeral
Q I know you won't get this in time and I am in turmoil about my situation. My son had a friend whom he considered his cousin because the young man was his Dad's new wife's nephew. My son is taking this very hard and I feel like I need to attend the funeral to support my son as he doesn't get along with his (long story). My question is should I attend the funeral or at least the viewing to be there for my son and to pay my respects? I have met the young man but my son's new wife and sister and I did not get a long at all 20 years ago.

A Let bygones be bygones and go to the funeral, if you feel moved to do so.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Deciding Whether or Not to Attend a Friend's Memorial Service
Q I was in a relationship for 4 years which broke up last year. Recently, my ex's sister with whom I stayed friends passed away. Should I attend the memorial service?

A It is not so much a matter of whether you should attend your former partner's sister's memorial service, but how you feel about her death. You say you stayed friends, well then as her friend you would attend out of respect for that friendship. You might also attend in support of her whole family, meaning husband, children, parents, etc. Since you were friends, it would only seem natural that you would not only go to pay your respects to her family, but to mourn your friend.

Go with your gut feeling, your instincts. If it is too stressful for you to be around your former partner, then don't go. If you feel that you could publicly mourn your friend, then by all means attend her memorial service. It also depends how close the two of you were. If you considered her "a good friend" and not just "a friend," then you would attend. Memorial services are for the living as well as for the dearly departed.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Disinherited Siblings in the Obituary
Q My father who was elderly but in his right mind and still very active chose to live with me and my family after my mother died...I am the youngest of three...My older brother and sister who basically lived off of my parents wanted to put him in a nursing home the day she died...I stood up for him as did my siblings grown children. A few months later Dad asked if he could live with me and my family; of course I agreed. Shortly thereafter he had a stroke and the siblings took over his home while he and I were in the hospital. They sued for guardianship of the estate (not the person) and lost. They have not contacted him in over 5 yrs. We live 2 miles apart. Do I include them in his obituary when he passes? Or is there a way I can tactfully list their children without including them...he says they do not deserve to be listed...I don't care if it hurts them not to be acknowledged but I do care about my nieces and don't want to hurt them...Dad says they are grown and know what their parents did was wrong so they would understand...I am not of the same opinion and think it will cause me and my family more problems...He has written my siblings out of his will and even tells them why and to leave me and my family alone. How should I handle this when the time comes?

A It would be more unusual if you didn't list your siblings. I'll tell you why. An obituary is not a list of who the deceased loved, it is a factual account of the person's life. Leaving out the names of two of your father's children would surely cause more of a stir than listing them. By going up the ladder, taking the high road, and following protocol you would be doing the right thing. Remember, you are the role model here and your children and nieces will be effected by how you handle this. If you are dignified, compassionate, and considerate, they will emulate those good traits. Etiquette and protocol call for a certain amount of compromise--even in a contentious family affair such as this.

Remember that if you hold the funeral in a house of worship, your siblings cannot be refused admittance. You can arrange to have the main section of the church corded off for those who are there "by invitation," but in most houses of worship traditionally there are a few pews designated for public use. The last thing you want at your father's service is to have your siblings making a scene, so don't cord them off or leave them out of the obituary because it will only draw attention to this unfortunate situation; and perhaps even exacerbate it.

That said, you could make the reception and burial "by invitation only" and you would not broadcast the time and place.

I'm sorry, I know you don't like my answer, but I'm here to help you look at the big picture. In retrospect, I think you'll agree following protocol was the way to go. Perhaps you should discuss this situation with your father's lawyer as well, if you haven't already.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Disposing of Mass Cards and Sympathy Cards
Q I have had a number of my family members pass away: Year 2000 was my dad, 2002 was my mom, 2003 nanny, 2004 papa, 2007 was my only brother he was 46, also in 2007 was a good friend of mine and neighbor who was only 38, 2008 was my only sister who was 49 and my Zia Mary. Aside from the constant grieving, I have a tremendous amount of mass cards and sympathy cards - I feel guilty just throwing them out is there a way to dispose of them? I'm trying to go through the process of getting rid of things and have 2 or 3 boxes of them. Please help.
Thank You So Much
Rosemary Derin

A As I am not a Catholic, my best advice is that you need to call your parish office to find out how to recycle them.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dividing the Deceased's Ashes
Q Hi Didi,
My father passed a few months ago. My stepmother and brother decided they did not want to keep his ashes so I said that I wanted to keep them and everyone agreed. I paid for the urn and his remains were put in the urn and given to my brother who would deliver them to me in a week or two (I live 6 hours away)-- well, my brother has been acting very "busy" and has been leading me to believe he would bring them and always had an excuse. My grandmother passed last week and since I would be in town for the funeral I told my brother that I would be getting the ashes after my grandma's services. He agreed. Then the next day he said that my stepmother didn't want to give them to me anymore. My brother some how allowed her to get possession of the remains..and I paid for the urn, and it is quite beautiful and now she wants to keep it...what should I do?

A In hindsight, your father should have left instructions as to what was to be done with his ashes. Apparently, he didn't and you assumed their care. The executor of your father's estate can decide their dispersal. He could be your father's lawyer or even your brother.

Gently ask whoever has taken over the responsibility of your father's estate if you could, please, have the urn back with half of the ashes. Politely suggest that your stepmother gets her own urn and the funeral parlor, or your brother, divides the ashes between your urn and your stepmother's urn. Don't be stalled if she doesn't have an urn because the ashes can be temporarily housed in a small box or jar until she find her own urn.

Offering a compromise is a common way to solve this problem, so you are not asking anything out of the ordinary. In large families sometimes everyone who wants ashes gets some and occasionally ashes are incorporated into jewelry such as pendants, so dividing your father's ashes between you and your stepmother would be the civilized way to solve your problem. It is all about how you and the executor workout sharing your father's ashes with your stepmother. You can do this. I am sorry for both of your recent losses.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dividing the Deceased's Ashes
Q How do I get my ex to let me have half my daughter's ashes pls.




A Since your former partner is in possession of the ashes, you're going to have to ask him to make a compromise. Tell him that civilized people divide the ashes when there are others who feel strongly about having them. It would be helpful if you could have your lawyer to talk to his. Or even a friend or relative that you both communicate with who could state the case for dividing the ashes on your behalf. Lastly, you could talk to the minister who performed the service to see if he can help. I am sorry for your loss. I wish I could help you further, but if he is in possession of the ashes, you will have to ask him to compromise, if you didn't have custody of her at the time of her death.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Divorced Parents Sharing Funeral Expenses
Q Dear Didi,

My 22-year-old son died recently. My ex-wife and I split the funeral expenses. She bought a very expensive urn without asking me. Now she is keeping the urn. I don't feel that I should have to pay for items she added on without my knowledge or approval. I had almost no say in any arrangements or purchases, yet I am being expected to come up with half. And my family wanted their money gifts and cards to go to me, yet the funeral home locked everything in the office and wouldn't let me see anything addressed to me. HELP Thank You, Dale, Auckland, NZ


A Dear Dale,

There is nothing worse or more devastating than the loss of a child. Whether you and the child's mother are still together or not is a delicate issue. This is all about your child. This is not about your relationship with your child's mother. You need to separate your emotions. Pull back. Who cares about the money or the urn? I am terribly sorry for your loss. Your losses are many and deep, but please don't take it out on his mother. Who cares if your former wife gets the urn. Please, look at this tragedy in a larger picture. Both of you are holding fast to your son. Please, respect all the emotions involved here. My best advice is for you to try to make peace with this tragic situation by understanding where each of you are coming from and dealing with that. Fighting over an urn and money is not the answer. Try, as hard as it might be, to accept the pain of your son's mother as well as your own. Dealing with your own pain will help you to understand hers. Separate them. Seek counsel in a group therapy with others who are also experiencing similar emotions. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Do You Address Suicide in a Condolence Letter
Q In a letter of condolence to a friend's parents, how should I address the friend's suicide?

A I do not think it is necessary to bring up your friend's suicide in a letter of condolence. Suicide is a difficult situation but it is not just about what has happened; it also involves deep emotion. Bringing up suicide might make the parents feel vulnerable; it might not be the appropriate way to get your feeling off your chest. It does not always make sense to discuss feelings. As the saying goes, sometimes it is gentler to let sleeping dogs lie. Unless, you are extremely skilled at discussing feelings, you might wait until time has passed to talk to them about "their suicide;" you might visit the parents after a period of time to discuss the death of their child, at which time you will be better able to judge by their body language if bringing up suicide is appropriate, or not. However, do write them a letter telling them a few good things they might want to remember about their child, say you would like to visit with them, and that you will call them in a few weeks.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Do You Send Thank-You for Sympathy Card
Q When you get sympathy cards for a deceased member of your family should you respond with a thank-you card?

A If you wish to sustain the relationship with the person who sent the sympathy card, send an acknowledgment. It can be a handwritten note, a boxed acknowledgment from the funeral parlor, or one you have printed up.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Does Estranged Daughter-In-Law Attend Funeral
Q I am recently going through a divorce but it is not final. I was married 14 years. Although we are handling this through mediation, my husband has not wanted the divorce. He has spoken poorly about me to his family and I have had no contact really with them for 6 months. I know he has spoken poorly because I have received a few negative messages from his family and they do not communicate with me at all. My father-in-law just passed away and they live far away so it would require a plane ride and stay. I have 3 children who will be going down with their father. I am wondering what I should do in terms of attending the services? Thanks for your advice.

A You would attend your former father-in-law's funeral in support of your three children. No matter their age, they will be deeply affected by their grandfather's death and therefore they will act out or hold it all in. In their own way and in their own time, they will act out. You have to go with your gut feeling on this. If you feel your former husband could use your help with the children and your children will need your help emotionally, then put your own feelings aside and be a good mother. On the other hand, if you decide your presence would only cause unneeded added tension, then don't go. This is not about you and your former husband, this is all about your mourning children. As their mother, you are their role model. How you behave through this difficult time will affect them.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Donation Confirmation From the Church
Q I have been appointed to handle the memorial funds at my church when a member of our church dies. When I receive the memorials, am I supposed to send a thank-you card from the church also? I know I am supposed to give the list to the family. Also, should I enclose the amount when giving the list to the family?

A The church is required to send a letter to the donor confirming the tax deductible donation for tax purposes. You send the donor two separate mailings: one is the thank-you note from the diocese, the second is the tax donation for tax purposes. Talk to the church accountant. S/he will be able to give you the drill and the form letters. By giving the family the list of contributors, you leave it up to them to write their own notes. Some charities list the amount, others don't. Follow the already established policy of your church.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Donation Envelopes: Thank-You Note
Q My father passed away recently. His wife (our mother passed away after 33 yrs of marriage) left the viewing early and took all the donation envelopes. I could care less about the money, but when we went to write the thank-you notes, she wouldn't tell us who gave what. Was this all hers to take? Seems an odd thing to do at best.

A I should say. The person you should talk to about this is the executor of your father's estate. He/she is the person who is going to be handling the estate and therefore the taxes. He may need an accounting for the IRS of any monies brought into the estate. Your stepmother many not have made a list of the the people who gave money or/and she may not have known them. The money would have been given to her to help her with expenses occurred during the funeral and burial. Offer to write the thank-you for her on behalf of the family. If she hesitates, then say you don't need to know the amount, just the names and you'll find the address. Aside from that and talking to the executor, there really isn't much you can do. I am sorry your loss is compounded with this unfortunate situation, but things like this happen. Sadly, it is what it is.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Donations
Q When making an honorarium to a foundation for a deceased person, is it necessary to let the relative of the deceased know that a contribution was made, or should that acknowledgment come from the foundation?

A You will receive a receipt from the foundation for tax purposes, and more than likely a personal thank-you note from the family. The family will be sent a list of all those who sent donations, along with their address, though not necessarily mentioning the amount that you gave.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Age 24
Q I have a query .... My husband's cousin who was 22 years old just passed away and we have the funeral. What is the dress code please????? We had a quite close relationship .... I am 24 thanks a lot.

A Oh, dear, I am sorry for your loss. Funeral dress code is equivalent to what you would wear to a job interview. Your husband would wear a dark business suit with a collared shirt and solid or striped tie, you would wear a dark day dress or a just-above-the-knee skirt suit.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Capris
Q I am going to a memorial service this Saturday, July the 16th. Is it okay to wear dressy capris with a dressy blouse and nice shoes?


A Maybe, if you're under 18 years of age. How about a short pencil skirt with that dressy blouse and nice shoes?


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Couple: Age 24
Q Dear Didi,
I have a query .... My husband's cousin who was 22 years old just passed away and we have the funeral what is the dress code please????? We had a quite close relationship .... I am 24 thanks a lot. A.L., Philadelphia


A Dear A.L.,
Oh, dear, I am sorry for your loss. It is difficult to lose a friend who is family as well. Funeral dress code is equivalent to what you would wear to an important job interview. You don't have to wear black. If you don't have a black outfit, navy blue, grey, dark green, burgundy, beige and brown are all respectable colors to wear to a funeral. You would wear a just-above-the-knee skirt suit, a day dress with sleeves or a sheath with a jacket, along with beautiful shoes and carry a small clutch bag. Your husband would wear his best dark suit or a blazer with grey flannels or dress khakis, a collared shirt with a solid or striped tie, and dark shoes and socks. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Dressing Up A Notch
Q I am attending a small afternoon memorial service for a friend that passed away. Can you advise if ankle-length black capris are suitable for wearing?

A If you're a teenager, then you could get away with wearing capris, otherwise, out of respect for your friend who passed away, dress it up a bit. Wear your best pantsuit, dress, or/and coat, your best clutch and your favorite shoes. Celebrate the ones you loved and just lost by dressing up a notch or two.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Grandsons Ages 6 +9
Q What should my sons, ages 6 and 9, wear to their grandmother's memorial service, which will be held at her church in Seattle in November? Would navy blazers with white shirts, ties, and dress khakis be appropriate, or do I need to buy suits for them? Thank you so much.

A First off, I am sorry you have to go through the death of a family member. As to your sons, they certainly do not, and should not, have to suit up at their age. Your thought that they wear navy blue blazers with white shirts, ties, and khakis is totally appropriate. It would be fun for them to let them pick their tie and shoes.

If your sons were in college or older, a dark suit would of course be appropriate.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Khaki Trousers
Q ...Can I wear a dark sport jacket and khaki pants to my father-in-law's funeral?

A Yes, if the khakis are dress khakis. If the trousers are a dark khaki and are cuffed, then they should be dressy enough. However, you would not wear chinos or uncuffed pants because they are too casual. Whether they are pleated or have a flat front depends on your build and style. Trousers are usually more formal looking than pants because they are better made and darker in color. Therefore, khaki trousers would be fine. Don't forget to wear a tie.

It would be best to wear grey flannels.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress code: Men
Q I am attending a memorial service for a friend who has recently died. There is a private family only cremation followed by a service of thanksgiving at the local church. I would like to know what would be the correct attire for a man to wear to such a service?

Many thanks
Mary Tame

A Wear a dark lightweight suit with a collared white shirt and a somber tie, dark shoes, socks and belt. Alternatively, a dark blazer or jacket with dress khaki pants or grey flannels would also be appropriate.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress code: Men
Q Hi Didi,
My father-in-law passed away after a long illness. What should my husband wear to the church funeral? My husband is not very comfortable in a suit, but is that the only correct answer? We're in Northern California.
Thanks for you help!

A Suits & Dresses is the traditional dress code for funerals, however, if your husband is not comfortable in a suit, then have him wear a sports jacket with khaki pants (chinos), a collared shirt, and leather shoes.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Winter: Woman: Bare Skin
Q Would it be appropriate to wear a short-sleeved, knee-length, simple velvet dress to a January funeral?

A Assuming the funeral is in a cool climate, yes, a short-sleeved, knee-length, simple velvet dress would be appropriate to wear to a funeral. If you're worried about bare skin, wear it with a cardigan sweater and tights.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Dress Code: Younger Cousin's Funeral
Q I am 19 and will be attending a funeral for my 22-year-old cousin whom I did not know very well except when she was very little. As the death was tragic, I would assume it would call for more formal attire but that side of the family tends to be very casual, and no matter what, I don't want my attire to distract from anything and I want to be respectful and subdued. The question is: do I dress conservative and casual or traditional all-black dress and heels? Thanks for your help.

A Wear a dark pantsuit or skirt suit that isn't too short. Dress in best business attire, as though you were going to a job interview. Alternatively, a dark colored dress with sleeves, that falls just above your knees. As you're 19, you might not have a best business suit, so wear a either a dark dress with a cardigan or jacket, or a dark skirt with a white blouse and dark cardigan. Wear a minimal amount of jewelry. You don't want any bare skin showing, so wear dark legwear. Classic black pumps would be best.

I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your cousin, especially since she was so young.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Eldest Grandchild's Role Representing His/Her Generation
Q My husband's grandmother just passed away. She did have some money to pay for the funeral but not enough. My husband's father is well off but asked my husband to pay for the some of the flowers. Is it his responsibility? My husband is the oldest grandchild and is also assisting with all other arrangements.

A The problem might not be as much about shelling out the money for the floral arrangements as it is about making a good showing in terms of the number of arrangements sent to the church or funeral home. Since many of the grandmother's siblings and friends have predeceased her, it is traditionally the next generations' responsibility to "carry the torch" and make a gentle showing of respect and love for their matriarch.

As the eldest grandchild, your husband would step up to the plate with pride and assist with the arrangements. That doesn't mean that your husband can't ask his siblings and first cousins to pitch in with the cost of the floral arrangements, if they haven't already sent their own. As your husband is in charge of this mournful task, he has been given the authority to delegate and designate tasks to other members of his generation. Therefore, he should ask them all to pitch in and help as well.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Employer's Obligation to Attend Employee's Father's Funeral
Q My husband has a female employee who's father has passed away, another female co-worker is going to the funeral, and he feels obligated to go... is it necessary for him to attend?
Thanks

A Tell hubby that if he didn't know the employee's father, then he would not be expected to attend the funeral. He can send flowers or a donation to the father's designated charity in lieu of flowers and give her a few days off to mourn in private.

If your husband really feels obligated to attend, then he should go with his gut feeling. On the other hand, once he's at the funeral, if he didn't know the deceased, he might feel slightly hypocritical being there.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Estranged Family Attending Funeral
Q My father just lost a sister and they had not been on speaking terms for over 10 years. He is very saddened by this and it was not his choice but it was the norm. We feel we are not welcome at the funeral home as her children call the other family members but not us. We are now wondering is it OK to go to the church for the service only or should we not and can they ask us to leave a Catholic church? We are Catholic as well.

A A church is a house of worship open to the public. Nobody can ban you from entering the church or ask you to leave. You are welcome to attend the funeral service. I am sorry for your loss. It is especially difficult to lose a family member when relatives are estranged. Funerals are a time for families to heal. Often it can be an opportunity to reconnect with family. Be persistent with your good intentions. Be assured that nobody will ask you to leave the church. It is a house of worship open to the public.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Estranged Family Members
Q My family has been at odds for several years. I have not seen my sister for 4-5 years. Her husband just died, and when I went to the funeral home, I was asked to leave.
I did not get to give my last respects .... is this right?!?!?

A No, it isn't right. I'm very sorry for your loss and that you have to go through this. The problem with letting estrangements go that long is that the gap gets harder to bridge over time. Why not write your sister a heartfelt note and tell her that you want to make amends? If you don't hear back within a month, try again. Persevere and you will bridge that gap.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Estranged Family Members: Bridging the Gap
Q I have been estranged from my parents for three years due to their unjustified hatred for my wife. Over a month ago, my Aunt passed away suddenly. A funeral was held and although I was mentioned in her obituary I was not notified. I only learned of her death today through a Google search engine. Am I wrong to feel that my parents should've put their differences aside in order to inform me of her passing? Since I was not given a chance to offer my condolences or attend the funeral, what is the proper thing to do now? ie. Let it go or send a card to my Uncle?

A Well, if I were you, I would pick up the phone and call your uncle to tell him how deeply sorry you are for his loss. He's probably wondering why he hasn't heard from you. Calling him directly should help bridge that gap. As you've discovered, in families especially, the longer you let that gap grow wider, the harder it is to bridge it.

Certainly, follow up your phone call with a card, but most guys I know don't get the card thing, so assume he would much rather hear your voice. You needn't cast blame on anyone, just say you just found out on the Internet that she had died and, if you had known sooner, you would have been in touch before now. This is not the time to get into it about your parents not liking your wife; put that away for another conversation sometime when he isn't grieving as deeply.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Estranged Siblings Dealing With Death
Q Dear Didi,

I don't have this problem now, but it might come up soon.

I am the "baby" (male) of the family and have 2 older, very controlling sisters. I have recently gone through some stuff with them re issues from our mother's will (I was made a trustee, they weren't), and after the way they treated me, I have no desire to even speak to them for a while.

My older sister's husband's brother (i.e., my brother-in-law's brother) is very ill, and may pass away soon or later this year. I might have seen the man in person a dozen times during my life (I'm 58) and we were never close or even acquaintances.

My question is: I cannot afford to attend the funeral, as I'm currently unemployed and live out of town, and at this point, I have no desire to go. Is sending a condolence card or flowers, or having a tree planted in his name in Israel (a Jewish tradition) enough of the "right" thing for me to do? Thanks.

A As long as you are sincere in your intentions and words, whatever you decide to do will be enough. Be sure to write a couple of personal, heartfelt lines on any card or letter you send to your sister. Tell her you are deeply sorry she has to go through the death of her husband's brother. Use real words such as "death." In other words, tell it like it is and be sincere.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Ex-Boss' Husband's Funeral
Q My ex-boss' husband was killed and I am unsure if should to go to the funeral service. We worked together for 3 to 4 years, one part of me feels like going because I want to give her support but the other feels I would be intruding.

A You worked with her for three to four years, which gives you enough rapport that she would recognize that you had made an effort to take the time to support her at this very difficult and sad time. She is no doubt in extreme shock. Seeing friends, family and colleagues from work will be a comfort to her. She will appreciate the effort you made to show your respect.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Executor Problems
Q I have been told by my sister she plans on doing the pre-planning of my mother's funeral (she is 84 and has cancer). My sister has been an unbalanced, irrational and over-emotional mess for the last year and wants to give my mother an over-the-top funeral with a two day celebration. I am the trustee of the estate and she has threatened to take me to court if I don't concede to her and pay the cost as she sees fit. I am considering not going when the time comes. I have stood by my mom for years and have been the only child to look after her with love. Her friends are my friends should I have a separate memorial with a lunch. I can't believe it's come to this but I can't imagine going through having to sit through a circus of a wake with my sister's self-indulgence in song and rewriting history to make herself look like the daughter who cared.

A Oh, dear, you are in a near-impossible situation to solve. Drama is not conducive to solving an already deeply emotional time while being in mourning yourself. If you are in fact the executor or your mother's estate, then you are conducting the funeral, burial and reception. It is important that your mother's wishes for burial and funeral be carried out to the letter (but you know that) as the entrusted executor.

Death is just awful. It can tear already fragile families apart forever. You don't what that to happen. Everything right now is happening from the intense emotion of the moment. Things will be sad, but you, as the executor, have to take the high road and follow through with your mother's wishes. Making your fragile sister understand is understandably difficult which is why you will have to enlist the aid of other family members and friends of her/your mother to help her to understand that her mother's final wishes are being carried out according your mother's wishes.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Executor's Duties
Q Dear Didi,

I have been with my companion for 25 years and my children consider him family as do my grandchildren. He does have two children of his own by a previous marriage, as well as five stepchildren, all grown. I have anxiety on how to deal with his death and services. How do I address my family and his at a service and at the funeral home? I am executor of his estate and will make the arrangements. Please help. I am on pleasant terms with his own two children but have never met his foster children.

PA

A Think of this as a theatrical production and you are the director. It will help you to be the role model and it will be a distraction from the pain of your partner's death. If you have a family church, the service would be there. Then you could choose to have a small reception in the church parish hall for all those who attend the service, or at your home. Alternatives for a reception include a restaurant near the church or a private club that can provide drinks and food on small plates.

Try to have your partner work on his obituary and burial plans ahead of time. Tell him that you feel it is important that you have his approval. Look at obituaries in your local papers for ideas as to how to list you as a partner, his children, stepchildren, and the number of grandchildren. Having him help with the arrangements will give you both peace of mind that you've planned it out together. If you're not using a house of worship, find a funeral home that has a public room where you can have a memorial service. One of his children should officiate at the service arranging for people to speak ahead of time. If your partner has a favorite hymn or quote, or passage from a book, then family members can read those or reflect on him as a person and parent. The spouse or partner usually doesn't officiate at the service and the duty is given to his brother or his eldest child, or even his best friend (other than you).

The obituary includes the location of the service, but not the reception, unless of course they are at the same place. If the reception is at your home, you will want to ask people privately to "come back to the house" or to a restaurant. The funeral parlor will help you with the placement of the obituary and arrange for flowers. If you have a program at the ceremony, you would list the family members who participated and include the address of the reception, if it is elsewhere. As the executor of the estate, you would pay the funeral expenses out of the estate.

Even ahead of time, you and he can decide on a burial plot, the stone or marker, and then the date of his death can be added later. Be sure to find out from him if he wishes to be cremated or embalmed and if he wants his ashes scattered or buried. You don't want to have to make decisions like that after his death and then find out later that he had other expectations.

Of course, it is difficult to talk about these details, but tell him you want to be sure that as the executor, you want to do the right thing. A lot of people have a folder prepared ahead of time where all of this information can be found, but apparently you'll have to create your own or have a notebook where you keep track of his wishes and the expenses.

Lastly, you'll need to have a card printed up with his name on it that you can use for thank-you notes you'll want to send. Some people use a photo of the deceased, others just the name and dates. Personally, I like a small fold over card where a short note can be written inside and on the front these lines are centered on the front:

The family (and friends) of
George Brown Wilson
greatly appreciate your kind
expression of sympathy

You are welcome to return to NewportManners.com and search 'funeral etiquette' for more information on funerals and receptions.

Didi Lorillard
Newmanners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Executor's Role With Distraught Niece
Q My brother was estranged from his wife but not yet divorced. When my brother died, we, his siblings, took care of all of the funeral arrangements from identifying the body to buying the casket or paying for the headstone.

Needless to say we have not spoken to that side of the family for 25 years. We somehow got reconnected via Facebook through my daughter. One of his children just wrote us a letter with all of her bitter memories. The fact that we did not send a limo for them and the fact that we did not write beloved husband on the head stone, among other personal hurts that we caused her mother and as well as the children. None of them true.

What is the proper etiquette about head stones? Should the words beloved husband have been written on it? We did list his children.

A Parent deaths are so difficult on children. Most never really recover. You should let this slide. In other words, no need to defend your actions as the mother/wife wasn't up to handling the funeral and burial (but don't tell the daughter that); his family stepped in and took care of matters.

My best advice is to write back saying that in retrospect "We probably should have asked your mother what she wanted inscribed on the headstone, but communicating at that point in time was extremely difficult." Then you can add that if she would like to add words or names to the headstone, she can certainly do so by talking to the administrative office at the cemetery and arranging for the new wording. Give her your consent to do what she wants with her father's gravestone and let it go. Why not add some kind and thoughtful words about her father to help her repair the memories. Telling her funny, interesting stories about him will give her something to help her heal. She's grasping for memories and having a whole family.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Executrix Thanking Mourners
Q Dear Didi,

I am ashamed to say I have not written one thank-you card to anyone that sent flowers, attended the service, gave money toward the final expenses, etc., for a more than dear friend. She passed a year and a half ago. I am and have been terribly grief-stricken.

We shared each other's lives for about 35 years.

I think I am ready to start the acknowledgement process. Do you have any suggestions? I know it's never too late to acknowledge someone's kindnesses and/or gifts. I need something to say that is quick, short, to the point, and as painless as possible.

In addition, I want to reach out to her family and just say something like, 'glad we're family.'

This task must be a 'less is more' activity and I'm reaching out to you for guidance and in a sense -- support.

I am the executrix of her estate and as such am responsible for her final expenses. She has family and they were very close. Relationships, as you know, can be difficult. W.H., Providence


A Dear W.H.,

Please, don't feel ashamed or chastise yourself for not doing what is perceived to be the right thing. You are still in mourning.

A really civilized way to handle this would be to have a small card or piece of notepaper printed up. As the executrix of the estate, this would come under estate expenses. Since you are more than family and friend, this would express your relationship to the deceased and account for everyone else. Then you could add a handwritten line or two to thank the recipient for a particular good deed or, say, wreath of flowers or check, before signing your name. In most instances, just writing "thank-you" and signing your name is enough.

The family and friends of
Elizabeth Wilson
deeply appreciate and gratefully
acknowledge your kind
expression of sympathy

You can be creative with a thin black border around the note card and with the font you choose. Center the above lines on the card or fold-over notepaper and hand write your short message on the back or inside. The fact that you've taken the time to craft a thank-you note will say it all and then some. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Ex-Husbands & Ex-Wives
Q My husband's ex-wife just passed away. They have 4 grown children who have little (basically no) contact with their father or our family. We have been married for 15 years. She never remarried. What is the funeral etiquette for this situation? Who goes or does not go? Is sending flowers appropriate?

A Your husband would go to the funeral in support of his grown children and his grandchildren. He would send flowers. As his children have had no contact with their father or you, he would attend the funeral out of respect for the mother. It is one of those be damned if you do, be damned if you don't situations. In my opinion, you would go up the ladder and attend the service. You would only go to the burial, if specifically invited by one of the children. Remember that this is a huge window of opportunity for your husband to bond with his children and perhaps start a new chapter in their relationship. Be open, kind, and compassionate. Just the fact that you care to wonder what you should do is hugely big. You and your husband are role models of behavior to his children and their families, even if you haven't had any contact, so: make time to reconnect. Let bygones be bygones. Don't assume that they don't want to have contact with you or your husband. Losing their mother might make them more emotional towards their father. But it could go either way, so you will have to be sensitive as to whether they want you to go to the burial or not. If there is a reception after the funeral and the program or priest announces that all guests are invited to the reception, then you can go. Perhaps if your husband does decide to send flowers, they should be from just him.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Ex-husband's Funeral
Q Ex-husband, father of my (2) sons recently passed away. We had both remarried, I for 32 years and he for 25 or more years. The sons are grown men in their forties. My husband and I sent a sympathy basket to the widow and intend to send a card to her as well. The deceased was cremated and there will be a brief graveside service at a military base and I wish to send a spray or wreath. Would that be proper and how should the card read? As I have told my sons, I will be eternally grateful to him for giving me two wonderful sons. The deceased and his widow had no children. I would like to honor his memory as well as his widow's feelings.

A You might want to send the spray or wreath from you, your husband, and your sons and their families. If the sons are sending their own wreaths, then just be sure that your husband's name is on the wreath you send. You need not say much on the card because it is not being sent to your ex-husband's wife. "In loving memory," is always a lovely phrase to write on a wreath card.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Ex-Mother-In-Law Remembered
Q I am in the middle of a divorce and my soon-to-be-ex-husband's mom just passed away. His side of the family did not make contact with me after I had tried contacting them several months ago. What do I do now? Just send a card to her husband? They have donations in her name for a charity. Do I give money, if so how much? I had a good relationship with her (I thought) before this divorce business started.
Thanks for your help.
Daniela.

A It would be nice if you could send both your soon-to-be-ex-husband a card as well as his father. Before signing your name, remind them of how fond you were of her, using her name. In my opinion, when a death in the family comes along, you put away whatever hard feelings you have and remember her to her loved ones.

You asked how much to send as a donation. At the very least, send what it would have cost you to send flowers.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Expressing Sympathy to In-Laws
Q My father-in-law passed away. Do I send my mother-in-law and each of her 8 children a sympathy card?

A Yes, that would be a lovely way to express your sympathy for their great loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Extended Families
Q My ex-husband's ex live-in girlfriend just died. They were in an abusive relationship. This is a long story I will make short. She was 43 had 2 small children 5 and 9. as well as a son in early 20's. Over the past few years my children and I have interacted with her and her children. I tried to help her over the course of her relationship with my abusive ex. She kept going back. Now the thought is she took her own life. My children and I are very sad and want to send something to the funeral home. What I would like to know is if it is appropriate to send something directed to her 2 younger children whom I came to know pretty well. Is it acceptable maybe to send some sort of plant arrangement with maybe a toy or balloons with the childrens names? Please give me some suggestions. Thank You.

A The two small children ages five and nine are not going to be particularly moved by balloons and an arrangement. If in fact, they are ever told that such an arrangement was sent by you. It might be better to find another way of helping them deal with their grief. Perhaps you and your children could find a time to spend time with them one-on-one talking about all the good things they remember about their mom, would be more productive. You can write them each a note saying that you will contact them about a plan for them to visit you and your children soon. Remember that it will take these children about six months to understand fully and learn to accept the fact that their mother is really dead. Funerals are so wrought with emotion and too much going on that it is after the funeral when friends and family have stopped calling, stopped bringing food when those children will need more attention.

Whether you send a card or a note to the children, address one to each and follow-up with your commitment to comfort them in this extremely difficult time.



Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Extended Family
Q My brother lived with his female partner for 10 years, but we were never made particularly welcome, having to book an appointment to visit. She has now died and we are to attend the funeral this week. The problem is where should I sit? I am not family so don't feel I should be at the front of the crematorium, but I also feel I shouldn't be with the general masses at the rear. Would it be appropriate to stay outside until the cortege enters and then follow on the end, thus sitting at the back of the family, or would this be considered impolite as I am not family?

A Your instincts are correct. Sitting in back of the family is correct. You are there primarily in support of your brother. It is important that he sees that you made the effort to attend and has someone in the crowd he can find to talk to who is related to him. Shall we say, a friendly, familiar face in the crowd. I'm sure he'll appreciate the fact that you were there.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Extended Family Obligation
Q My son's British mother-in-law has terminal cancer. My son and daughter-in-law also live in England. Would my husband and I be expected to attend the funeral? We live in California, and finding tickets on short notice may be a problem logistically and financially. We have only met them 2x in five years, but each time we were made to feel as family. We've been in contact offering love and support.
And then there is the impact of all this on the young couple.

A You do not have to go to the funeral. It is a long and expensive trip. Make yourself available in other ways. Inviting your son and daughter-in-law for the holidays would be a nice thing to do, or perhaps try to find inexpensive tickets to go to Great Britain for a holiday in the coming year. That will give you time to plan and save for the trip. Your daughter-in-law and son will be very busy with all the many details of the funeral and burial, so it might be somewhat of a relief if they don't have the added responsibility of hosting you during that stressful time. Your suggestion to come at another time or inviting them to visit you instead might be a relief, as well as something to look forward to in the future. Holidays will be the hardest for your daughter-in-law, so let her decide how she wishes to spend them.

Find out from your son if there is a charity in Great Britain that his mother-in-law favored and send a small check to that charity in her name. The charity will then notify the family of your gift. You might be able to Google that charity and make a donation in her memory over the Net.

Most importantly, write your daughter-in-law a handwritten, heartfelt letter to say how sorry you are for her loss and to express your regret that you never got to know her mother better, if that is the case. Your thoughtful letter will be greatly appreciated and never forgotten. It is not how much you spend to show your remorse, but the thoughtfulness of your intentions is what leaves the best memories.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Extended Family: Sending Flowers
Q Daughter-in-law's grandmother dies, do we send a spray to the funeral?

A Was your daughter-in-law close to her grandmother? Did you know her grandmother? Are you close to your daughter-in-law? It would depend how close you feel to the family at this time. If the answer is that you weren't particularly close to the relationship, then sending a condolence card to the next of kin should be sufficient. Then when you see your daughter-in-law, you can tell her in person how sorry you are for her loss and ask her to tell you about her grandmother.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Extended Family's Duties for the Funeral
Q Hi, My sister's husband's mother died. Should I sit with the family or by myself at the funeral church service?

A Close family get to the church at least half an hour ahead of time to organize who sits where. Ask your sister at what time she wants you to arrive at the church. Ask her what you can do to be of assistance to the family. Otherwise, sit in back of the family close up. In other words fill in the pews as you don't want too many pews close to the altar empty. Stand by and try to be helpful to your sister. Perhaps you could offer to give an elder person a ride to the funeral. Ask what you can do and do it.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Extended Family's Role at the Wake
Q My sister-in-law is being waked. She was the widow of my brother who passed away 18 yrs. ago. She has sisters, nieces, etc. Do I stand in line as well or just sit nearby to introduce visitors?

A Customarily, close family and friends arrive at the funeral parlor twenty minutes early to determine who stands in line where and who stands near by to introduce visitors. The funeral parlor representative orchestrating the wake will work with the closest family member to make those decisions. Show up early, ask how you can be helpful and wait for instructions. I am sorry for your loss and that this has happened to you.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Ex-Wife in Receiving Line
Q Hello Didi...Is it proper, under any circumstances, for an ex-wife to stand in the receiving line at her former husband's funeral? They were separated and divorced for more than 15 years and the husband remarried. The new wife was in attendance and was shocked that the ex-wife just stood in line without any prior notice. Thank you.

A Funerals bring up all sorts of unresolved emotions. It sounds as if the ex-wife was drawn, or felt compelled, to stand in the receiving line. It is hard to tell from your question whether the ex-wife was distraught or just a pushy social climber. In my opinion, if the ex-wife had children with the deceased, then she would be invited and depending upon her relationship with the new wife, also, invited to stand in the receiving line. I am afraid that this is one of those situations where you have to go up the ladder and let it go. Obviously, if the marriage ended with both parties hating each other and holding grudges, then the ex should not have stood in the receiving line.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Ex-Wife Want to Be Center at Ex-Father-in-Law's Funeral
Q My husband's ex-wife wants to be the center of attention at my husband's father's wake and funeral. They were married for 4 years 18 years ago and she has always put my husband and MY father-in-law down. They had 2 children together, now in their early 20's. Not until 3 days before he died after knowing he was sick did she and my husband's children come to see him and made it all about her. She feels she should stand in line at the wake, ride in the family car and participate in the mass. She also feels her children should stand next to their father and not me, we've been together 13 years. My husband says NO, what do you say????? Help, it's just 2 days away. Believe me this is serious, she is really a drama queen.

A The job of the funeral director is to work with you and your husband on the receiving line lineup. You would arrive at least a half hour before the wake starts to discuss the receiving line with the director. At that time, you will have to tell the director that the former wife is not to be in the receiving line. It is his job to tell the former wife where she should stand, probably in the far corner of the room or in another room since the children are adults and would be fine standing with their father. You have to remember that situations such as yours are more common than you think and funeral directors are used to handling interlopers such as this.

Sorry, I think the adult children, the direct descendants of the deceased, should be standing in the receiving line next to their father, but that is just my personal opinion. You and your husband tell the funeral director how you want it and he'll do it.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Ex-Wife's Mother Passes On
Q What is the protocol when your ex-wife's mother passes on? What do you do for your children who are 32 & 29 and have a family of their own? It is their grandma.

A You are a role model as to how your adult children and their children behave toward extended family during sad times such as this. You attend in support of your family. Attend, but hang back, come forward when you're called forward. Let them know you will be there, but don't be intrusive. Write gentle, heartfelt notes to your children reminding them of their grandmother's most gracious traits and if you can, also tell amusing or/and touching stories, now is the time to share them. As a gentleman, you sense your presence is needed even though the deceased is your former mother-in-law.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Facebook Condolence
Q I have a real dilemma...I reconnected with an old boyfriend (we dated during and after HS for about 10yrs, graduating in 1981)on Facebook about a year ago. We exchanged a few notes and wished each other well, but did not speak much besides. Two days ago I found out through some mutual friend that his wife passed away from a 10 year battle with breast cancer. I feel really bad for him and would like to write him a note through Facebook, but I am not sure if I should. I don't want to give him the wrong impression but he was my first love and he holds a special place in my heart so I would like to tell him how bad I feel for him and his family. Do you think this is the right thing to do? or should I just leave it alone? Please I need some advice ASAP. The Wake is tomorrow! (I can't go to that, we live in 2 different states) Thanks!

A It would be fine to send your former boyfriend a message with "deepest sympathy for his great loss" on Facebook. Make the sentiment short, sincere and sweet. If possible, mention his wife's name and say you are deeply sorry for his loss. You can also add that he and his children (family) are in your prayers.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Facebooking Grandmother's Wake
Q Hello Didi...my Grandmother passed on yesterday, and I was hoping that some of my college friends and friends from home would come to the wake. I would really appreciate the support. Is it weird to invite/ ask them to come, or is that something that normally happens? I haven't lost a family member since I was little, so this is sort of new for me...

A This may sound obvious, but if you want to get the word out about your grandmother's passing right away, then announce the wake on Facebook. Confide in one friend that you've done this and ask him/her to Like and Share your posting. Then when one of your friends has liked or commented, respond by Like-ing and Share-ing their comment. Through Facebook the word will get out with the speed of lightning.

Don't be disappointed if your friends don't show up. Those who hadn't known your grandmother might feel that they were being intrusive attending the wake of someone they had never met. I am sorry for your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Families In Mourning: Sharing the Cost of Flowers Sent
Q My husband's sister called today and told me his other sister's husband's dad passed away (so that is our brother-in-law's dad). She wanted to know if my husband wanted to go in on flowers and have them be from her, my husband, my husband's other sister, and my husband's two brothers. She was totally excluding all the spouses and their families. This is very hurtful. What is the proper etiquette? I would like to see something written down so I could show her. Sincerely, Sheryl

A It sounds as though you and your husband should do your own thing and send flowers on your own. Don't get into a tizzy about something you cannot fix. If you and your husband don't like the way this is being handled, then send your own expression of sympathy. Send the flowers and then call her to thank her but add that you've already sent flowers on your own. This is a sad time for many involved and it is not an issue that you want to debate. Let it go.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Attending Visitation + Funeral of Family
Q Is it ok to only go to the visitation for your daughter-in law"s
mother's funeral?

A Ask yourself this question. Would your son be disappointed if his father-in-law didn't attend your funeral? I don't know about you, but family is family and you might want to attend in support of your daughter-in-law and her family. You could get off the hook, if you lived far away or had a prior commitment that made it impossible for you to attend. Just be sure you make your excuse clear to your daughter-in-law.

We like hearing from you, even when we're not sure you'll like our answer.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Discord: Putting It Aside
Q There are been bad feelings between two siblings over mum naming the other two siblings in her will. Mum has died and the two siblings did not invite the other two siblings to the gathering after the funeral. Is this bad etiquette? The gathering is about honoring the deceased isn't it? Shouldn't bad feelings be set aside at least for a couple of days? The funeral is in two days? If we find out through hearsay, should we go?


A We're extremely sorry for your deep loss. You need to follow your gut feeling on this. Obviously, if the deceased had a meaningful place in your life, you should mourn with the other mourners as well as on your own. There is absolutely no reason what so ever for you not to attend.

We like hearing from you and we feel for you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Making Amends
Q Should an ex-wife attend her ex-husband's funeral? We have two children together, 24 and 28 yrs old. He is living with a woman, but I do not believe they are married. He is dying of cancer and only has a couple of months left to live.

My youngest daughter wants nothing to do with him and my oldest daughter is trying to be there for him. Obviously there has been a lot of pain involved. He was a bad alcoholic. His girlfriend is crazy! So, if I go, it would be for my daughter. I don't hate the man, in fact if it hadn't been for the alcohol, I would not have divorced him. He was a wonderful man sober.
Thanks
Janay Baker


A Fortunately, you have time to work with your daughters towards helping them to have a good-bye that they will be proud of and that you, their mother, will be proud of, too.

I'm worried about the daughter who won't speak to her dying father. If she hasn't made amends with him already, at some point in her life she will feel robbed of that opportunity. It will be a sad regret. It is not so much about forgiving or forgetting the bad things about her father, but having some sort of closure. If she doesn't, her bitterness might be forever sealed. In order to have healthy future relationships, she will have to try to work on having a healthier relationship with her father. Not speaking to him is a kind of emotional denial.

You and your eldest daughter can tell your youngest daughter that you are conspiring to have her see her father once before he dies. Tell her that she can make the plan, but that she might regret not making the effort. She has presumably closed the door shut and therefore needs help from the two of you to crack open the door in order for her to find the opportunity to walk through it. You might ask your former husband if he would like to see her. Then tell her that her father wants to say something to her, so she needs to go and visit him. If she doesn't believe you, then have him write her a note. Chances are, if he really is the good man you married, he will understand what you're doing and know that it is more about her than him and he'll cooperate.

Yes, your youngest daughter is understandably disappointed in her father, but hating him isn't the solution. The short answer is that you should attend your former husband's funeral, if you wish to do so. As you know, as a mother, you are a role model of behavior for your daughters. Showing them that despite your disappointment in your father, forgiveness is healthy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Making Amends: Daughter-in-Law of Deceased
Q Hello,

My father-in-law passed away yesterday. My husband and his father had a falling out several years ago and hadn't spoken in years. I have never met anyone in his family other than his two small children. We are going to attend funeral, should I only speak when spoken to or introduce myself? Thanks in advance

Randee

A Be friendly and sweet. Hold back and come forward when your husband needs you. How you behave is important to any young people present, because you are a role model.

A lady always breaks the ice by putting out her hand first and saying, "Emily Dickinson, George Baker's wife." You've given your name and your connection to the deceased. Whether father and son have spoken in years really isn't important here. You are your manners, so gently step up and introduce yourself and your connection at every turn.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Members Sending Flowers
Q Dear Didi,

My elderly aunt passed away recently. My aunt, my three sisters and I all live in different states. Sister #1 lives the closest and attended the funeral. I ordered a bouquet of flowers online which was delivered to the funeral, and signed the card from sister #2, sister #3, and myself, since none of us could attend. I thought it was proper etiquette to send flowers in lieu of attending, but that it is unnecessary to send flowers if one also attends. However, now sister #1 is mad at me for "excluding" her from the bouquet. Did I err? Sister #1 does tend to get mad easily, but if I made a mistake I certainly want to apologize. Thank you for your help!

A The best thing to do in the heat of a discussion such as this is to say, "I am terribly sorry that I didn't sign your name on the card for Aunt Lizzy's funeral, but we sent them from those of us who were unable to attend. It was an oversight on my part that I didn't discuss the sending of the flowers with you first. Now I know. I assumed because you were going to the funeral, you were covered."

Remember that the aftermath of having gone to a funeral where there are other mourners put your sister in a different place. She feels she should have done more and somehow has ended up finding fault with your good intentions. As long as you apologize, ostensibly for not consulting her, and say that it wasn't your intention not to include her, you've done the best you can do.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Misunderstandings
Q My sister passed away, her funeral was Sat. I live in Ohio, two sons live in Calif. One sent flowers, the other one sent a plant. Tim called me and said we want you take the plant home with you. I let my niece know I was taking the flowers and plant. My brother-in-law calls me and tells me I stole from my sister. I said what are you talking about, guess what, the flowers and the plant. What should have I done?

A I'm sorry for your loss. Tell your brother-in-law that there was a misunderstanding. Say, "I assumed wrongly that you told me I was welcome to take home some of the flowers and a plant." Tell him you would be happy to send him a check, if he would let you know how much you should send him. Leave it at that.

You and your brother-in-law are grieving over the loss of your sister. You are both in mourning over your sister and it's hard to communicate properly when emotions are so raw.

You said you live in Ohio but I don't know how far you live from your niece's or I would suggest you return the flowers and the plant to your niece. Just tell her that you misunderstood what was said to you. You need not apologize for taking the plant and flowers, but you would apologize for the "misunderstanding."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Sending Flowers
Q If a grandson sends flowers for his grandmother's funeral, should he be sent a thank-you?

A All expressions of sympathy should be acknowledged; however, since acknowledgment cards usually state that the note is from the family, the grandson would not necessarily receive such a note because he is part of the family. In conversation, the grandson might be acknowledged for the flowers, but then would the grandson thank, say, his grandmother's son or daughter or his siblings for sending flowers? Probably not. There are so many details and so many acknowledgments to get out for a funeral that family pretty much hangs tight as a unit on this.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Staying for the Duration of the Wake
Q MY SISTER-IN-LAW JUST PASSED AND THE WAKE IS AT
9:00 TO 12:00AM FOLLOWED BY MASS. FOR THE WAKE SHOULD WE BE THERE AT 9:00 FOR MY BROTHER?

A Yes, be there at the latest by nine o'clock. Stay as long as you feel comfortable staying. You can always leave to get a cup of coffee and come back for the mass. Make yourself useful by asking your brother what you can do to help him through the day. He may need you to pick someone up and give a ride to the wake and a ride home after mass. He may need food or his shoes shined. You can offer to make phone calls, or to answer his phone for him and take messages for a couple of hours. He'll need your support getting through the next couple of days, whether it's help walking the dog or getting his suit pressed.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Strife: 18-Year-Old Daughter
Q My sister-in-law passed away a month ago and in the 3 weeks prior to her death had been staying with an aunt. My other sister-in-law doesn't get along with this aunt and so didn't visit her sister while she was staying there. When her sister was hospitalized, however, she was at the hospital everyday. The aunt tried to tell others that she had to care for my deceased sister-in-law and that her own sister wouldn't visit even though she knows why she didn't visit. This aunt has also stopped speaking to my mother-in-law (her own sister) and we really can't understand why. None of us ever turned our backs on my sick sister-in-law. In fact, for the 18 months prior to the weeks she was at her aunt's, it was us (my husband, myself and my sister-in- law) that helped with what she needed. Anyway, services were held (visitation and church) and the aunt attended both but never really approached my mother-in-law (again, her own sister!). We waited about 2 weeks for the cremains and this past Saturday had a small private service at the cemetery. This morning the aunt called my 18-year-old niece (my deceased sister-in-law's daughter) and angrily asked why she wasn't notified of the service at the cemetery. She went on about how she was involved in her life and she should have been notified. I'm upset that she chose the weakest link (my niece) to scold. I also don't think that service had to be a big production. We just needed closure and we didn't exclude anyone with ill-intentions. This is a mess that I wish would just go away and so my husband and I decided to keep it at that hoping it just "blows over". Is that the right thing to do?

A Let the dust settle. Or as your husband says, "blows over." There is nothing to be done, but to support the deceased's daughter in any way that you can. Eighteen is too young to lose your mother. She'll be thinking of her mom every day for quite awhile. All of you should make an effort to talk to her about her mother. Tell her stories and fill her sadness with happy memories of her mother.

Making any bigger deal out of this unfortunate mess will only hurt the daughter even more. You all need to come together. Put your differences aside and be her village. After the brouhaha when everyone stops talking about her mother, reality will sink in and that may well be the worse time for the daughter. It's important that everyone is aware of the fact that they cannot let down support of this bereaving young person. It may take six months for her to understand the reality. Then the real grieving and possibly depression sets in. Mourning has three stages. Take them seriously. The problem is not about you, it is about her. This young woman has a long emotional battle ahead of her and she needs your support and understanding. Try to find her a 'grieving group' in her neighborhood church where she can meet with other young people who have recently lost family members or loved ones, because she will need all the help and support that comes her way. Be her support.

We like hearing from you.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Family Vigil for Dying Matriarch
Q My mother-in-law is dying; she has 11 children and 35 grandchildren. The house is full of people and I have been staying away so they all can say good-bye. But my sister-in- law (her other daughter-in-law) has been there in my opinion too much. I strongly feel that it is my job to be there for my husband and not take up space that could be used by a family member.

A What is your question? The only words of comfort I can give at this point is to say that we all deal with death and dying in our own way, which is usually reflected in how our parents and family deal with death and dying. In your sister-in-law's family they might have a tradition of a vigil where all the family hangs out in support. In your family the death of a family member might be a more private and personal experience. Try to respect her style of grieving, even if it's not your own. As I said, depending upon your own upbringing, we all deal with dying and death differently. There really isn't a right or wrong way here. However, I agree with you to let the next of kin take up the space.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Father's Memorial Service: Card with Money wast Sent to Son: Does He Keep It?
Q My father passed recently and a card with memorial money was sent to me. Does that money stay with me or do I give it to my mother who is still living?

A The money was sent to you to defray any expenses you may have incurred during your father's death and memorial. If you don't need it, then use it to help your mother with funeral and burial expenses.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Father's Right to Attend Son's Funeral
Q Dear Didi,

Does a funeral director have the right to ban a father from attending the wake and funeral of his deceased son? I understand maybe at his funeral home but what about a church where everyone is supposedly welcome no matter what the request of the paying client? Name and address withheld


A Dear Sir:

A house of worship is open to the public, and a funeral director has no right to deny access there. The only exception is to control a section of the church by cording it off with a red velvet rope and a small sign saying "By Invitation Only." Then those who have not been personally invited are encouraged to sit outside the roped-off area. It is more about providing enough room for the family and close friends, especially when the person was popular or a celebrity.

On the other hand, if the partner or closest relative of the deceased asks a person not to attend the reception, they should honor his or her wish. In most cases the reception is at home and for whatever reason, if that person doesn't want someone in their house at the reception they are hosting, he or she shouldn't attend. In this case, the funeral director or a designated family member could be on the look-out for the unwanted guest. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Fiancee's Role In Her Fiance's Mother's Funeral.
Q My future husband's mother just died at the age of 103. I had just met his mother and 2 bothers in the past 2 months and only at the mother's nursing home. What should I do as a future wife and family member as far as cards and flowers from me and from my children, do I stay by my fiance's side at the funeral? I want to be there for my fiance and his family but not want to be intrusive. I am 63 and he is 76 and we have known each other for 18 months. He has spent time with a couple of my children and grandchildren. We plan to marry in November.

A Stay by your fiance's side but hold back. As you are the interloper, it is up to him or other members of his family to introduce you around. Tell him that you want to be silently in the background and that you'll stay within earshot, but that you don't want him to feel that he has to introduce you around or host you. You and your children can send one floral arrangement from all of you. As for the receiving line, you would take your directions from the funeral director or rector, whoever is orchestrating.

Traditionally, close family show up an hour ahead of time to work out who stands where and who sits where. Again, stand back and wait for your instructions. If they aren't given, have your fiance ask for you. As you are not yet married and haven't had a commitment ceremony, you really aren't officially close family. However, you are there in support of your fiance and your future family.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Floral Arrangement to Funeral Home Is Disappointing
Q I sent flowers to a viewing/funeral for a co-worker, the flowers that the florist delivered were very wilted and the card had been written on and scribbled out. How do I apologize to that co-worker for the tackiness of the florist?

A You call the florist and report the problem. The florist should make good on your purchase. Have the florist send a fresh arrangement to whomever your co-worker feels should receive the flowers (next of kin or partner) saying the flowers are from you and attaching a note of apology. That's good business.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Flowers on an Empty Grave
Q I have a gravestone right next to my Mom and Dad and it is already engraved. They were having an issue at the cemetery, for a short period of time, of people stealing the vases on a few of the graves. They only stole the vases that were still upside down and not used. So I turned mine upward and put flowers in it. Is that ethically wrong to do that since I am still alive?
Thanks for answering my question.

A Under the circumstances, because of all the vandalism, what you're doing makes sense. However, you need to check with the rector of your church or priest at the cemetery chapel to find out the protocol for your faith and your cemetery.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Flowers: Card: Including the Boyfriend's Name
Q Hi Didi,
My aunt passed away and the funeral is next week. I am sending flowers for the service since I am states away and am unable to attend. I am not married but live with my boyfriend of 4 years. All my family know him also - should the flowers have my last name then his (Portillo-Gray) family or vice-versa? Not sure what's the proper thing since we are not married.

A If your aunt knew and liked your partner, then by all means send the flowers from both of you. Otherwise, just send them from you, her niece.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Flowers: When You Identify Your Relationship to the Deceased
Q My son-in-law's uncle passed away and I'm sending flowers because I know he was important in my son-in-law's life. He attended our daughter's wedding two years ago, but it is unlikely the family will remember my husband and me by our names. Should we ask the florist to note under our names "The parents of Sue Smith" or "John Smith's in-laws"?

A It may sound more gracious if you put "Sue Smith's parents'" in parenthesis under your names.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Formal Funeral Acknowledgement
Q What is the proper way to do funeral acknowledgements?

A On a flat note card or folded note paper print the following, centered on the front:

The family of
(First, middle and last name of the deceased)
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

Inside you can write a brief note. Just a short sentence or two to thank the person for a specific kindness, such as a wreath of flowers or a donation to the deceased's chosen charity, etc., before signing your name. With the printed card, simply write "Thank you," and sign your name on the front or write a brief note on the back side.

The acknowledgement would be white or off-white with black printing. The added touch of a thin black narrow border around the folded notes or flat card is a traditional option. Another alternative is to have just the full name of the deceased centered on the front of the folded note with his/her birth and death date underneath.

Having an acknowledgement such as one of these allows different family members to help out with the signing and mailing. By the way, at a stationery store or online you can find boxed pre-printed cards that let you write in the name of the deceased.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Boss' Husband
Q Dear Didi,

My ex-boss' husband was killed and I am unsure if I should to go to the funeral service. We worked together for 3 to 4 years. One part of me feels like going because I want to give her support, but the other feels I would be intruding. Name withheld


A
Dear Anonymous,

You worked with your former boss for three to four years, which should give you enough rapport that she would recognize you had made an effort to take the time to support her at this very difficult and sad time. She is no doubt in extreme shock. Seeing past and present friends and colleagues from work will be a comfort to her. She will appreciate the effort you made to show your respect. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Daughter-in-Law's Family
Q My son's ex-wife just lost her brother in a tragic accident. He was 21. We have a good relationship with our ex-daughter-in-law because of our granddaughter. We want to be respectful, yet unintrusive during this difficult time. Is it appropriate for my husband and I to attend the service? Should we send flowers?

A You most definitely can attend the service in support of your granddaughter's mother and her family. You can send flowers, but check the obituary first because in situations such as this, many times the family would rather have you send a small check to the charity in memory of their son in lieu of flowers.

Additionally, do send your former daughter-in-law a hand-written note or sympathy card. If you knew the young man's parents, you would send them a note of condolence or a sympathy card as well. If you are unable, or uncomfortable about attending the service, a hand-written note will do.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Family's Funeral Responsibilities
Q Didi- My father is dying of cancer. He has asked that his children plan the memorial service. The problem is that there are 4 of us...2 of which are alcoholic. None of us know our father nor have spent much time in our lives with him. We have only met his family once or twice in our 40+ years and we do not know his friends, or his wants as far as the service. He has a wonderful wife who has been by his side the last 20 years and we are sure she would plan a beautiful and appropriate service. Or do we...or can we turn this wish down?

A Talk to your father. Tell him that you feel it would be intrusive to his second family, or/and his wife of twenty years, if you handled his memorial service and you don't want there to be any hard feelings after he's gone because you've been asked to plan the funeral. Make up a simple note and have him sign it. Find out who his lawyer is or/and who the executor of your father's estate is and tell them/him you are not able to take on the responsibility of planning your father's funeral. That's all you have to say. You need not over-explain. Say you want to turn over the responsibility to his wife.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Friends: Sending Flowers
Q Hi Didi,

I was friends with a family for many years, we had a falling out a couple of years ago and have not spoken since. My husband and I have just learned of the husband's father's passing, and we would like to send flowers to the "ex" friends so to speak, because we know the relationship they had with the father and I feel sadness for them, would this be appropriate?


A Go with your gut feeling. By sending flowers you are essentially opening the door to your former friends. It could be perceived that you're rekindling the friendship and making a rapprochement. Whereas, if you send a simple condolence card with just your names, it would be less attention grabbing. Flowers are a symbol of love. A card is a formality. They don't necessarily have to acknowledge a card from a former friend, but to accept flowers may make them feel they have to send you a thank-you note.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Girlfriend's Role
Q Hello Didi,

This is my dilemma. My ex-boyfriend's father just passed. We were together for almost 8 years. I developed close friendships with his 3 sisters and his mother. Additionally, I was always treated very nicely by the deceased. I love them as family and as such have offered my help to run errands and help cook, clean, etc... The widow has expressed her gratitude and sincere invitation to return. I know that they need the help and am glad I can help, because I feel that it is helping me to grieve.

The problem is that my ex has a new girlfriend. She is new to the family and is very unpleasant. I know the family, his friends etc... So when they have seen me around they are warm to me and it drives the new girlfriend crazy. I have mixed emotions about this because I want to be there for his sisters who I consider my friends and I want to pay respect to a man I knew and loved. Should I be helping them at all? S.S, location withheld

A Dear S.S.,

Go with your gut feelings. Your former boyfriend's new girlfriend must be feeling insecure. Perhaps even jealous of your history of closeness to his family. To her it may seem as though you're trying to show her up and outdo her, because you're spending too much time with her boyfriend's family. Take a break. She thinks it is her territory now. Encourage his sisters to call you if there's anything that they need you to do. If your being around "drives the new girlfriend crazy," hold back on your attentions and affection for the the family until emotions have settled down. Don't go around when she's in your former boyfriend's mother's home. If you see her car in front of the house, don't go in. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Husband: Memorializing Their Father
Q My former husband Bob died; both of us had remarried years ago. Bob's current wife would not allow me at the funeral; nor could I send flowers of support to my three grown children that I had with Bob ( Bob left me 28 years ago)... with all that in mind, would it be proper to give gifts of money to my three adult children for them to pick out something of memory for their Dad?

Thank you,

Sandy

A Showing support of your adult children after having had your husband leave you years ago is an incredibly polite thing to do. Nevertheless, before you do this, I want you to think about what they can realistically "pick out" in memory of their dad with the amount of money you are prepared to give them. Are you thinking about a park bench on his local green or a donation to his favorite charity? That way, in specifying one way or another, they will be less likely to argue about what to do. Not that they would, but you wouldn't want your gift to become a metaphor for your marriage to their father.

Your former husband's adult children should memorialize him in any way that they wish. You don't want to make the gifts to them a dilemma. They should not have any problems from this, so make it simple. "I'm giving you three each X amount of dollars to give either to your church in memory of your father or to plant a tree near his favorite fishing hole." Once you've given the gift, you cannot then ask them about it. If it is a park bench, you cannot make it your new picnic spot--because that would be creepy. Your giving them money for them to give a gift to their father should have a purity to it that clearly states no strings attached. Merely suggest two ideas that are economically viable and leave them free to memorialize him in their own way, in their own time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former In-Law
Q Am I still an in-law to my late husband's family after I remarry?

A You are a former in-law to your late husband's family after you remarry.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Mother-In-Law's Funeral
Q Dear Didi,

My husband of 14 years left me for my best friend at Christmas. Now my mother-in-law has passed away. I have known my mother-in-law all my life as she and my dad were best friends. I am going to the funeral, but this woman only met her while she went into the hospital and my ex is taking her to the funeral on Wednesday. Is this right!? Please help. Thanks, Kristy, Back Bay, Boston


A Dear Kristy,

No, it is not right. You have two choices. Stay home and be hurt, angry and resentful or garner up every ounce of dignity and go to the funeral. Arrive early and sit with your family in the front of the church. Be sure to get your hair done and look elegant and stunning in all black with a lovely hat, and perhaps wear gloves to add to the drama. When you act as though you belong, you belong. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Mother-In-Law's Funeral
Q I am going to my mother-in-law's funeral. I was part of the family for 30 years and have her 3 grandchildren. I have been divorced from her son for 3 years and he's with a new partner. Where do I sit in the church and do I go in the car with my grown-up children? Thank you, Jane

A Ask your grown children what they want you to do. This funeral is all about their grandmother. Yes, you are their mother and have every right to attend the funeral, and you want to be there for them and your grandchildren, but you also want to be there to mourn your former mother-in-law.

The family arrive at least a half hour early to discuss with the clergyman where close family and friends will be seated. When you ask your children if you can go in the car, you'll be arriving early with them. Since you'll be with them during the discussion of the seating, you will most likely be seated directly in back of them.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Mother-In-Law's Funeral: How to Behave
Q My husband's mother just passed away and in writing her obituary, he mentioned his previous wife, Connie (who died over 10 years ago) as predeceasing his mother. Is this common? I'm just maybe sensitive to still feeling like his second-tier wife, even though we have been married over 5 years, but I'm not convinced that it is appropriate to mention Connie at all. AM I being hyper-sensitive?

A No, you are normal. His mother may have had a close relationship with his former wife. Let it slide. Losing one's parent, as you may know, is a highly emotionally charged time in a person's life. We don't always say or act as we should in a time of great loss. Have compassion and let it go.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Mother-In-Law's Funeral: Where To Sit: What To Wear
Q My husband of 14 years left me for my best friend at Christmas. Now my mother-in-law has passed away. I have known my mother-in-law all my life as she and my dad were best friends. I am going to the funeral, but this woman has only met her in hospital a few times and he is taking her to the funeral on Wednesday, too. Is this right!?

Please help. Thanks

Kirsty

A No, it is not right. You have two choices. Stay home feeling hurt, angry, and resentful and don't attend or garner up every ounce of dignity you have and go to the funeral. Arrive early and sit with your family in the front of the church. Be sure to get your hair done and look elegant and stunning in all black with a lovely hat, and perhaps even wear gloves to add to the drama. When you act as though you belong, you belong.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Sisiter-in-Laws's Death. What's Ex-Wife's Role
Q Hi, My question is kind of simple I think. I just don't know the answer. My ex-sister-in-law passed away yesterday, my daughter's aunt. Daughter is 25, and a mom herself. My ex- mother-in-law and I still talk, my ex's wife and I talk. What is my role in this? Or do I just be there for my daughter?

A Your role is what you make it. As a role model of behavior for your daughter, you would show your respects in some way. If you live nearby, you might attend the funeral, if not, you could send flowers if you can afford to do so. Otherwise send a handwritten note or card to the deceased's husband or closest kin. Go with your gut in situations like this because it's hypocritical to show expressions of grief that you really don't feel. If you feel as though you would like to spend time with the mourners, then do so and it will make you feel good about having done so. As I don't know how friendly you are with your former in-laws, focus on your daughter. Just the fact that you're wondering what to do means you want to show an expression of some kind.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Spouses + Funerals
Q Do I go to my best friend's husband's wake with my ex-husband who is taking his girlfriend to the funeral the next day? I was married to my ex for 21 years and we have remained close friends for 5 years since. He's even told me he's not ruling out that he and I might be together again. He and I had close friends we saw regularly, whom he "inherited" from me, as these people were my friends to start with. Four months after we separated, my ex got involved with another woman with whom he's broken up with numerous times (she is jealous of his continuing relationship with me) and although they have tried living together twice, he tells me they are going nowhere and are done. I agreed to go to our friend's wake with him and was hoping he would be moral support during the funeral but have since found out he is bringing his ex-girlfriend as a date to the funeral. What do I do? Do I still go with him to the wake? I'm so angry with him and disappointed in him, that he could bring her to our friend's funeral. And yes, he has brought her to our friend's house and to a few events over the last 5 years and she is welcomed at the funeral by our deceased friend's wife, who happens to be my best friend.

A Let's focus on the funeral and your best friend. She needs your support right now. This is not the time to be playing out an ancient drama with your former husband. This funeral is all about your best friend and how you can support her at this horrible time. I want to say you need to be very mature (or professional) about this and start making your best friend the focus of your energy.

Attend your best friend's husband's wake with your former husband, but don't bring up the girlfriend or get into any drama. Your former husband isn't going anywhere. As you say, you were married for 21 years and you've remained close friends. He probably regrets the divorce. By the way, one doesn't take a date to a funeral. He's not in high school any more and he should know this. Ask your best friend if there is someone, perhaps an older friend who doesn't drive, that you could help get to the funeral. Often older people, who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend, would appreciate a ride to the funeral. Be helpful in some way so that you become involved in helping your best friend and stop obsessing on your anger and acting jealous. When your husband sees you're really involved with helping your best friend, he'll feel silly that he brought a date to the funeral. He'll also have greater respect for your sensitivity toward your grieving best friend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Wife and Child of Deceased
Q What would an ex-wife and mother of a child with the deceased be expected to do? What is proper for the child?

A The former wife would attend whatever service is taking place in support of her child, unless she is specifically asked not to attend. Since I don't know the age of the child or the circumstances, this is a rather general answer.

You would show up with the child more than a half hour before the start of the service and find where the clergyman is meeting with the family to arrange the procession, recession, and seating. At that point, you will be instructed where and when to do what and where to sit. If the child is young, you both will be asked to sit with the immediate family. If the child is fairly mature, he/she will be seated with the next closest relative to his/her father and you would tell the child that you'll be sitting in back of him/her a couple of rows behind so that when he/she turns around he/she will be able to see you.

Same with a receiving line, an older child might stand in the receiving line and you would either stand behind him or her or across the room never out of eyesight. As I don't know the circumstances, I don't know about cars and transportation to or from the reception or grave site.

In my opinion, again, depending upon the circumstances, I would call the person who is making the arrangements, who would be either a parent, sibling, or the deceased's present wife and say, "Please, instruct me as to how you would like Henry/Elizabeth to participate in the funeral" Be ready to hear, "We will send his Uncle John and Aunt Katie in a car to pick him/her up and bring him/her home", in which case, if the child in not mature, you can tell the child that you will go to the church on your own and sit behind him/her where he/she can see you. Alternatively, you might be given instructions, which you should follow to the letter without a fuss, unless they exclude you from the house of worship. For your information, you cannot be excluded from a house of worship. The family can cord off a section for Invited Guests," but there is always a section for those not invited. If, say, airfare and accommodations are involved, bringing that up during that phone call would not be inappropriate. Otherwise, you can send the receipts for possible reimbursement.

Remember you are a role model of behavior for your child no matter what age he/she is, so you will want to handle yourself in an elegant and dignified manner with your son/daughter's best interest in mind and at heart. I'm sure you know already, but funerals can be tough, they can even be brutal. On your part, you don't want to be part of that for both your sakes. As for the reception, the child does not have to stay long and obviously if he/she can't handle it, you wouldn't take him/her. On the other hand, you don't want him/her to be angry with you later on for not making sure that he went to his father's funeral. This is an extremely difficult time for everyone involved, all you can do is to do your best. It goes without saying that you'll want to keep reminding your child of all the good times he/she had with his/her father and mention the father's good traits, as well as saying, "Your father loved you so very much," over and over again. Finally, it often takes children up to a year to except the death of a parent, and I know you'll want to keep that in mind.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Wife Grieves
Q My husband's sister passed away and his ex-wife came to the funeral home which I have no problem with her showing her sympathy, but, should she stay the whole four hours of the viewing? I was very uncomfortable with her being there.

A Mourning, grieving is a horrific experience to go through. Let it go. In our own way, we deal with death. They had a life. They loved and lost. Let her mourn. It is hard to judge those who are mourning. Should she have stayed so long? Apparently, being there was helping her go through the mourning/grieving process. Let it go.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Wife's Funeral + Current Wife Feels Left Out
Q My husband's ex-wife has died. She was in a new relationship and all of us got along. My stepchildren, with whom I am very close, know that we will be attending the funeral. It has been left to me to tend to the youngest grandchild during the service as I am Grandma to all my husband's grandchildren. The kids are buying a flower arrangement just from 'the family' and asked my husband to fill out a little accompanying card, as the rest are doing. My husband says that I am 'not family' and only he may sign the card, which he appears to regret having said, but refuses to change his mind or even acknowledge my perspective. I am keeping my mouth shut about my personal feelings, but I do feel very slighted. As he is now my husband, he is no longer the family of the deceased either and it seems this is a slight to the new partner of the deceased, too. I thought it would have been appropriate to sign my name as well or for us to have sent flowers of our own. Can you tell me what would be appropriate?

A Send your own flowers and your own card. Let's look at the big picture here. This funeral is all about your husband's former wife. I don't know what went down and why their marriage went south, so this is a very general answer.

The point of a funeral is to allow the next of kin and the closets relatives and friends to grieve together with a sense of camaraderie. Your husband was married to the deceased long enough have a bunch of kids. They have history. It is only normal that he feels territorial about that history. His children came into the world because of her. Let your husband mourn his former wife. They may once have been very much in love but grew apart. In his own time and in his own way, he will come full circle about his grief. My best advice is to back off. This isn't your show. Stay silently in the background and be helpful. Don't criticize him because criticism destroys relationships. Unpleasant words are always remembered. I want you to go up the ladder here. Be a good role model to his children and grandchildren. She's dead, you have him as your husband, so what are you whining about?

This was/is his family and it will always be a part of him, however, he's moved on and now he has you. Appreciate that and support your husband as he goes through the mourning process.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Wife's Role
Q My ex-husband passed away last week. We have been divorced for over 25 years and both he and I remarried. He was in the process of divorcing his current wife. Our divorce was not a pleasant one. We have two children together, now 35 and 40. I indicated to my daughter who is organizing the funeral that I would prefer not to go. She became quite upset so I said I would go for her and my son. She is aware that I was treated quite badly by my ex; however she adored him. My husband has said he will come with me. I would find it extremely difficult to sit in the mourners' seats. Where is the appropriate place for us to sit? His current ex is also going with her son (17) from her marriage with him and is happy to get involved.

A As you well know, even though your children are now 35 and 40, you are, and always will be, a role model of behavior for them. How you handle this situation is important.

In going to your former husband's funeral, you are supporting your children and grandchildren. During this sad time, all of them need your emotional support, whether they ask for it or not.

At the service, you do not need to sit up close. You would sit wherever you like, on whichever side you like. If you're up to it, you probably should sit close enough behind your children so that they can see you and your husband when they turn around; otherwise they might fret wondering if you are there or not and become distracted from the service.

Fortunately we can forgive when we are treated badly, but it is much harder to forget. During this period of mourning for your former husband, the best you can do is to try to let go of whatever anger and bitterness you are holding on to. Go to your former husband's funeral with dignity.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Former Wives and Their Partner
Q My partner and I have been together for 4 years and her ex-husband just past away. He is not remarried and they have 3 adult children together. We all got along together. I was wondering what her duty is to her children and my role is as her partner and to her children.

A Even though your partner's children are adults, they still need the emotional support of their mother at this time. Her only duty is to be there for comfort. She would most likely be asked by her children to sit with them and whether or not that invitation includes you is up to them. Otherwise, you would hang back. Be there in the background in the dignified role of their mother's partner. Chances are, if you hang back you will be included. Whether of not your partner will stand in the receiving line is, again, up to her children. Usually the immediate family meet with a member of the clergy before the service to identify the people closest to the deceased. The clergy person will help them work that out.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Friend of Father
Q A friend of mine father passed away and never met him...what is the proper etiquette for viewing or the funeral?

A You're going in support of your father. Since you didn't know the deceased or know his family, you wouldn't attend the viewing. However, going with your father would be a nice thing to do. If you are your dad's ride, then go to the viewing and say, "My dad wanted to come, so I brought him."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Friend's Father's Death
Q What is the proper form of etiquette regarding a friend's father passing away unexpectedly?

A It depends upon the depth of the friendship and how well you knew the father. Go with your gut feeling on this. If you would feel like an intruder, limit what you do to sending your friend a heartfelt condolence note or card with a few personal lines. If you know the friend well, in support of him and in order to sustain the friendship, you would attend whatever service, wake, or memorial is being held. That information can be found in the father's obituary online in the local newspaper or through the funeral parlor. If you knew the father very well and considered yourself close to family, you would drop everything and go over to your friend's house and ask, "What can I do to help?" As you can see, how absorbed you are in the friendship and with the family will be reflected in how much you participate. As you are not the father's generation, you wouldn't be expected to give a monetary gift to the deceased's charity, send flowers, or pitch in with the burial expenses. But of course those are always options. The dearest, gentlest thing to do is to be there for your friend. Be there when the relatives have all gone back to their homes and the cards and flowers have stopped arriving. Take your friend to lunch, encourage the friend to talk about dad. Mourning is a long process. In his own time, in his own way your friend will get through the worst of the grieving period. Your friend will want to talk about his father, so encourage him to do so. Whatever you do, don't say anything such as, "Time heals all wounds" or "In time it will get better." Why? Because it doesn't. Healing time for everyone is different. And not everyone heals from the death of a parent, especially if they were close. Say that you are deeply sorry for his loss. Tell him that you are sorry he has to go through the death of his father. Don't be afraid to talk about death because it's actually helpful for your friend to talk about his father's death and how he feels. Your friend will be grieving for many months to come and whatever friendship you can extend will be deeply appreciated. Even years down the line, don't be afraid to bring up his father, because that's what good friends do.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Funeral Announcements
Q Is it proper etiquette to send out invitations to a funeral?

A No, you would not necessarily send out invitations unless it is a closed funeral. For instance, the funeral of Jackie Kennedy Onassis was private because there are only so many pews in a church and they wanted to make sure that family and friends were seated. Customarily the funeral parlor put notices in the local papers where the family members live. The program then announces the location of the reception and welcomes everyone in the church attend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Funeral Attire: Man + Woman: Newport Beach, CA
Q What is the proper attire for a woman and man to wear to a funeral in Newport Beach, Ca., in Feb.?

A The man would most likely wear a light-weight dark suit or a navy blue blazer with dress khaki trousers, with a collared shirt and a tie; dark leather shoes and belt, with socks either the color of the trousers or the shoes.

The woman would wear either a skirt or pant suit or a dress with either long or short sleeves that falls just below her knee, if she's over sixty, or just above the knee, if younger. A hat is always appropriate for a a funeral.

Since California tends to be much less formal than the East Coast, only you know how many notches to take it down. The younger you are, the less formal you will need to be dressed.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Funeral Car Etiquette
Q Hello, please can you help me, my mother-in-law died yesterday and we were quite close in the end after caring for her a lot through her final weeks. My question is it has been decided by her husband who is not my husband's father and my husband's sisters whom we have not always met eye to eye with, that there is only to be one funeral car and I'm not to be in it. In fact I'm to make my own way to the funeral after dropping my husband off and arrive at the church on my own. Please can you tell me if this is correct etiquette for me to be excluded from the immediate family car. Am I not family?













A Your husband should accompany you on your own. Don't make a big fuss over it; just show up with your husband at the funeral. Just before he is suppose to arrive to meet up with the funeral car, text his sibling to say not to wait and he's coming with you. Don't make a big brouhaha over this. In a dignified manner arrive on your own. Try to get there before the funeral car arrives so that your husband can arrive in the formation of leadership. The first family members to the church figure out who walks with whom in the processional and sits in the front pews. Mark your territory with authority and style. You are your husband's immediate family, but you are not a blood relative of the deceased.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Funeral Etiquette
Q What is proper funeral etiquette? Who gets a formal thank-you? For example, I know that I would send a thank-you for mass cards and the like and flowers. Does everyone who comes to the funeral parlor get one?

A Not everyone who attends the funeral needs a thank-you note. You might send thank-you notes to those who send flowers and cards. If the funeral parlor has not given you thank-you note cards, you can find them in a good stationery store. If you wish to have some made up, this is the standard form.

The family of
(insert the first, middle and last name of deceased)
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

You might wish to write a couple of personalized sentences inside before signing your name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Funeral Guest Book: Who Signs
Q Is it proper to sign a funeral home guest book if the funeral is for your sibling?

A Yes, it is perfectly proper. On the other hand, the sibling doesn't have to sign the guest book.

We like hearing from you, however, we are sorry for your loss.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gift for Co-worker's Deceased Mother
Q A co-worker's mother passed two weeks ago. Is it too late to send flowers? Is there a more appropriate gift to send?

A I don't know how tight your relationship with the co-worker is so cannot tell you to what extend you need to proceed. It is customary to send a small check to the charity of the mother's choice. Often in lieu of flowers, the deceased has designated a charity for people to give to in her name instead of sending flowers. Tell the co-worker that you are sorry for his loss and that you would like to send a small check to her favorite charity. The check need not be for more than you would have spent on flowers. The family will be notified by the charity and you will receive a thank-you note from the family; the charity might send you a receipt for tax purposes.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gifting Donations
Q Dear Didi,

My husband's father passed away a few weeks ago and at the funeral there were many cards with cash and checks made out to his family in general which were all given to the widow (my husband's mother) along with monies she received in her name specifically. In addition a few family members and close friends that were closer to my husband gave and sent my husband cards and a few checks made out specifically to my husband on the loss of his father and sadly his family has pounced on him within days of the funeral demanding he turn over all the cash and checks (which by the way was a very small amount) and he is very upset and appalled by his family's behavior...
He said all checks and cash given on behalf of the "family" should and did go to his Mom but whatever the siblings received directly in their name is up to them to do as they wished...(the small amount of money my husband received was given to charity on behalf of his father) so I was wondering what your advise would be on this?

A As the money had already been gifted to a charity in your father-in-law's memory, there really isn't an issue. Photocopy the receipt from the charitable organization and send each family member a copy along with a short note saying that you had been entrusted to donate the money to a charity that your father might have chosen.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gifts: Check the Obituary First
Q If you have a friend that has lost his father and you do not know the father's spouse, do you send the condolence gift to the friend or the deceased's spouse?

A Look up the obituary of your friend's father online and/or in your local newspaper to find out where gifts are to be sent. As the son is the blood relative of the deceased, it wouldn't be wrong to send him a gift in memory of his father, if gifts haven't been designated otherwise. When the obituary doesn't give that information, then contact the funeral parlor to find out how gifts are being handled. The funeral home acts as the clearing house for such matters.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Girlfriend + Former Wife
Q I was living with my boyfriend for 8 months and we were going to get married. He died suddenly. His family invited his ex-wife (whom he didn't like and didn't want to see) to the funerals and she was in the car and everywhere as a family member. Is it correct?

A It depends upon whether or not the former wife and your boyfriend had children together. If they did, then the former wife would have been considered part of the family and therefore invited to participate in support of their children. Even if they hadn't had children, there might have been a continuing, on-going relationship between your boyfriend's parents and his former wife. Exchanging Christmas and birthday cards, for instance. As you know, especially when it is a sudden death where the deceased hasn't made his funeral or burial plans, the viewing, service, burial, and reception happen quickly without much thought. It sounds as if either your boyfriend's parents had a good relationship with his former wife, or they didn't know how to contact you. Nonetheless, they should have made an effort to bring you into the extended family, or you should have stepped up and taken on more of a presence. If you didn't know his parents, of course that would have been difficult, especially if they didn't know you were living together.

Is it correct? As I said, it depends upon whether there were children and whether your former boyfriend left instructions. Whatever the circumstances, get past this supposed slight and write to your former boyfriend's parents telling them how much he meant to you. You can also write to any of his sisters or brothers as well. If you had spent a lot of time with his children, then you could send them notes telling them what a wonderful man their dad was and why.

This is a rather general answer because I don't have all the facts. I am sorry for your loss and that you were treated so off-handedly. When there is a sudden death the family are usually in such great shock that they just want to get the formalities over with. Please, do not take this as a person slight.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Girlfriend Accompanying Family Funeral
Q I've been dating this guy for 6 months. I feel like we are really close and his grandma just died. He asked me to go to the wake. I want to support him. What do I do?

A Do support him emotionally by being there for him at the funeral. But also be prepared to hang back. In other words, this is all about him and his family. Let him know you are there for him without imposing yourself. When he eventually finds himself in your position and acts accordingly, you'll know your presence then was appreciated and now is appreciated.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Girlfriend of the Deceased
Q My boyfriend died of cancer this week. I am devastated. I will be riding up to the church with his daughter, her husband and my boyfriend's ex-wife. Is it proper for me to give a card with money and or flowers?

A I am terribly sorry for your loss. You are not required to do so because you are in mourning as well. Ask if there is anything you can do. In your own time and in your own way, you may find your own way of memorializing your boyfriend. Sending a card to his daughter adding a few lines of your own should be enough after sending flowers for the burial.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Girlfriend of Widowed Son-In-Law
Q My boyfriend lost his wife two years ago. Her Father just passed away, and my boyfriend is still very close with her family. We've been dating for 16 months, and he wants me to go to the visitation and funeral with him. He also wants me to walk up with him and sit with the family at the funeral. He asked the immediate family members if they would mind me being there, stating that I might feel a little awkward, and most of them responded positively. I told him that I'm not worried about me feeling awkward - I'm worried about my possibly making someone else feel awkward - even other people attending the funeral. Of course I'd like to go in support of my boyfriend, but should I politely decline sitting with the family? And if my boyfriend is asked to be in the receiving line at the visitation, would it be rude of me to insist that that should be for family only?

PS - my boyfriend's two grown children will also be at the funeral (their Grandpa's). The jury is still out on how accepting of me they are, since their Mom hasn't been gone all that long. Do I follow the wishes of my boyfriend in this case and support him? Or should I hang back and give their family their own time for this occasion?

A Your instinct to hang back and let a family mourn as a family is very sensitive. Since it sounds as though you didn't know your boyfriend's wife's father, combined with the fact that you're not married, tells me that you should go with your gut on this and let your boyfriend sit with his children.

The problem, as you know, is that when the death of a kin occurs, the wounds from a prior kin's death open up again because we never fully heal from a loved one's death. People will be in a lot of pain at this funeral and not just pain over the loss of the grandfather.

The important people here are the direct descendants of the deceased, your boyfriend's two children. Even though they are adult children, they still haven't healed and are still mourning the loss of their mother, perhaps, now, more than when they were younger and in a state of shock. They will probably go through a second period of mourning for their mother while dealing with the fact that the family patriarch is now deceased. Your boyfriend will be going through a second period of mourning as well, but he needs to do it on his own. Having you there to make eye contact with should be enough support for him.

I want you to do the right thing here and I know you want to the right thing in support of your boyfriend. Everyone will know that you are there for your boyfriend, but he is a grown man and you don't need to hold his hand and wipe his tears. He is mature enough to get through this without you on his arm. Give him some tough love. Tell him that his duty is to be there for his children and for their grandmother, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces. This isn't the time to make a statement about himself by having you on his arm. This funeral is all about his relationship with his children and their family.

Tell him that you would feel that you were being intrusive if you were to sit with the mourning family because you really don't know them. Say that you would be more comfortable sitting directly behind where he is seated so that he can see you when he turns around. Be friendly, introduce yourself to the people that you don't know, but don't make yourself uncomfortable. You don't belong in the receiving line, and you know that. Sure, he wants to hold on to you and show you off, but this is not the time or place. Be comfortable in your own skin. Let your boyfriend's children's families come to respect you for being the dignified and elegant person that you are.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Girlfriend Told Not to Attend Funeral
Q What is the etiquette in the case where a person is told by the family NOT to attend the funeral and is barred physically from the viewing as well? Background: I had lived with a man for 24 years, when I found an apartment in a nearby town, but I didn't leave a forwarding address for 2 months or more. In the meantime, he was in very ill health, had been quite abusive emotionally, physically (some), and verbally (a lot) and I had been warned to get out to save myself further abuse. I felt I had handled my departure properly but I was exhausted from my caretaking of this abusive man. 14 months from the date I left, sadly, he died! I was very grief-struck and when I contacted the sister and her attorney-husband, I was told not to attend the funeral, that "a lot of people would be upset to see you there." I sent cards of sympathy to mutual friends and flowers to the funeral, and also donated to the requested charity. I have been feeling very sad over the death of this man, who had provided for me always with loving kindness and caring when he was well. I now realize that much of his abusive language and anger was medically based, and since I had not told the sister, I am forgiving of her decision to exclude me as she didn't know what I had suffered. My question is what should I have done to make this process easier on myself? It was a terrible ordeal and I didn't see any questions and answers in your on-line web site about this. Thank you.

A First off, if a funeral is held in a house of worship, the public cannot be kept out. You have every right to attend that funeral. Just because the sister told you not to attend, doesn't mean you can't go. It sounds as if your boyfriend had huge mental health issues. I am not sure that there is anything that you could have done, but perhaps have gotten him help sooner. However, you are not "your brother's keeper." It sounds as though the family feels that you deserted him during his illness, when in fact you left the relationship to save yourself from further abuse.

Because you never married, your rights don't seem to go beyond being able to attend the service in the house of worship, as you were not living together at the time of his death.

Time heals all wounds. You will survive this. Mental illness is a horrible, complicated problem. Do grieve, do mourn, and my best advice is to find a grieving group and share your feelings and pain with others who are also going through the mourning process. The short answer is that there is absolutely nothing you could have done to have made the process easier on yourself. The man was mentally ill; unless you were a trained professional in the mental health field, there is nothing that you could have done.

Surveying this horrible ordeal can only make you stronger and wiser. We are all responsible for the choices we make in life and you, hopefully, have learned to stay clear of abusive relationships. All you can do is to take the high road; only you know the truth.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Girlfriend's Father Died: In Process of Divorce
Q I am currently involved with a woman in the process of a divorce. Her father has passed away. Should I attend the funeral?

A The key here is the word "involved". Her father just died while she's in the throes of a divorce. The woman has a lot of drama going on in her life right now and needs emotional support. Ask her. Say, "Would you like me to attend your father's funeral?" Then, whether she wants you to attend or not, say, "What can I do for you right now to make your life easier?"

Since the woman is in the process of a divorce, it is all right for you to be in evidence as support. Were she not legally separated, a lawyer might suggest that if you go, be discreet and sit toward the back of the church. Since I don't know the vibes between the woman and her former-to-be husband, you would be a gentleman, shake hands when you're introduced, and act like a good friend.

You might also offer either to give one of her friends or relatives a ride to the funeral, take her out for dinner, order in dinner, and/or help her keep track of a few of the details she may have to attend to at this difficult time. It's possible that she may shut you out for a while, so be ready to lay low; she'll give you a signal - one way or the other.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Giving Grandchildren Duties During the Service
Q My daughter's mother-in-law has died. The service is this Friday. Is it right that our granddaughter, also the deceased's granddaughter to stand at the sign-in book?


A It would depend upon the emotional maturity and sensitivity of your granddaughter. If she is a teen and is doing this willingly, then participating in the service in this way might give her a sense of place, a sense of being part of a family. It so depends upon the child, for instance I have two daughters who as teens would have been fine doing the job and taking on the responsibility, and two other daughters who would have been too raw emotionally to have thought that was a cool thing to do. You have to trust that your daughter knows your granddaughter so well that she and her daughter are communicating in a meaningful way on this. Ask your daughter, "Can she handle this?""What will her memory of her grandmother's service be?" That she participated in a helpful way?

Some children deal with mourning by being distracted, others draw into themselves. Should she be the type of child who absorbs all the emotions of what is going, she shouldn't be asked to perform.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Giving Money After the Funeral
Q Is it appropriate to give money to the family after a death?

A It depends if this is the custom amongst this circle of friends. If you know the family needs money to help to cover the cost of the funeral, then by all means give them a check; however, it might be best to check with a member of the family or close personal friend to find out if this is in fact customary. It would most likely depend upon the socioeconomic status of the family, whether they need the money or would be insulted by the your generosity. So: ask.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gloves + Hat
Q What is the purpose of wearing gloves at a funeral? What color should they be? Is it still proper to wear a hat?

A In my opinion, gloves and a hat are totally appropriate to wear to a funeral, although you might find that you are the only one wearing off-white gloves in warm weather. Wearing a hat can be very chic. What you want to remember is to look in the mirror before leaving the house and take off at least one accessory. For instance, if you are wearing a hat, earrings, pearls or a brooch, you wouldn't wear sunglasses as well. Treat a hat and gloves as accessories, too many accessories just aren't chic because too much is going on, too many fashion statements are trying to be made at once. Hats were more frequently worn before sunglasses became the rage, as well as a safety necessity for healthy eyes. When it comes to being fashionable at a funeral, less is more. The purpose of wearing gloves at a funeral is a throwback from when a lady simply did not go out in public gloveless because gloves were warn outside the house at all times in public. Nowadays, gloves are reserved for funerals and cold weather. So, gloves were not just worn for funerals; they were part of the image being projected at that point in time. Did ladies and gentlemen wear gloves to protect themselves from whatever germ killed the deceased? Perhaps back then, but no longer. Gloves at a funeral are now considered not a necessity, but an accessory. It goes without saying, that darker gloves are worn in colder weather. For instance in colder weather, if your handbag and shoes are black, you would wear black gloves. The other factor to be considered when wearing gloves is the length of the glove, which would depend upon the length of your sleeve. Short gloves are worn with sleeves that end at the wrist. Three quarter length gloves are worn with three quarter length sleeves.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Grandchild Not Told of Grandmother's Death
Q Do I send a sympathy card to my father when his mother (my grandmother) passed away since I live in a different state? By the way, I have talked to him over the phone and expressed my sorrow and sympathy when I called him one day to check on her and he proceeded to tell me that she died over a week ago.




A I gather you asked if there was a funeral. Often with older people it is assumed that most of their friends predeceased them. A card would be fine, a heartfelt, handwritten note is always the best response, but a card will do. You are in mourning as well, so perhaps writing your father would be cathartic.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Grandchildren Speaking at Grandfather's Funeral
Q At grandpa's funeral I will be presenting and speaking a trubute from all of us grand kids. There are 7 of us and all will be standing with me except my oldest brother, who is so devistated he says could not attend, what do I say to acknowledge the fact he isn't standing with us?

A There is no reason to point out the absence of your brother at your grandpa's funeral. When you introduce yourself, say you are speaking for all of your grandpa's grandchildren and list each child according to their age eldest to youngest starting with your oldest brother. In a situation such as this, you would not over-explain or even apologize for your brother's absence. People mourn and grieve in their own time and in their own way and everyone will respect his privacy.

We like hearing and we are sorry for your loss.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Grandchildren's Mother Asked Not to Attend Grandmother's Funeral
Q -My ex-mother-in-law passed away. My ex and I are still technically married but have been separated for three years and divorce paperwork has been filed and visitation determined. We were married for 17 years and have three children together. I was asked not to come to the funeral services, yet my ex-husband's ex-girlfriend with whom he has one 27-year-old son is attending and their son (our children's older half brother) isn't even going. Our children are 12, 13, and 15. I have to add that the reason our marriage ended was because or this "ex"-girlfriend, baby mama. I want to be there to support my children and they want me there with them and to show respect to their grandmother. I did not have the best relationship with my ex-mother-in-law, in fact I think she almost considered the ex-girlfriend (mother of her first grandchild) more of a daughter-in-law than me, even though again they never married. We also have a clause in our visitation agreement that specifically prohibits our children from being around my former stepson's mother, as she has a diagnosed mental illness (bipolar) and it was agreed upon in writing that it would be in the best interest of the children at the time to "not expose" the children to her at all. I don't get along with his brothers much either, as their family is loyal to their brother despite the fact that they know he and she are the cause of my finally leaving. I haven't spoken to them in nearly 3 years. If they have asked that I not attend, but the kids want me there, what should I do or not do?

A Take the children to their grandmother's funeral but sit behind them in the church. They would sit with their father, but since a house of worship is a public place you cannot be barred from entering the church. You have just as much right to enter the church as anyone else. Stay in the background but let your children know that you will be there for them when they turn around to look for you. Stay away from your former husband's brother and the mother of his eldest child.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Grandparents' Role in the Death of Infant Granddaughter
Q Please help my husband and I accept a decision our son and daughter-in-law (DIL) have made regarding the ashes of our precious granddaughter who came into this world on May 15, 2013, as a twin, at only 29 weeks and passed on July 30, her actual due date. Of course my husband and I were at their side as fast as we could be. We saw her before she passed, but her mind was gone, her eyes fixed and dilated, her organs shutting down, and then we witnessed the devestating effect of a machine they connected to her. Our sweet baby, as a result of the machine, caused her tiny, little body to shake violently. It was then, our son and DIL decided it was time to let her go. A very hard but compassionate decision. She had a massive brain infection. My husband and I bowed out at their request and left to handle the many things they needed. The next day, our son texted and called to let us know we could each have a keepsake with her ashes in them. We sobbed at the loving idea. Our son is in the Coast Guard and has to move frequently, so learning we could have a small part of our precious grandbaby suddenly became the lifeline we could hold close to our hearts, regardless of where they and our other twin sweetie were in the country. Not long after receiving this information, the offer was suddenly rescinded. We were going to pay for it all and have already covered the funeral expenses and their cremation keepsakes, so it wasn't about money. My husband and I are so confused, devastated, and heartbroken. We know that they are first priority right now as they lost a precious daughter. We've always been there for them, and we know our feelings are not the priority, yet we cannot help but feel heartbroken and, even, angry about this. We, too, are in a severe state of grief, so we know we may make mistakes, and the last thing we want to do is upset our son and DIL, but the rest of the ashes are going to be spread in the ocean soon. There will be no turning back if changing their minds. Right now we feel angry, guilty, extremely hurt, and so confused. Is it wrong for her ashes to mean so much to us? Are we being selfish? My husband and I are appointed legal guardianship of their kids should anything ever happen to them, so we have a very strong family bond. Please help us get through this. Thank you

A I am sorry for your loss. There is nothing one can say that would make you feel better about the loss of your grandchild. As parents you are role models of behavior. How you behave through all of this will be an example to your children and grandchildren. You make the memories by not making those memories worse. Try to step back and look at the big picture here. Even though you are the grandparents, the pain is not only yours to claim. Be loyal to your son and daughter-in-law and tread gently by going with the flow. Try to understand that their final decision was from their hearts. A decision you should not try to change. If you do, it will only deepen the wound and make the memories worse.

As the elders, we are the memory makers. When we make a big fuss over something, we always end up looking bad. You want to support your son and his wife in their decision and not question their choice. I know this is hard. Emotions are raw. Everyone is in pain. But you must let your granddaughter's parents control their mourning process. Focus on your new granddaughter and make her the apple of your eye.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gratuity to the Pastor
Q What should you tip a pastor who does a funeral?

A It would depend upon finances and how much time the pastor spent working with the family. Check with the pastor's office. Ask, "What is the traditional gift to the rector for his time?" Usually, you would tip anywhere from $200 to a couple of thousand dollars. Again, depending upon the individual and the circumstances. If, say, the pastor visited the deceased in the hospital, in hospice, or at home, you would factor that time into the gratuity.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Etiquette: Including Spouse's Name
Q My mother's husband died 13 days after my mother died. They were married for 14 years. His daughters did not mention my mother in his obituary. We are in the process of ordering my mother's grave marker. She was buried next to my father and her husband will be buried next to his first wife. My brother and I are having second thoughts about including his name on mother's grave marker. What is the proper way to handle this situation?

A What would your mother have wanted?

Think about what her wishes would have been, if she had been asked. Forget about the oversight made by your mother's second husband's daughters because their decisions don't necessarily reflect what he would have wanted inscribed on his gravestone. His daughters took matters into their own hands and didn't second-guess their father, but did what they wanted to do without considering his wishes. Be the "bigger" person by respecting your mother's wishes.

If you don't know what her wishes were, then ask her close friends if she ever discussed her gravestone with them. If she had a friend who lost a spouse that she was close to, she might have expressed her own wishes with him or her.

Consider how your mother handled her husband's death? It sounds as though she was so deeply bereaved by his death, she died. That is a natural occurrence with spouses. Somewhat of a phenomenon, but it happens frequently with co-dependent and deeply devoted spouses. If that is the case, then by all means include your mother's recently deceased husband's name on her gravestone. For instance, you could include this simple line under her dates: Dearly beloved wife of John Jay Johnson (insert his full name).


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Etiquette: Including Spouse's Names
Q My brother died and I will be choosing his headstone. He has 3 grown children with his ex-wife (married 15 yrs, divorced 15) and they had an amiable relationship. He worked out of the country so did not have a very close relationship with his children and they have asked me to tend to all arrangements. Eight years ago he married a lovely Brazilian woman. She met his children and saw him through a painful death. My question is the headstone. My wife thinks only his current wife should be listed - loving husband to ----- and proud father to --- ----and---. I feel like his ex-wife should also be included on the headstone because of the children. Any help is appreciated, I want to do the right thing. Thank you so much for this website.

A If the family agrees, the gravestone can read (insert appropriate names):

John Jay Johnson
Date of birth + date of death (date can just be years)
Dearly beloved husband of
Doris Elizabeth Smith (current name)
and
Carmen Chavez Johnson (second wife, whose dates can be added eventually)

If the family does not agree, then just use the name of his wife at the time of his death. Should your brother's children want their names included, you can include:

Loving father of Mary Louise, George Jay, and John Jay Johnson,
Jr.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Etiquette: Three-Party Marker
Q My "problem":

I'm a 72-year-old man, living in central California. My first wife (and mother of my two children, both living, with kids) died in early 1997 after 38 wonderful years of marriage. However, I was fortunate enough to find another good lady, whom I married in late 1998.

My second marriage, her sixth - she has a total of two children by two of her prior marriages.

Now, as part of getting our ducks in a row, we are making tentative plans for burials, etc.

My thought was to have a common headstone with room for myself and both wives. Her idea is that we (as the "survivors", I guess) should be the ones together, and my first wife (who was cremated but whose ashes I have kept with me) should be "put somewhere else." This sticks in my craw.

However, she HAS been a good and faithful wife to me, and I DO wish to give her her just due, both as to worldly goods while alive, and as to "place" when not.

I am NOT suggesting that I be with my first wife only, and shove her aside - though she has threatened to request burial in her hometown (not where we live, nor where I own an ample - and valuable - family plot) with her parents. She has already said she does not wish to be with any of her former spouses.

Money is not directly an issue here - I could sell my plot (in an exclusive cemetery near a very large city) for more than enough to purchase new sites in any conceivable location in the several rural area(s) now involved.

Any thoughts? Precedents for three-party markers? Thank you very much.

A First off, you need to bury your first wife's ashes so that her children know where she is buried and can find her, or you should let her ashes go to the wind in her favorite outdoor place. It could be an ocean vista or off a boat or up on a mountain top. Nevertheless, the first step is to let go of your first wife's ashes.

If you decide on burying your first wife's ashes, there is nothing wrong with adding this line on her gravestone under her name and dates:

Dearly beloved wife of John Jay Johnston (insert your own name)

Alternatively, you can have your date of birth carved on the gravestone as well, even though you might not necessarily end up being interred there, your deceased date can be added later. This gives you the option, should you outlive your second wife, to decide after her death where your ashes will be interred. The good thing about cremation is that you can will to have your ashes divided between your first wife's grave and your second wife's grave. Nowadays, the smallest lot would have two spaces (plots) to hold two caskets or two urns. However, even though two names can be engraved on the stone, both individuals don't have to be interred there. You own the plot, but your ashes don't necessarily have to be interred there to have your name listed on the gravestone. The cemetery records will record if your remains were actually buried there.

Why not start out by burying your first wife's ashes (should you not let them blow in the wind) in your family plot because at the time of her death she was your wife and some, if not all of your children, might end up being buried near her. My point is that you are burying your first wife for your children's sake, as much as for your own and hers.

Then have a second gravestone made with both your name and dates and your second wife's. Eventually, you can decide whether to divide your ashes or not. Just take care of your first wife's ashes first so that the task is not left to your children. It would be cruel to leave your children to decide how to deal with their mother's ashes--and for that matter yours as well.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Etiquette: When There Are Two Spouses
Q When my mother died fifteen years ago, she was buried in a double plot she and my father bought together. The inscription was designed to allow my father's dates to be inserted at his death.

My father remarried nine years ago and my siblings and I welcomed his new wife into the family. She cared for my father through a difficult illness leading to his death one month ago.

My stepmother would like a new gravestone inscription that includes her: she says that my father wanted that change made. None of my siblings is aware of my father indicating this, and some are strongly opposed to the change.

Is there a protocol in cases such as this? Is there any standard practice?

A Because your parents weren't divorced, you should be able to make a compromise with your stepmother. The compromise would be that you would have your father's ashes divided between the two gravestones, the one with your mother and the one with her. Your father's name and dates can be on both gravestones.

Since you're writing me after the fact and I don't even know if your father was cremated, I should advise that just because your father is not buried next to your mother doesn't mean that his dates can't be completed on the shared tombstone with your mother. Then the stepmother can do what she likes. You don't even have to ask for your stepmother's consent to have your father's dates added to your parent's gravestone. Ashes, casket, or not, what you put on your parents' gravestone is up to you and your siblings.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Etiquette: Widow Has Two Gravestones
Q My husband, who was my best friend, my soul mate, my balance, died from carelessness at a hospital. It has been five years and I am trying desperately to move forward. I have dated a wonderful, caring, loving, respectful Christian man that has been so very patient with me. We are planning on marrying. I feel my heart will always have a hole in it and this will never go away. My question is this. When my husband died, I purchased a headstone with both our names on it. I am having a difficult time deciding if I want to change my name totally and if I do, what do I do about the headstone? I still will be buried with my first husband. If I put a hyphen in my name, can I legally only write my new last name most of the time except on legal documents? Guess I have several questions.

A My heart goes out to you, but do not fret. First off, leave instructions that you want half of your ashes buried with your first husband and the other half buried with your present husband. You need not change the name on the gravestone you share with your first husband, because that was your name when he was alive. On the second gravestone, you can use your first husband's last name as well as your current husband's last name with or without a hyphen. I would use your husband's last name as your middle name. What you have to put on legal documents isn't necessarily what you have inscribed on your gravestone. Legally you can use your husband's last name as your middle name without a hyphen, if you wish to do so; hetn you can use your current husband's name for everyday usage.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Etiquette: Widows Who Remarry
Q When my husband died, I bought a big stone for the two of us. Both of our names and our wedding picture are on it. If I remarry and want to be buried with my new husband what do I do? Do I just leave the first one as is...an empty plot where I would have been placed and then buried with my new husband when we both pass? I would want to be buried with my new husband.

A Not to worry. A lot of people have this same problem. The solution is to have your ashes divided, half buried with your first husband and the other half buried with your current husband. If you aren't being cremated, then have your death date added to your first gravestone and be buried with your current husband; just because you aren't buried with your first husband doesn't mean that your death date can't be added to the already established gravestone.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Etiquette: Wife's Name + Family
Q What is the proper way to refer to a wife's family and married name on a headstone?

A Are you asking about how the wife's name and/or the husband's name should appear on the gravestone? I'm not sure if you are asking about the deceased or the widow. In either case, perhaps this will help (you would insert your own information):

Elizabeth Ann Reynolds Wilson (Reynolds is her maiden name)
insert year of birth + death
Dearly beloved wife of
Richard Alexander Wilson

or

Richard Alexander Wilson
insert year of birth + death
Devoted husband of
Elizabeth Reynolds Wilson







Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Name of Former Spouse
Q I am about to marry a widower. When his third wife passed (and not the mother of his child), he had his name engraved on her tombstone with his birth date. He does not care to be buried beside her, however does not see the need to remove his name. What is proper in this situation? Confused and wanting to handle this correctly.

A Your husband, the widower, would not remove his name from the gravestone. He can still have his name and dates on the gravestone he shares with you. This is a common occurrence that's been going on for centuries when life expectancy was much shorter. Don't give it another thought. The deceased don't know the former spouse isn't buried beside them, but they died with the comfort of thinking that would be so. Forget about the original gravestone and go forward in peace creating your new life together.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone Name When Wife Is Buried With Her First Husband
Q Dear Didi,

My mother-in-law just passed away. She was married and widowed twice and will be buried next to her first husband (my husband's father, to whom she was married for 40 years) and share a headstone with him. Her second husband, to whom she was married for about nine years, was buried next to his first wife after his death 15 years ago.

She has used her second husband's last name for almost 24 years while using her first husband's last name as her middle name. We are wondering what to write her name as on the headstone, when the first husband's last name will be at the top.

I hope you can make sense out of my explanation and give some advice.

Thank you.
Lee

A We think this is a modern situation and then we see the Colonial gravestones where life expectancy was shorter and surviving spouses remarried. Your parents-in-laws' dates will explain the situation, especially when you use the French word "nee" (with an accent aigu over the first e) to identify your mother-in-law's maiden name):

Elisabeth Metcalf Wilson
nee Richardson (add accent aigu over first e)
(add dates of birth and death)

The reader will see the death date of your mother-in-law's first husband, Mr. Metcalf, above on the headstone and understand that Wilson was the last name of her second husband, and therefore "nee Richardson" means her maiden name was Richardson.

If I haven't made this clear, please let me know.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone When There Is a First Spouse
Q My husband's ex-wife died before he even met me. My husband has a grave headstone with his wife's name and room for his name when he passes away. What is proper etiquette for when I die? He wants me to be buried next to him and his dead wife. BUT, there's only room for me to be next to her instead of him. Also, the plot is up north and I'm from the South. This sort of hurts my feelings. I feel that this is insensitive to my feelings. How should I handle?

A The proper way to handle this is for you to get a grave headstone made in the South with your name and his, engraved with the dates of birth with the dates of death to be filled in at a later date. Then when your husband dies his ashes can be divided in half with half going in with his first wife and the other half going with you. You and your husband only need to have one headstone with both your names on it. Your husband certainly cannot make any objections to this compromise. He will know that the smallest lots are for two people. Tell him that proper etiquette is about compromise, consideration, and compassion.

He might even be proud of the fact that he has two headstones, and not just one.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Gravestone/Headstone: Changing the Wording
Q My late brother's sister-in-law had a headstone erected on his grave and the inscription stated that he was a loving brother. As his only sibling, I strongly disagree with this. Can I insist that this be removed from the headstone?

A Of course, you can insist. But do you really wish to bring more unpleasantness into this family relationship?

Find out who is the executor of your brother's estate and ask him/her to have the inscribed words "loving brother" removed from the headstone. Or, at the very least have the inscription corrected to read "loving brother-in-law." Because if the grave and headstone are owned by the heir(s) of the deceased, it is private property.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Greedy Grieving Former Family Members
Q My former father-in-law (divorced from his son 17 hrs ago) passed away this past week and, out of respect for my former mother-in-law, I felt that I should attend the wake (plus he was my grown daughter's grandfather). After a full day of work, I drove 120 miles to attend the wake and spend time with all of the grieving family members. The next day, I was informed that they were surprised that I didn't give them a sympathy card with money in it. They were also upset that my daughter didn't give a card with money. I have always thought that a card was sent in lieu of going to the wake. Did I make a mistake?

A I'm sorry, I have never heard of a grieving family complaining they hadn't received a card with money. No, you did not make a mistake. You went out of your way to do what you thought was your duty. I'm sorry you were treated badly; unfortunately, sometimes people behave badly following a funeral. You did nothing wrong, you responded as you thought appropriate, that was your only obligation.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Grieving: Letting Go
Q My boyfriend's father passed away recently after a long illness. I have been in an exclusive relationship with my boyfriend for 1.5 years; however we do not live together and are not engaged. We are in our 40s. I had met his father and mother on two occasions - holiday dinners at their home. I have met his older sister and her family on a few more occasions. Immediately after the death, I bought sympathy cards for my boyfriend, his mother and his sister. I did not mail the cards right away, pending the obituary and information regarding donations. The funeral was to be three days after the death and there was no visitation or viewing. The obituary was not published until the day before the funeral and suggested donations to a specific charity. I had planned to go to the funeral; however, that afternoon my child became ill at school and I had to go get him and unfortunately could not attend. I had saved a copy of the newspaper obituary for my boyfriend and was going to send it in the sympathy card. However, when I mentioned the obituary, he said he didn't want/need another copy as he was not even able to read it. He had made other comments about not wanting to be reminded about the death and he did not want to talk about it very much at all. He told me about the service, but did not discuss any feelings, etc. Additionally, his mother called the service a "celebration of life" rather than a funeral and the casket was not at the service. Having lost both of my own parents, I was afraid of doing the wrong thing by sending the sympathy cards after the service. It also seemed a bit formal to mail a sympathy card to my boyfriend since we have been together so long and we talk several times per day, etc. When the obituary was published, the charity's address was on it, so I thought perhaps it would be best to send a donation directly to the charity. But now my boyfriend mentioned something about me not sending him a sympathy card. I told him that I had bought the sympathy cards, but I didn't want to go into all of the above, and I don't think he understands how his emotional state and behavior after the death gave me pause. While officially it may be never too late to send a card, since everyone is aware that I am not just learning of the death, I am not sure how to proceed that will not cause someone to be upset, or to think I am tardy in offering my condolences when there really is a lot more to the situation. Should I go ahead and send all of the cards by mail? Should I mention to his mother and sister that I had hoped to offer my condolences in person and am very sorry I was unable to attend the lovely service? Is "lovely service" an appropriate description? Please help.

A Go ahead and send the sympathy cards to all and a small donation to the charity. Send what you would have spent on flowers, if you had sent flowers. I'm not saying you should have sent flowers, I'm just helping you determine how much you would send as a monetary gift in your boyfriend's father's name.

You can call it a "lovely service," but you can also say that you understood that it was a moving and inspired service. Everyone likes to think that the priest or pastor made a special effort for their loved one.

What you have to understand, and I know you will, is that in his own time and in his own way your boyfriend will get through this first stage of mourning. This first stage could take up to three months or longer, so you must be patient. It takes at least three months for the reality to set in; then there are always regrets. What he should have said to his dad, what he should have done. You need to reassure him that he was a very good son, the best of sons.

Certainly in your cards to his mother and sister you can mention that you are sorry that you were unable to attend the service, but you had to take your child home from school because he was sick. That's all you need to say. Saying too much sounds like an excuse. Just mentioning that fact in one sentence sounds more sincere.

Try to make plans to spend some quality time with your boyfriend alone. Perhaps you could go to a cabin on a lake where he and his father used to go fishing. I'm sure if you can carve out some quiet down time for you and him, without your son, he will start expressing his feelings. He needs to feel that it is safe to express his feelings. Guys, as you know, stumble over that, especially about their dads. "Dad would want me to be strong," they think. You can make your boyfriend feel strong without setting off tears. It is a funny thing about crying. You don't understand why you can't cry. Then one day, maybe six months after the death, you find yourself crying over some small trivial thing; you question why you are crying and it suddenly dawns on you that you are crying because you had been afraid to let go of the tears--afraid to let go of your dad.

At some point he will let it out, whether you see this or not is irrelevant, but you will sense that he has at last let go of his emotions. Don't even ask him about it, but you'll know. Be patient. He'll talk when he's ready. Please understand that mourning is a process and grieving is a silent protest over a loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Guest Book
Q Does the guest book at a funeral need to be attended by someone?
Madeline

A No, Madeline, the guest book does not need to be attended by someone because most people know what to do. You will need to check now and then to make sure there is still a working pen with the the guest book. I'm sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of a loved one.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Guest Book: Former Daughter-In-Law
Q How do I sign an obit guestbook for my x-father-in-law? Friend OF FAMILY, FAMILY, FORMER DAUGHTER N LAW? He was my father-in-law for 25 years and I have been divorced from my husband for 10 years.

Thank you!

A I like 'Former daughter-in-law." Although, you could identify yourself closer by signing the guestbook, 'Son Bill's 1st wife.' "Former family member' also works, but isn't as personal.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Guest List: Controlling Who Is Invited: By Invitation Only
Q Dear Didi,

My father-in-law is very likely to pass away in the near future, and I'm trying to get my mind wrapped around some uncomfortable issues surrounding the potential funeral.

He is from a large family that has had a number of issues over the past few years. He has let it be known to his daughter (my wife) that he does not want certain family members to attend his funeral. These include his son and two of his sisters. There are members of his extended family that will want to support his last wishes, while others will be of the opinion that whoever wishes to mourn should be able to do so.

My wife will stand up for her father's wishes, and I fear that she will get caught up in things and not be able to mourn, should he pass.

Is there a protocol for dealing with situations like this? Please help!

A There are tried and true ways of staving off the masses and any unwanted guests. First, you do not list information about the funeral in any newspaper; however, you have to be sure to instruct the funeral director that he is not to mention the location, date, and time of the service in your father-in-law's obituary.

Second, ahead of time, you or your wife and her father need to make up a list of people that he does want to attend his funeral; then divide the list into smaller lists of, say, ten, along with the phone numbers; as soon as your wife's father dies, assign certain friends or family members a list of names to call to invite making it clear that the service is a "By Invitation Only" service and include mentioning the exact location of the reception following the funeral. Some people will not go to a reception, if they have not been invited personally, so you want to make sure that those that are being invited to the service know that they are also being invited to the reception and are therefore, given the location and time of the reception.

Thirdly, have the church cord off, say, just the central pews for those who are invited to the service, leaving those not invited nowhere else to sit but in the far pews to the left and right. Also, you would remind the officiate to, please, not mention the location of the reception to the mourners during the course of the service.

In the case of a dignitary or famous person (for instance Jackie Kennedy Onassis), a printed invitation to the funeral and reception is hand delivered to everyone on the guest list once the church has agreed to the date and time. Sometimes a pew number, written on a printed pew card, is included with the invitation and nobody without a pew card is admitted to the church "for security reasons" or "reasons of space limitations."

Sometimes, that enclosed area in the church has a dignified sign on it that reads: Invited Guests. You have to remember that a church is a house of worship and it is difficult to keep people out when the goal of the parish is to bring in people. You can, however, restrict where people can sit because you are presumably giving preferred seating to those closest to the deceased.

You, your wife, and father-in-law can decide just how exclusive he wishes his funeral to be. Most people won't attend an event uninvited, if through word-of-mouth you have gotten the word out that the funeral is by "Invitation Only." I am a great believer in the spreading of information through word-of-mouth.

Lastly, plan ahead so that there won't be an impromptu receiving line following the service inside, or outside, the church. To make that work, you will have to have cars lined up outside the church to whisk the inner circle away swiftly. Once you allow for one handshake from a mourner, it will be difficult for your wife to pull herself away from subsequent mourners who will want to kiss her or shake her hand while offering condolences. There will be time enough at the reception for condolences.

You can control the funeral with dignity and style, but it is all in the planning--as you apparently already know. Organization is the key to making this a positive experience.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Handling Boyfriend's Mourning Process
Q I HAVE BEEN WITH A MAN I CALL MY BOYFRIEND, HE GAVE ME A RING, AND HAS TOLD HIS FAMILY WE ARE ENGAGED BUT HAS NEVER TOLD ME THAT. WE HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR OVER 15YEARS. HIS EX-WIFE WHOM HE WAS WITH FOR 17YR RECENTLY DIED. THEY HAVE BEEN DIVORCED ABOUT 20 YEARS. HE IS VERY UPSET AND IT IS OBVIOUS HE STILL WAS IN LOVE WITH HER. THIS PUTS ME IN A VERY WEIRD POSITION. I AM NOT SURE HOW TO HANDLE ALL OF THIS. I HAVE ATTENDED HIS FAMILY FUNCTIONS AND THIS WOMAN WAS ALSO AT MANY OF THESE. WE WERE CORDIAL BUT NOT COZY. HE HAS TWO DAUGHTERS BY THIS WOMAN. HOW SHOULD I EXPRESS MY CONDOLENCES TO HIM? ALSO THERE WILL BE A MEMORIAL SERVICE AT ONE OF HIS DAUGHTER'S HOMES. I REALLY DON'T FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING TO SOMETHING LIKE THIS. I LOVE HIS FAMILY AND THE DAUGHTER WHO WILL HAVE THE SERVICE.

A First, take it down a notch. When you type in all upper case letters it seems as if you are screaming.

You need to connect with your boyfriend about this. Be calm. Be supportive. Take it down. Assure him that you want to be there to support him at this difficult time. Ask him to suggest ways you can be supportive.

Then hold back. Stay in the background. Let him know that you are there for him but don't be intrusive. Your boyfriend is ascending into a deep mourning processes. If he is absent emotionally, it has nothing to do with you so don't take it personally and make it all about you. This is all about his loss. In my opinion, tread lightly. Be gentle. Take it down. Let him know you are there for him, but that you are not emotionally needy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Headstones
Q My father passed away last February and we had a lovely and heartfelt service for him a week after his passing. Now it is time to order the gravestones. He was cremated and the ashes will be divided between two cemeteries - one where his parents and siblings are buried and one where mom and all of his children have plots. The main headstone will be in the cemetery where we will all be buried. We are planning a smaller plaque-type stone for the other cemetery. On the plaque, we plan on putting his name, birth date and death date. I would also like to indicate that there is another (primary) burial site, so it doesn't appear as if he were alone in this world. I thought of adding
Husband to _____ and Father of ________; but this does not indicate where the other cemetery is located. I also thought of 'Resting here, home of my youth and also in (name of other cemetery). Space may be an issue as the plaque is smaller than a full-sized headstone. Could you please help with appropriate wording?

Thank you for any advise you can give,
Barb

PS. Mom is anxious to get these stones ordered, so time is of the essence. - Thanks, B

A Since your father's main headstone will be in the cemetery where you, your mother and siblings will be buried, you need only a marker for the ashes in his parents' lot. If there is room on the main headstone of his parents, you could add his name there as well.

Ask yourself why you have to identify that your father is buried elsewhere also. It usually isn't done. On the church lot lists he will be listed in both lots. All the people who mattered to your father will know that his ashes were divided, so why do you need to explain? I'm sorry for your loss and suspect this is not the answer you are looking for, but I don't believe you need to explain on a gravestone that the other half of his ashes are buried elsewhere.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Helping Pay for Former Wive's Gravestone
Q My husband's ex-wife died 2 years ago. They had a nasty divorce and he was left with no assets from the marriage. They had 2 children and they are both in their late 20's. She had a live-in boyfriend for 10 years. When she passed I went to the hospital, the wake and the funeral to support his children. I stayed in the back of the room with my husband. Her affairs have just been settled and the children have asked their father, my husband, if he wants to contribute to her grave stone. He wants to donate. I am bothered by this and think it is inappropriate. May I have your opinion?

A Your husband and his deceased former wife have a history together as well as two children; therefore, it is only natural that he feels responsible for pitching in and helping his children pay for her gravestone. No matter how badly their marriage went south and despite the reasons, you can't erase all those old memories and emotions. As part of his mourning process, and he will be silently grieving, helping to pay for his former wife's gravestone will enable him get through the mourning process faster. Let your husband go with his gut feeling and mourn in his own way. You are so fortunate to be alive and well and have him as your husband; it just wouldn't serve your relationship with your husband well if you interfered with his mourning by making it more difficult than it is. It might even make him bitter and resentful, if he isn't able to mourn in his own way. Be grateful that you have a good marriage and let your husband do the honorable thing by helping his children cover the cost of their mother's gravestone.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Holiday Cards: Is It OK to Send Cards Four Months Out?
Q Is it proper to send out Christmas cards 4 months after spouse's death?

A It is always proper to send out Christmas cards. Friends and family want to know that the spouse left behind is all right and carrying on with his/her life as before. By four months the surviving spouse is beginning to accept the reality of the situation and reaches out to assure everybody that s/he's OK. I can't think of a healthier way to celebrate Christmas.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Holiday Cards: Signing Your Recently Deceased's Spouse's Name
Q Dear Didi,

My husband passed four months ago. I am sending Christmas cards to family and friends. I would like to include my husband's name when I sign the card, how should I write it?

Thank you,
Manang

A Not to be blunt, but people who are deceased don't sign Christmas cards. I'm sorry for your loss, but Christmas cards are supposed to be merry and bright. Signing your husband's name could make them feel sorry for you. Your relatives and friends want to know that you're OK and dealing with your loss in a healthy way. Sign your own name.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Holiday Cards: Signing Your Recently Decesed's Spouse's Name
Q My husband just died unexpectedly on September 1. Is it proper to include a thank-you note from the funeral inside a Christmas Card or should they be mailed separately?

A Christmas cards are supposed to be merry and joyful. Combining your great loss with the merriness of Christmas may not work for some. On the other hand, you know your audience. If you think it works for them, then go forward. If you think someone would be offended, then send them a separate note. What you shouldn't do, would be to sign the card from you and your deceased husband, because that would be strange. The deceased don't send Christmas cards.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Holidays: What to Say on a Christmas Card to Family
Q Now that Christmas is upon us, I find that it's going to be hard to send a card to my Mom and sister since my Dad passed away just over seven months ago. What type of sentiment or words do I choose when we are all still in mourning and it's the holidays. Are there cards out there that have this, because I'm not that good with words like this.

And how can I gently dismiss my father-in-law's 92nd birthday to visit my mom with my adult daughters, who lives three hours away, without hurting my husband or his dad. I'm sure they would understand but I don't know.

A Christmas cards are supposed to be merry and they really shouldn't double as a sympathy or condolence card. Send your regular Christmas card, but include a sweet and gentle note that says something like this: Today and every day we remember Dad, and we are fortunate to have one another to love in his memory.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Honoring a Deceased Son in Your Christmas Card
Q What do we write in Christmas cards regarding our adult son's death in Sept.?

A I am sorry for your terrible loss. There is nothing worse than going through the death of one's child. This Christmas will be difficult, but you will get through it. As Christmas cards are traditionally filled with joy and good cheer, you want to be cheerful, joyful and grateful the life of your son. Some mourning parents or spouses enclose a photo of their deceased loved one inside the traditional card. The photo would have his Christian name and dates. You wouldn't need to do more or say more if you included such a photo. However, on the photo or card you could write, "Today and everyday we are deeply grateful for the life of our son, John."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Horse Drawn Hearse Ritual
Q We buried my mother last week and the funeral home made every mistake that they could. We are concerned that she may have been facing the wrong way in the horse drawn hearse. Should her casket have been placed with her head to the front of the hearse or should she have been put in feet first? It made us question whether she was buried correctly. Thanks for your help/

A This is only a guess, but I would say feet first. Please don't be concerned that your mother wasn't buried correctly; I understand how upset you must be and I am sorry for your loss.

Personally, I believe in cremation.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: How Long for Thank-You Notes
Q How long after a funeral should thank-you cards be sent out???...

A There is no law written in stone and no funeral etiquette police task force; everyone understands how difficult is to write thank-you notes and that thank-you notes for expressions of sympathy are the hardest thank-you notes of all to write. Three months from the funeral is acceptable. The problem with waiting much beyond a couple of weeks is that people will fear that you did not receive their flowers or card if they don't hear from you within a reasonable period of time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: How Much to Pay?
Q How much money would be appropriate to give as a gift to funeral participants?

A Obviously it depends on how wealthy you are, how well you knew the deceased, and whether your monetary contribution is needed. You're the best judge of that. It goes without saying, that if the person worked for you and his family will struggle to pay his death fees, you would pay more. As much as you could afford. On the other hand had, if that's not the case, the cost of a decent funeral wreath or arrangement would be sufficient.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Husband Attends Former Wife's Father's Funeral with New Wife
Q We lost our mother ten years ago. Our parents were married at the time of the death, but definitely not happily. At the time of her passing, we were all young adults but none of us were married or had children.

My father has since remarried (three years ago). My mother's father (our grandfather) just passed away last week. How should he classify himself with my mother's family? A former in-law? And if so, how should he conduct himself at the wake? Where should he be located in the funeral procession? Where should he and his new wife sit in the church for the service? Are they both welcome at the burial without an invitation? If we the grandchildren asked our father not to bring his new wife to the service out of respect to both our grandparents (who were upset to be around her at my children's birthday parties, etc.), as well as because this is an incredibly hard and emotional time for us, are we within our limits from an etiquette perspective? Our father was quite angry with our request. My father's new wife did not have a relationship with my grandparents.

My father's new wife did not attend the wake, but he stood up at front during the wake as if a current in-law, and attended the private family dinner afterwards (he was invited, but I am sure he asked to be). He invited his brothers and sisters (my other side of the family) to the funeral--all six of them--and had his new wife sit with them at church. He walked in with the deceased's immediate family and then as he walked by his new wife, she grabbed his arm and sat up with my family. During the funeral procession, he was lined up after the limo and before any of the other deceased's children and his new wife was in the car with him. My father, his new wife, and his entire family also came out to the cemetery, which was especially painful since our mother was buried next to our grandfather. My father, his wife, and my other side of the family also attended the after reception and sat at a table by themselves. We do not have a close relationship with my father's side of the family, so it very much seemed like a show of solidarity for my father and his new wife rather than a show of support for myself and my siblings.

From the tone of my letter, it is very obvious that we have a lot of issues going on. However, I just wanted to know--from an etiquette perspective--what I am entitled to be upset about and in which ways he overstepped. Thank you very much.

A The key here is that your father's new wife did not have a relationship with your grandparents, in fact if she had never really met them (meaning they hadn't been to her house and she hadn't been to theirs) then it was hypocritical of her to attend the funeral.

Because your parents were never divorced, technically your father is still their son-in-law even though he's remarried because he remarried after your mother's death. He was entitled to attend the funeral as long as he got along with your mother's father. However, it was presumptuous of him to bring his new wife. He should have been there in support of his children and your grandmother. He would not be in the receiving line at the wake, nor would he be in the procession or recession at the funeral unless invited, and he would sit in back of his children and grandchildren during the funeral service. He shouldn't have gone to the burial without a personal invitation from a member of the family.

Because he and his new wife were invited to your children's birthday parties, etc., they falsely assumed that as extended members of the family, they should participate to the extent that they did. Boundaries should have been set. Either an uncle of grandchild should have told your father and his wife not to attend the burial or the reception. As churches are a house of worship, you couldn't have bared them from the church, but you had every right to tell them not to attend the burial and the reception. As to the wake, that's when your father should have been given the heads-up that he wasn't being invited to the burial or reception. In the future, when they appear at the next wake, designate someone to take him aside to tell him not to attend the burial or the reception. If he's not invited to the burial or the reception, then he probably won't attend the funeral service. The kindest thing to do is next time head him off at the pass with a phone call so they don't attend the wake or the funeral service, that way they won't come at all. You are perfectly correct from an etiquette perspective, but you cannot bar anyone from a funeral parlor or church. However, you can certainly tell them not to come.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Husband Buried With Current Wife
Q What are the normal burial arrangements for a man who is widowed and remarries what he calls 'the love of his life'? His plot is already bought and paid for with his wife-with whom he did not have a good relationship, along with one for his son. Is it improper to expect him to be buried with his second wife?

A No, it is not improper for him to be buried with his second wife. This sort of situation arises all the time. He would be buried with his current wife. If he predeceases his second wife, she has the option of being buried with him or otherwise.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Husband Doesn't Want Wife at His Mother's Funeral
Q What do you think of my husband of 19 years telling me to not attend his mother's funeral? My husband would never visit his mother without me and I spent many holidays preparing meals for their family and also taking care of her when she came home from rehab. I am very hurt over this and now am questioning my reasons for staying married to this man.

A Ask him why he doesn't want you attending his mother's funeral? Did his mother tell him that she didn't want you not attend? Or is this his decision?

By asking him to explain his behavior, you are opening up communications. Keep asking questions until you get to the root of his strange behavior. Keep your voice low, sweet, gentle and calm in order to keep him engaged in conversation.

Gently tell him how you feel about this, but remember that he is grieving deeply for his mother and communicating might be extremely difficult for him at this time, so take a step back and let him mourn in his own way, and in his own time and eventually you'll get him to tell you why.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Husband's Mother's Funeral + His Ex Will Be There
Q My husband and I have been together 8 years and have a 6 year old daughter. He has a 20 year old daughter with a woman he can't stand, but tolerates because of their daughter (they were together on and off 18 months to 2 years before he left. He stayed that long because of his daughter and he makes it very clear to everyone). His mother passed away and his daughter's mother will be attending the funeral and this really irritates me.

His family likes her more than me because she is clingy and always hangs around (It was obvious she hung around to try and get him back - that's a whole other story). I have always been reserved and independent, I have never felt welcome around them. Also, their resentment results from my husband changing his visits to holidays and birthdays from almost every weekend. He visited less often because I told him how uncomfortable I was with her always around. I told him his daughter, 12 at the time, was old enough to call and visit on her own. Instead of addressing his ex, he stopped visiting as frequently, so his family blamed me. My relationship with my husband is not going anywhere, we are working on our second child, I am upset his family favors the ex even after 8 years. Should I mention something to my husband about my discomfort in his ex attending the funeral or should I grin and bear it? (I don't know if this matters, but I am 17 years my husband junior and 15 years his ex's junior - so I am 27, my husband 44 and the royal pain is 42)

A You're not going to like my answer. Your husband's family is going to take a very long time to warm to you. She had him first and she's played that card since she wiggled her way into their hearts. Bad mouthing her to anyone is not going to serve you well.

Having a second child will help you. Focus on your family unit and when they see what a extraordinarily fine person, wife, mom and stepmother you are, they will come around. It will take time. Be patient. Remember simple things such as birthdays and anniversaries. Being a supportive mother to your husband's first child will help enormously and she may be your key to wiggling into their hearts. Just be sure that you don't let her play you against her mother and her mother against you.

Let's face it. You are stuck with your stepdaughter so you better strengthen your relationship with her. Over time she will respect you if she feels you are consistent and looking out for her best interests. It is also nice for your daughter to have an older sister.

As hard as this may sound, you have to change your attitude. Start with the funeral. Don't forget you are his wife. Everyone will be watching to see how well you behave. Greet her with a warm handshake and respect. She is the mother of your husband's child. You are a role model of behavior to both your daughter and stepdaughter. How you behave is how you're teaching these children to behave in difficult situations such as a family funeral.

Go with grace and dignity to the funeral. Remember that mothers are the memory makers. You don't want your husband's mother's funeral to be clouded by bad memories you created. If you take the high road and treat your stepdaughter's mother with respect, the rest of his family will feel more warmly toward you. You can do this.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: 'In Lieu of Flowers'
Q Dear Didi,

A person I worked with for several years recently died and left two children around 14 & 16. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to an education fund for their children at a local bank, which seems odd to me. Is asking for something like this proper etiquette? I feel a bit uncomfortable just sending a check to their bank account. V.W., Providence

A Dear V.W.,

No, it is not improper. Understandably, many families with children would rather have your twenty or thirty dollars allocated into a college fund, rather than have it spent on flowers that will be thrown away the following day. To personalize your gift, send a separate condolence card to the widow mentioning that you sent a check to the bank for her children's education fund. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: In Lieu of Flowers: Why families Request This
Q A person I worked with for several years recently died and left 2 children around 14 & 16. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to an education fund for their children at a local Bank, which seems odd to me.
Is asking for something like this proper etiquette?
I feel a bit uncomfortable just sending a check to their bank account.


A Understandably, many families with younger children would rather have your thirty or fifty dollars allocated into a college fund, rather than have it spent on flowers that will be thrown away the following day.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Including the Former Spouse
Q My husband of thirty years recently passed.
He was married before and has TWO children who are one year and four years my junior.
His ex-wife lives with one of these children.
She has publicly condemned him for 50 years.
The children are assisting me with Memorial Mass arrangements.
I intend to supply the children with invitations for the Memorial Mass so that they can invite whom they would like.
I have never met their mother.
She has recently had heart surgery but is well enough to get about now. She is 80 yrs. old.
The children and I are in our 50's.
They are somewhat simple people and lack education and etiquette.
Would it be proper of me to send the ex-wife an invitation with a note card that reads:

Dear Louise,
Glad to hear you are feeling better.
I sincerely hope that you can attend.
Best Wishes,
Jane

or...would that be wrong to even consider and perhaps I should address the situation differently.
Shouldn't she be there for her children, if nothing else?
Also, I am thinking his Memorial may be cathartic in that she can finally let go of ill feelings towards him.


A Having a face-to-face conversation with your husband's former wife would be best, but if that isn't possible, a handwritten note might also work. Tell her that you know her children would like her to attend as well and that you look forward finally to meeting her. You know what to say, so say it sweetly and kindly. Assure her that she will be seated with her family in the church and welcomed at the burial and reception. You could also suggest that you could arrange to have her picked up and taken home, although that might be overdoing it. However, if she is in ill-health, perhaps she would welcome the assistance.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Individual Sympathy Cards
Q One of my best friends of over 40 years mother died. I've known the entire family that long. She has one sister and a father. Do I need to send all of them individual sympathy cards? And is money always appropriate?

A You don't "need" to do anything. If you feel like sending a note of compassion, it might be the considerate thing to do. No, you would not send money unless you were close to the family and knew they were having trouble paying the expenses of the funeral. Often the newspaper announcement will ask people to send a donation to the deceased's favorite charity in lieu of sending flowers.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Infidelity Surfaces at Wife's Father's Death
Q My father-in-law passed away and my wife's ex-lover sent her mom $1000 with a card. In turn, my wife, her sisters, and my mother-in-law made a decision not to tell me. I feel betrayed by this action and have concerns as to whom I can trust.

A I am sorry you feel betrayed, but you've been feeling that way since you found out that your wife had a lover. It's easy to commiserate with you. You're questioning whether the former lover is trying to get her back and that must feel like a challenge. It sounds at though you and your wife have been working it out. This is just a minor glitch in that process. You can let your ego take over and get all angry (justifiably) out and start yelling at your wife, her sisters, and your mother-in-law or you can power up and move on. Look at it this way. Your wife is still with you. If she didn't prefer you over him, she wouldn't be with you now.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Information for Calling Hours
Q We are planning my mother's calling hours. She has been ill for a long time. We have started hospice. We are considering having the family "receive guests" at a local restaurant instead of the funeral home. We just don't want the atmosphere of the funeral home. We will still have a traditional funeral. How would we word her obituary appropriately so people understand to come to the restaurant for "calling hours"? Thanks for your help.

A Usually the funeral parlor handles the obituary. They have a form that they fill out with the family representative which they then submit to the local newspapers. Give the funeral director your information for the calling hours and he will see that the information is printed in the paper.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Informing Deceased's Friends
Q My mother passed away. There are several people in her address book but I have not met them. Is it acceptable to write to them regarding her memorial service?

A We've all had this experience, so it wouldn't be unusual to receive information about your mother's memorial service. Send short notes, or telephone, those whom you don't know. You're not looking for anything; your job is of the informant.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Informing Former Spouse About Your Parent's Death
Q Should I notify my ex-husband of my father's death because we were married for 20 years and my ex-husband knew him for so long although they were not close? We have been divorced for 4 years and do not have a good post divorce relationship. Would the notification be a common courtesy?

A Your former husband will find out, whether you tell him yourself or he hears it through the grapevine. If you think he should know, but you don't want to talk to him, you can always have another member of your family call him for you. The person could say, "Laura asked me to call and tell you that her father died on May 28th." Whether you instruct that person to invite him to the service is up to you.

If your former husband and father were not close, then he might not feel the need to attend the service. On the other hand, he might not feel right about attending a service uninvited. Formers are often reluctant to show up at a service uninvited. If your former husband and father had cross words, you needn't feel obligated to tell him.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: In-Laws: Husband's Family Doesn't Attend Your Mother's Funeral
Q Dear Didi,

My dear mother passed away recently, and the funeral was yesterday. My husband and I are stunned and deeply hurt that we haven't heard a word from any of his family members, all of whom were notified immediately of her passing, and of the funeral arrangements. We have attended the wakes and funerals of every one of his siblings' in-laws who have died in our 25 years of marriage. We can't understand why they would not reciprocate this expression of sympathy. They all attend other wakes and funerals. We even learned that his sister and her family from out-of-town were here for the weekend (yesterday and today) to visit friends. How can we let them know how hurt we feel? G.H.


A Dear G.H.,

Why would you want to pass on your pain and try to hurt them? Guilt tripping doesn't work. It is odd that nobody from your husband's family attended your mother's wake and/or funeral or sent their condolences. I'm sorry for your loss. You're in a lot of pain and you don't want to pass it on by saying something you'll be sorry for in retrospect.

We all deal with death in our own way and in our own time. You will hear from some of these in-laws when they're ready to express their sympathy. Give them the benefit of the doubt and don't do anything. Watch, wait and you'll hear from a few of them. Aside from posting a photo of your mother on Facebook announcing her death, there isn't anything you can do but be thankful when you do hear from them. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: In-Laws: When Your Husband's Family Doesn't Attend Your Mother's Funeral
Q My dear mother passed away recently, and the funeral was yesterday. My husband and I are stunned and deeply hurt that we have heard not one word from any of his family members, all of whom were notified immediately of her passing and of the funeral arrangements. We have attended the wakes and funerals of every one of his siblings' in-laws who have died in our 25 years of marriage. We can't understand why they would not reciprocate this expression of sympathy. They all attend other wakes and funerals. We even learned that his sister and her family from out-of-town were here for the weekend (yesterday and today) to visit friends. How can we let them know how hurt we feel?

A Why would you want to pass on your pain and try to hurt them? Guilt tripping usually backfires. It is odd that nobody from your husband's family attended your mother's wake and/or funeral or sent their condolences. Take some time before you do anything. I'm sorry for your loss. You're in a lot of pain and you don't want to pass it on by saying something you'll be sorry for in retrospect.

We all deal with death in our own way and in our own time. You will hear from some of these in-laws when they're ready to express their sympathy. Give them the benefit of the doubt and don't do anything. Watch, wait and you'll hear from them. Aside from posting a photo of your mother on Facebook announcing her death, there isn't anything you can do but be thankful when you do hear from them.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Keeping People from the Church
Q Does a funeral director have the right to ban a person from attending the wake and funeral of a close friend to the deceased held on church property? I understand maybe at his funeral home but what about a church where everyone is supposedly welcome no matter what the request of his paying client.

A A house of worship is open to the public. The only option is to control a section of the church by cording it off with a velvet rope and a small sign saying "By invitation only." Then those who have not been personally invited are encouraged to sit outside the roped-off area. It is more about providing enough room for the family and close friends, when the person was popular or a celebrity.

On the other hand, if the partner or closest relative of the deceased asks a person not to attend the reception, they should not attend. In most cases the reception is at home and for whatever reason, if that person doesn't want someone in their home or at the reception they are hosting, the person shouldn't attend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Keeping People from the Church
Q Dear Didi,

Does a funeral director have the right to ban a father from attending the wake and funeral of his deceased son? I understand maybe at his funeral home but what about a church where everyone is supposedly welcome no matter what the request of the paying client? Name and address withheld


A Dear Sir:

A house of worship is open to the public, and a funeral director has no right to deny access there. The only exception is to control a section of the church by cording it off with a red velvet rope and a small sign saying "By Invitation Only." Then those who have not been personally invited are encouraged to sit outside the roped-off area. It is more about providing enough room for the family and close friends, especially when the person was popular or a celebrity.

On the other hand, if the partner or closest relative of the deceased asks a person not to attend the reception, they should honor his or her wish. In most cases the reception is at home and for whatever reason, if that person doesn't want someone in their house at the reception they are hosting, he or she shouldn't attend. In this case, the funeral director or a designated family member could be on the look-out for the unwanted guest. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Keeping Up With the Widow/Widower
Q My friend's husband passed away 4 months ago. Their 53rd anniversary is coming up. What is the proper etiquette in acknowledging their anniversary?

A Take her to lunch and talk about the times you all had together. Or, have her for dinner inviting mutual friends. No need to dwell, but widows like to feel free to talk about their beloved spouse. We think they don't want to talk about their deceased spouse, but they really want to do so.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Knowing Family Doesn't Like You
Q My husband's father and grandmother (maternal) have both passed away 1 day apart. The problem that I have is that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both hate me to the point of trying to prevent my husband and me from marrying. Since that has happened neither one of us has spoken to either of them. I feel uncomfortable going to these funerals but I know I have to be there to support my husband. But, my question is how do I handle the situation of having to be in very close proximity to them? I don't want to ignore them because I feel like it would be extremely rude in this situation, but I also don't even want to look at them considering they tried to ruin my marriage.

A Well, apparently your mother-in-law and sister-in-law did not ruin your marriage, so you are in the cat bird's seat, so to speak. You don't have to say, "I told you so," because you know and they know that they were wrong. Because the funeral setting is dower with everyone in mourning, you won't be expected to be social, charming, and therefore hypocritical. Just be yourself. Say hello, tell them you are deeply sorry for their loss and give them space. When you know someone doesn't like you, keep out of their space as much as you can. Be civil. Don't speak unless you're spoken to. If you do, ask, "What can we do to help?"

In my opinion, you would send them both cards with a handwritten, heartfelt message expressing your deepest sympathy for their loss before signing your name. That way you can't be criticized.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Late Condolences: Are O.K.
Q I am on the Board of an HOA. A neighbor's dad passed almost two months ago. He was a resident in our subdivision. We just heard about his death. Is it too late to send a card, flowers, etc.?

A It is never too late to send a sympathy card. Better late than never. Although you might not want to send one a year after the death saying that you just found out.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Late Condolences: Are O.K.
Q Dear Didi,

I am on the Board of an Home Owners Association. A neighbor's dad passed almost two months ago. He was a resident in our subdivision. We just heard about his death. Is it too late to send a card, flowers, etc.? W.L., Needham, MA


A Dear W.L.,

It is never too late to send a condolence card. Better late than never. Although you might not want to send one a year after the death saying you just found out. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Late Husband
Q Hi, I am a young widow, my name is Bonnie, my deceased husband's name is Jeff. I am now in a new relationship with Paul. I am confused as to how to refer to my deceased husband. My new love, Paul, has mentioned that when I call Jeff "my husband", it is uncomfortable to him. He feels as if he is dating someone's wife or that I am still married.
However, I thought the term EX was for divorced references. What is proper? I certainly want to respect my deceased husband's memory and I also want to respect Paul and his feelings. How do I refer to Jeff to people, including Paul?

A When referring to your deceased husband you would say "my late husband," or "my late husband, Jeff." Former and ex-husband are used only when you are divorced. Since you are widowed, your deceased husband is your "late husband." In this instance, late means "passed away."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Letter to Mourners: Daughter's Mother-In-Law (2)
Q My daughter's mother-in-law died...i knew her very well and I am going to to have my daughter address the mourners since I cannot be there because of poor health...she, my daughter, will read my sentiments by reading a letter that I have composed...I want to know how I should word the opening remarks in the letter which I will compose and which will be read by my daughter..of course my son-in-law, and others, will also address the mourners..I am very close to my son-in-law and the family wants me to make an address, even if is by letter...what could be the opening words in the letter?...Jerry Sullivan ..jayyay@sbcglobal.net

A 1.) "Alice touched the hearts of all of us. Generous and kind to a fault with her time and resources, she brought people together, as she has done today."

2.) "I am sad that I am not able to be with all of you today, but deeply honored to have been asked to send a few gentle words."

3.) Since I didn't know your daughter's mother-in-law, I don't know any sweet and funny anecdote to use as an opening. Think of a very short story that illustrates her character and personality and tell it. Start with an anecdote, a short and amusing or interesting story about her to which other mourners can relate.

We like hearing from you. Do let us know what you decide to lead with when you have the time.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Letters of Sympathy
Q My husband's grandmother passed away. He has flown back to his hometown for the funeral but I've stayed back with our daughter (flights were too expensive for us all to fly back). Should I do something from afar? Flowers to my mother-in- law? I feel like I should do something but don't know what. Thanks for your help.

A The nicest thing you can do is to write your mother-in-law a heartfelt, handwritten note on your best stationery. You needn't make excuses as to why you could not attend her mother's funeral because your husband will explain. Just express your sympathy for her terrible loss and say that you and her granddaughter send your love and prayers. There is nothing more appreciated than a personal letter. You can also include a recent photograph of your daughter to cheer her up.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Letting Go of Loved Ones: Mourning
Q My father-in-law lost his wife in March. To my surprise he signed my birthday card with both of their names, that was in June. My niece just had a birthday, which is their grandchild, and he signed it the same way.
How do we tell him this is creepy? Here comes Christmas and he does sends out cards, I don't think it is appropriate to still sign both of their names... is it?

A Believe me, your father-in-law isn't the only one who finds it difficult to let go. My uncle died five years and my aunt hasn't changed the message on her voicemail. It still says, "This is Betty and Tom, please leave your message and we'll return your call." A close friend of mine couldn't change her husband's voicemail greeting for three years after he died. At first it upset me, but then I realized that erasing his voice from the greeting was difficult to do. Something she kept putting off doing. Eventually she changed it. Your father-in-law still thinks of himself as Ted-n-Sally. Think of it as his way of holding on.

You're just going to have to cut your father-in-law some slack on this. I agree it is creepy, but co-dependent widows and widowers remain co-dependent even after the love of their life dies. Sure you can try talking to your father-in-law about this annoyance, but expect a heartbreaking response. So be ready to comfort him.

For your information, nine months isn't enough time to mourn. It takes most people three to four months just to accept the fact that a loved one is deceased. Your father-in-law could well mourn for another two years, so be patient with him. In his own time, in his own way, he will let go of his wife. He is probably very lonely, so try to understand that you all need to be patient with him. Perhaps you can organize the family to rally around him and take turns spending more time with him. Make up a schedule where he comes to your family once a week, another member of the family's house another day of the week, and so on. Once he stops feeling so lonely, he will feel less co-dependent as he starts collecting more recent memories.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Listing Faimly Names: Former Wife
Q I am putting together a program for my brothers funeral. How do I list his ex-wife under survived by? He was unmarried at his death.

A I am sorry for your loss. It is good of you to take the lead on this. It must be a very difficult time for you.

At the end of the list, after listing any children, grandchildren, and other blood or step relatives, you can have one sentence that goes like this: Survived by (his) former wife Alice Ross Smith. You would use her given first and last name (maiden name), ending with the married name she is currently using.

One doesn't use the word ex-wife, when "former wife" sounds so much gentler. Short on space, you can skip the pronoun "his."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Listing Former Family Members in the Obituary
Q Should ex-mother-in-law, sister and brother-in-law be listed in obituary after a divorce?

A The former mother-in-law, sister and brother-in-law do not have to be listed in the obituary. The information in the obituary is at the discretion of the deceased's family, or the executor of his estate. If the deceased did not leave instruction as to who should be included in his obituary, it is up to his family or executor. Usually the funeral parlor coordinator inquires about the details from the family before sending the obituary on to the paper(s) for publication. With the press you only tell them what you want them to know.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Loss of Baby
Q What is appropriate to give or say to parents who have just lost their one-year-old in a swimming pool tragedy?

A Nothing is more devastating than the death of a child.
Why not say something like this: I am deeply sorry for your loss. Our love and prayers are with you. Then you might offer to be of assistance: If there is anything at all I can do for you now, or in the future, you have only to ask.

Do some homework to find out from family and close friends what they need: help with the cost of the gravestone or the name of a good grief counselor.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Managing Family Members
Q For my father's funeral, the 4 sisters are to sit in the car with mum; however there has been a serious family breakdown over dad's medical care and death and there is a split-2 are not talking to the other two. Any suggestions? I am one of 3 brothers and will be in another car. There is a split amongst them and us as well so at wits end how to get through this tragic event.

A It sounds as though you are the man in charge. Most importantly, you have to tell everyone that the focus has to be on Dad, and any grievance needs to be put on the back burner. The family is going through a crucial period of the mourning process and you need to set boundaries to control anger and frustration. Tell them to take it take it down a notch and that you will have a family discussion when the dust has settled.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Married Lover Asks Mistress to Attend His Mother's Funeral
Q My married lover's elderly mother has died and he wants me to go to the funeral - albeit to sit at the back and just be introduced as a friend.

Should I go?

A Do you think it would be titillating for your lover to imagine you sitting in the back of the church while he and his long-suffering wife and family are staged in the first pews? Who's the second class citizen here, you or your lover's wife?

At funerals you sometimes see someone who doesn't quite fit in sitting alone off to the side at the back of the church dabbing her eyes with a tissue. Is it the deceased's secretary with whom he's had a longtime affair or merely a former lover? No matter how hard you try to fit in, you'll stick out. If you go to the funeral, sit in the middle near the aisle. Don't look like an outsider. Wear gloves and a hat to fit the part. Best not attend the reception or burial, if mummy wouldn't approve. A busybody might ask you about your relationship to the deceased. Better have an answer for that, if you attend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mass Card for Former Lover
Q Dear Didi,

I was with a fella who died a few weeks ago and I went to the funeral but I don't know if it would be weird to send a mass card to his family. I only met his brother officially a couple of times. It's something we do in my family when someone dies, but I don't know if I should send one to his family. What do you think? E.C., South Dartmouth, MA


A Dear E.C.,

If he was a Catholic, then go with your gut feeling and send a mass card. If they are not Catholic, then send a condolence card to the family member you know, his brother. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mass Cards: To Send Or Not: Former Lover
Q I was with a fella who died a few weeks ago and I did go to the funeral but I don't know if it would be weird sending a mass card to his family since I only met his brother officially a couple of times. It's like a thing we do in my family when someone dies but don't know if it would be weird sending one to his family.


A If he's Catholic, then go with your gut and send a mass card. If his family is not Catholic, then send a condolence card to the family member you know the best, his brother.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Meaningful Sentiment
Q My boss's sister's child has just passed away; I have met my boss's sister twice in 15 years. Should I send a sympathy card to my boss and her sister or should I just send a card to my boss? Thank you for your help.

A It's your boss. Send a card to your boss and another to his sister.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Contributions
Q My husband recently passed away and many people gave memorial contributions. I sent thank-you notes to all who contributed. One person continues to give and give and give. Do I send a thank you to that person each time a contribution is given or not?

A Yes, if you accept the contribution, you have to send an acknowledgment that you have received it and appreciated it.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Fund Donations
Q The family has said they are not having flowers for the funeral, instead they are setting up a memorial fund in honor of their loved one. When sending money to the memorial fund, do you send it with a sympathy card or not?
Thank you for your help.


A This is twofold. Send a condolence card to the family. Whether you mention in your personal note that you are sending a donation to the memorial fund or not is up to you. Know that for tax purposes, the memorial fund will have to send you an acknowledgment. Then in time, the family will send you a personal thank-you for your donation.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Gift Etiquette
Q Our father just passed away and he wasn't married. My grandma has been receiving cards in the mail and such. My question is...Is it proper for her not to give us the memorials to pay for the funeral expenses that we still are incurring? The cards are addressed to family. She wants to give them to a church and we still have outstanding bills for the funeral expenses. I would just like some input on this. She won't even let us look at the cards because she says they are only for her...Not sure how to approach the situation.

A Tell your grandma that you are having acknowledgment cards printed up to send to thank people for their gifts and that you need to make up a list with names and addresses, as well as identifying what the memorial was: A card? A card with a check or cash? Flowers? Food?

You can ask for her input for the wording, as well as the design navy: blue or black type, bright white card or off- white, with a photo or without? On a fold-over card, these words would be centered on the front, then inside members of the family can write a couple of sentences to personalize the note:

The family of
George Harrison Smith
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

You can tell your grandma that many of the memorial gifts were sent by friends of your mother's, and you and your siblings, and that you all want to acknowledge those personally. Explain that as a family, you all have to pitch in to take care of the details and therefore she needs to share those cards with you. Tell her that you will give her acknowledgments to send to her friends and with her make up her list with addresses. That way she'll feel that she is doing her part. If she won't budge, perhaps you could get her to compromise by telling her that she can keep the gifts from her friends, but the rest of the monetary gifts have to go to pay the bills. That way she gets to feel a part of the mourning process that will help her heal.

Your grandmother is holding on to your father; it is extremely difficult for her let go. You must remember that it takes at least three to four months to realize fully that a loved one has died and at least another year to get the healing process going. Get her to show you the letters. Look at them together. Ask her if she could please "share" the sentiments with you and go over them. Then show her the bills for the funeral and burial and tell her that the gifts are meant to pay those bills.

It will take all of the patience that you can muster, but that's what you'll need to help your grandma to understand that you are trying to help her and that she needs to help you settle the estate of your father's affairs. Make it clear that you need to divide up the names of the gift givers amongst the family members so that everyone can write their own words of thanks on their acknowledgment cards.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Gift Timing
Q An acquaintance died 1 month ago and his wife asked for contributions for a project he was working on. We attended the memorial service but haven't sent a contribution yet. Is it too late to send money for the project?

A No, it is not too late to make a memorial gift. Actually, you have up to a year, so not too worry.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Gifts
Q My sister-in-law's husband died in an accident. He left behind a wife, a daughter (13-yrs-old), and a business which has been sold already to a partner in the business. His mother and sisters took all the memorial cards and began going through them and recording the gifts of money, etc. To my knowledge 3 accounts have been set up for the monies: one for the widow, one for the daughter and one for parents of the deceased. The widow to this day which has been 3 months now has no idea what amount of money came in or what amount of money was donated or given to the churches. Question is: if a card was given to his parents or gifted to the ______ family, who is entitled to the gift of money? And all the money given? She has been left with a very large debt created by her husband she would like to be able to stay in the home which she owes the in-laws a lot of money. I hope you can kinda get the picture and get back to me with the proper handling of the money/gifts received. Thank you Mbb

A Simply have your sister-in-law ask the mother and sisters for a list of everyone who sent in or gave a memorial card with the excuse that she wants personally to acknowledge each and every gift herself with a personal thank-you note. Since you say that the gifts have already been recorded, it should be easy for them to furnish your sister-in-law with a copy of that list.

If that doesn't work, she has no alternative but to have a lawyer notify the mother and sisters that the widow "needs a full accounting for tax purposes." Sometimes just the subtle mention that "my lawyer says I need a final accounting of all gifts" is enough to get a response. Nobody wants to be involved with a lawyer because it can be costly as well as time consuming. Your sister-in-law needs full disclosure, full transparency about what exactly has come in and from whom so that she knows whom to thank for what. This is not an unreasonable request from the widow and she shouldn't be timid about asking for it.

I am curious as to why a college account wasn't set up for the thirteen-year-old daughter. Perhaps your sister-in-law should also say, "My lawyer says that a college fund has to be set up for my husband's daughter." The widow also has the right to see how the money that came in has been spent, so she should ask to see the bills for the funeral and burial expenses. In my opinion, any monies that come in should go first towards paying those expenses, and then whatever is left over should go into the deceased's daughter's college fund.

Quite frankly, the widow's concern for the whereabouts of the monies from selling the deceased's business should be a big concern. The partners should be asked for a full accounting of the sales transaction. Once again, she can either hire a lawyer to do this, or she can say, "My lawyer wants to see the sales agreement for my husband's share on the business." Find out who represented the widow and deceased for the sale. Details of the sale will be public record, which you or the widow will be able to find in the records department of the City Hall in the town where the business is incorporated or in the state capital City Hall. The sooner the widow takes back control of her husband's estate, the better.

Who is the executor of the widow's husband's estate? If her husband didn't have a will, then all of the money should be going to the widow and child. Did the deceased have a lawyer? If he did, that lawyer would have a copy of the will and should be in the process of probating that will. Once the will is probated it becomes public record. In order to do so, as part of the probate process, the lawyer has to run an ad in the local paper advising creditors to come forth with any claims. The widow needs to stand up for the rights of her child and herself, as she has a huge responsible to educate the deceased's child.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Gifts
Q My husband's father recently died. We have received memorials addressed personally to us. My husband says that we keep that money and send our own acknowledgments. I think it needs to be given to the family and handled as all of the rest of those received at the time of the visitation. Please tell me what is the proper thing to do.

A The memorials are personally addressed to you because the senders want to be sure that you know they sent a memorial, or they don't know to whom else to send it. In theory, memorial money is given to the charity of the deceased's choice. It could be a monetary gift to his church, college, library, hospital or be spent on donating, say, a park bench or tree in his memory at his favorite park or fishing spot.

In your acknowledgment to the sender, you would mention how the memorial money was utilized. It might have gone to help pay for the your husband's father's gravestone or other burial expense, if not sent to a charity in his memory. However the money is spent, you should receive a receipt for tax purposes. Other family members would do the same thing and you would report all memorial gifts to the executor of your father's estate who should be able to advise you further.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Money
Q My husband of 7 years just passed away last week. He has 3three grown sons and one grown and married daughter. I am the stepmother. My question is regarding the memorials given. I thought that all the memorials given should go in the pot to me, his wife, to pay for funeral expenses. I did tell the kids that if there were any cards made out specifically to them with money they would keep that money for themselves. However, one of the boys feels differently and thinks the money from the memorials should be split equally amongst all of us. Which is the proper way to handle this?

A The money should be collected by one person who will in turn pay all the funeral related costs first--which can be fairly hefty. If there is any money left over, it is used to pay any and all outstanding medical bills that are still owed, as well as will probate and legal fees. After all the death related expenses have been paid, any money left goes to the remaining spouse to use at her/his discretion. For instance, the spouse might want to gift that money to a charity in the deceased spouse's name, or set up a fund for a special needs child or grandchild.

Since the deceased had children, if any of those children are still in college or school, that money should go into a fund to help those children finish college. The intention of the memorial money is to help the family pay the expenses associated with the death: the internment, funeral, burial, tombstone, casket or urn, probate fees, legal fees. Anything left over would be used in memory of the deceased.

Since there is disagreement over how any left over money is to be used, in order to keep the peace you might need to compromise by splitting the pot between you and the children--but only after all funeral and death related expenses have been paid.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Service When Body Went to Science
Q My cousin's father just passed away. He donated his body to science, so there was no wake or funeral. She is planning a Memorial Service. She wanted to know if it would be tacky to send invitations with a RSVP. She doesn't know how she will be able to let people know about the event if she doesn't send out invitations. Please advise. Thank You So Much!!

A It would not be tacky to send invitations with an RSVP. Traditionally, Memorial Services are announced by word of mouth and are carried on the obituary page of the local newspapers.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Memorial Service: Guest Book
Q Do family members sign the quest book at the memorial service ? (or on the computer notices?) with their memories of him ? (my uncle ?)

A Mourners should do what moves them and write what they feel. Some mourners like to share their memories, others, not so much. Follow your heart, go with your head.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Military Escort
Q At a military funeral, which side does the soldier escort the widow?

A The widow is on the soldier's left side.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Monetary Donation
Q Is it proper to collect monetary donations for someone who had lost a loved one?

A It depends upon the circumstances. If you have the resources to help with a donation, you might be a soft touch at this time. Would it make you feel good to give a donation? It might. Is it in good taste to hit someone up when they're down? I don't think so.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Money in Sympathy Cards: What to Do With It
Q My father passed away several days ago and I am receiving sympathy cards which contain money. The only family is his brother and myself. The obituary did not specify anything about flowers or donations as my uncle covered the costs. My uncle has an apparent insurance policy which will cover all costs. What do I do with the money? My father was not involved with any groups/clubs. As of now we are unsure of the cause of death and therefore cannot decide on a charity/foundation.

A Think of something your father liked to do or somewhere he liked to spend time and donate a tree or park bench in his name. If there is a park or nature preserve where he hiked or fished, give the money in his memory. Then when you thank people for their gift you can tell them how their money was distributed.

Since I don't know your circumstances or anything about your father, this is a rather general answer. Of course, if he was interested in the symphony, art, or education, you could make the donation to a hall, museum, or school. Otherwise, if you think your father would want you to have the money, then talk to your uncle about using the money to put toward something you need. I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your father.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mother-in-Law Sent Out Prayer Cards Without Widow's Knowledge
Q Hi Didi,
My brother-in-law recently passed away from a massive heart attack. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law (widow) weren't on the best of terms with one another. My mother-in-law included prayer cards of her recently passed son with her Christmas cards and sent them to everyone. The widow called her and said she had no right to do this, it was her husband and only she had the right to send out the prayer cards. My mother-in-law asked me to get them printed and I had them done for her.

A I am sorry you have not only to go through the loss of a family member, but that you also have to deal with this unfortunate situation. The best thing for you to do is to tell your sister-in-law that your mother-in-law didn't intentionally mean to upset her or undermine her in any way. And that her only intention was to have everyone pray for her dead son. If the widow had sent out prayer cards, that would have been fine as well. There is no law that says only one family member can send out prayer cards. A mother and a widow can both send out prayer cards for the same person. The mother should have probably informed the widow of what she was doing but I'm sure her grief is so deep and devastating that she wasn't thinking of the ramifications. There is nothing more tragic than the death of one's child. I hope you can help your sister-in-law to understand that this wasn't a competition and that you want her to forgive her husband's mother from sending out prayer cards because that's just not what prayer cards are all about.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mourners Who Come from Great Distance
Q Friends of ours had notified me that their mother had passed away. Our families were good friends and I will be attending her services in New York. I will be traveling from California. I had not planned on telling them ahead of time that I would be there, because the grieved family would be busy making arrangements and meeting with family and friends that they had not seen for sometime. Is this correct not to call? I don't want them thinking they have to worry about me when they have plenty on their minds.

A You are attending the funeral not only in support of your friends but because you knew the deceased. Try to sit by the aisle so your friends see that you are there and be sure to go through any receiving line. It is not necessary to tell them you are coming, but they will no doubt be grateful that you made the effort. You might not have time to talk to them until the reception following the funeral; you need not apologize at that time for not letting them know ahead of time that you would be attending.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mourning a Friend's Father
Q Is it proper to miss your best friend's father's funeral because you work that day? Is just going to viewing enough?

A Just going to the viewing is fine. In your own way, you can make it up to your best friend by making a special time to have lunch or dinner with her. The flurry of activity around the funeral makes the weeks and months following the funeral a more useful time to show your friendship. Remember it takes at least three months before the loved one starts to accept the loss. Keep up with her in the months following the funeral and when you are with her try to get her to talk about her father.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mourning Former Mother-In-Law
Q My ex-husband and I were married for 20 years and have now been divorced for 16. We have 3 grown children together and 9 grandchildren. When we were divorced, he moved overseas and lives in a relationship with his mother's brother's daughter who is 9 years his junior. I remained quite close to his family and his mother has just recently passed away. I have known her since I was 14 (41years). We are not sure if he is coming back for the funeral alone or not. What is the correct thing for me to do in this situation as I do not want to upset anyone but am quite distressed about her death myself? My children are suggesting I will be like a 2nd bride at a wedding. Thank you from an Aussie

A Attend the funeral for spiritual reasons. Forget the social aspect. Go to the church and sit in back of your children. Don't go through any receiving line, if your former husband and his wife are in it, nor go to the reception or burial. In our own way we mourn and pray for those we love, those we really miss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mourning One's Former Spouse
Q Is it bad etiquette to ask the ex-wife of a deceased husband that we are both divorced from in which cemetery he was buried? I found out almost a year later that he passed away, and I'd like to pay my respects to his grave, is this bad etiquette?

A No, it is not bad etiquette to be curious. Wanting to show your respects to your former lover is the natural right thing to do. Go with your gut and do what you have to do to mourn your former husband. It's healthy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mourning the Death of a Former Husband and Father of Your Child
Q My ex spouse died unexpectedly this week and my daughter has been planning the funeral with his family. We were on good terms recently and still parenting our 21-year-old daughter. If the family is ok with my going, I would like to be there. We still have friends that were common to us both and I would like to know what to say to his family and what to say if anyone offers a condolence to me. I plan to make sure ahead of time that his family is ok with my going. My daughter asked if I planned to go and of course I did. We didn't stay married, but I still grieve this loss. The memorial service is tomorrow and the funeral Tuesday, so your quick response would be welcome.

A Unless there are very hard feelings between you and your former in-laws, there is no reason why you shouldn't attend your former husband's memorial service and funeral. You are there not only in support of your daughter and your former in-laws and their family, but it is only natural and normal that you would be mourning as well. I am sorry that you have to go through the death of your former husband; it is never easy to lose someone you were once attached to strongly. Go and be in good faith. Greet family members affectionately and say that you are sorry for their loss and you are sorry that they have to go through the death of their son (father, uncle, brother, etc.). With your daughter, tell her stories about the good times when you met, dated, married, when she was born, and recall his good traits. Any stories about him, you, or her that you can remember over the next few years, be sure to pass them on to your daughter because it will help you both going through the grieving process. As you probably know, it takes about three to six months for the reality of a loved one's death to set in and well over a year, often much longer, to reach the end of the mourning phase.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Mourning Your Son: Parents Are Divorced
Q Hello,
My son passed away at the age of 22. Me and his mother have been divorced for several years. How do we split up money that was given in cards from friends and relatives? We are going to be splitting the funeral costs in half, but I feel the money my friends and relatives gave me should count on my half, and hers on her half. Also she chose to order an expensive urn for herself and flowers through the funeral home, without discussing it with me. She is keeping the urn. I don't feel that I should have to pay for items she added on without my knowledge or approval. I had almost no say in any arrangements or purchases, yet I am being expected to come up with half. And my family wanted their money gifts and cards to go to me, yet the funeral home locked them in the office all together and wouldn't let me see mine. HELP Thank You, Dale

A There is nothing worse more devastating than the loss of a child. Whether you and the child's mother are still together or not is a delicate issue. This is all about your child. This is not about your relationship with your child's mother. You need to separate your emotions. Pull back. Who cares about the money or the urn? I am terribly sorry for your loss. Your losses are many and deep, but please don't take it out on his mother. Who cares if your former wife gets the urn. Please, look at this tragedy in a larger picture. Both of you are holding fast to your son. Please, respect all the emotions evolved here. I am so terribly sorry for your loss. My best advice is for you is to make peace with this tragic situation by trying to understand where each of you are coming from and dealing with that. Fighting over an urn is not the answer. Try, as hard as it might be, to accept your son's mother's pain and your own. Dealing with your own pain will help you to understand hers. Separate them. Yet understand them. Seek counsel in a group therapy with others who are also experiencing your pain.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: New Partner and Ex-Wife
Q I am 40 yrs old and in a new relationship for 9 months. I'm divorced (no kids), he's divorced (no kids). He's been divorced over a year and basically separated from his ex-wife for 3. She has not spent holidays with his family in 3 years, but still has a relationship with his sister and sister-in-law. His family has been very inviting and welcoming to me and they have welcomed me into the family; however, they miss the ex-wife and still love her as she was part of the family for 15 yrs. His Mother is dying and will more than likely pass this week. This concern has arisen out of the families concern for both the ex-wife and my feelings regarding our presence at this funeral. We have NEVER met. It will be extremely difficult for both of us: for me to see him embrace a woman he loved very much at one time and for her to see him with a new woman who is now the love of his life. She has reached out to him in his time of need and even asked if it would be appropriate for her to come. Of course, she's coming as she should to pay her respects. I have such a sense of anxiety and hurt because he has expressed he too will be uncomfortable being in the same room with his ex-wife and myself. This is the part I don't understand and am struggling with. He has asked me to understand his behavior whatever it may be because it's not about her or me, it's about his mother's death and his loss which I understand. But I feel as if I have no place. He says my place is next to him. I'm afraid to be affectionate and comforting because it may cause him discomfort. I suppose I should just let him reach out to me in any way he needs to. Correct? I am suffering such sadness over the fact that I feel everyone is more concerned with her feelings than mine or my discomfort being so new and experiencing this situation. I am struggling with a multitude of feelings. I feel as if I don't belong even though I know that's not the case. And I need to be there for him and not burden him with my concerns. He has comforted me and understands how this will make me feel, but yet expressed he doesn't want rules and restrictions placed on this situation. Please help me sort this out as to how I should feel and what is the proper etiquette for this situation.

A I am sorry that you have been in such agony over this. I can hear your pain in every sentence. Let's take a look at the big picture, since I don't know if you are yet in a committed relationship with this man, or not.

As far as his family is concerned, you're the "new" girlfriend. After a while, parents become immune to their children's current partner. Too many times, just as we've gotten attached to our child's partner, the relationship is over and we're sad to see that partner leave. Just as a parent believes that's "the one," "the one" disappears. Which is why your partner's family will stand back and take their time warming up to you. It is not yet your turn to woo them. That time will come, so be patient.

You cannot take his family's attitude towards you personally. I know that it is hard, but especially now when emotions are at their most sensitive, you need to step back. Have a face to face conversation with this man and tell him that you want him to know that you'll follow his wishes. Let him off the hook. Chances are, he'll be relieved and want you by his side.

He can't handle you being needy right now, so you've got to get some prospective on the situation. Tell him that you would like to attend his mother's funeral, but you don't expect to sit with the family or stand with the family in the receiving line.

Remember that he's probably trying to deal with you, too, as well as all of the emotions that he's going through, so be silent like a shadow in the background. When he needs you, he'll let you know. Tell him that you'll wait for him to instruct you as to what he wants you to do or not do. Then give him a big hug and stand back. Go do something with a friend and let him have some space. When he needs you, he knows that you are but a cellphone call away.

By the way, the ex-wife won't be seated with the family, nor will she be in the receiving line, so don't worry about that. If you find yourself in an awkward situation near her, introduce yourself and tell her that he told you that his mother and she were close. Then you can ask her to tell you about his mother, so that you can find out what she was like. Who knows, you might end up sitting together. The ex-wife couldn't be all bad, if he was married to her at one time.

Whatever you do, don't be clingy or act jealous of the ex-wife. That would be a real turn-off for your partner at this point in time. Give him space, offer to sleep elsewhere, and come back when he needs you. He'll be so relieved that you are less anxious that he will be quite grateful when he does see you.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Newly Wed: Death In the Family: What to Do?
Q I have been married for a little over a month now. My husband's sister, her husband's mother just passed away. She called and asked specifically if my husband and I would come to the viewing, which we are more than happy to do! My husband has been friends with his brother-in-law for many years, even before he was apart of the family and he knew his mother. My question is, should we send flowers, take a gift, donate money, etc. What is proper etiquette for gifts if you are part of the family, by in-laws.

Thanks,
S

A Send a small arrangement of flowers to the funeral home from you and your husband. Or you can simply attend the viewing and send a card after you've called and asked her What can we do? If she says the family needs money to pay burial expenses, then include a small check in the card in the amount you would have spent on flowers.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Niece Behaving Badly
Q Didi,

I'm getting ready to kill myself over the constant berating by my last living sister over how I handled myself at my own mother's passing.

We have an adult niece who has lived fairly close to my mother for the last 15 years. This niece felt guilty and wanted to help dress my mother's sacred body as a way of making amends.

I was horrified and asked her not to attend or help with the dressing of the body. I explained that the appropriate time to make peace with this was at the funeral and that we would love to have her there.

My sister thought my reaction to our niece help with the dressing of the body was mean and nasty. My sister then sided with my niece and secretly invited her anyway. Our niece got into a minor car accident so she didn't make it to the funeral home in time for the dressing of my mother.

I had warned my sister that if she sided with my niece on this issue she would be attending my mother's funeral without me. On the morning of the funeral, I arrived in Sunday attire an hour before anyone else. I arranged the flowers I had brought, I touched up my mother's make-up, said my goodbyes to her and went home. The rest of my adult children stayed and my husband conducted the meeting.

My sister continuously beats me up for not allowing our niece to help dress my mother's body. Constantly tells me how awful and hateful I was for not letting this estranged niece participate in this sacred act.

My sister has now dis-owned me for it and my niece is her new best friend. All of our other immediate family members have passed away.

Is it proper protocol for an estranged niece to help dress the body so she can feel less guilty about how she treated my mother in life?

I don't have much time for you to answer this. I just can't take it anymore...

Feel free to use my personal e-mail address to reach me.

Thank you so much for your help!


A Please look at the larger picture here. Everyone's emotions are strained. Please go to your nearest walk-in clinic or hospital and ask for help. I cannot help you over the Internet, you need professional help to calm your anxiety. This is not a question about etiquette, it is about needing to be brave to handle your mother's death.

I am sorry you have to go through the death of your mother and the added aggravation of dealing with an estranged niece, but you need to understand that death often brings out the worst in people. I want you to remember that you are a role model of behavior to your adult children, and their children, so you need to be brave and strong for them, as well as for yourself and your husband.

Your sister should let go of the incident because the niece ended up not dressing your mother, so don't give that another thought. In your own time and in your own way, you will all deal differently with your mother's death because you are all different people. Compassion for one another is extremely important for you to express right now towards all the members of your extended family. Be brave.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: No Black Ties
Q What is the dress code for women at a funeral where it says 'no black ties'?


A There is a common dress code where men wear a black suit, black shirt, black socks, black shoes, and black tie, that the deceased's family does not want you to adhere to as far as wearing a tie that is black. For a woman, it wouldn't mean anything unless you were planning on wearing a black tie. Wear what you would wear to an important business meeting and you'll fit in fine.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Not Attending Funeral: When You're Just Not Into It
Q Dear Didi
I have just found out today that my father's partner has died. I received the news via text from her daughter. My father had spent the last 15 years of his life with this lady. My father died 4 years ago. Although I tried to remain in contact with my father's partner following his death (we were on good terms), she always seemed to make excuses when I phoned and eventually stopped returning my calls. Even when I was poorly, and laid up at home for 4 months, she never contacted me, nor asked how I was following a near death experience which my brother telephoned her about. We did remain in contact via Xmas and birthday cards. I live 200 miles away from this lady. Should I feel duty bound to attend the funeral service or would a handwritten note to her family suffice? I have mixed feelings. Part of me feels that I should attend for my deceased father's sake, part of me doesn't really want to go, especially as it will mean a 3 hour car journey, plus negotiating a part of town I don't know. I have no strong feelings either way for her surviving children. My father was a surrogate father to them, yet none of them have bothered to check in on me knowing that I suffer from a life threatening condition. I think my father would be saddened to know that this lady didn't keep up contact with me. She was a lovely fun loving lady who brought happiness to my father following the death my own mother.

A I'm going to let you off the hook. Follow your gut. In listening to what you're saying, I don't think you need to attend the funeral. I have a huge thing about not going to funeral when you're feeling critical. Let it go. Send a card of condolence.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary Name if Many Times Married
Q When a woman has been married multiple times, how is she "named" in her obituary?

A The obituary will print only the information that you provide to the newspaper or funeral parlor, unless the person is a prominent or public figure. Therefore, whoever provides the information controls what is printed. The woman would be listed as she would have called herself; it is the name she would have used on her most recent formal stationery or the name she has directed to be used on her gravestone, which could be different from the name on her legal documents.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary with Children From Former Partner
Q My first cousin has passed and I am helping my aunt write his obituary. He has an estranged wife of 12 years, a former girlfriend with whom he has 2 children (they are around 20 and 24) and a current girlfriend who has been with him for the past 6 years. My question is: How do I incorporate these 3 ladies in the obituary? My first thought would to put his current girlfriend first, then his children's mom and then his estranged wife last? Please help! Thanks

A Say something such as this, substituting your own names: Oscar Jerome Nelson is survived by his cherished ("devoted" or "beloved" can be used as well) partner Lois M. Ross, and his children, Oscar J. Nelson, Jr. and Alice J. Nelson, with his former partner, Marie P. Jones. There is no need to include the estranged wife since there are no lingering ties, such as children.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Asking for Money to Cover Funeral Expenses
Q I am on a fixed income. My husband just died. Is it ok to ask family and friend for help with the funeral expense and if so how do I do it? Do I just ask when I do the obituary?

A Since you will have to make a donation to the church for handling the funeral, ask that in lieu of flowers a donation is given to your church in your husband's name. Additionally, through word of mouth you can let it be known that you are hoping that instead of flowers, friends and family will help you cover the funeral parlor costs, the cost of the casket and urn, and the internment. Privately, you might be able to work it out with the clergyman that the donations made in your husband's name cover as many of the funeral expenses as is allowed. Different churches handle this differently, so it is safe to ask. I understand that this is a very difficult time for you, perhaps someone can ask the clergyman for you. In the meantime, go ahead and include this line in the obituary: In lieu of flowers a donation to Trinity Episcopal Church would be greatly appreciated.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Estranged Family Member
Q Didi:

A friend's father recently passed away. He was estranged from his father for most of his life and is offended that his name was included in the obituary as a surviving child. I have told him that an obituary is a factual account of someone's life and that the fact that his name was printed has no bearing on how his father treated him, good or bad. I believe he is just feeling hurt, which is natural. What is the correct etiquette for naming surviving children who are estranged?

A Please, tell your friend that nobody intentionally is trying to be cruel.

When a person dies, the funeral parlor interviews the executor or the state, or next of kin, to get information for the obituary. The person who was interviewed probably presented the facts. There will no malicious intent here.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Estranged Family Member
Q What is proper etiquette on thanking roughly 200 or more people who gave memorial donations, sent flowers, etc., after someone's passing? This person is elderly and has a hard time writing.

A In my opinion, the nicest and most efficient way to acknowledge condolences is to send out an acknowledgment card. Sometimes you can find them already printed up in a high-end stationery store that you can just sign for the survivor. Traditionally, you would have your own acknowledgment card printed up on a cream-colored note card with a narrow black boarder that folds over and says something such as this: (You would center the lines on the paper.)

The family of
John Cabot Winslow
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

Inside the folded over note card, or on the card, the survivor can sign his name with a black pen. Alternatively, another family member can pitch in to help address the envelopes and do the signing and, perhaps, writing in their own hand, "Thank you, Edward." Often in situations such as this, the family will divide up the list taking responsibility for those whom they know. You wouldn't have to write much, it would depend upon the relationship whether you included a personalized sentence or just signed the survivor's name, or if you are a relative, your name. Nobody expects the survivor personally to write 200 thank-you notes. I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through this death with the survivor.



Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Ex-Wife
Q What if any mention should there be in an obituary where: a couple has been divorced for >15 years, they have 3 grown children in their 30's+, the wife re-married, the father had multiple sclerosis and passed away in a nursing home. The wife provided support to her first husband and they were on genial terms but she feels awkward in being listed as his ex-wife.

A Remember that you only have to give out information that you want people to know---or to remember. If you're writing the obituary, you write what you want people to read. There is no reason to mention an "ex-wife." However, you could include her by saying something such as this, "He is survived by his former wife, Alice H. Crawford, and their three children," (then list the children). Or you can just say, "He is survived by his three children," and then list their names. "Former wife" always sounds more genial than "ex-wife." The only reason to list the former wife at all would be because she is the mother of his children, but if that makes her uncomfortable, she doesn't have to be listed.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Ex-Wife
Q Didi....My Mom recently passed away. My question is in regard to her obituary. My ex-wife had a wonderful relationship with my Mom and did many things for her on numerous occasions. My siblings all live out of the area so they were limited as to their involvement with Mom. I thought it would be a nice gesture to include my ex (no title) in the obit. My siblings wanted to include the names of their spouses but not my ex. My Mom would have definitely wanted her included. Does etiquette allow for an ex to be named in name only?

A Etiquette is all about consideration, compassion, and compromise. If you think that your Mom would have wanted her included in the obituary, it is totally your call.

All the family and extended family should feel good about your Mom's obituary. That is the purpose of the obituary: to make it known that the deceased was loved by her family and honored by her community.

People really appreciate reading inclusive, detailed obituaries and respect them for transparency. Include your ex-wife and the names of your siblings' spouses. That's the compromise.

The only question remaining is how to identify her ex-daughter-in-law in the obituary. After your name, if you have not remarried, you would list her as: former daughter-in-law Caroline Williams. If you are remarried, then you would add "and former daughter-in-law" at the very end of the listing of family members. Etiquette-wise you wouldn't use that dreadful phrase "ex-daughter-in-law", especially in this situation where she is an honored former daughter-in-law.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Fiancee
Q My fiance, Scott, died recently, he has been apart from the mother of his 3 children for more than 3 years and we met long after they split. His mother wasn't going to include me in the obituary that ran in the papers; as far as I knew they liked and cared for me, but when I saw the obituary it read "loving friend" and then my name.

At the funeral I wasn't able to sit with the family and my own family minster who gave the service wasn't allowed to refer to me as "fiancee". The mother of his children sat in the front row and got up to speak about how she and he were sole mates and even her father spoke and referred to him as "son-in-law" as if it were current. I'd had liked to speak but I felt it would have caused some sort of scene. More than a month has passed and I am still baffled and hurt. No one has offered any explanation of this, and it is additionally surprising since the mother and his family always speak quite poorly of the ex.

Is this normal, why wouldn't they give thought as to how the deceased would have wanted me to be included in both the family section and the service? What is one to do in a situation like this?

A I agree, the obituary could have--and probably should have--read "loving fiancee," but apparently his mother handled the obituary. In her grief, who knows she might not have done the actual wording because often the funeral parlor administrator writes up the obituary with information from the family member. The administrator might very well have chosen the wording. Please, in your fiance's memory, give Scott's mother the benefit of the doubt and try to let this go. I understand your grievance, but you need to let this go. You know in your heart the depth of your relationship with Scott, and that should be your greatest comfort. It doesn't matter what other people think. You don't want any more bad memories added to your tragic loss. Focus on remembering the good in your relationship with your loving fiance.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Former Family Members
Q I was married and had 3 sons.. My ex-husband's parents (in-laws) left my name out of the obituary for Great Grand-mother but included our children..For the Death of Great Grand-mother.. I feel it was rude. Their son is what caused us to be apart not I. I was close to Grandmother... she was a grand lady. But when I read it today, I fell over. It said his name, his brother and sisters and spouses' name but not mine. Just because we are not together anymore I still carry the last name. Please explain how this would not be considered rude. I think it is..Karen

A It is at the discretion of the immediate family to list family members' names in the obituary. There is no rule that says a descendant's former spouse has to be listed in the obituary. I am very sorry for your loss, but as much as we both think that it is rude that you weren't included, there is no real reason for you to have been listed. I understand your disappointment and sympathize, but whoever gave the names of family members to the funeral home director inadvertently didn't include yours, probably because you are divorced. In a situation such as this, when the deed is already done and the obituary cannot be retracted, it is best to put the incident behind you and move on.

I'm sorry, I know you are not going to like my answer, but it is best to let this "grand lady" rest in peace.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Leaving Out Stepparents
Q My daughter-in-law's child recently drowned. I am a stepgrandmother, and her father and I attended the funeral (over two thousand miles away). In the obituary she referenced her mother, who had remarried but is now divorced, and she referenced her father ONLY.

She and her family spend a lot of time each summer with all of her relatives, my husband and me included. We invite my son and his wife and son every year at the same time as my daughter-in-law and her husband and children.

This year, one day after their return home, the youngest of my husband's grandsons drowned.

My husband and I flew (2 round-trip flights, each stopping at different connecting airports), staying at an expensive resort hotel, eating at restaurants. Needless to say, my husband's daughter hosted his entire ex-family, with whom there has been a "stormy" past; however, we were reassured everything would be "okay".
Of course, they were NOT okay!

Upon our return home, in the obituary of our hometown newspaper (which all of our friends, many of them mutual to both families) my daughter-in-law wrote the obituary, saying our grandson was survived by her husband's parents (naming them) and his grandfather (my husband) and his grandmother (my husband's ex) and I was excluded as his stepgrandmother. I was devastated.

Am I incorrect to think that, considering how much I cared for them in their visits and how much I love my grandchildren, ALL of them, that I feel so slighted?


A My dear, I am so sorry for your loss, and that you have to go through the death of your stepgrandson.

Please, don't take this as a personal slight. What you have to remember is that your daughter-in-law is grieving, as are you and your husband, but when the funeral parlor director interviewed her for the obituary, he asked direct questions: names of parents, siblings, grandparents? The write-up reflects his questions, and not necessarily her intent. He probably did not directly ask your daughter-in-law for the name of her stepmother. The funeral worker was doing his/her job, getting the information out to the newspapers in a timely fashion and wasn't thinking about family relations.

You are not the first person to write to me with this story, because a lot of extended and close family members are left out of obituaries unintentionally because the person writing up the obituary does not know the family or the dynamics within that family. So you cannot take this supposed slight personally, because nobody intentionally left you out. As one of the grandmothers, you are a role model for behavior and I want you to forgive and go forward without bitterness, because I don't think you're a bitter person and because making an issue out of this oversight is not in your best interest as a role model.

You are a valuable addition to a family in deep mourning. You're justifiable angry, but perhaps at the wrong person. Understandably, funeral employees build up an immunity to help them deal with dealing with the death and those left mourning. I'm not trying to blame this on anyone, I'm just saying, please, look at the big picture: your daughter-in-law is in deep mourning, as is her entire family, and your duty now is to support her, and by doing so you will strengthen your whole family (and your role in the family) as they move through a mourning process that could go on for many years.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Listing Deceased's Daughter's Partner
Q My question is how should I list my partner/common law husband on my mother's obituary. I am one of her daughters and want to list my partner who is not my legal husband but we have been together almost 11 years. My brother opted to leave his name off and that is not what I want. My Mother hasn't passed away but wanted her obituary written ahead of time.

Thank you for your help.


A After your name add "and partner George Wilson." For instance: daughters, Lauren Smith and partner George Wilson, Allison Smith Jones and husband Thomas Jones, son, Richard Smith and wife Julia.

Another way this is done is to list the siblings' names in order of age and then add: and their spouse(s) and partner(s). Their names can be, but not necessarily, listed in the next sentence in the order corresponding to how the siblings are listed.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Listing Father + Stepmother
Q My stepson died suddenly. My husband and I live in another state, but we attended the wakes and funeral service and were helpful in any way we could be to my stepson's wife, children and my husband's ex-wife and her family. Everyone was deeply sad and yet we were all consoling and cordial to each other. When the obituary came out, they did not name the father (my husband) as a survivor of his son nor did they mention him at all. The only members mentioned were of course his wife, their children, and his mother and siblings. The ex-wife is single. Not sure if this was an oversight on the funeral home or the person who wrote the article, but it stung my husband and made him even sadder. Too late now to do anything about it. We just have to let it go but it broke my heart to see him unacknowledged as he was a loving father to all his children. My question is this: Is it proper to mention the surviving father in his son's obituary even though the parents have been divorced for many years? What is the proper etiquette (if any) for including father's and perhaps stepmom's names in the obituary? Thank you very much.

A I am sorry for your loss. This is a huge mistake on the part of the funeral parlor that placed the obituary. You and your husband shouldn't have to suffer any further. Do not take this as a personal slight because you and your husband were not intentionally left out of the obituary. Go forward in support of your stepson's wife and children emotionally. It's important, especially for the children, for them to know that you are there for them. Don't punish the children for this gross mistake. With your husband, try to forge and foster your own relationship with your stepson's children.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Listing Former Spouses
Q I'm writing an obituary in advance for my mom who is expected to pass shortly. My brother is divorced and remarried but his ex-wife is still a very big part of the family, at functions, having mom over for all major holidays and doing things for her. Should she be listed as an ex-daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law, friend or just by name? We DO want her name listed.

A Use 'former daughter-in-law.' Never use ex unless you really can't stand the person. 'Former' is friendlier and therefore more gentle.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Listing Former Spouses of the Next of Kin
Q My mother-in-law has passed away. I am the daughter-in-law and was married to her deceased son. Should I be listed in her obituary? I have never remarried.

A Former in-laws are mentioned in the obituary at the discretion of the closest kin of the deceased. The funeral parlor works with a member of the family to write the obituary when the deceased hasn't left instructions for her obituary. Don't expect to be listed, but don't feel slighted if you're not mentioned.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: Mentioning Former Husband
Q My partner's ex-wife has just passed away, the children are writing the funeral notice for the paper, they want to put (my partner's name) husband of (ex -wife Name) for 24 years. We have been living together for 6 years, I feel the wording should be former husband of (Name). What would the etiquette words be?


A It is a matter of taste: ex versus former. I use former because I think it sounds friendlier and more graceful. The truth of the matter is that when there are children, the former is never really ex, meaning gone forever. A gentle way to write this would be to use: "Mrs. Jones was formerly married to James Jay Jones for twenty-four years."

Having stepchildren myself, I would advise not to make an issue out of this. You can suggest, but this is not a battle you want to win.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: When There Wasn't One: Options
Q My father passed away 10 months ago. My sisters were supposed to write and submit his obituary to the newspaper. They never did. Is it too late to submit one now? I can't find any etiquette for this.

Thank you so much!

A Start by calling the funeral parlor that handled your father's funeral and burial. Since they were responsible for helping the family release a obituary, they should be helpful in retrospect. Ask if it would be possible with your help, to place the obituary in local papers. Some papers may have a time limit. It might vary from paper to paper. You can also ask them to help you purchase space to place your obituary. Again, there may be a time limitation, but you never know until you ask.

The difference is that newspapers that would have run the obituary for free may now ask for a fee, because it may not be considered "news" worthy enough for a newspaper due to the fact that he died ten months ago. I am sorry for your loss and hope you are able to correct this injustice. It is never easy to lose a parent. If you aren't able to get an obituary published, you should be able to pay for an 'In Memoriam' in the obituary section of the newspaper.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Obituary: When You've Left a Relative Out:
Q My wife just died and her sister-in-laws where not in the obit. Should i have put them in the obit, too?

A Yes, you probably should have mentioned your sister-in-laws, but you didn't. You can add a correction by calling the number where you placed the obituary to make the correction.

When you see them, apologize to them and tell them it was an unfortunately oversight and you tried to correct the problem. You are in mourning grieving over the death of your wife, so they shouldn't be so critical of you -- but they are in mourning, too.

If the funeral parlor placed the obituary, then ask them to make the correction. You needn't over-apologize or over-explain. In your own way, you can let them know that you didn't mean to exclude them. Let it go and don't be hard on yourself. When consumed with grief, it is hard to think of everything. I'm sorry for your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Organized Meal Cooking List for Widow
Q How long should you run an organized meal cooking list for a grieving widow after she (and her two 10-year-old sons) loses her husband suddenly?

A Certainly, no longer than two weeks, unless you feel the widow is too distraught to manage meals. Sit down with her and ask if there is another way you could be helpful other than cooking meals. Mention that you would be organizing one meal a day instead of two or one meal every other day for a while to help her adapt (to preparing for one less).


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Partner Inherited from Deceased But Won't Pay Funeral Costs
Q Our family had to pay for the funeral of my cousin, my cousin had a life insurance policy for six thousand. Her best friend refuses to pay for the funeral. I would like to say something to her or asking your advice how to handle this person. This friend received over $53,000 from retirement plan including life insurance. I think it would be fair to ask her again to pay for $4700 for funeral. I would like you comment. The estate paid and relatives receive very little money. There was no will.

A As the best friend was the recipient of the life insurance and retirement plan, she should have paid for the funeral out of those funds. The problem is that you have already paid for the funeral so you will probably have to go to small claims court to recover your loss. If the estate was probated out in a different state, that might be a problem. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful, but at this point in time, this is a legal matter. The etiquette has already been breached. I agree, you should be reimbursed. Take her to small claims court. But before hiring a lawyer, write her a formal letter enclosing the bill for the funeral and cc: the letter to the name of a lawyer you know (even if you don't send him/her a copy). If that doesn't scare her into reimbursing you, then you'll have to take her to court. If she doesn't want to accrue lawyer's fees, she might pay or, at the very least, you might be able to make a compromise and share the cost. This is precisely why it is important to appoint an executor of your estate no matter how small it might be.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Partner of Deceased's Father: What Role Does She Play
Q My boyfriend's son, (whom he took on as a stepson from a very young age) has died aged 21. He has been divorced from his former wife for 6 years, although they share another child and communicate daily. I am in a relationship with this man now and have had a complicated time of my own getting to this. The funeral is expected to be a big funeral & I don't know what role I should play in it. His ex-wife has a new partner and they live together.
Our relationship, is non- cohabiting. I feel very much an outsider and as if I'm intruding on their grief together as parents now. I want to be there for him, but I couldn't bear being seated with all the general guests and not being near him to help him.
Should I go at all?


A You need to ask him gently over and over again, How can I help? Make it about your being his support team and he can call on you at any time. Tell him you want to attend the funeral and that you want to know what you can do and where you should sit. My guess is that you would accompany him to the church 45 minutes early to meet with the clergyman to determine where everyone will sit. You may be seated in the front before the processional, or he may have you walk side-by-side with him in the processional. Otherwise you would be waiting for him in his pew. If not, offer to sit behind him so that when he turns around he can see you. However, he may have to escort his mother or other blood relative of his son.

Don't be too talkative. Ask him what you can do to help him. Listen and follow through. In other words be a good partner. Keep your eye on him and if you feel he's uncomfortable, then move him along. Stay in the background, but be his biggest support. This is all about him during the most tragic experience a parent can possibly go through.

Find your place and pick up on his nuances of when to be close and when he needs space.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Partner of the Deceased's Brother Meeting the Former Wife
Q I'm going to a memorial service for the sister of my common law husband; he is not divorced but legally separated. I just learned that his ex-wife is attending the memorial service, too. She has called him a few times about his sister's death; also has spoken to him a few other times. What should I do? Where should I sit and what should I say? I have never spoken to ex-wife before.

A This funeral is not about your partner's former wife. It is all about your partner and the fact that he is in mourning and grieving for his sister. Don't act needy. This is not about you or his former wife. Be quiet and stay in the background. Tell your partner that you are there for him and ask him to tell you what he wants you to do.

Should you meet the former wife, smile, stick out your hand vertically with thumbs up and shake hands with her. Say, hello. You have no other obligations. Be elegant and dignified.

Your partner will arrive at the funeral early and at that time the clergy will tell your partner where he sits and where he fits into the processional. If you're part of his participation, then you will be walk with him in the processional and recessional and sit with him. Otherwise, sit behind him on the same side of the church so that when he turns around he can see your supportive smile. Do not be demanding, do not be needy, this is not about you or your partner's former wife. This is all about your partner's loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Partner's Mother Died and Partner Wants to Attend Funeral
Q Hi Didi

My partner's mother has passed and her funeral is tomorrow. My partner and I have been together over 5 years but I never met her, his father or his brothers and sisters although I have met his uncle and his wife when we were on holiday. He also has 4 children (grown) of different mothers, only some of which I have met. Up until over a year ago he introduced his youngest to his parents (aged 14) and only the other day he arranged for all of his children to meet.

I feel like I have got to know his family very well as he always talks about them to me and I assist with various things he is asked to do/volunteers for. I have watched family videos and anniversary celebrations.

I have assisted my partner with several things in preparation of the funeral and provided him with support and assistance.

I have not asked my partner if I should attend as I think he may say no. I am also not sure if his exes will be attending but for me that is not a concern. I am not religious although my partners family is.

My question is would it be wrong to turn up at the service and stand at the back? I want to pay my respects to a woman that I have got to know so very well without meeting but don't want to upset my partner.

Also my family and my co-workers are also expecting me to attend the funeral.

What do I do?



A You need to give your partner the heads-up if you plan to attend and if your family and co-workers are planning to attend. You would go in support of your partner and therefore you need his support before attending. Have a face-to-face conversation with him about this. If you can't, then you probably shouldn't be attending the funeral.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Paying for Funeral of Separated Husband
Q Do I pay for my husband's funeral if separated for 25 years but not divorced? I live in New Zealand.

A This is not an etiquette question, it is a question about legality. Are you asking if it is proper etiquette? If you have the money, it would be as sweet thing to do. If you are bitter, then why bother!


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Paying the Minister
Q My father passed away recently. We had a small funeral service and a memorial service is scheduled at the church where he was an active member. The minister was/will be present at both and has been great.
I asked the minister about payment and he told me that no payment was required for church members. Nevertheless, I plan to give a substantial gift (I was thinking $1000.00).

The question is: should this all go to the church, or should I give the minister a gratuity out of or in addition to this?

A You would give the minister an envelope with a check inside, and mail a check to the church with the remainder. Exactly how much you pay the minister depends upon how much time he has spent with you and your family, travel time, and time officiating at the church. Two hundred dollars would be a reasonable nominal feel, but if he officiated at both the funeral and the memorial service, you might want to give him half, with the other five hundred dollars going to the church. It was not clear to me if he is officiating at both the funeral and the memorial and whether he had to travel in order to officiate. Assuming that he officiated at both, you would be validating the time that he spent by paying him five hundred. No payment is required or expected; however, you would want to compensate him for his time and expenses.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Payment for Clergy and Music
Q Funeral Service Etiquette. Do you pay the church, when and how much? Also, I know you pay the officiating priest; however, if he refuses, is it okay to take him to dinner, etc.? A previous parishioner. The priest is retired and is a friend. Is there anyone else who should be remembered?

A Churches have different ways of handling this. Why not call the parish office and speak to the scheduler who will tell you the protocol for your particular church? Most likely you would leave separate envelopes with a thank-you note and token of gratuity for the priest who officiated and the organist or music director. Yes, you can invite the priest out for dinner.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Payment for Preacher
Q Do you pay the preacher for conducting the service at the funeral/ The payment can be made before or after the service.

A Yes, a payment would be given to the preacher who conducted the ceremony. If you call the preacher's office, the person who handles the scheduling will be able to tell you the fee and when the fee should be paid.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Photographing a Wake, Funeral, Memorial Service, or Burial
Q Please tell me the proper etiquette for taking (or not taking) pictures during a funeral Mass and/or graveside service.

A You would have to ask permission of the widow, widower, parent, partner, or executor of the deceased's estate before taking photographs at a wake, funeral, memorial service or burial.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Photographs at Funeral
Q Is it appropriate to take pictures at a funeral when it is a somber occasion?

A If a member of the family is taking the pictures or has asked someone to take photos, then it is okay. Nowadays with families spread all over, sadly, sometimes the only time families get together are for funerals and, therefore, it may be the only opportunity for a family photo. Whoever takes the photos should have been asked to do so, or should have asked permission.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Photographs of Family Members in Coffins
Q Hello Didi, My mother passed away 13 years ago. We recently found a picture of our mother in her casket at my mother's sister's home (our Aunty). I am 100 percent certain that my mother would not have wanted a picture taken of her while in her casket. I am upset about this because I feel it was only right for her siblings to ask us permission before taking the picture. I realize it's a "done deal"...but I know deep in my heart that my mother would want them destroyed. Do I have the right to confront the family member and ask them to destroy these pictures? My mother has three of six siblings left alive and the sibling that took the picture (brother) is still alive. This just doesn't feel right to me that this could possibly be viewed by generations of family. My Mother did not want to be buried initially because she did not want us feeling obligated to go to a burial site. She always wanted to be remembered in life.

Thank you for your help.

A This is a generational thing. In the past, relatives had casts made of the deceased person's hand or/and face. I have one of each of my great-great grandfather. It was considered the thing to do at that time. When I first inherited them I thought they were macabre. Now I think of them as family memorabilia. My mother had the face hung on the wall of her living room. Now those casts are hidden in a bureau draw because I can't bare to throw pieces of family history away.

In my opinion, you should let that generation remember your mother in their own way. Ask if the photo can be left to you, then you can do what you like with it. In the meantime, let the older generation mourn in their own way, even if you don't approve. I agree with you and I understand how you feel, but making a brouhaha over the photo could end up being very upsetting and unsettling to all. Ask your Aunty if she would, please, leave you any and all photos of your mother. Chances are, she might even give them to you before she dies. Then you can do whatever you like with the photo.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Pitching In When Your Good Friend's Dad Dies
Q My good friend's dad died today. How long should I wait before I go to see the family?

A If this is a good friend, then email, text, or leave a voice mail asking him/her what you can do to help out. There will be lots of things that will have to be done. Start by asking him if he needs to be driven anywhere or is there someone who needs a ride. If you're a writer, offer help writing the obituary for the newspaper. Do they need prepared food brought in or such things such as help walking the dog or picking up dry cleaning. The important thing is to do offer and suggest ways in which you think you might be helpful. Some families like to have the comfort of friends around helping out, others can be more distant.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Post Mortems
Q My father recently passed away. My mother passed away in 2001. They were married at the time of her death for 54 years. After her death he kept the company of a lady friend from church for the last 8 years of his life. They were not engaged, nor did they live together. They did spend the majority of their time together eating out and watching sporting events, etc. The obituary was worded "proceeded in death by his loving wife, Jeanne", but did not mention his lady friend. I, as a surviving daughter did not feel it was appropriate to mention her by name in his obituary. She is very hurt, angry and offended that she was not mentioned. I am confused and now question if she should have been mentioned, or what the appropriate etiquette would be?" Thank you in advance.

A I am sorry for your loss, and sorrier still that you have to deal with this. Please do not think you did the wrong thing. Nowadays, if someone has a companion for eight years, she or he is often mentioned in the obituary and often in the will, as well. However, because your father and his lady friend did not live together and weren't engaged, you could not have been expected to have listed her as his companion.

Try to think of something that you can do that will allow his friend to remember your father and his family in a positive way that will give her comfort. Say, "I know that my father would have wanted you to have this..." and hand her, say, a box of photos of the two of them or mementos of his from the past eight years. Of course, material goods don't erase the pain; however, the fact that you are acknowledging that your dad "would have wanted you (her) to have..." might ease the pain, the anger, and make her feel better about not having been remembered by your father in the conventional sense.

Who knows, they might have been planning to move in together or even to wed. Men notoriously make promises they can't keep in order to pacify the woman. You might never know for sure what their future might have been. He might have promised to leave her something. Perhaps, even a sum of money and then never got around to including her in his will. It would be nice to give her something so that she could say to herself, her family, and their mutual friends that your father had remembered her. It is a small thing to do to help you both get through this.

I know it sounds materialistic, but whatever you can do to alleviate her pain and your pain, just do it. Get it behind you so that you can both move forward.

Just between you and me, it was up to your father to see to it that his lady friend was taken care of, or at the very least given some token of his appreciation of her. Unfortunately, it has been left up to you to pick up the pieces. Often women of a certain age who have been widowed or divorced lose their income when they remarry. If that is the reason they didn't get married, then it is understandable that she would be bitter. It is too bad that you can't have a face-to-face conversation with her about her relationship with your father--their plans for the future--because it might give you an understanding of why she feels the way she does. She is in mourning, too, just like you.

In a perfect world, we would all seek the truth and try to make things better; however, because he was your father, you shouldn't feel an obligation to correct his mistakes, if indeed that is the case. Nevertheless, you might find that giving her something symbolic would be the kindest thing to do for you both.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Printed Labels for Thank-You Notes
Q Is it acceptable to use the computer to print address labels to be placed on funeral thank-you notes? Of course, the notes inside will be personally handwritten.

A No, because if someone takes the time to send an expression of sympathy, you want to take the time to hand-write the envelope. Another problem is that a lot of people do not open their labeled mail on a priority basis because labels don't look official, like the electric bill, or personal as in a thank-you note. Sure, you can get away slapping a label on the envelope, but it just never looks as nice as a handwritten address.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Protocol: Receiving Line
Q I was raised catholic. At all funerals I have been at the receiving line always consisted of immediate blood relatives, with in-laws close at hand for comfort. Example: let's say my mother-in-law passed. She's has no husband, just three children. The children and grand- children would stand in the receiving line, with their spouse in close proximity for support, to get tissues, etc. I witnessed recently one wife of a son make a big deal that she should be in the line while the others did what was described above kind of got people talking and not in a good way. Is there a protocol for this? I notice with heads of state and others in that class that in-laws are in the background always.

A The protocol would be that if one daughter-in-law stands in the receiving line, then any other daughter or son-in-law would also be asked to stand. In large families, you'll see children of the deceased rotating out to let another member of the family stand in. In other words, it is a sad and stressful experience; therefore, it is good to allow grieving mourners to rotate out and then come back.

In this situation, you would have to look at the details. The circumstances may have been that this daughter-in-law cared for the deceased in a caregiver capacity taking him/her to doctor appointments, physical therapy, and doing shopping, cooking, laundry, and bathing. Perhaps the deceased took on a parental role for the son's wife. We never really know what goes on in other people's family circle. Whether this daughter-in-law was very emotionally attached to the deceased or was she just showboating, is the real question.

In the daughter-in-law's parent's family the custom may be that in-laws have the option of standing in the receiving line. It is the job of the funeral parlor director or/and priest to help the family decide who stands in line; also, if family members rotate out, then who is assigned to rotate into the receiving line as a replacement.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Protocol: Receiving Lines
Q I am the new chairperson for my church memorial committee. Following the service and upon entering the reception area, the family members line up with the pastor. The refreshments are set up adjacent to the line. We end up with this horrendously long line of people expressing condolences and only then move on to the refreshment table. The family gets worn out. Nobody feels comfortable bypassing the line to approach the refreshments. It all seems so formal and takes forever. Can you recommend a better set up. I'm thinking to encourage the family partake of the refreshments, and sit down or stand if they prefer near the memorial table (set up with pictures, etc.). Guests partake of refreshments, mingle and express condolences if they wish. Help.

A It is up to those in the receiving line to move the line along. Later on they can catch up further, but the receiving line is not the time for chit-chat. It is also common practice to whittle down the number of people in the line by rotating family members off and then back on. The clergyman/woman can set the criteria for who stands in the receiving and for how long. Only blood relatives, for instance, and that doesn't include cousins and their boyfriends nor small children.

With practice and perseverance, you can make the line go much faster and you can also set a time limit. After forty minuets the line breaks up and family members are escorted to tables where they sit in anticipation of talking to those who want to find them. That's the time to recall childhood stories and figure out who's who.

By the way, try placing the refreshment tables at the entrance and move the receiving line back into the parish hall.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Receiving Checks from Old Friends
Q My husband has passed away and an old friend from college days, 50+ years ago, sent a beautiful sympathy card with a check inside. Would it be proper for me to return the check and ask her to make a donation to her favorite charity in his name?

A In my opinion, you would return the check to her in your thank-you note saying that you want her to take the tax deduction, so would she please make the check out directly to the charity and enclose that name and address along with the full name of the honoree. You can include a stamped and addressed envelope to the charity along with your note, if you wish, but you don't have to do so. I'm sorry for your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Receiving Line: Family Order
Q My dad passed away last year and the order of the receiving line was: my mother, his brother who flew in from Ireland for the services, my brother who is the 4th child of 5, his wife, my other brother who is the youngest, his wife, my sister who is the oldest, then myself. My other sister, 2nd oldest, passed away. At one point the line had shifted and I was pushed against a coffee table and eventually pushed out of the receiving line. This is MY dad, and I felt like I was a distant relative! Why were my sisters-in-law in the receiving line ahead of his daughters? Don't they usually stand behind the spouse in the second row, and isn't it oldest to youngest, and where should his brother have been? I was upset enough over my father's death,and this situation caused even more anguish. I only have one dad, and that was his only funeral, there are no do overs. All I was left with was bad memories.

A Oh dear, I am so sorry for your loss and deeply sorry that you are left with bad memories.

Customarily, the close relatives meet a few minutes ahead of time with the priest/funeral director to figure out who stands where to avoid this kind of bad memory. Then there is usually a rotation where after, say, twenty minutes some family members step out of the receiving line and others fill in. With such a large family, you had a perfect right to step in wherever you felt comfortable. For instance, if you had stepped in between your mother and your uncle for a while, that would have been fine. It is a bit like the children's game of musical chairs. It sounds as if everyone was so deep in their own grief for your father that they couldn't find the good grace to step aside and let you in.

These situations are so loaded with emotion that you can't really cast blame because you most certainly were not being deliberately slighted. Everyone was in their own head, so to speak. You need to go up the ladder here and cut your family members some slack by forgiving them for their rudeness. But I don't want you to forget. At the next family death, I want you to assert yourself. Tell the clergy/funeral director that you want him/her to help you arrange the receiving line because you were placed last in your father's receiving line. He/she will listen to you because that's their job, but then it is up to you to be assertive and hold your ground. You can speak up and say, "For Dad's receiving line I got short shrifted so I am going to stand in the first half of the line." If you don't speak up and take your place ahead of in-laws and uncles, you cannot really complain that you didn't get a good spot.

If you put yourself in those family member's shoes, you might be able to understand that they just weren't thinking about anything but their own grief. I'm not making excuses for them, I just know that is what happens. It is up to you to step up to the plate and carve a place for yourself in the receiving line. I am not asking you to be confrontational by standing between a sibling and their spouse, but you can even stand towards the beginning of the line and I seriously don't think that anyone will nudge you out.

When the opportunity arises, in your own dignified manner tell each sibling that you're not going to be the caboose on the next receiving line.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Receiving Line: Former Son-In-Law's New Wife
Q Hi,

My husband's first (late) wife's mother recently died and he thinks I ought to stand in the receiving line with him. While I would like to be supportive, I don't know if this is proper seeing as how I am not directly related (it is his mother-in-law from a previous marriage). Who normally stands in the line?

-2nd wife

A Do not stand in the receiving line with your husband unless his former wife invites you to do so. It was unclear to me if your husband's former wife is deceased or not. If she is deceased, then you should defer to your husband's former wife's siblings and his former wife's children. Do not assume that just because your husband wants you next to him that the deceased's family will think it is the the right thing to do.

Only the immediate family stand in the receiving line. Since you are not of blood descent to the deceased, nor married to one of her children or grandchildren, you are not considered "kin," or immediate family. I'm even surprised your husband is in the receiving line, unless he has been asked to represent his children and their mother, or he was very close to the deceased.

Tell your husband that you will be there for him, but that you prefer to stand in the background and wait for him there. Just say that you do not wish to be in the spotlight, but that everyone will know that you're present. Tell it would be awkward for you trying to explain your presence and relationship to the deceased.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Receiving Line: Who Participates?
Q Dear Didi,
A close personal friend recently passed away. He was divorced with three grown children and for the past four years was living with his girlfriend. They actually purchased a house together and he wanted to start a new life. At the wake his ex-wife stood on the receiving line with her three sons and their families while his girlfriend and her children could only mingle -- not out of choice. My friend's girlfriend was his primary caretaker during his illness. My friend's ex-wife has obvious hate for the girlfriend and blames her for the break-up of the marriage. Was it proper etiquette for the ex-wife only to be in the receiving line or should his girlfriend been offered the option to be part of it? L.L., Stonington, CT


A Dear L.L.,
Live and learn. This detail should have been taken care of during the illness. But who in that situation thinks ahead when clinging to life? The executor of the estate dictates who does what -- according to the deceased's instructions.

What you have to remember is that in this case it is all about the children -- and their children. Empathy, compassion and consideration are important when looking at the big picture. Sadly, during the hectic wake, funeral and burial process things get arranged too quickly and if there isn't someone in charge to make sure that the deceased's wishes aren't carried out, unhappy situations such as this happen.

One would think it would make sense that one of your friend's adult children had the good manners and sense to invite the girlfriend -- the caregiver and their father's partner in death -- to stand in the receiving line out of respect for their father's wishes.

It is always difficult to lose a close personal friend. My best advice at this point, is for you to continue to support your close friend's partner as a friend. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Receiving Line: Who Stands in the Receiving Line
Q My sister's husband died and my sister has 2 sisters, 2 sons and a couple of grandchildren. I live in Florida and sent money I felt she may need and did not attend. Should my other sister have been in the receiving line? She was told by my sister whose husband died to go sit down. She said they (people coming in) would think she was the wife. I was shocked. Is that proper etiquette?

A Your sister, who was told to sit down and not stand in the receiving line, is not a blood relative of the deceased. Nor was she married to the deceased. Only blood relatives and spouses traditionally stand in the receiving line. Although, often spouses who cared for the deceased, and were very close to him, are asked to stand in the receiving line next to their spouse, a blood relative of the deceased.

Why were you shocked? Your sister, who was not married to the deceased, was also not his blood relative. Please, let me know, if I haven't clarified the etiquette for you. I may have missed something, such as: Was your sister one of the deceased's caregivers prior to his death?

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Receiving Line: Who Stands in the Receiving Line
Q My father-in-law of 29 years passed away. I have been with my husband since I was 16, married at 18. My in-laws have 6 children and 3 in-laws, including myself. The service was held at a church I attended with my husband for a number of years; my parents also attended there for 15 years. My question is, there was a receiving line after the service and my sister-in-law said siblings only were to line up to receive the guests condolences. I bowed out, but am extremely hurt to have been excluded. Am I right to feel this way, or am I being too sensitive?

A Please, don't take this personally. Boundaries and criteria are set as to how many and who stands in the receiving line. Starting with next of kin and blood relatives, it depends on how many in-laws there are before in-laws are included. Mourners don't really like having to go through a long receiving line, so it is just as much about the comfort of the other mourners as it is about the survivors. This is not a personal sleight, it is a matter of protocol.

We like hearing from you, and we're sorry for your loss, but you need not take this personally.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Reception Line: Spouses of Children
Q My mother passed away recently. At the funeral home, the reception line included just my mother's children. We are all married, the spouses and grandchildren all lingered in or around the room. My husband loved my mother as his own and was hurt that the spouses were not included in the reception line. We have all been married for at least 25 years and I explained it was probably for time efficiency and nothing else. Is it usual protocol to include in-laws?

A We all mourn differently, some fast, angry and furiously while and others take longer to grieve because that's just the way he or she deals with the sadness of death. When someone close to us dies, we too often find that unhealed old wounds reopen to help us mourn away those older wounds at the same time. A funeral is a way to release old and new grief because the sadness resurfaces. What we didn't deal with before surfaces looking for closing. In other words, we can't sweep grief under the carpet because it's still there when we take up the rug to air it.

Who stands in the receiving line has to do with the length of time it takes for one mourner to go through the line. Especially when in winter, you don't want a bottle neck at the front door or people waiting needlessly in frigid weather. Nor do you want them standing in the rain in the summer, fall and winter. The funeral personnel have to set boundaries in order to best control the flow. Protocol is what is good for everyone--all the mourners.

As you say, your husband has taken this very hard because he loved your mother as his own. He could well be mourning the loss of his own mother at the same time and doesn't realize it. In his own way and in his own time he will come to grips with this. Any unresolved issues that he has with his own mother--perhaps he didn't mourn her sufficiently or she's alive and he doesn't get along with her--might have resurfaced.

If you think it will help, tell your husband that there are practical reasons why funeral homes have boundaries in place about who stands in the reception line. Since I don't know the size of your family, I'm going to guess that if they had allowed all the spouses to stand in the receiving line, it would have taken too long and the natural flow of the line would have been slowed down. You have to think of the other mourners as well, even those who are not family. Plus, the role of the spouses is to mingle with the mourners and act as co-hosts. Mingling would have given him more time to talk one on one, whereas in a receiving line the job at hand is moving the line along. No doubt your husband acted accordingly and was kind and courteous to the other mourners. He should not take this as a personal slight. Help him to see that it just doesn't make sense to have a receiving line that is too long, that is too time consuming and effects the flow of mourners going in and out. Especially on a cold day, when you don't want mourners waiting in a line outside to get in.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Reconnecting With a Deceased Friend's Parent After Many Years
Q Hello Didi,

I was trying to reconnect with a childhood friend, and found out via the Internet that this friend passed away about 18 years ago. We had lost touch over the years after graduation, moving away, marriage, etc. She was 37 when she died in 1994.

Obviously, it's way too late to send a sympathy card, but I was able to track down where her mother now lives and wondered if it would be appropriate to send her a note. I'm not even sure how I would word it. Out of respect for her mother, I don't know whether just to let it go, or write and ask if perhaps she remembers me coming to their house years ago. Lastly, I don't know the circumstances of this friend's death, only that she died so young. I last saw this friend before they moved away years ago; we were both about 12 years old then. I'm now 56 and she would have been 55.

People from her mother's generation might be put off by someone finding out such information on the Internet then trying to make contact. The last thing I'd ever want to do is offend anyone or appear disrespectful. My friend had such a promising life ahead of her, and they were a really nice family, gracious and kind. It was such a shock to find out this friend had died, and so young, too.

Can you advise me on this? It might be better just to leave well enough alone. I don't even know how to begin if I were to send a note, and it's also a bit difficult saying I found out while on the Internet.

Thank you, Didi-

Sincerely,
Bonnie

A Dear Bonnie,

Respond from your gut. You don't have to tell the mother that you found out on the Internet, you can say that you "just found out that Allison had died in 1994," and you wanted to (write and) tell her that you have fond memories of Allison and staying at their house. You could tell her one of your memories. Don't be afraid of using words such as death or died because hearing those words make their child real even though she is dead. Don't walk on egg shells, just tell it as it is and that will clear the air.

There probably isn't a day that goes by when your friend's mother doesn't think about her daughter and how much she misses her. She is probably longing to talk about her daughter and have you tell her your memories of her. In your note, you might ask her if she would like you to call her to talk. If she doesn't respond, don't take it personally because often older people can get a bit paranoid and protective when people want to reconnect. Either she'll be delighted to hear from you, or she won't respond. Either way, it is a win-win situation for you both.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Red at Funeral
Q Why can't you wear red to a funeral?

A Why would you want to call attention to yourself by wearing red to a funeral?


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Relative of Deceased Behaving Badly on Facebook
Q Dear Didi,

My elderly uncle passed away yesterday. His grown daughter (my cousin) wrote hateful things about my grieving aunt and deceased uncle. There may have been abuse 50 years ago from her parents which she publicly posted on Facebook hours after her father's passing. I understand she is grieving but the public airing and hateful things she said from things 50 years ago makes me not want to deal with her at the funeral. The things she said are not how I know my aunt and uncle to be and I consider them to be like grandparents. Do I have to say anything beyond I'm sorry for your loss? Is it okay to avoid her at the funeral? She's a drama queen and I have a feeling she is going to start a fight with my elderly aunt and her sister. What do we do if she starts making accusations at the funeral? H.K., Newton, MA

A Dear H.K.,

Why bother to go? It sounds way too stressful and your uncle isn't going to know that you didn't attend. You can find another way to honor him. Plant a tree in his name. Give a scholarship in your uncle's name. Buy a park bench in his name. You don't need this kind of grief on top of losing your beloved uncle.

You are not obligated to talk to your cousin or write to her. It is never good to be hypocritical.

If you feel you must attend the funeral, then keep your head down and try not to make eye-contact. Since you are family you can arrive forty minutes early and talk to the priest about the problem with the deceased and his daughter. This funeral is all about the deceased, it is not an opportunity for your cousin to showboat. The priest should be warned that the deceased's daughter is apt to act out and he needs to be prepared to step in to keep the peace.

We never really know what goes on in other people's relationships, so step kindly and gently or don't go to the funeral. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Relatives: Communicating About Deceased Relative
Q My husband's only cousin passed away several months ago. We recently found out from his cousin on the other side of the family. His adult son had sent out an email to inform family of the death and a link to the funeral home for details. We were not on his email list, therefore we were not notified. We were not very close, as the cousin was much older and lived several hours away. However, we still exchange Christmas cards with the cousin and his children. We were somewhat close to the cousin's parents when they were alive.
They have our phone # and address. We are listed in the phone directly. Shouldn't they have called us? I feel that an email is an impersonal and a limited way to contact people of a death of a family member. We feel awful that we were not given the opportunity to express our sympathy to his family. We would have traveled the two hours for the funeral. I am sending cards to his children and their families and will kindly express our regret of missing the funeral. Am I alone in feeling that this electronic age is making people insensitive to the proper etiquette for such situations?

A It is too bad that nobody had the good sense to pick up the phone and telephone you and your husband, but it is in the past now, so let it go. The different generations are going through major changes in how they communicate with one another and we have to be tolerate and understanding.

When you're grieving for a parent, you don't always have the state of mine in which to remember to communicate with friends and relatives who are out of sight (state) and therefore out of mind. I'm sure they regret not having informed you and your husband in a timely fashion, but there is no good reason to make them feel any worse about their loss than they do already. I am sorry for your loss. Let this issue rest in peace.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Relatives: Deciding on Whether to Attend the Funeral
Q Hello
My husband's stepfather's mother has passed after being ill for quite some time. We live in different towns and attending the services will require a short but costly flight. I had only met the deceased once during our relationship before she fell ill; however my in-laws (my mother-in-law and the stepfather) are lovely people. While we don't get to see them often due to the distances between the cities we live in, they have welcomed me into their family and their home. We visited just 6 weeks ago. My husband will be attending for a day and a half for the wake/funeral; however he has expressed repeatedly that he does not feel I need to be there given the timing, the flight, the cost involved, and that I did not have the opportunity to know her (also, he says he will be there representing us as a family unit). I would like to be there for the family out of love and respect, and certainly do not wish to offend anyone during this difficult time; however do also recognize my husband's position. It is a difficult decision. What would you recommend during this time?

A It doesn't appear that you were terribly close to the deceased and therefore you are not expected to attend her funeral. You need to figure out whether you want to make the journey for social reasons to see your in-laws, or whether you are so deeply grieving the deceased that being at the funeral will greatly help you in getting through the mourning process.

If your answer is that you are in deep mourning for the deceased, then offer to pay your own airfare and expenses to attend the funeral.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Relatives: Global Mourning
Q Dear Didi,

A second cousin of mine suddenly passed away a week ago. He lived in Puerto Rico and my family and I live in the domestic United States. In the days following his passing, my family tried contacting his son and brothers to get information regarding the services so that we could send flowers. We were, however, only able to leave messages. When we finally thought to try to look up the information on the internet, we were disappointed to find that the services had already taken place. Nobody faults the son or brothers because we understand they are grieving, but would still like to do something to show support to my cousin's family and also show how very much he meant to us, even though we live so far away. He was a wonderful, generous, big-hearted man. I plan to send sympathy cards to the son and one brother that I knew, but what else can I do now that the services have passed?

I deeply appreciate any help you can provide. Thank you in advance. C.O., Manhattan

A Dear C.O.,

If the deceased had a widow, send flowers to her house. You would write to her directly as well telling her how deeply sorry you are for her loss. Personally, if I were you, I would pick up the phone and call the widow to find out how she is doing and ask if there is anything in particular she needs? Could she use help with funeral expenses?

When there isn't a spouse or partner, you would call the next of kin or closest blood relative. Telephone the son and brother whom you know best. Be persistent and they will eventually pick up or return your call. There is nothing more smoothing and warmer than the sound of a sympathetic familiar voice. Often it is the conversations after the flurry of the funeral that are the deepest and most sincere, because time has allowed the jelling of your thoughts. You say the deceased was generous, then ask if you can send a check in his memory to a charity he supported. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Relatives: Involvement in the Process
Q My sister-in-law (husband's brother's wife) passed away. Her 1/2 sister ruled the funeral service and only referred to her by her maiden name. She had the memorial cards printed with her maiden name after her married name. They were married 27 years with two sons. This 1/2 sister has invaded the home and tries to remove items she said belongs to her family. What are the proper words to say to her? She needs to remove herself and allow my brother-in-law and nephews to grieve. The entire service was only about when she was a child. There were people holding back all the in-laws as so we could not sit near my brother-in-law. My sister-in-law and I had a very good relationship. Is it proper for me to give a speech at the graveside this coming weekend on behalf of my husband's family? Who do I ask to be allowed to do this? Thank you!

A Customarily, the closest relatives of the deceased arrive early at the church to discuss who sits where and who does what. It is all about the lineup in the processional up the aisle. It sounds as though your brother-in-law, the nephews, and your family didn't get to the church on time to get in on who sits where and who says what. That done, I suggest that because you are not a blood relative, you have your husband's brother call the clergyman who will be performing the graveside burial service to say that he would like you (and whoever else would like a chance to speak) to be allowed to say a few words, give a reading, or say a prayer.

So, the short answer is that you would not talk to the half sister to ask if you can speak, you would arrive early at the graveside to remind the clergy person that you would like to say a few words. Also, you could bring red roses and have each of your family members place a rose in the open grave on top of the casket as they bow their head. It would be your family's silent yet very moving moment to memorialize your husband's brother's wife.

If you're asking about what you should say at the grave, say that you and your family will dearly miss the deceased and add what you'll miss about her. Her generosity, her kindness, her thoughtfulness, her sincerity, etc. Unfortunately, it sounds as though it is a bit late to stop her from taking things from the house. The proper way to do this would have been to have everyone wait a respectable week or two before representatives from both families meet to decide who gets what memorabilia and heirlooms. In other words after the deceased's will has been read. After the funeral it is difficult to backtrack and do it over the way it should be done. The thing to do is to be there early to discuss your comments with the clergy person first. Now you know.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
Newport Manners


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Relatives: Involvement in the Process: Answer 2
Q Hello Didi... I just wrote to you and felt I needed to add some more information on my sister-in-law's death. She was diagnosed two months ago with cancer. This disease took her very quickly. Her husband (my husband's brother) had to continue to work so my sister-in-law's sister took her to doctor appts and cared for her needs at home. I know my brother-in-law is still in shock over this and her sister planned the eulogy and service. Nothing was mentioned about their 27 years of marriage. Her body was cremated and the cemetery service is this coming Saturday. I really want to speak on behalf of my husband's family at this next service. Not that it matters but the sister that took charge of everything is the minister's wife. She is removing items out of their home saying it belongs to HER family. She has no business whatsoever returning to the house. She is making it very difficult for the family. My brother-in-law is quiet and emotionally distraught over his wife's passing. Should I speak with this sister about her behavior? This is just a messed up situation. It's like the Hatfeilds and McCoys!! HELP!!

A Thank you for the additional information, but it really doesn't change much in my answer, which I just sent you.

Except that she is the minister's sister. I think you should invite the minister and his wife, the deceased's sister, for sandwiches and coffee. At that meeting have an agenda. A list of three points you would like to make. For instance, you would like to speak on behalf of the family at the burial, her family wants a moratorium on the removal of any articles and furniture out of the house until her will is read, and the deceased's husband should have the last word on who does what when. It is up to the deceased's husband to pull himself together in time for the burial. It must be a terrible blow to him, but it would be better for his mental health going forward, if he was empowered to take control of his wife's burial and the disposal of her belongings. Unless she specifically willed those "items" to her half sister, they are still a part of their marital home and should be returned to his house. If they resist participating in a meeting, your brother-in-law's lawyer should be contacted immediately. Let him talk to the half sister and her husband.

I would be interesting in hearing how this is resolved.

Didi Lorillard
Newport Manners


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Remembering Mom
Q My wife died 4 years ago. My son is getting married and they want to memorialize her by setting a picture of her on a chair where she would of been sitting during the wedding ceremony. I have been living (not married) with a woman for a little over a year and dated for a year before that. We are a couple and we make each other happy and we love each other. I want to take her, but my kids want her sitting in the back row during the ceremony. What is proper etiquette in this case?

A This is a time for compromise. The time and place to memorialize your wife is to have her name listed in the ceremony program. On the last page there should be a line that reads something like this:

Today and every day we remember:

(Then all recently deceased family members on both side are listed.)

Unfortunately for you, this is not the time to make a statement about your commitment to your new partner. This is your son's wedding. You need to hold back and let him have his special day.

Look at the big picture, at the end of the day, you don't want any bad memories to taint your son's wedding on your account. You may love your new partner and you may make each other happy, but this wedding is all about your son and his wife, so you need to hold back about blatantly exposing this relationship at his wedding.

Those of us left behind mourn as individuals in our own time and in our own way. You and your son have both moved on; however, your son is still mourning his mother and you need to respect that he is still dealing with his mother's death and trying to heal.

Therefore, you wouldn't want to flaunt this new relationship in your son's face at his wedding. At the end of the day, it is just one day in the life of you and your partner. If you can't make a compassionate compromise, then you and she shouldn't attend your son's wedding.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Replacing Flowers
Q My cousin died last year and she was so close to my age that I have taken her loss very hard. I think of her often and I want to place flowers in her vase, but I'm afraid I'm going to hurt someone's feelings by removing the flowers that look old and worn. What is the proper etiquette for removing flowers and replacing them with new ones?

A If you know who the person is who put in the flowers that now look old and warn, telephone that person to say that you would like to place flowers in the vase, would she/he mind if you removed the old ones. You should be able to tell by inflections in that person's voice whether or not they are up for it. If the person hesitates, say, "Why don't I leave you my number and, when you want the flowers replaced, I'll be happy to do so. Maybe we could take turns."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Reponse to Sympathy
Q When you have had death in your family and people extend their condolences, "I am so sorry to hear about your sister's death", what is the proper response?

A "Thank you for your kind words," are the only words you need to say.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Resenting Photos of the Former Wife
Q My husband's ex-wife passed away. We have been married for 11 years. At the memorial service, my husband's kids had several pictures of their mom, and several pictures of their mom, my husband,{their dad) and the kids when they were younger. I felt like these family portraits were not appropriate since my husband is now married to me. His ex- wife never remarried. It was awkward standing next to the ex-wife's father who was grieving and seeing this old family picture with my husband in it when they are no longer married. My husband disagrees with me that this was not proper, but I don not feel it was necessary because their were plenty of other pictures of mom and her kids together; also, my mother-in-law continues to keep an old family portrait of my husband, his ex and the kids on wall in living room. I think it is time to retire that picture; she has plenty more pictures to display. I am really tired of seeing this picture every time we go to their house but my husband will not tell his mother that maybe she should take it down. Am I wrong to feel this way?

A In my opinion, you are not wrong, but I also feel that you need to show compassion. People, and especially parents and children, like to remember the good times, the times when everything was presumably normal, which is what those photos reflect and represent. Let your husband's parents and children have their fantasies about the perfect family. There is no reason for you to feel insecure here because your husband's former wife is deceased. After all, these are just photos and you have your husband alive and well. Let the parents and the children cherish their memories. You can help them move on by being a good role model and not being jealous of the life they may or may not have had once as a family. Let it go. Don't be envious of photos of a family you weren't part of; it just isn't healthy, especially when the former wife is deceased and you're happily married.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Responding to Best Friend's Mother's Death
Q My husband and I just found out our best friend's mother passed away; we met her a few times. They are 6 hours away from us. Do we attend the funeral or send a gift/make a donation in her name and commit to a weekend down the road to spend time with them? We are struggling with this very much.

A Your idea of committing to spending a weekend down the road with them, in my opinion, is the nicest thing you can do because you are giving them your time. As you didn't know the mother well, you probably don't feel a strong need to mourn her loss and therefor you shouldn't. By sending a donation to the mother's charity, you are fulfilling your obligation. You might also write a short, handwritten note on your best stationery expressing your sympathy for her loss. In the note, you can reiterate your plan to meet for a weekend very soon. You need not make any excuses. People really don't want to hear excuses, they just want something fun to look forward to and something happy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Responding to the Death of a Friend's Infant
Q I am wondering how I should extend my condolences for a family who just lost a baby. Here is the story: my husband and I are separated. The family is his psuedo-mom and the woman who lost the child, her daughter. My husband's mom left when he was young and his best friend's mom became his pseudo-mom. Well her daughter informed us of her pregnancy at the birth of our son (less than 6 weeks later my husband and I separated) - in August. She was about 10-12 weeks along; well she just had her baby on Dec. 1st and the little girl passed on Dec. 5th (which coincidentally was my birthday). I would like to maintain a cordial relationship with them as I am sure they will like to be in my son's life and in case my husband and I reconcile. We had a fine relationship when I lived in the area, we would go for dinner and talk. They were never people I would go to for a problem, but we socialized well. So what should I do? I can send flowers, cards, money, anything, except I cannot afford to fly out there to see them (they are in KS and I moved to CA with my family when my husband and I separated). Should I send them something? Should I call them? If I should call what should I say?

A Nothing is more appreciated than a handwritten, heartfelt note on good stationery. In order to sustain the relationship with the parents of the child, you would write them a personal note telling them that you are deeply sorry for their loss and that you are sorry that they have to go through the death of their baby. Tell it like it is. Unfortunately, most of the time we step on egg shells trying not to talk about a tragedy when talking about the tragedy is the first comforting phase of getting through it. Yes, you can send flowers. Yes, you can give a donation in the baby's name to a charity of their choice, but writing a letter from the heart will always be remembered and cherished.

If you feel so moved, in closing you can write that your love and prayers are with them at this time and always. Then follow up with a phone call. For most of us, it's easier to break the ice with a graceful note first, before telephoning. But if your gut tells you to call first, then do it.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Responding to the Death of an Extended Family Member
Q What is the proper etiquette to attend a funeral of my nephew's wife's father's funeral?

A If you didn't know your nephew's wife's father, then you are under no obligation whatsoever. However, in order to sustain whatever relationship you have with your nephew's wife, you would send her a handwritten note expressing your deepest sympathy for her loss. Of course, if you knew him well, then you would attend the service and reception; and depending on your finances, you would send a donation in the father's name to his designated charity. Should you know your nephew's wife well, then you would send her flowers, in addition to a handwritten, heartfelt note.

As you can see, how strongly you respond depends upon how well you knew the father and how well you know your nephew's wife. On the one hand, you don't want to be a hypocrite by going to the funeral of a man you didn't know at all; on the other hand, your gut feeling is that you want to respond somehow. A brief, warm, handwritten note is always correct.

Should you want to know how you should define how well you know someone, a rule of thumb is how often you have dined in their house and they in your home. If you celebrate holidays in their house or they in yours, then you know the person fairly well.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Role of Former Girlfriend: New Girlfriend Doesn't Like Her
Q Hello Didi,

This is my dilemma. My ex-boyfriend's father just passed. We were together for almost 8 years. I developed a friendship with his sisters, he has 3, and his mother. Additionally, I was always treated very nicely by the deceased. I love them as family and as such have offered my help, ie to run errands and help cook, clean etc... The widow has expressed her gratitude and sincere invitation to return. I know that they need the help and am glad I can help I feel that it is helping me to grieve, to be able to help.

The problem is that my ex has a new girlfriend. She is new to the family and is a bit unpleasant. I know the family, his friends, etc... So when they have seen me around, they are warm with me and it drives the new girlfriend crazy. I have mixed emotions about this I want to be there for his sisters whom I consider my friends and I want to pay respects to a man I knew and loved. Should I be helping them at all?

Mv

A Go with your gut feelings. Your former boyfriend's new girlfriend must be feeling insecure. Perhaps even jealous of your history of closeness to his family. To her it may seem as though you're trying to show her up and outdo her, because you're giving too much time to her boyfriend's family. Take a break. She thinks it is her territory now. Encourage his sisters to call you if there's anything that they need you to do. If your being around "drives the new girlfriend crazy," hold back your attentions and affection for the the family until after emotions have settled down. Don't go around when she's in your former boyfriend's mother's home. If you see her car in front of the house, don't go in. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Role of Mother of the Deceased
Q My daughter just passed away on Thurs 7/28/11. Do I send sympathy cards to my son-in-law and grandchildren (grown)? Also, should I send cards to my other two daughters who have just lost their sister?

A You can do all of the above, but I want you to know why. This is how you've chosen to be part of your mourning process. Connecting with the people closest to your daughter will only make you stronger. As the matriarch, you are the role model and comforting by mourning with your family is a natural process. Your heart tells you this is what you want to do to help you get through this terrible death that has happened to you. Nothing could be worse, and sharing your feelings with those that you're closest to and with those who were closest to your daughter is a wonderful thing to do. I am so very sorry for your loss. I'm sorry you have to go through this terrible time, but I know you will feel comfort in your role as being a truly authentic matriarch.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Romance + Funerals: Girlfriend's Former Husband
Q Dear Didi,

This started many years ago. I'm 43 now. When I was 18, I had a relationship with an amazing girl my age. We lived together for a couple of years until our relationship took a turn for the worse. I found out 20 years later she had gone to a party after being out at bar, and was brutally assaulted by a group of men and her beautiful self-esteem was destroyed.

Then she hooked up with a man 9 years older and she says now that she had a very low opinion of herself. (I have been very supportive of helping her through this as she has kept this bottled up for over 20 years....many tears were shed!!!) This man cheated, lied, abused drugs and completely screwed her over. She had 2 kids with him, now 18 and 20. After 10 years she left him and he's never given her a cent in child support for her or his two kids. She worked two jobs and was abusing alcohol. I also had two children, now 13 and 16, in a loveless marriage. I moved on and we've been a couple now for almost a year and living together for 6 months.

My question is: Her ex is very close to dying of cancer. Only recently did he tell his kids (he has a pitiful relationship with his daughter, who lives with us, but a better one with his son, as he can smoke pot, drink, womanize and do whatever), even though he has known for over a year or more.

I believe my sweetheart should go to the funeral out-of- town with her daughter out of respect for his family who never hurt her. Honestly I have no respect for him or even met his family, but I will be available to the kids as a friend and possible stepfather down the road. Is it wrong of me not go to the funeral? My close friends say I do not have to go. I appreciate your response as this column is very enlightening and I find solace in reading your responses. Regards, P. H., Location withheld


A Dear P. H.,

I understand your sweetheart is going to her former horrible husband's funeral in support of her daughter, but who will be supporting her emotionally? A whole lot of repressed anger is going to seethe out toward the louse. She will most likely not only act out but also be depressed. Now that she has made the decision to stay away from abusive relationships, it would help her feel better about herself if you were there for her. That's what partners do.

Also, you would be a buffer between her and her children, if they act out and things became unpleasant or even toxic. If you're in a committed relationship, you are in this for better or for worse. If you don't go, she may return bitter and withdrawn and angry that you hadn't been there to help her when she needed you. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: School's Response to the Death of a Parent
Q A child at our school lost his mother about a month ago. Our school has not sent a card nor did the child's grade level. The family wanted a very simple, low key funeral and didn't want a fuss. Our principal has a very good relationship with the family. My question is is it too late for the school to send condolences and, if we do, what is the proper way to do it?
Thanks

A Customarily, a faculty member is assigned, or volunteers, to write to the surviving parent. If possible, it is usually a faculty member who has a special relationship/connection with the child's family.

It is never too late to send a condolence.

In many schools when a student's parent dies, the school psychologist meets with the parents in the child's class to discuss how best to talk to their child about the death of the deceased parent and death in general in an age appropriate manner. The school would let the surviving parent of the child know that this meeting is taking place in honor of the deceased. The surviving parent would be invited personally by the psychologist or the faculty member who wrote the letter. However, the parent probably will not attend. In this way, all the students in the class are given the same information and the parents are comforted by the fact that the school is teaching their child about death on an age appropriate level.

Obviously, schools handle the death of a student's parent differently in an effort to reflect the ethnicity of the school and age of the student. Many schools don't have the resources to pay for the cost of a psychologist. In that case, the Parent's Association would use monies it has collected to cover that cost. Schools that do not acknowledge the death of a parent in a professional manner usually undergo criticism from the class parents for neglecting this opportunity to help heal all the students in the class. Many of the children in the class will become needy, clingy, and/or distant because they identify with the child who lost their mother and become fearful that their parent will abandon them, too.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Seating
Q We are family of 6 daughter 2 sons, where do we sit at Dad's funeral? Mum is alive and Dad has 3 sisters. Where do the grandchildren and spouses sit? One sister's husband wants her to sit with him and 3 daughters not in the first row with Mum ....this doesn't seem a good plan.

A Customarily, the immediate family arrives an hour early to discuss with the officiate where everyone sits and who walks with whom when. It is not your job to arrange this. Leave this duty in the hands of the funeral parlor or the clergy person. That way you won't be blamed for the sitting. This is what you pay them to do.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Seating of First Family and Second
Q My ex-husband and I were together 17 yrs and married over 10. We have 2 minor children together. We were divorced 6 yrs ago due to adultery on his part. He is currently living in another state with his girlfriend (from the adultery) and they now how 2 minor children together. They are not married and this state does not acknowledge common law marriage. He is dying of lung cancer and I am unsure of the funeral etiquette. The relationship between my kids and me and the girlfriend is not on the best terms. Who does the funeral arrangements legally and what is my role and her role as far as seating arrangements at the funeral, since we both have minor children? We were married and they are not but they are the current relationship. My children want me with them and I'm not sure if they will be placed behind his "new" children, together, or where and how the seating for the mothers should go? Please advise.

A In my opinion, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer. Since you are divorced, you're not in a position to call the shots. The question is who is, since your children are minor and your former partner didn't remarry but has a new partner and issue from that relationship. You need to find out who is the executor of your husband's estate, because that person will be representing your husband's wishes. Since your former husband hasn't remarried, it is possible that he hasn't changed his will. Your eldest child could possibly be the person in authority here should there not be a will. Then he or she, if at least 15 years of age, should/would be included in any decision making.

As to the funeral arrangements, customarily the extended family meet with the clergy member in charge of the funeral an hour before the service to determine who sits where. Still, as your children's representative and advocate, you would lobby to sit with your children in the first pew on the left (or right), and his partner and their children would sit in the front row on the opposite side. Your former husband's other relatives would sit on either side, their choice. Rest assured you will be seated with your children in one or the other of the first pews and you would walk in and out with them. However, you and your children will need to arrive at least an hour early for the service to be a part of that determination.

Your situation is more common than you might imagine, which is why you should be able to rely on the clergy person to be happy to help. As soon as you know the name of the clergy person who will officiate at your former husband's service, you would phone him/her to introduce yourself and tell him/her about the family situation. By addressing the issue with the officiate as soon as possible, you will be addressing your issues and assuring that your children are fairly and respectfully treated at the service. You have to take the lead on this in order for him/her to see the big picture.

My only other advice would be to talk to and connect with one of your former husband's siblings, parents, or best friends with the intention of making clear the importance of protecting the emotional and psychological state of all of the deceased's children. That should be your goal.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Seating: When You're Not Yet Family
Q Hi Didi,

My boyfriend's grandfather recently died. I have been dating my boyfriend for over 2 years and have met all his family. When I attend the wake and funeral, do I arrive and sit with my boyfriend or do I attend on my own? What is the most apporpriate way to handle the wake and funeral? Thanks for your help!

A You will get your cues, if you listen for them. Since I want you to do the right thing here, you need to be sensitive to the drill. The people who sit closest to the altar arrive at the church an hour ahead of time to meet in "the family room." One of the officiating clergy will work with the family to figure out the "pecking order" (my expression, not the church's). As you know, traditionally, those closest to the deceased, his tight-knit family and friends, sit in the pews closest to the front of the church. Some of these people will be seated before the procession, which in your case might be you. The others, including your boyfriend, will walk up the aisle as part of the "family" and sit in the very front rows after the mourners have presumably all been seated.

This is one of those occasions when you wait for instructions. You tell your boyfriend that you will sit in one of the first pews that aren't roped off designated for family and that he shouldn't worry about you. If you were engaged, then you might be in the procession. As you are not yet engaged, you most likely won't be asked to walk in the procession.

But, my dear, I don't want you to read anything into this. Therefore, if you are not asked to sit in one of the closest pews with your boyfriend, don't take it personally. This has nothing to do with you, so don't distract your boyfriend's attention away from his family because they will most likely need him to escort an older member of the family. That's the kind of role he will need to play.

Tell him to do his thing and that you'll meet him outside the church after the service. Letting him off the hook like that will show him that you respect the fact that he is mourning the loss of his grandfather and that you understand that older members of his family need him to preform certain courtesies that have nothing to do with your and his relationship. You've got the hint by now: do not make any demands on him.

At a ritualistic service such as this, most men tap into their feelings of gallantry, courtliness and chivalry. These are traits that you will want to encourage throughout your relationship and therefore this couldn't be a better time to start. He might have tasks to perform and it might make him anxious if he thinks that, "you are upset with him because you're sitting all alone."

As to the wake, you most likely will want to attend on your own because he could be there for four hours or more. Again, ask him what time he wants you to appear and leave after an hour or two.

So, by all means, join in with the mourners, but keep your distance, know your space. In his own way, and in his own time, he will let you know when and where he wants you to be waiting for him, if you tell him that you would like to be there for him.

It is probably not necessary to tell you this, be out of respect for the solemnness of the occasion, don't be overly demonstrative or clingy in front of other family members.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Second Wife at Ex-Wife's Funeral
Q Dear Didi,

My husband's ex-wife has died. She was in a new relationship and all of us got along. My stepchildren, with whom I am very close, know that we will be attending the funeral. It has been left to me to tend to the youngest grandchild during the service as I am Grandma to all my husband's grandchildren. The kids are buying a flower arrangement just from 'the family' and asked my husband to fill out a little accompanying card, as the rest are doing. My husband says that I am 'not family' and only he may sign the card, which he appears to regret having said, but refuses to change his mind or even acknowledge my position. I am keeping my mouth shut about my personal feelings, but I do feel that I have been slighted. As he is now my husband, he no longer belongs to the family of the deceased either and it seems this is a slight to the new partner of the deceased, too. I thought it would have been appropriate to sign my name as well or for us to have sent flowers of our own. Can you tell me what would be appropriate? L.T., Bryn Mawr, PA

A Dear L.T.,

Send your own flowers and card. Let's look at the big picture here. This funeral is all about your husband's former wife. I don't know what went down and why their marriage went south, so this is a very general answer.

The purpose of a funeral is to allow the next of kin and the closest relatives and friends to grieve together with a sense of camaraderie. Your husband was married to the deceased long enough to have a bunch of kids. They have history. It is only natural that he feels territorial about that history. Let your husband mourn his former wife. They may once have been very much in love but grew apart. In his own time and in his own way, your husband will come full circle through his grief. My best advice is to stay in the background and be helpful. I want you to go up the ladder here. Be a good role model for his children and grandchildren. Your husband's former wife is dead, and he is your husband.

This was, and still is, one of his two families. They will always be a part of him. But he has moved on and now he is married to you. Appreciate that and support your husband while he's going through the mourning process. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Selling Family Heirlooms to Family
Q Yes, is it proper for a family member to ask another family member to "buy" a family heirloom when they express an interest in it? And this is assuming that they do want to get rid of it. Feeling exploited . . .a bit.

A It is perfectly acceptable to offer to sell a family heirloom to a family member, if the price is market value or better. Furthermore, it is also fine to say, "If you're ever interested in selling that painting, I hope you'll let me make an offer."

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending a Donation in Memory of Someone You Didn't Know
Q My nephew's wife's mother passed last week. I did not know her and very seldom see my nephew and his wife. Is it proper etiquette to send a donation as she was cremated and the family does not want flowers?

A Call the funeral home that handled the cremation and ask if there is a charity designated to send donations in lieu of flowers, if you don't feel you can ask your nephew. Send a condolence card to your nephew's wife, even if you give a donation. If you did not know the deceased, you don't have to send flowers or a donation. However, the person you should focus on is the daughter of the deceased, who just lost her mother. A lovely card with a few heartfelt words would be greatly appreciated.

We like hearing from you.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending a Donation in Memory of Your Father
Q My father passed away last week at age 70. My mom, brothers, and I were his immediate family. In lieu of flowers my mom is asking for donations to their church. As his daughter, I'm wondering if I should be making a contribution to the church or not? Thanks for your help.

A Actually, as you are included in next of kin, you do not have to make a contribution. On the other hand, there is no reason why you couldn't make a contribution in your father's name.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending a Memorial Gift When Deceased
Q The son of two people who are divorced passed away. Do I send a card to the two of them? We are sending one memorial check, which card do I put it to and what do I say in the other card to let them know that a memorial was sent?

A If the son's parents are your good friends, then you can basically send them the same card with the same information. Send the check to the person who had custody of the child because s/he would be the executor of the son's estate.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending a Memorial Gift When Deceased's Parents Are Divorced
Q The son of two people who are divorced passed away. Do I send a card to the two of them? We are sending one memorial check, which card do I put it to and what do I say in the other card to let them know that a memorial was sent?

A You can basically send the son's parents the same card with the same information. Send the check to the person who had custody of the child because s/he would mostly be the executor of their son's estate.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Acknowledgements Instead of Burial Announcement
Q My father's death occurred January 21, 2012, and I have not sent announcements of his death to my friends. Is it appropriate to do so at this time? Is there a way to combine an announcement and thank you?

A You wouldn't send an announcement of your father's death to friends. To those who sent cards, made charitable donations in your father's name, sent flowers, or in other ways deserve a note of appreciation, you would send an off-white (ecru) card, or followed in half note paper, with the following centered on the front side:

The family of
William Haverford Wilson
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

Then you have the option of writing a short personal note inside (or on the other side if it's a card) to thank someone personally for, say, a floral arrangement:

Dear Jane and George,
The yellow, blue and white arrangement you sent for my father's funeral was lovely. How thoughtful of you, I know he cared deeply for you both.

Most sincerely,
Jane Wilson Smith

For others who, say, sent a card, you can just sign it like this: "Your card meant so much to us, thank you, Jane Smith

Or even just: Thank you, Jane Wilson Smith

By having an acknowledgment made up such as this you can share them with your siblings; they'll gladly pitch in when you've made it easier for them. By the way, if you don't want to have acknowledgments printed, you can often find printed boxed acknowledgments at better stationery stores.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Cards to Aunts
Q My grandmother just died and I want to know if I need to send my aunts and uncles sympathy cards.

A Go with your gut feeling on this. You are in morning as well, so you know somewhat how they feel. Sympathy is always needed at such times. Sending a sympathy card to your aunts is a lovely act of kindness.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Cards to Multi-Family Members
Q A husband and wife have both lost a sister within the same
week. The husband lost a younger sister and the wife lost
an older sister. Do I give separate cards or address to Mr. & Mrs. so and so?

A You might want to space the cards by sending them a day apart and address the card in sympathy for the one who died first to the sibling; however, in signing off, you could write: Ann and I send our love and prayers to you and George. In other words direct the sympathy to the deceased's spouse and sign the card, but mention the spouse in closing. Do the second sympathy with the last sympathy card.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Condolence Cards to Former Husband + His Family
Q My ex-husband's brother just passed away suddenly, and way too young. It's a huge tragedy for the family. We've been divorced for 10 years, have no kids together, and have had no contact in all that time. I have always missed the family and have especially fond memories of my ex's brother. But I think it might be uncomfortable for the family if I were to attend the funeral. Yet I want to show my support and honor my ex-brother-in-law's life. What should I do? And should I send flowers and a card to both my ex-husband and his parents?

A There is no reason you couldn't attend the funeral, unless you feel that your presence would make them uncomfortable. Ten years is more than enough time to let old wounds heal. You can certainly send condolence cards to your former husband and his family. Go with your gut feeling on this. Just questioning this should tell you that it is O.K. to send them your expression of sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Donation from a Group of Family Members
Q My brother's wife's sister is dying of brain cancer; she is at home with hospice at this time. They post to a web site for friends and family so we can all stay informed. They live in Virginia. My brother's family all live in Michigan.
We are going to make a donation to the website and I would like to know the best way to sign the donation/tribute.
It will be from all of us, (5 sisters and 1 brother); should we just go with our maiden name and say from the Smith family? Or the Smith families in Michigan?
Any suggestions?

A In my opinion, you should personalize the donation by listing everyone's name. You can do that two ways: email the list of family members with first and last names, or say "From the Smith families in Michigan," and list just all the first names. Personally, I think the second way is cozier.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Donation In Memory
Q When sending a check to a charitable group(hospice)as a memorial the deceased name is included in the note. Is it necessary to include next of kin's address? Thank you

A It is not necessary to notify the next of kin because a list of gift givers, along with their respective addresses, will be sent directly to the next of kin so that he or she can write their own thank-you note. Of course,the hospice will send you an acknowledgment as well.

However, if you do write a condolence letter to the next of kin, then you can mention that you sent a small donation in the deceased's memory to the hospice.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Flowers
Q My husband's brother died, he was 73, what are the appropriate flowers for us to send, and should his mother also send flowers.

A Your husband's mother does not need to send flowers, people might even be sending her flowers. The flowers are sent for the living as well as the deceased. A bouquet of fresh flowers represents the cycle of life. White flowers symbolize the shining light, green rebirth. Purple represents royalty, yellow innocence.

The appropriate flowers to send are a matter of taste and often have to do with the fact that the person was in the armed services or, say, was deeply involved with his college alumni association and therefore his/her college colors would be appropriate. If your husband's brother served in the military, a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers with greens would be appropriate. As a close relative, you would send to the funeral either a casket spray, an inside casket piece, a standing spray, or a side table arrangement. If you included the deceased's mother's name on the card along with yours and your husband, that would be fine. She of course can send her own bouquet, but it is not expected.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Flowers
Q Hi Didi, what a great site you have for everyone, thank you!
My father-in-law's 2nd wife, Kathy (we love her) just lost her father whom we never met but she spoke of him and how dear he was to her. They are going out-of-state for his funeral (we are not attending). The obit asks for a donation to be sent in lieu of flowers, which we are doing. My question is I'd like to also send flowers or a rose, something to funeral, to Kathy and Pop so that she will know that we are thinking of them in this time of emotional pain. Is this appropriate? If so, how would I address the bouquet or 1-2 roses? Do I include a little notation including Kathy's other family members on card? How do I phrase it, I want all to know we care even if we never met and yet letting Kathy and Pops feel our love?
Thank you so much
Sheryl

A It might be best to send a simple arrangement to the funeral parlor or to Kathy and her mother, if she is still alive. Would you be sending the 1-2 roses to Kathy and Pop to throw into the grave? Usually when there is a notice of sending a donation instead of flowers, you would follow that request. You can send Kathy and Pop a card with your sentiments.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending FLowers for Friend's Mother-In-Law
Q A friend's mother-in-law passed. The services are 3 weeks away and 3 hours away. What can I send to the families now to express my prayers?

A Send a lovely orchid plant. Orchid plants are a thoughtful gift because they don't need much attention and the plant will be in bloom for a couple of months.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Flowers From Deceased Husband
Q My father passed away six months ago. Their anniversary is coming up. Wanted to send flowers from him on their anniversary. Is it wrong to have my mother believe they are from him?

A It's just not a good idea to send anniversary flowers to your mother from her dead husband. You can send her flowers, but make them from you not him.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Flowers to Estranged Family
Q My father's brother just passed away. He has three children, two of whom are grown and married; the other is on leave from the military and at home. I am not close with any of them, but I would like to send flowers. The issue is, the two older children are not speaking to my uncle's wife (stepmother to the older children, mother to the young man). I thought I would send flowers to the home, as well as to the two older daughters, but my budget does not allow for that. Would it be inappropriate to send flowers to the wife only? Or, barring that, should I just send out sympathy cards? This is rather new territory for me, so any help is appreciated.

A Send the flowers to the funeral parlor in memory of your uncle to his family from yours.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Flowers to Estranged Family
Q My husband's ex-wife's husband just passed away. The memorial service was held already and we were not notified about any of the events to include his passing. Would it be considered tacky to send the former wife a condolence card to let her know we are aware of her pain or should we just let it go? It was not a pleasant divorce and they are not on speaking terms nor does my husband want to begin a dialogue with her again. She has been incredibly bitter and abusive to both of us in the past. Should we let sleeping dogs lie?

A Maybe you want to think about a small compromise and send a sympathy card with very few words and sign both of your names. Your instincts seem to be telling you to keep your distance, so maybe you should listen to them.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Flowers When You Hadn't Seen the Person in 20 Years
Q I had a close friend whom I haven't talk to in 20 years and his father passed away. Do I send flowers or a card or both?

A The operative phrase is "had a close friend." In my opinion, you do not send flowers in order to sustain a relationship that isn't ongoing. If you want to do something thoughtful, a card is always a gentle gesture as long as you add a personal line or two before signing your name. For instance, "Your dad used to make us laugh so much, I remember the time he took us to the country fair..." The bereaved really appreciates hearing stories about their dad (loved one) or being reminded of one of his characteristics, such as his great sense of humor. As I said, it doesn't have to be long; it is the memory that is important to share at a time such as this, more important than flowers, in my opinion.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Gifts to Deceased's Family Members
Q My daughter-in-law's grandfather passed away. I want to send something to her mom and grandmother. What would be appropriate?
























A In my opinion, the best gift one can send is a check to the deceased's designated charity in their memory. Alternatively, sending an orchid is traditional. However, when all the buds have opened and dropped, it could make a sad recipient sadder.

If you suspect the mother and grandmother are struggling to pay the funeral bills, offering to help with those expenses would be a very helpful thing to do. For instance, traditionally, you would send the church where the funeral took place a check in the deceased's memory.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Holiday Cards to Mourning Relatives and Friends
Q This year a lot of my relatives and friends lost their loved ones. I usually send them photo Christmas cards since I've been married and have a child. Is it proper to send Christmas cards or shall I skip Christmas cards and maybe send New Year's cards? Or perhaps a "Thinking of you" cards? How shall I write?

Thank you for your help!

A Actually, your mourning relatives and friends will welcome seeing a photo of your cheerful child on your Christmas card. It will make their day and they'll happily display it on their mantle. As this is a Christmas card, you wouldn't necessarily need to mention anything. They know you're thinking of them because you sent them a card. Or you can say something such as, "Looking forward to seeing you in the New Year." By sending your child's photo and writing that you hope to see them, you are reaffirming that life goes on and you and your family consider them part of their inner circle.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Money in a Sympathy Card
Q Should you put money in a sympathy card?

A As I do not know the financial circumstances of the family, I do not know if they need money to cover the cost of the funeral. You might want to talk to a member of the family or a close friend to find out the best way you can help the family. Sending a sympathy card is always appropriate.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Money:
Q Memorials preferred by family, what exactly does this mean?


A Since I don't know the financial circumstances of the deceased and his family, I would say that the survivors are asking that instead of sending flowers, they would prefer checks sent to the next of kin to help pay the funeral and burial expenses. It may sound awkward, but that's what it sounds like to me. Usually it would read, "In lieu of flowers, ...."

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Over Prepared Food
Q The mother of my son's father died last night in his sleep unexpectedly of a heart attack. We were together over 6 years ago, she has since gotten married as we never were, has three children with her husband, but we are all on good speaking terms. I want to send them something that's not flowers for condolences but not sure what to do... Thinking about a pre-made dinner delivered from a nice nearby restaurant or something like that. Need suggestions rather quickly as I do not want to be "that insensitive baby daddy" or anything at all as I have always been involved and always have done what I can. This is just something that happened completely unexpectedly and I want to let them know I'm sorry.

A Sending over food is always appreciated. You may want to be sure the restaurant calls ahead to schedule delivery for, say, dinner tomorrow night, Saturday, June 14th.

Personally, in your situation, you may be better off phoning to find out what they need. It is always best to give people what they want and not what you think they need. Ask if you should send a small check to cover funeral expenses? Or would they rather you send over dinner from a restaurant. The problem with the restaurant deliver is timing it and covering the number of people in the home at the time of the delivery. They may have too much food already. On the other hand, sending over a case of wines or whatever they drink, may be more practical, if they have people stopping by to express their condolences. You know the family best, but it is still polite to ask, when in doubt.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Plants to the Funeral
Q Is it proper etiquette to send a plant to a funeral for condolences and then inform your friend you sent the plant and would like for her to take it home with her?

A The friend is no doubt in deep mourning. She's hardly thinking about who sent which plant, let alone trying to remember what plant she's been instructed to take it home with her. Next time, send the plant to the mourner's home, if you want to be sure she has it at her house. I'm afraid you'll have to let this plant go, unless you make arrangements with the funeral parlor to have it delivered to her home after the funeral.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Relatives CD of Funeral
Q On sending a cd copy of pictures to family members after a one year funeral?

A If you asked permission from the next of kin to take photos prior to the funeral and have permission, then ask now for permission to send cd's to family members. I must warn you that if this is not sanctioned by the next of kin, you could get a heated response. If you do have permission from the next of kin to distribute the cd's, contact the individual family members to whom you wish to send a copy first to find out if this is something they want to receive in the mail. Give them fair warning because you really need to know everyone actually wants a copy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Save-the-Date Emails for Memorial Service
Q Is it in bad form to send by email a save-the-date announcement for my mother's memorial service? Recipients know she has died and will receive a written formal announcement when details are finalized. Thank you.

A No, I don't think it is in bad form. I think it is a brilliant idea. Save-the-Dates are a great way of connecting with family and friends at such a difficult time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Sympathy Cards
Q When sending a sympathy card, should it be addressed to the woman whose father died or to the woman and her husband?

A Address it to the woman whose father died, but in closing you can send your best to her husband,and be sure to use his first name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Sympathy Cards On-Line to Other Family Members
Q I recently attended the funeral of a friend. I acknowledged his brothers, but not his stepbrothers and sisters as I did not know them. Would it be appropriate to post an apology in the guest book online or should I just forget about it?

A No need for an apology, just go online to the guest book and write something such as, "In my sadness I neglected to mention Jack's stepbrothers and sisters, Bill, George, Alice and Christina," who I'm sure already miss him greatly." (It goes without saying that you would use the real names.)

If this doesn't work for you then forget it, because it is important to sound authentic. Remember, there is no need to apologize or explain anything because at funerals we are all a bit out of sorts and most of us understand that.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Sympathy Cards to Close Family
Q My brother-in-law passed away recently and apparently my sister is upset that I didn't send her a sympathy card. (She's told relatives overseas that I didn't send her a card.) I was there with her supporting her the weeks before he died (he had cancer) and also the day he died and after. I thought a sympathy card was too impersonal to send and that my love and support were so much more meaningful. Should I have sent her a sympathy card?

A No, you were not required to send a card because you were seeing your sister in person nearly every day. Customarily, you don't send your closest relatives sympathy cards because you're supporting them in their daily lives helping them to cope and move on. Your sister is in mourning, grieving deeply. Give her what she wants, send her a sympathy card. Your not sending her a card has nothing to do with you, believe it or not. So try not to take it personally, which I know is hard. She's having a very difficult time accepting the death of her husband and she will be needy for attention for months to come. Be patient. She really does appreciate you, she's just having a terribly hard time accepting her loss. She's most fortunate to have your support.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Sympathy Cards to Other Family Members
Q My sister died last week. She has two grown sons. Should I send them sympathy cards? I am hurting pretty bad, too. I just don't know the proper thing to do.

A You don't need to send your sister's sons sympathy cards. You can call them to say you're thinking of them, even just leaving a voice mail will be of comfort.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Sympathy Cards to Other Family Members
Q My brother recently passed away. Do I send my sister-in-law a sympathy card ???

A You would send your sister-in-law a sympathy card, if you hadn't talked to her because you were estranged from your brother and his family. If you've been in contact with her and attended any service or the burial, then you needn't send a store bought card, but there is no reason that you can't. What is more important is that you communicate with her after the frenzy of your brother's death has died down and friends and family have gone their own ways, to check up on her to make sure she is all right and to ask if there is anything that she needs or that you can do. As you are mourning the loss of your brother, too, you could probably have some meaningful and perhaps fun conversations with her about him. Remembering and sharing the good times, the wild times, and the silly situations that you and your brother got yourselves into and out of will help you both to heal.

I'm sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your brother. For your sake as well as hers, try to have conversations about your brother with her. Call her on his birthday, her birthday, their anniversary, and major holidays. In other words, you obviously aren't replacing him, but you can step up and remind her that you miss him, too, by remembering him for her from time to time. You probably know this already, but it often takes anywhere from three months to a year to accept fully the loss of a brother or husband. What you have in common is that you are both grieving the loss of a very close relative.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Sympathy Cards to Other Family Members
Q My brother passed away recently. I was wondering do me, my son, my dad and mom send a sympathy card to my sister-in-law and my nieces and nephew? We sent flowers to the funeral home with a beautiful card but I feel like we need to do something else that is nice is remembrance of my brother and to let them know that we are grieving as well. Any suggestions? What are some nice ideas?

A Certainly, you can all send sympathy cards but you and your family are mourning your brother's death as well. What I find works the best is this: Find something your brother loved and, say, plant a tree or donate a bench in his memory, if he was a runner or loved hiking or walking the dog. Perhaps he played basketball with a bunch of friends where you could donate a new hoop. Did he have a charity or school that you all could make a donation to in his memory? His wife or accountant would know the charities or schools he supported. There is always his church.

In my experience, it is when close family and friends have stopped calling is the time when you and your sister-in-law need to talk. Set up a pattern of calling her periodically to see how she is doing using the excuse of their anniversary, your brother's birth date, her birthday and holidays. Invite her for dinner or to meet you for lunch; if she's at a distance, invite her for a weekend such as Labor Day Weekend or Thanksgiving when she might be alone for three days, if there aren't children still at home. The point I am trying to make is that you two need to talk about the fact that your brother is dead and you want her to know that if she is having a hard time with budgeting or finances, she should let the family know. Since I don't know your circumstances or hers, this is a rather general answer; however, if money isn't an issue, you can make conversation by telling silly and funny stories about when you and your brother were growing up; tell her tales about when the two of you got into trouble and how you got out of it. Talking about your brother with his wife will be healing to you and to your sister-in-law. You are both in mourning and you both have the huge fact in common that you are grieving your love for him and cherishing his memory.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Thank-You Notes For Christmas to the Deceased
Q My mother-in-law passed away back in July and at Christmas time we got Christmas cards from a few people in my mother-in-law's name. Now I need to know how to tell these people in a letter that she had passed on. How do I write the letter? We did have an address book but it disappeared from the nursing home so we couldn't contact everyone that she knew. We did our best and asked some friends to give us a hand telling people.

A Not to worry. Those who sent Christmas cards will understand. Write a handwritten note, the same basic message can go to each person. Say you are still getting around to contacting all of your mother-in-law's friends far and not so far away. Sometimes it is best not to use an excuse, even though you have a perfectly good one. People really aren't interested in hearing excuses. Then you can say that she always spoke fondly of that person (use the name of the person who sent the card). If you don't have small social stationery, buy a box of boxed thank-you notes and in your note you can start by saying, Evelyn (insert her name), who died last summer, would have wanted us to write to everyone who had sent her a Christmas card this year. That will make the person receiving the letter feel special.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sending Wreath to Co-worker's Mother's Funeral
Q Hi,
I'm sending a wreath for a colleague/friend's mother's funeral. Although I met her on a few occasions and knew of her through my colleague, I didn't really know her well so I don't know whether I should write a message on the card attached to the wreath or just put my name. If it's courteous to put a message, what should I write?

A Just sign your name. Some people write, "In memory," before putting their own name. Truthfully, the list of floral arrangements sent to your co-worker's family from the funeral parlor will more than likely just list your name along side what you sent - "wreath."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Separated Wife Attending Father-In-Law's Funeral
Q I have been married to my husband for six years. It is his second marriage and he has two daughters from a previous marriage, both in their twenties. I am in my forties and he is in his early fifties and we have a two-year old son. My husband's father is 85 and in the very late stages of lung cancer. He will likely die in the next few weeks. Recently, some marital problems came to a head and my husband decided to temporarily separate. This is after several months of couples counseling (not our first time trying that). He has been coming and going, staying at a friends, visiting his father, and on business trips for about two months, but has stayed at our home in a separate bedroom as well--most recently to recover from hernia surgery. We have been in counseling and have agreed that a decision must be made by mid-November. I have stated very clearly that I do not want to permanently separate or divorce and want to continue to work on the marriage with the current couples counselor we had been seeing. Recently, he suggested that perhaps I should not come to the funeral when his father passes. It will be in another state and would involve a lot of travel and hassle to get there with our toddler. I had always assumed that I would go to the funeral, no matter what. But my mother (in her 70s) has been encouraging me also to consider not going as it will be difficult with a two-year-old. I'm blown away by even the idea that I wouldn't attend, on many levels. It does not fit my personal ethic, and also would mean not being there to support my husband, and would seem to mean that I am a stress for him and not a source of comfort. Perhaps he does not want me there or would feel he has to 'deal' with me, rather than just focus on grieving. I have asked him what HE wants for himself, but can't help feeling very hurt that he may not even want me there. I don't have a lot of experience with death and both of my parents are still living, but I know that it's a huge life event. I know that my husband ought to be able to decide how he wants to deal with it. But I'm concerned if I don't attend the funeral, he will deep down resent it for years to come, and my connection with his family (not that strong in the first place) will be non-existent. Thank you.

A Your gut instincts are right on. Go to your father-in-law's funeral. You would be going in support for your husband, his daughters, your son (because you will tell him about his grandfather one day), and because you feel emotionally attached to your husband and his father.

There is no reason to take your two-year-old, if you feel that would be stressful. On the other hand, everybody loves a two-year-old. Who can resist them! Perhaps you could leave him with your mother, or have your mother, or a sister or best friend, go with you.

Should you go to the funeral, arrive slightly late so that people will think the reason you're not sitting with the family is because you came from afar with a two-year-old and couldn't make it on time. Don't discuss the separation with anyone at the funeral or reception. If anyone asks, just say you are both working on your marriage.

Your husband is feeling incompetent because he has had medical problems and now he is losing his father. He will continue to go through the mourning process for many years, so if you are trying to get back together with him, you have to be a part of his mourning process. Losing a parent can be a real jolt and, as he is feeling vulnerable as it is, it will hit him hard. You can be there for him by trying to get him to talk about his father and tell you stories of the good times and adventures they had together.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Separated Wife's Etiquette
Q My husband of 25 years has cancer and was given only months to live. We have been separated in marriage for a year. We filed for divorce but he changed his mind and canceled the divorce. His family HATES ME and always did. We still live apart BUT talk to each other every day and see each other weekly. Our son's ages are 25 and 15. When he dies do I still take my place as his wife?

A I understand your predicament and you have my deepest sympathy. The first thing you that have to do is to forget about the fact that your husband's family hates you and focus on being a good role model for your two sons.

How you are handling your husband's illness and how you handle his family and his death will show everyone that you are, and were, a dignified wife. Yes, that's right, it is all about dignity and unless he's got a romance that you don't know about, it is all going to come tumbling down on your plate.

Because your two sons are old enough, you can hand over some of the responsibility and busy work to them in terms of sharing the phone calling to friends and relatives as well as the other duties of deciding on the ceremony, burial, and having them flank you in the receiving line. The three of you will work as a team to get through this.

You can start by meeting with your husband to discuss the service, burial, and whom he wants in any receiving line or to speak at his service. It is important to get this written down in an e-mail or he could dictate his wishes to you; you would then read them back to him and have him sign it with your eldest son as a witness.

It sounds as if he is closer to you than anyone; therefore the burden falls on you, but it would be prudent for you to get your husband's wishes in writing as soon as possible. That way if his family makes a fuss, you can show them his wishes and his signature.

Sadly, not to put anymore pressure on you, the sooner that you get this done the better because you never want to be accused of manipulating the situation for your own benefit when he gets to a point where he is heavily medicated with pain killers.

This might not be the answer that you were looking for, but let me tell you that you will feel really good about how you handled the situation in the end. With great dignity and the support of your sons, you will get through this.

More specifically, take your place as his wife now. You don't wait until he dies. Because you are supporting him in his final days by talking to him everyday and seeing him once a week, you are the closest that he has to a wife and you are not legally divorced. In fact, you should be commended for stepping up to the plate in his greatest time of need and helping him to die in peace having him know that he ultimately made the right decision in his marriage, and knowing that you are a dignified role model for his sons.

One last point--and it is a huge one. You are a dignified role model for your two sons.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Service Arrival
Q How early should you arrive for a funeral?


A Of course, if you are a member of the family, you will arrive with the family from the family house; however, if you are a friend or distant relative or business associate, you need to arrive at the funeral before the family. I try to arrive twenty minutes before the time stated in the newspaper because the funeral is about the family of the deceased (and of course the dearly departed), and it is a matter of respect that we are all seated in our pews before the family arrives. The casket or urn may or may not be there already. If you are a member of the extended family, a distant cousin or good friend, you would sit in a pew on the right hand side of the church or way up front on the left. If the usher doesn't know you, he may ask you where you would like to sit. If I see that the left hand side of the church is conspicuously empty, I'll ask to sit up front on that side because it is awful to have a vast vacant space in the front while latecomers are crowded in the back. Even at funerals, it is important to be a self-sustaining guest.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Service Gloves
Q I am a church usher. At funerals, or 'Homegoing Services' we wear white gloves. Is it proper etiquette to shake the family's hand with or without the gloves before viewing remains at the service?

A When wearing gloves is part of the uniform then you would keep on your gloves. You wouldn't be expected to take your gloves off every time you shook hands. On the other hand, if you are shaking hands with all the members of one family one at at time, one after the other, you would only need to take off the glove on your right hand--presuming you know them personally.

If you are not in the military or in service, as, say, a butler in a grand house, then you would leave your gloves on because you wouldn't be shaking hands with the viewers anyway. I know that sounds silly, but if you went to a house and the butler met you at the door, you wouldn't shake his hand because he is "the gatekeeper", not a supposed friend. As a church usher, you represent the deacons/wardens of the church as a peer on their welcoming committee. Therefore, you would do what draws the least amount of attention to yourself. If you took your gloves on and off and on and off, you would be drawing attention yourself and it would be a distracting.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sharing Ashes With Other Family Members
Q Hello, my husband passed away 7 months ago, he was 44 and it was quite sudden. I involved my stepmother in every step of the funeral planning, etc., and also the chosen location for where his ashes are to be scattered. I did take a small amount of ashes and scattered on the beach/sea at our favorite Florida spot about 4 months ago. Initially I was going to do the rest on his 1st anniversary with close family. However, I have decided now to do it alone sooner in spring which was a favorite season of my husband. Does his mother have a right to be there? I want to do the right thing but I so want this to be a private time with my husband like Florida. Help? Thanks in advance.

A I'm a bit confused, first you mention stepmother and then mother. I'm assuming you mean your mother-in-law. Because you both went through the tragic death or your husband together and supported one another, you really want to tell her about your plans. Just say, "This is what I want/need to do:...." Then say that you would be happy to give her some of his ashes for her to do with whatever she wants to do with them, but you need to perform an act of mourning on your own. You probably don't even have to tell her what planning on doing. Just by offering to share some of his ashes with her should give you the space and privacy to do what you what with them. I'm sure she'll understand and love you all the more for wanting to continue making your relationship with your husband special. I am so sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your husband. She will understand and appreciate your telling her and for offering some ashes. She might not even take any, but it's better to offer. Take care of yourself.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sharing the Ashes
Q Hi Didi,

My father passed a few months ago. My stepmother and brother decided they did not want to keep his ashes so I said that I wanted to keep them; everyone agreed that I should have them. I paid for the urn and his remains were put in it and given to my brother. He promised to deliver them to me in a week or two (I live 6 hours away). Well, my brother has been acting very "busy" and has been leading me to believe he would bring them and always had an excuse not to. My grandmother passed last week and since I would be in town for the funeral, I told my brother that I would be picking up the ashes after my grandma's services. He agreed. Then the next day he said that my stepmother didn't want to give them to me anymore. My brother somehow allowed her to get possession of the remains --- and I paid for the urn. It is quite beautiful and now she wants to keep it --- what should I do? T.M., Cleveland

A Dear T.M.,

In hindsight, your father should have left instructions as to the disposition of his ashes. Apparently, he didn't and you assumed their care. The executor of your father's estate can decide their dispersal. He/she could be your father's lawyer or even your brother.

Gently ask whoever has taken over the responsibility of your father's estate if you could, please, have your urn back with half of the ashes. Politely suggest that your stepmother finds her own urn and your brother divides the ashes between your urn and your stepmother's. Don't be stalled if she doesn't have an urn because the ashes can be temporarily stored in a small box until she finds one.

Offering a compromise is a common way to solve this problem, so you are not asking anything out of the ordinary. In large families sometimes everyone who wants ashes gets some portion of them. Occasionally ashes are incorporated into jewelry such as pendants and rings, so dividing your father's ashes between you and your stepmother would be the civilized way to solve your problem. It is all about how you and the executor work out sharing your father's ashes with your stepmother. You can do this. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Should Former Wife Attend Funeral for Sake of Children
Q Hi, Didi!

A friend who is in the process of getting a divorce recently learned of the death of her soon-to-be ex-husband's grandmother. My friend has two preteen children. Should she attend the viewing to help support her children in the grieving process? Should she sit at the back during the funeral service? Is she expected to go to the dinner afterward? The relationship with her in-laws is strained, but she and her children were involved in the life of the grandmother. Thanks for your help!

A Nice families put aside petty grievances during times such as this. Your friend is a role model to her children and therefore she needs to take the high road by attending the viewing and funeral because both are open to the public, but, perhaps, holding back and not attending the reception or burial, unless she is invited by an immediate family member. She wouldn't be in the receiving line, unless specifically invited to be a part of it. If her children stand with their father in the receiving line, or sit with him at the funeral, she should sit behind them so that they can turn around and see her for comfort seated behind them. She should be dignified and friendly, and show her children that no matter what, their parents will always be there for them.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sibling Behaving Badly
Q The father of my children passed recently. There were many cards left at the funeral home on the tray. Many were donations to a fire department or a legion. Some envelopes had no name, others said family of:______, and some were marked with one child's name or her name and her companion's name. Dad had no insurance; funeral expenses were to be divided equally. My question is: is it up to the child and her companion to open the cards by themselves and keep what may have had their names on or should all the kids have opened them together, add the total received, subtract it from cost of funeral, and then divide the balance equally?

A In hindsight, the executor of the dad's estate, or next of kin, should have been in charge of collecting, recording, and thanking people for their cards, donation, and flowers, as well as paying any existing bills and debts. In this case, it sounds as though most of the money collected would have been used to pay burial expenses; then after the executor's fee is paid, any leftover money should have been divided between all of the dad's children, assuming he was single.

In a perfect world, the funeral parlor director would have advised the executor or next of kin. Unfortunately, this is one of those would have, should have, could have situations that got out of control and now everyone's wondering, what happened? Sadly, there is nothing you can do but chalk it up to experience. "The child and her companion" should have split the remaining money with her siblings after taking a 10% fee for the many hours they probably had to spend tying up the dad's affairs, but they may now feel that since they did all the work, they deserve whatever is left over. Or there might not have been any money left over.

As to the 10% fee, they could have been advised to pay themselves a different percentage for all the hours they spent because there is a lot of paper work involved at the end of a person's life. If the rest of the kids want to see an accounting of the money, then they should ask to see any records that were kept. The dad's probate record is public and can be seen at his local city hall, so reading the probate records associated with the dad might alleviate some of their anxiety; "the child and her companion" needn't know that her siblings were snooping.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Siblings Placement at the Wake and Funeral
Q Recently my brother died. He was married, had two children and two grandchildren and a daughter-in-law. I did not know where to sit at the wake and funeral and no one offered a place. At time of the wake, I was in the second row, and at the funeral mass I was also in the second row. I felt slighted. Was I wrong? When there was an empty seat next to my sister-in-law at the wake, I asked her if anyone was sitting there and she said it was for her daughter-in-law. Any clarification would be appreciated. Thank you.

A I am sorry for your loss and furthermore I'm sorry you were slighted. Usually, close members of the family, such as siblings like yourself, arrive for the wake at least fifteen minutes early because that's when it's decided who stands/sits where. When you arrive half an hour early to the church, the priest assigns you a seat and tells you where you would come in at the procession and even perhaps whom you would walk with, if you wanted an escort or usher.

When you're in mourning, it's especially hard to assert yourself and someone should have been aware of your needs and situation, but nobody seemed to be on top of the situation. I'm afraid funeral manners have fallen by the wayside and it's everyone for him/herself.

I know what I'm saying isn't the comfort you're looking for and that your brother would have wanted you in the front row, but the important thing is that you were there. Please, don't take any of this personally.

As you've experienced again and again, mourning and grieving are very difficult and one tends to focus on one's own feeling and forget about others. Mourners just aren't at their best at wakes and funerals because they are consumed with their own grief. Again, please don't take this personally. Please, understand that this was an oversight.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Significance of Funeral Parlor Arragnements: Bleeding Hearts
Q HI Didi!

My fiance and I just attended a wake for a dear childhood friend of his who happened to be a woman. My fiance sent a bleeding heart arrangement to the funeral parlor and I felt it was not appropriate as I always thought only a spouse should be sending such an arrangement. Am I wrong to feel it was a little over the top and in poor taste, since he's engaged to me and was never romantically involved with his friend who passed away?

thanks,
Denise

A Hi Denise,
Please, let this slide. Your fiance is filled with emotion over the loss of his childhood friend. He may not have had many friends from his childhood die before. Look at it this way, wouldn't you rather have a fiance who is romantic and heartfelt than callus and unfeeling? He's romantically involved with you now and she is dead, so let him mourn in his own way. In his own time, he will get passed the deep sadness he's feeling.

Lastly, you might want to take into consideration the fact that the florist may have suggested the bleeding heart arrangement. Your fiance may not have come up with the idea on his own or thought much about the significance of bleeding hearts. Most men would just go with whatever a florist recommends.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Signing a Thank-You Note: When You're Married
Q My father passed away and we are in the process of sending out thank-you notes. I am married and no longer use my maiden name. How can I sign the thank-you card using both my maiden name for those who attended for my sister and mother and my married name for those who attended to pay respects to my husband and I. I am worried that if I sign only "the family of John Smith" which reflects only my maiden name that some people may not know who it is from, if they do not know my maiden name?

A Don't make this any more complicated than it is, as you have enough to deal with while you're grieving. Sign all the letters with your full name: first, maiden, and married. When you know someone very well, you can just sign it with your first name. When it is someone you don't know really well, but know well, under your first name, you can put your maiden and married names in parenthesis.

Mary Scott Wilson
Mary (Scott Wilson)

On the return address on the envelope you could use your married name:

Mrs. John G. Wilson


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Signing Card: Sister + Her Adult Family
Q How do you sign flowers being sent from the sister of a man and her adult children and families?

A She would use her family name. Let's say her married last name is Wilson, then she would sign the card: "With deepest love from, The Wilsons"

She can also list underneath Wilson her first name, the names of her adult children, and, if applicable, their spouses: Alice, James Beth, Ross, Maggie and Charles. (You would put the spouses next to one another.) You didn't ask about adult children's children; you can definitely add their names, too, following their parents.

With deepest love, The Wilsons
Alice, Beth, James, and Charles

If the sister is sending the flowers just from herself, then it would be: With deepest love, Alice


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Signing Sympathy Card: To a Married Revlative of the Deceased
Q If my girlfriend's brother died, do I send the sympathy card to just my girlfriend or my girlfriend and her husband?

A Customarily, you would send the sympathy card to the blood relative. The exception would be if you were her husband's longtime, very good friend. For instance, if you had grown up with him, dated him, worked with him, or shared living space with him.

Otherwise, you would address the envelope to your girlfriend and the salutation in the card would be to her, but in your closing before signing your name, you would write something such as, "You and Josh (insert her husband's name) are in my prayers and in my heart,"

If you are married, you could write, "John (insert your husband's name) and I want you and Josh (insert her husband's name) to know that you are in our thoughts and in our prayers, much love," then sign your name because you're writing the card.

Other closings might be:
"Please, know that you have my (our) love and deepest sympathy, Olivia (& John)"
"John joins me in sending much love and our deepest sympathy, Olivia"
"Please, know that you and Josh are in my heart and in my prayers, Olivia"

It is always appropriate, and some would even say "proper," to include any spouse in the closing, even if the spouse isn't signing his name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sitting with Fiance and His Former WifeIt
Q I am a 55-year-old woman who is engaged. My fiance's 5-month-old granddaughter died. Is it proper to sit with him and his ex at the funeral?

A It is about intention here. If your wedding date has been set, then you need to ask your fiance what kind of a role he wants you to play. Does he want you to disappear, or does he need you to be at his side? Only he can answer that.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Small Children at Funerals
Q My son's grandmother passed away (his dad's father). His dad and I are not married. My son is 6 and had a very good relationship with his grandmother. His grandmother and I had a good relationship, and, although her son and I were not married, she thought of me as her daughter. It is important to me that I am able to be there for my son, as he is very sensitive, and is going to have a difficult time at the funeral. In knowing that I am not married to his dad, where do I sit at the funeral?

A You sit behind your son. Tell him you will always be right behind him and that all he has to do is to just look around and he'll find you. If you have to go off to the lady's room, tell him you will be right back, and when you come back say, "Here I am." Try to keep him within in your line of sight. Tell him ahead of time that since she was his grandmother and not yours, he gets to sit closer with his dad, but that you will be right behind him the whole time. Then talk about all the good things he remembers about his grandmother.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Step-Family: In Lieu of Gifts
Q If "the family" has asked for donations to the animal shelter in lieu of flowers, then if we are family, but step-family, not immediate family, do I then send a donation? Confused, I am family, but not close family. It's complicated, not sure what to do. Animal shelter is near and dear to my heart and I don't mind contributing, but don't want this to look weird as an acknowledgement is sent to "family." Where is the cut off?

A Mourners go with their gut and respond accordingly. If you have already sent flowers, then that is all you need to do. If you haven't, you would send a small donation "in memory" of the deceased. You might do that whether or not you've paid your respects in other ways. It is not so much about the closeness to the deceased as it is about what you feel moved to do. The closest member of the family will be sent a notification of all those who sent memorial gifts, if it is important to you to be recognized in that way, then send a gift. As step-family, as you say, you're family, but not blood. Look at this way. If the spirit moves you and/or if you need to ingratiate yourself closer to the family, then send a small check. If you've been helpful in other ways with your time and resources, your conscience is clear. Everyone decides his/her own cutoff.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Stepmothers Behaving Badly
Q My father passed away almost 2 months ago and at the visitation, my stepmother refused to let my mother go through since my father and mother had divorced 4 years earlier. Since 4 years ago, there has been a lot of "he said/she said". Anyways, my mother was allowed to go through, but only after my stepmother removed herself to another room. The whole time, I was unaware of all this, I was sitting alternating between crying, meeting all the people at the visitation and looking for my mother like a lost little child would (I'm 26 though). The next day, my stepmother told me she thought it was disrespectful to my dad that my brother and I had our mother show up there. To be honest, it wasn't our idea. She had came willingly on her own. She set aside the grudges and such that she had for my father, and came to give comfort to me and my brother. Also, one of my friends came whom my dad had made clear to me that he didn't like, but in my grief, who else could I turn to in that time of need other than my mother and my best friends? I don't think it was disrespectful, and although my brother knew dad hated that friend, he didn't disagree with him being there either. What do you think? Was it disrespectful for those two to have came to pay their respects to the family? Also, my stepmother had said my father wanted to be cremated...he never talked about that stuff with my brother and me, so we accepted that. But, I asked my stepmother for a portion of his ashes so I could bury them with a headstone/marker for my own closure, and she refused!! She said dad wanted her to spread his ashes and that giving a portion of him wasn't what he wanted. She made it sound like I was being selfish and didn't care about his wishes, but I wasn't. I'm just a lost child that lives away from home now, and when I come back to visit, I wanted a place to go to be with my father. Is that so wrong?

A I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your father and this difficult situation with your stepmother. Unfortunately, funerals don't always bring out the best in people. I am also sorry that your mother was treated so badly, because you need her support more than ever at this difficult time.

Your stepmother behaved badly by being so cruelly insensitive. Sadly, you are left with the after effects of so many emotions that I want you to focus on ways to remember your father. Perhaps your mother has something of your father's that she can give you, such as photos from their life together that you could put in an album as a keepsake. You could also ask members of your father's family if you could make copies of any photos they have of your father. Focusing on the good times in your father's life will help you to put the anger you feel for your stepmother aside. You are so fortunate to have the strong support of your mother who can share with you her many memories and stories of your youth and his younger years.

If you've already received a prior answer, you'll see this is just a follow-up. We are in the midst of Hurricane Irene and I had trouble sending my answer last night and wanted to make sure you heard back from me.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Stepmothers Behaving Badly
Q My former husband and I have four grown children. He recently passed away. At the time of his passing, he was living with a women and not married. My children all had to sign documents giving the funeral home permission to have him cremated. His companion wrote his obituary without consulting my children. She listed her grown children under surviving sons along side my children. She also listed he had ten grandchildren including her grandchildren. In reality he only has 5 grandchildren. My children don't even know her children and grandchildren and are very upset about what is listed in the obit. What can they do? The memorial service is tomorrow. By the way, my former husband's girlfriend is extremely rude and mean to my children. Can they tell the funeral home to change the obit that is online? How should it be worded? Help please.

A Immediately find out who is the executor of your former husband's estate and have one of your grown children call the executor to explain the situation. The executor is being compensated for his time; it is his job to act on your husband's behalf to carry out your husband's wishes and to make sure your grown children are treated with respect. Have the executor get the obituary corrected.

Be sure to have your children arrive at the funeral parlor at least an hour before the funeral because that is when "the family" meets with the clergyman to decide who sits and where. At that time have your grown children explain the situation to the clergy. This is what the clergy person does. He/she figures out what's fair, what's right, and what's proper under the circumstances.

I am sorry that you and your children have to go through the death of your former husband under such unpleasant circumstances.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Stepparent in Obituary
Q In what order do you list stepparent in an obituary?




A In an obituary the names of the survivors and their relationship to the deceased appear before the details of the funeral service and interment, unless it is the name of the spouse. You would list the stepparent last, after the last mention of children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Stepson Referred to as the Son in Obituary
Q My ex-husband's wife passed away. When writing the obituary it stated survived by husband and son, wife etc. when in fact he is my son and her stepson. What do you say?

A It is too late to say anything. In the after drama of death, people are overwhelmed with grief and don't always think clearly. For your information, the funeral parlor, which handles the obituary, usually has a form sheet that is filled out sometimes even over the phone. The questions would be, for instance: spouse's name, son's name, daughter's name, sibling's name, etc. They wouldn't necessarily ask for stepson's name, which is why your son's name might have been the answer to son's name.

Please, don't take this as a personal slight. Clearly, this is a technicality. A mistake that shouldn't have been made. Emotions zoom in the aftermath of a death and people aren't always at their best, mistakes happen. Find a way to forgive and forget this oversight.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sunglasses at Service
Q If someone's husband dies, should you wear sunglasses at the funeral?

A There is no reason not to wear sunglasses. They are not only a great accessory, but can be necessary when they are prescription and improve sight. Additionally, if you've been crying over the deceased, sunglasses hide the tears and red eyes.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Support Your Grieving Wife Over Lost Friend
Q My wife and her ex met in college as part of a fraternity/sorority group. Their divorce was ugly. One of the fraternity brothers passed away. My wife was close to him. She is going to the funeral. Her ex is not going and has not kept in contact with his friends from the fraternity since leaving college. Would it be appropriate for me to attend the service? I have no history with anyone who will be attending.

A By all means, attend the service with your wife. She needs your support. Just the fact that you are asking shows that your gut feeling is telling you it is what you should do. Having your wife reconnect with old friends and having her introduce them to you, even under the tragic circumstance, can only serve to strengthen your relationship. But I sense that you know that the experience of accompanying your wife will deepen the bond between you. Don't forget, you won't be the only person in your situation, you'll meet other friends of the deceased who have different partners than they had in college.

To help your wife through her grieving process, encourage her to tell you stories about the deceased and talk about those times back then when the best of her life--with you--was yet to come.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Supporting a Girlfriend
Q My fiancee's sister passed. Is is proper to sit with the family at the funeral? What is tricky about this is that there have been issues to the point where perhaps the relationship may not continue.

A In my opinion, you should attend the funeral, but not as your fiancee's escort. Say that you think it would be intrusive of you to sit with the family at this time, that you will sit behind her a couple of pews, and be there for her during the reception. However, again, you won't be going to the graveside burial.

The immediate family meets with the minister before the funeral to discuss the procession, seating, and readings. If you are not there, you will not be included in the planning. Come on time, but perhaps not too early.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Card Addressing
Q If it is my brother's wife's sister (sister in law) that passed, do I send the card to JUST my sister-in-law, whose sister passed, or do I address it to Mr. and Mrs., including my brother? I put Just HER first and last name. Did I do it wrong?
If so, what can I do?

A In my opinion, you did the correct thing. Not to worry. After all it is your sister-in-law's sister who passed.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Card for Brother-In-Law
Q My husband's sister just passed, he was wondering if he should get a sympathy card for his brother-in-law?

A Yes, do have your husband send his brother-in-law a sympathy card. It is always best to go with first instincts. It sounds as if he would like to send a few words of sympathy. As it is more difficult for men to express themselves in times such as this, a sympathy card is often the best way in which to do so.

Try to encourage your husband to write a line or two of his own on the card before signing it. Something such as: Susan (insert your name) joins me in sending you our deepest sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Card Personalized
Q What is the proper way to fill out a sympathy card?

A It would depend upon how well you knew the deceased and how well you knew the person to whom you were sending the sympathy card. Whatever you do, don't just sign your name. A handwritten sentence or two might be a good way to personalize your sympathy. Perhaps something of this nature: I am so sorry for your loss. Our (My) love and prayers are with you and your family.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Card Sent or Take to Funeral
Q Is it customary to bring a sympathy card to the funeral that you are attending? At the viewing do you bring one? I thought if you could not attend then you send a card.

A It is considerate to send the cards because cards can get misplaced and lost. If the card is sent, you know the recipients will have it to appreciate in their own time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Card: Address to the Couple or the Brother
Q Is it proper to address a sympathy card to a husband and wife, when the deceased was the brother of the husband?

A You can, most certainly. Traditionally, you would send the sympathy card to the blood relative. Addressing the envelope and the salutation to the blood relative. Then in closing you can send your "deepest sympathy to you and and Charlotte" (insert the wife's name). Nowadays, people are more likely to send it to the couple, but it is the blood relative who should be the recipient.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Card: Salutation
Q Opening salutations in a sympathy card, friend's mother passed away.
Which option is correct:
Dear John, Nancy, and Family.
Dear, John, Nancy, and Kelly. (Do I include the child's/children's names as well?)
or, Dear John and Family.
Thank you.



A In my opinion, you would write directly to your friend: Dear John; then in closing you can send your love (and prayers) to Nancy and his child/ren; or you can say that he (John), Nancy, and Kelly are in your thoughts and prayers.
There are no rules carved in stone, the correct part is that you are sending your condolences. Personally, I always address my friend directly. Chances are the kids aren't going to read the card anyway, and by mentioning the wife's name you are not leaving her out.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Card: The Son of the Deceased Who Is Married
Q Should I address a sympathy card to both husband and wife when the wife's brother died? This is my nephew and his wife.

A Customarily, you would address the sympathy card to the direct descent of the deceased or the spouse. In your personalized note to your nephew on the card, you can say something such as, "You and Julie (his wife's name) are in my prayers and in my heart, Jack."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Cards
Q Do sympathy cards need to be thanked?


A Yes, when people show compassion, it might be nice to thank them.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Cards to Family
Q My husband's great aunt passed away. I am wondering if I should send sympathy cards to his aunts, grandmother and mother from just me, both of us or not at all?

A Just the fact that you're asking about it means you think it is the right thing to do or you wouldn't have this on your mind. Buy some simple cards that say "Thinking of you... " and send them from both of you. I can do my husband's signature well enough so that it looks as if we both signed the card. If he wants to write a couple of lines on his own, let him but no need to push it. If you know that he's sweet on, say, his grandmother, let him do that card and you sign it, too. It is good to get a routine about these family matters.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Cards: Send Cards to Siblings
Q My Husband passed away suddenly should I send sympathy cards to his sibling?

A Next of kin don't necessarily send sympathy cards to one another. Of course, you certainly can do so.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy Donation Acknowledgments
Q Must one write thank-you notes for donations in his father's honor: his father passed away about one month ago?

A Yes, it is proper to acknowledge all gifts. In most quality stationery stores he can find boxed acknowledgment cards or he can have some made up to read something like this but the lines are centered and filling in his father's first, middle and last names:

The family of
John Wilson Doe
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy.

Then inside the card he can handwrite a couple of sentences and sign his name.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Sympathy to Family of Murdered Ex-Husband
Q I just learned that my ex-husband was murdered by his mentally ill son two days ago. I have not heard or seen of him since I divorced him in 1984. We were only married for 1 1/2 years. I've been remarried now for 17 years. I feel extremely saddened of what happened and I want do do something to pay my respect. However, since it has been so long with no contact of him or his family, I'm not sure if I should leave it alone or if it would be ok to send something to family.

A Send a sympathy card to your former husband's wife, mother, father, sister, brother, or a living child of his. Say you are deeply sorry for their loss and that you have fond and funny memories of him. Even though it's been a long time, it is only natural that you would send your condolences. Send it to the family member with whom you had the strongest connection.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Taking Pre-Emptive Measures When Honoring the Deceased
Q My elderly uncle passed away yesterday. His grown daughter (my cousin) wrote hateful things about my grieving aunt and deceased uncle. There may have been abuse 50 years ago from her parents which she publicly posted on Facebook hours after her father's passing. I understand she is grieving but the public airing and hateful things she said from things 50 years ago makes me not want to deal with her at the funeral. The things she said are not how I know my aunt and uncle to be and I consider them to be like grandparents. Do I have to say anything beyond I'm sorry for your loss? Is it okay to avoid her at the funeral? She's a drama queen and I have a feeling she is going to start a fight with my elderly aunt and her sister at the funeral. What do we do if she starts making accusations at the funeral?

A Why bother to go? It sounds way too stressful and your uncle isn't going to know that you didn't attend. You can find another way to honor him. Plant a tree in his name. Give a scholarship in your uncle's name. Buy a park bench in his name. You don't need this kind of grief on top of losing your uncle.

You are not obligated to talk your cousin or write to her. It is never good to be hypocritical.

If you feel you must attend the funeral, then keep your head down and try not to make eye contact. Since you are family, you can arrive forty minutes early and talk to the priest about the problem with the deceased and his daughter. This funeral is all about the deceased, it is not an opportunity for your cousin to showboat. The priest should be warned that the deceased's daughter is apt to act out and he needs to be prepared to step in to keep the peace.

We never really know what goes on in other people's relationships, so step kindly and gently or don't go to the funeral.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Teaching Children About Death By Your Actions
Q My mother-in-law passed away recently. My husband, his brother and sister have been grieving. They have an aunt who lives in California who is my mother-in-law's sister. My question is should the children, my husband, my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law be expected to send sympathy cards to their mother's brother and sisters. I have a brother and I wouldn't expect my nieces or nephews to send me a sympathy card when he passed away. I don't think that grieving children should have to worry about that. But I don't know if I'm wrong, so would you can help me out with what is the correct thing to do.

A A sympathy card should be sent from the heart. If in speaking with the child, the child expresses grief over the death of their grandmother, for instance, then s/he can be encouraged to express that feeling by making a card or picking out a card that reflects his/her feelings through a color, image or words to send to "granny's" sister.

When a relative dies, we often feel helpless. Doing something, attending the funeral, sending flowers or a card, writing a personal note, all help the survivor feel less bereaved.

We want to encourage empathy in children and the death of a family member is an opportunity to show them how you express your grief and compassion for family. If they feel they want to express their grief, encourage them to do so. Even if it is just signing their name on your card or making their own card to send to their grandmother's sister. You are their role model in life, as well as in dealing with death.

In this situation, it depends on how the child reacts to the death. Obviously, if they have spent time with the relative they will feel more attached to the death. As parents we're apt to shield children from death, which means we're not preparing them to accept the death of family and friends while they're growing up. I have readers who say they are shocked that a family member didn't respond to the death of another family member. I caution that person, by saying s/he may not have been encouraged to express his/her feeling as a child. People deal with death and dying in their own way and in their own time. As parents we are teachers about life as well as death.

We like hearing from you, but the expectations are based on your own experience. A family death gives us a chance to connect family with family. It helps children understand and appreciate the value of family loyalty.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thanking for Contributions
Q My father just passed away, my co-workers collected money and I received a sympathy card with the money and condolences written from each of them. I don't have a problem knowing what to write in the thank-you card concerning the condolences and thoughts and prayers. How do I word the thank-you for the money? Don't want to just say, thank you for the money. Please let me know asap.

A By using such adjectives as generous, terrifically generous, or my favorite, "enormously generous contribution," they will know that you are politely referring to the money. Other words that you can use instead of "contribution" are "check" and "donation."

Another way to thank them for the money is to say that their "thoughtful and generous contribution" will be put toward, say, the gravestone. People like to think they know how their contribution is being spent.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thanks for a Sympathy Card
Q The mother of a colleague recently passed away. My colleague asked if she needed to send a thank you note to those who sent a sympathy card. I told her I didn't think so, but I'm not sure. What would be the proper etiquette in this situation?

A Usually the funeral parlor will include a box of thank-you cards which can be used to send to people who have sent flowers and cards. Traditionally, the family will have a fold-over card printed up (ecru white card with black script) that might have these words:

The family of
Caroline Stuart Wittaker
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy

The family member then has the option of writing a few personal sentences inside the card thanking the person for their "lovely letter" or "kind words." They might add something like this: Friends do help the pain but I am totally devastated and I miss mother so much. Fondly, ______


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Cards
Q How long after the funeral for your father do thank-you cards have to be sent out?

A Within three months is a respectable time frame for acknowledging expressions of sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Cards
Q When sending thank-you cards after a funeral - do you send cards to those who send you a sympathy card and do you send a card to those who attended the funeral?


A You do not need to thank people for coming to the funeral, except perhaps in conversation. Traditionally, all expressions of sympathy through cards, flowers, and charitable donations are acknowledged. Better stationery stores have boxed acknowledgments that you can personalize, or you can have them made up to share with other family members.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You for Condolence Card
Q If someone sends a sympathy card of condolence, is it necessary to send a thank-you?

A Most people send an acknowledgment card for the expression of sympathy, but there is no rule set in stone. In order to sustain the relationship with the person who sent the card you would either thank them by personally while talking to them over the phone, or in person, or by sending them a thank-you note.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Note: Stepmother
Q My father recently passed away. He was married for over 40 years. My sister and I are the product of an affair my father had with my mother. We never really had a relationship with my stepmother because of this. My father also had several other mistresses who also attended the funeral. My father still had a very beautiful service and my stepmother handled herself beautifully in spite of the situation. Although we didn't have relationship, I would like to send her a thank-you card for arranging such a beautiful service for my father. Is a thank-you card appropriate and if so what should it say?

A Would you send a thank-you note or a sympathy card? If you've already sent a sympathy card, then write her a short thank-you note saying something such as this:

Dear
Just a few warm words to thank you for including me at my father's service. It was enormously kind and generous of you to invite me and I greatly appreciate your thinking of me. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

Then say something nice about the service, the speakers, the flowers, the music, the reception....

In the third paragraph, close with:

With all goodwill,
all appreciation--and most sincerely,
(sign your name)

We like hearing from you,
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes
Q Is it necessary to send thank-you notes to people who came to calling hours or just to people who sent flowers, cards, food, etc.?

A You only need to send acknowledgments to those who sent expressions of sympathy. Better stationery stores carry boxed acknowledgment cards that you can personalize with a sentence or two before signing.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes
Q My co-workers sent my husband and me a beautiful plant on the death of my husband's mom. I would like to write a note to each of them. What do I say in the note?

A Details are key in a thank-you note. Mention the size and variety of the plant and also the color of the flowers, if it was flowering upon arrival. The note doesn't have to be long, but it does have to be written with a heartfelt tone:

Bill and I are touched by your thoughtfulness. The beautiful, potted, coral begonia plant that you sent arrived in full bloom to bring cheer into our household. The first thing we did was to go on-line to find out how to care for such a special plant.

Bill joins me in thanking you for sending such a large and lovely begonia in memory of my mother-in-law, Judith Smith. With much appreciation,


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes for Contributions
Q I want to sincerely and correctly and appropriately thank people for memorial contributions made in my father's name. Just doesn't seem right to put in one sentence "Thank you for your generous donation to X" but thought it was redundant to say, "X is a cause my father deeply believed in...". I don't want to come across as patronizing either?

A A heartfelt thank-you note for any expression of sympathy is always appreciated. You might say how your father became involved with the charity. A thank-you note is never considered patronizing so, do not let your self-consciousness stifle your writing. A good thank-you note for an expression of sympathy connects the contributor with your father and your father with the charity.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes on Deceased Stationary: Written by Daughter-In-Law
Q Is it proper to use the deceased personalized stationery in writing notes of acknowledgment for flowers, food, notes, etc.? I volunteered to write these for my father-in-law who just lost his wife (my mother-in-law). The church facilitator, a lovely women, suggested it and said the recipients would find it touching.

A Ooch, I don't think so. People find it eerie when for a second they think they've received a letter from the deceased. Etiquette-wise, you should be writing them on his stationery, if you're signing his name. Ideally, what most families do is to have a small card, or folded note paper, printed up that can be shared with family members who are helping out writing the thank-you notes. This way all the survivors have to do is to add a line or to make special mention by specifying the gift. Such as, "Thank you for the beautiful white roses, her favorite."

The words would be centered on the card or page and you would substitute your mother-in-law's first, maiden and middle name, like this:

The family of
Betty Wilson Harris
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes: Deceased's Parents
Q My mother's boyfriend's roommate passed away unexpectedly recently and his parents now have the task of cleaning out his house of all his belongings and finding new homes for them. In this process I was given his entire (very nice and expensive I might add) Dish set. I have been trying to write them a thank-you card; however I am having difficulty coming up with a appropriate way to say I'm sorry your son died but thank you for all this nice free stuff it's really helping me out. Like how do you appropriately thank someone for something like that. How do you acknowledge their loss and say thank you at the same time?

A You would divide the note into three paragraphs. The first one would express your sympathy for their loss. In the second paragraph, you would simply thank them for their generosity in thinking of you during this sad time. You would say that you greatly appreciate having John's set of china and that it will inspire you to entertain more (and perhaps to even taking cooking lessons). A light touch such as the cooking lessons gives the note more depth.

Lastly, in closing, you would thank them for their kindness by saying, "Once again, thank you for the great kindness." Then end with something such as, "I will truly miss John's storytelling (sense of humor or cooking) and I am deeply sorry for your loss.

Write simple, short sentences from the heart.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes: Executrix
Q Dear Didi,

I am ashamed to say I have not written one thank-you card to anyone that sent flowers, attended the service, gave money toward the final expenses, etc., for a more than dear friend. She passed in Feb of 2012. I am and have been terribly grief stricken.

We shared each other's lives for about 35 years. Over the years, I became the daughter she never had. My mother and she became the best of friends.

I think I am ready to start the acknowledgement process. I've always been conscious of trying to do the right thing.

I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to her loved ones and mine who stepped up and supported me and continue to support me.

Do you have any suggestions? I know it's never too late to acknowledge someone's kindnesses and/or gifts. I need something to say that is quick, short, to the point, and as painless as possible.

In addition, I want to reach out to her family and just say something like, 'glad we're family.'

This task must be a 'less is more' activity and I'm reaching out to you for guidance and in a sense - support.

I need to know that not reaching out to the people this long after the event is not a cardinal sin. I need help to start.

I am the executrix of her estate and as such am responsible for her final expenses. She has family and they were very close. Relationships, as you know, can be difficult.

I cannot write anymore, I think what I'm asking is clear. If not, please let me know and I'll try to clarify anything outstanding.

Best,
Wendy

A Dear Wendy,

I'm sorry for your loss. Please, don't be ashamed or chastise yourself for not doing what is perceived to be the right thing. You are in mourning, as are her other friends and family.

A really civilized way to handle this would be to have a small card or piece of notepaper printed up. As the executrix of the estate, this would come under estate expenses. Since you are more than family and friends, this would express your relationship to the deceased and account for everyone else. Then you could add a line or two to thank the recipient for a particular good deed or, say, wreath of flowers or check, before signing your name.

The family and friends of
Elizabeth Wilson
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind
expression of sympathy

You can be creative with a thin black border and with the font you choose. Center the above lines on the card or fold-over note paper and hand-write your short message on the back or inside. The fact that you've taken the time to craft a thank-you note will say it all and then some.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com



Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes: From Only Child
Q What is the proper signature for a funeral thank-you note who is an only child.


A It should be signed with the first name from people he/she knows well, if the recipient is unclear he can look at the return name and address. For those he is unsure of whether or not they'll know him/her, sign the name and underneath in parenthesis put (George Brown's son) -- the name of the deceased and the relationship.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-You Notes: When They're Late
Q My mother died June 2012 and we didn't have her funeral until July 2012. I haven't written out thank-you cards to all the friends and family that were so helpful and supportive during the time. Is it too late or should I send them at this time?

A Yes, it is fine to send out thank-you notes at this time. You need not apologize or explain. Everyone understands that writing thank-you notes is part of the healing process. Everyone deals with loss in their own way and in their own time.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-Yous for Condolences
Q Should I respond with a thank-you to those who sent cards after the funeral of my mother? The funeral home supplied small preprinted cards. Should I use these and add a sentence or two to personalize?

A You are not required to add your own sentences to the preprinted cards, but the effort you make will surely be appreciated by the recipients.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-Yous for Condolences
Q After a funeral do you send a thank-you card to everyone who sent cards or just the ones who sent other things like flowers, food, etc.?

A It is customary to send the boxed acknowledgments or have one printed up, if you can't find any in a stationary store that suits you, to all those who expressed their sympathy. You can add a personal line, "The white lilies you sent were so beautiful," before signing your name. The ecru colored card with black ink might read something such as this (you would use your own information and center the lines on the card):

The family of
Charles Stuart Dickens
deeply appreciates and gratefully
acknowledges your kind expression
of sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-Yous for Sympathy Card
Q Am I obligated to send a "thank-you" card for those who have sent a sympathy card for the loss of my mother, or do I send the thank you cards only to those who have made a donation to a charity or sent flowers?

A Sending a sympathy card, flowers, or donation to a charity in remembrance of a loved one is a social bid. If you wish to sustain the relationship with the sender, I am sure a thank- you note would be greatly appreciated; however, a simple oral thank-you for a sympathy card is perfectly acceptable.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Thank-Yous for Sympathy Cards
Q Do you send thank-you cards for those who sent cards to the family at a funeral?

A Often the funeral parlor will provide the family of the deceased with printed cards which on an individual basis they can decide to personalize or not. Or the family may have cards printed up that might say the following: The family of Charles Dickens deeply appreciates and gratefully acknowledges your kind expression of sympathy.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Time Frame for Sympathy Card
Q Is it okay to send a sympathy card if it has been a month since the person's loved one passed or is it too late?

A It is never too late to express your sympathy whether in writing or in person.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Tipping the Clergyman
Q Is it proper etiquette to tip a minister after a funeral service?

A The clergyman receives a fee for his service. Traditionally, that fee is established ahead of time by talking to the parish secretary. A check enclosed in an envelope would be given to a member of the family to give to the clergyman at the end. The actual amount would depend upon how much time the clergyman spent arranging the funeral, the program, and tending to family members. For instance, did he go to the house, the funeral parlor, the wake, and the grave? If the funeral in question has past, call the parish house office for the clergyman's address and send it.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: To Travel to Brother's Funeral or Not?
Q My boyfriend's sister-in-law of 31 years father just passed away unexpectedly. It's a four hour drive to attend the funeral or visitation. Do we go or send flowers and a card?

A Your boyfriend should make an effort to attend the funeral in support of his brother's wife, who is no doubt devastated by the loss of her father. If he cannot afford the trip, then of course he need not go. His sister-in-law is in deep mourning and it will take several months for her to come to grips with her father's death. It is often the months after a death that is when mourners need ongoing support, so if he can't go the funeral, he should make an effort to spend some quality with his brother and sister-in-law in the months to come. In the meantime, he could send her flowers or a card.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Treating Former Spouses With Due Respect
Q My former husband and I have been very close since our divorce; not a typical relationship but one we have valued and are grateful for. He is very ill. Should he pass away, I want to be present to honor his life but he has three grown children. I need some guidance about the visitation and church service; where do I fit in or should I stay on the sidelines? Where do I sit in the church for the service? I want to be respectful but he would not want me shut out either. I have a civil, but lukewarm relationship with his children. Is it permissible to invite them to my home after for a private gathering?

A Ideally, your former husband would communicate to his children that he wants you treated as family at his funeral. Whether or not you know he has done that or not, show up at the church for the service a half hour early and join the family with the clergy person and learn where you will be seated. You wouldn't have to ask to be seated. No matter what, sit up as close as you like, not on the side or in the back. That way you are showing your interest in the service.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Unable to Attend Note
Q I have been invited to a private memorial service of a former co-worker. I will be out of town during the time the memorial services are schedule. Need help with a regret note.

Thank you.

Roxana

A Use your best personal stationery and write the person a heartfelt note. Say you are sorry that they have to go through this and that they are in your thoughts (or/and prayers). What you don't want to do is to make a lame excuse. Use "prior commitment," but try not to over-explain or apologize too much.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Viewing
Q What is proper etiquette for attending a viewing and/or funeral for a close friend's brother-in-law?


A There really aren't any fast held rules for viewings and funerals. The important thing is to dress and act respectfully. The best thing to do is to watch and observe what others are doing. The closer you are to the family, the closer you would sit to the family. So, say, if you are a co-worker, casual friend, or neighbor, you might sit towards the back. The family and close friends would file out first and you would wait until they had passed to leave. Usually there is a book that you would sign at the entrance. Customarily in lieu of flowers many families prefer that a donation be sent to the nonprofit or charity of the family's choice. The funeral parlor and newspaper announcement would have that information.

You do not necessarily have to wear black, but you would wear somber colors. Not red for instance. Since you might be on your feet for periods of time, you would want to wear comfortable shoes but be sure that they are well-shined. If you have a tendency to cry at emotional occasions, be sure to bring tissues or a handkerchief. Lots of times the actual burial is private for the family only. If you have any questions, it is the funeral parlor's staff's job to dispense all information. As different denominations have different customs and even customs can vary from region to region, it is best to look around and follow closely what others are doing. If you have a specific question about, say, what you should wear, please email me back with your gender and age and I would be happy to help you further. Dark suits are appropriate. You would not chew gum and your cellphone would be off at all times. It is also customary to arrive fifteen minutes before the start of the service, as nobody should be walking in looking for a seat after the service has begun. Additionally, you would write to a member of the family to say that you are sorry for their loss. A sympathy card would do or you can use your best social stationary.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Wake + Funeral: When Family Lives Ten Hours Away
Q Our son-in-law just lost his brother, sudden death causes not yet known. We live approximately 8-10 hours away. My daughter is only 21 and my son-in-law 26. Should we attend funeral and wake to show support for family? I feel we should, since we spent last Thanksgiving at their home.

A Look at it this way, if you can make the ten hour trip for a holiday, you should be able to make it for a death in the family. As your young daughter and son-in-law have had less experience with death, they will be hit hard by the experience and the period of mourning. Your son-in-law won't be feeling particularly social, so don't take it personally, if he isn't his charming self. It is your daughter who will need to understand that her husband will be having a very hard time for at least three months. It could take that long for him to come to grip with his brother's death. Try to get him talking about the good memories he has of his brother.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Wake: Attending Husband's Former Girlfriend's Wake
Q My husband wants to attend to his ex-girlfriend's wake. They were together for 6 years. She was married and died suddenly. Should I go with my husband to the wake?

A If you didn't know your husband's former girlfriend, then you wouldn't go, because it would be hypocritical to go to the wake of someone you didn't even know. If your husband insists that you attend, then of course, follow your instincts.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Wake: Family's Duty
Q My brother's wake is tomorrow he has 8 children and 8 brothers and sisters. What is the proper etiquette? Are the brothers and sisters suppose to be at the wake for all the calling hours??

A You do not have to be there for the entire time; however, you might want to work it out with your siblings as to who will be there when, who is going to arrive early and leave early or arrive late and stay late. You could even make a plan with one sibling that you go early and they stay late. I am sorry for your loss. Wakes are very difficult and you shouldn't stay at your brother's wake any longer than you can handle it.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Wake: Relationships: Attending When You're Not Sure
Q Is it appropriate to go to a wake for a guy's mom, whom I had lunch with once, and we have talked on the phone maybe 5-6 times?

A A lot of people think that you don't go to the wake if you don't know the deceased. I don't know how well you knew the guy's mom. However, you would be going to her wake in support of the guy. Therefore, if the guy is someone you're serious about, then you would go in support of him.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: What Is a Neighbor to Do
Q My neighbor, a 65+ Ethiopian, took his own life this weekend. We have lived next door to them for 4 years and have always had a very pleasant relationship. Because of the age difference, we have never become real close. My wife did some research on the culture and so far everything she read is happening. There is a constant flow of family and close friends day and night. My questions are, when would it be appropriate to bring a card over? And would a $200 gift be considered and insult (culturally)?



A It is not about the money. Obviously, you want to do what is "considered" conventionally the right thing to do--which is sweet. However, even a smaller gift in his memory would be totally appropriate. On-line you should be able to read the obituary which should tell you: "In lieu of flowers" a small gift to the charity of the deceased's choice would be greatly appreciated. That would be the way to honor your deceased neighbor. Even if you sent $50-$100, that would be fine. On the other hand, if you feel that your neighbor's family might be struggling with death expenses, send whatever you like. Once again, the death notice should give you your clue as to what to do. When in doubt, telephone the funeral director--especially if you don't know the family--and you will be told the family's wishes.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: What to Bring for Sitting Shiva
Q What do you bring to a shiva?

A It would depend upon whether the deceased was an Orthodox, Conservative or Reform Jew, because Reform Jews do not socialize after the death of a family member. If the family is Orthodox, they sit at home for seven days, and it is called "sitting Shiva." In the evening friends and neighbors come by bringing gifts of food and sit with the family. Perhaps you should call a mutual friend of yours and the deceased and ask them to suggest something for you to bring because the family will not be answering phone messages or emails at that time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: What to Bring to Funeral Shiva
Q What do I bring to a funeral shiva?

A To be safe, if you do not know if they are kosher of not, bring uncut fruit or pastries from a kosher bakery.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: What to Do
Q Do you visit people the day after they lose a loved one?







A It depends upon how close you are to the people and if they have people who are closer to them around, as in family, lovers, best friends. The people who are closest visit immediately to see how they can help out by answering phone calls, notifying relatives and friends, helping with the obituary and funeral arrangements, taking care of small children, and supervising meals. If you are not close enough to be there early on and do not know whom to call, look for the name of the funeral parlor in the local newspaper, because they can give you the hours for calling and the funeral information. As you probably know, different religions handle funerals differently and the funeral parlor will be able to tell you if you can visit and where. If the obituary is not yet listed, telephone your local newspaper or look for the death notice on-line.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: What to Do With Mother's Remains
Q My mother moved in with me in another state after my sister cleaned out her savings and threw her out. She has no friends or family up here and wants to be cremated. How do I honor her when I have hardly anyone here to attend and do not want to have a service in her former hometown. I am not on speaking terms with my sister due to her treatment of our mother and my mother is not religious.

A You don't have to have a funeral or burial. Not everyone does. It doesn't matter if you don't, especially since your mother wasn't part of the community, nor was she religious. You can have your mother cremated and her ashes put in a cardboard box or urn until you decide what you want to do with her remains. Often ashes are tossed in the wind or water. You needn't decide that now. Why don't you sit down and have a conversation with your mother, discuss the options, and ask her to instruct you what she wants you to do. You might be surprised to find that she would be happy to have her ashes spread over earth or water. Don't worry about not having a service, because it sounds as though she doesn't care.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: What to Do? Sister-In-Law's Father Dies
Q My sister-in-law's father passed away and I'm not sure what i should be doing for them.

A Call up and ask what you can do to help out. Suggest bringing them food, but not just sweets, real food. Find out what the plans are and ask how you can help. If your sister-in-law suggests just sending flowers, then that's what you do. A card to the widow and to your sister-in-law would also be greatly appreciated.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: What to Say in Response to Sympathy
Q When you have had death in your family and people extend their condolences, "I am so sorry to hear about your sister's death", what is the proper response?

A "Thank you for your kind words," are the only words you have to say.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When A Member of Your Boyfriend's Family Dies
Q I am 46 and my boyfriend is 49. We have been together 7 years. His grandmother died on Sunday. Her funeral is tomorrow. My question is, what is my role and what are my responsibilities relating to sending sympathy cards and or flowers? Do I only give a card to my boyfriend's mother (and father)? Do I give my boyfriend a card/flowers? Please advise quickly. Thank you!

A Yes, you can always send flowers either to the service or to your boyfriend's family, but it is never necessary. The person you would send a card to would be your boyfriend's mother or father, which ever is the child of the deceased.

The best thing you can give your boyfriend is a chance to talk about his grandmother and his grandparents. Helping him retrieve memories of them will make you and he closer in a sweet way. Did he ever spend vacations with them? What about holidays? Was she a good cook? Just let him talk and be a good listener.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Christmas Card Is Addressed to the Deceased
Q My father received a Christmas Card addressed to both him and my deceased mother. He would like me to send them a Christmas Card and tell them she has passed. What should I write in the card? ....Sandy

A Write: My father greatly appreciated your Christmas card. We've been remiss in not getting the word out that my mother died peacefully surrounded by her loving family on (insert her date of death or just the month). I know my mother would want you to carry on your exchanges with dad, especially during the holidays.
Most sincerely, then sign your name.

We like hearing from you and we're sorry for your loss.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Christmas Cards Arrive for the Deceased
Q My grandmother passed away suddenly in August and we have received many Christmas cards from out-of-state friends who obviously did not know. What is the proper way to let them know she has passed? Thank you!

A You could buy a box of elegant but simple "Thank You" cards and write a short note, that can be the same note you send to everyone, thanking the sender for the card and saying that Jane Grace Wilson died peacefully at home last August surrounded by her loving family. Then sign the card Christina Wilson Greene (granddaughter--you would add your relationship to the deceased, if the receiver doesn't know you).

Dear Mrs. Anderson,
I am writing to thank you for the Christmas card you sent to my grandmother and to let you know that Jane Grace Wilson died peacefully in her home last August surrounded by her loving family.
Warmest regards,
Christina Wilson Greene
(granddaughter)


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Daughter's Boyfriend's Father Dies: How to Respond
Q Our daughter has a live-in boyfriend several states away. Currently there is no public commitment between them. The boyfriend's father has just passed away and we were wondering if we need attend the funeral. Or might we just send our condolences?

A If you didn't know the boyfriend's father, then you wouldn't attend the funeral. However, you could send cards to the deceased's wife and to your daughter's boyfriend.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Distance Keeps You From Attending a Family Funeral
Q Hi Didi,

I have an aunt who passed whom I didn't have a relationship with because our families lived in different states. My cousin and I started calling each other a few years ago about once a year, but I've never had a conversation/relationship with my aunt. I feel obligated to attend the funeral because I want to support my cousin; however, they live 3,500 miles away. The ticket and time away from work will be quite an expense. While I could swing it, it would take a very large chunk out of the very small savings (for emergencies) I currently have. In my mind, I feel I should drop everything and go - no matter the cost - to be there, but when I go to buy the ticket, rental car, hotel, winter clothes, etc., it seems too much. Should I just go - incur the costs because I can and because I want to support my cousin?
Thank you so much for your input!

A It doesn't sound as though you would be expected to attend because you live so far away. You could certainly just send a floral arrangement, but what you really want to do is to write your cousin a heartfelt note telling her/him you are deeply sorry she/he has to go through the death of his/her parent. Then follow up the note with a phone call to find out how she/he is doing. It's the months following the death of a parent that are the hardest to get through. Therefore, following up with phone calls or e-mails to show that you care can be a lot more supportive than having you there just for the funeral when there will be lots of other family and friends around.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Families Don't Get Along: Honoring the Dead
Q Dear Didi,
Today the 5th of July is the 2 year anniversary of my Mom's sudden death. When she died I took it very hard. I'm still struggling with it. Her side of the family and I are not on good terms because they were always mean to my mom. It breaks my heart that she tried to feel accepted till the day she passed. They have been making a church mass on this day. I don't like to acknowledge this day as the day she passed so I won't attend the church service or visit her grave. I'm being told that my dad and I are wrong and selfish for this. I need a way to tell them not to criticize me and to stop judging me for this. I just want to be left alone. I don't see most of them as family, but for some reason their doing this makes it harder to get through this day. I would really appreciate your help.

A You and your father should attend. They are your family and over time they will come to appreciate you and you them. The fact that they follow this ritual to honor your mother should show you that they are trying to make amends. It is a peace offering and you and your father should make the effort to acknowledge that you know they are trying to make amends. This is all part of the grieving and mourning process. It will help you and your father heal.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Family Don't Respond Appropriately to Dying + Death
Q My father was in the hospital for a week before he passed. During this time my brother & sister-in-law did not come to visit, and yes they knew my father. When he passed they did come to the visitation/viewing the day before the funeral but did not attend the funeral. This was very hurtful as I thought that they cared about me. My family has always been very supportive of my spouse in times of joy/need/ or grief. This has been almost six years ago but it really hurt me deeply.

A People deal with sickness, dying, death and grieving differently. In their own way and in their own time, they are grieving as well.

We like hearing from you and we are sorry so your sorrow.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Family Unmarried Couples Aren't Respected
Q My daughter and her male partner live together and share responsibility for his and her children. They don't intend to marry but are committed. Her stepmother died unexpectedly two weeks ago and his parents have not made any effort to acknowledge it.
Is this right or are they just not considering her family?

A We all deal with death and loss in our own way, in our own time. It's best not to judge his parents. The important issue here is that "little pitchers have big ears". Your daughter and her partner (and any other adult) are role models of behavior. You and they can choose to be good role models and not let the children hear your thoughts on the subject and be bad role models.

As you know, family is not about pieces of paper that prove legal entitlement. It's best not to take the high road and not make a bigger faux pas out of this slight than it is. You understand.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Father's Girlfriend Is Excluded from His Daughter's Funeral
Q My boyfriend of six years just lost his 30-year-old adopted daughter, who is his ex-wife's biological child. He divorced his wife 11 years ago. Since we have been dating, this child and the ex-wife have made numerous attempts to interfere with our relationship and exclude me. I have endured much, but I'm determined to be blameless. He has two biological adult children with his ex, and I have thought a lot about what he is juggling and realize he must support his children and his ex, they are planning the funeral together, as they should. I planned on attending the funeral, and sitting with his siblings or even behind the family row. He has just informed me that his ex does not want me to attend. I'm deeply disappointed that he is agreeable to this, and we both know that if his ex was involved with someone, they would be there. His family is going to look for me, and I'm sure his ex will put her spin on my absence to make herself look good. What should I do? Should I expect more from my boyfriend, or let him decide what is best to keep the peace?

A There is nothing worse than the death of a child, even an adult child because you've known them even longer. Adopting this child who recently died must have been a time consuming conscious making decision for your boyfriend. A lot of thought and work went into adopting this child and making the commitment. This is their private mourning.

Respect the fact there will always be family business between your boyfriend, his former wife, their children and grandchildren. You came along after this cozy nest was built. Unless you've taken their children under your wing, you don't want to make this a less happy occasion than it is. Since the wife specifically asked that you you not attend, make yourself busy. Go off on your own for a mini adventure. When you come home he'll be pleased to see you and that you didn't make a fuss. Being independent at this time is a must.

Your boyfriend is so bottled up with emotions that the last thing he needs is to feel guilt tripped into going to bat to get you invited to the funeral. Back out gracefully. Visit your grandmother at the seashore or go on a yoga retreat. Let him have his space. When you return he will be in deep mourning and you'll need to respect not only his space, but his emotions. Try to get him to talk about his dead daughter. About the good times, her strengths, and their adventures as a father and daughter and as a family. Just let him talk. Be a good listener.

With dignity and grace, send a sympathy card or condolence note to his daughter's mother. In due time, you can let his relatives know that you had a long standing prior family commitment and were sorry you were unable to attend. Don't over-explain or complain about the mother not wanting you there. I know you won't, but it would defeat the grace with which you have undertaken to handle this terrifically horrible time in the life of your boyfriend and his other family.

My best advice is to let him talk. Remember, it may take him over three months to come to grips with his daughter's death. Mourning and the grieving process have many stages. He will need to go through all those stages to find his way, so you'll need to be incredibly patient, forgiving and loving, if you are going to continue your relationship. This is not a test of his love for you. It is entirely different and you must not take this supposed slight personally.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Friends Have Falling Out: A Time to Make Up?
Q One of my friends & I had a falling out about 4 months ago. We haven't talked since. I found out from another friend that her father passed away today. Do I go to visitation or do I just, send a card? I do not know how she would feel about my going. We had a pretty bad fight. Sending just a card seems so impersonal. Please help ASAP since arrangements will be very soon. Thank you

A If you wish to make up with your friend, then go to the visitation. If you just want to send a condolence card, do that. You are right, just sending a card does sound so impersonal. If you really feel that way, then go to the visitation.

Consider this an opportunity to mend the friendship. If it doesn't work, then you are off the hook because you'll know you did the best you could do.

We hope to hear from you again.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Good Friends Don't Attend a Funeral
Q Good friend did not come to mom's funeral service or to house later on. Claimed work meeting. She always manages for other priorities. We are hurt. How to respond. On the phone she simply said that she had meetings and did send a card out.

A You have to realize that some people just don't do funerals. They can't do them. For whatever reasons, they just don't feel comfortable with death and the whole grieving process and therefore don't deal. Please, don't take this personally. I know you are in deep mourning, but this isn't an indication of your friend's friendship; it is just part of who she is for better or for worse. You have to accept your friends' strengths as well as their weaknesses, just as you would want them to accept yours. Let this go. In her own way, to the best of her ability, she will let you know that she is deeply sorry for your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Grandparent Requests Grandchild Not Attend Funeral
Q I did not have a close relationship with my grandmother (dad's mom) who passed very quickly due to stage 4 cancer. My father sent me an email stating "The entire family has asked me to say to you, "Do not come to the viewing or funeral of Grandma Mascarenas. It was also grandma's request that you not show up or come. You want to know why? You have not come around to see Grandma or me for a long time. You do not call also. Please respect the family wishes. Dad"

I am extremely hurt by this. I have been blacklisted but yet my sister is allowed to attend because she stopped by periodically.

Any suggestions?

A If you're talking with your sister, telephone her or better yet have a face to face conversation with her. Tell her that you regret not paying more attention to the family and that if you had it to do over again, you would have behaved differently.

Backtracking is always good. If it doesn't work, try again by calling your father and saying the same thing. Persevere. By persevering you'll be showing your remorse and willingness to change your ways. The only catch here is that if your grandmother really did specifically request that you not attend, it would be hard for your dad to go against her wishes. But in terms of family relations going forward, persevering is the right thing to do.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Husband Doesn't Want to Attend Your Relative's Funeral
Q My aunt passed, my mother's brothers wife. She was 90, had been in a nursing home for maybe 8 years. I haven't seen her in at least 8 years. I recently remarried - 6 months ago. Should my husband go with me to the funeral?
He doesn't want to go, said he never met her.
Please help.
I thought that it was a husband/wife thing you did for each other...
Sincerely,
Carmela

A Dear Carmela,

I don't want to get between you and your husband in a row over this. There are clearly two sides here. The first is that he should accompany you at this time because you're in mourning for the death of your mother's brother's wife, whom he did not know. The second is that a lot of people feel it is hypocritical to attend the funeral of someone they did not know and had never met.

Naturally, you want his company because you would like your relatives to get to know your husband better. Funerals are one of the few opportunities extended families have to get together. So the two issues are: he doesn't want to go and you want to be surrounded by family including him.

In this case, tell him that you will do something for him in the future, when you really don't want to do it, if he'll accompany you. That's what marriage is about, making compromises because you're considerate of others. Then when he does agree to go with you, do something during the trip to show your appreciation, such as take him out to dinner or to a sports bar. Be sure to tell him several times how appreciative you are that he "gave up his weekend" (or free time) to accompany you.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When In Doubt About Being in Touch
Q An estranged friend and former co-worker recently lost her mom. I haven't spoken to this friend for 8 months. (She was angry with me, I'm not sure why} should I send a card?

A In sending a card you can't go wrong. When people are grieving, they really want to hear from family and friends. It doesn't mean that you forgive the co-worker for the slight, it means you're above petty grievances. Go with your gut, send a card.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When In-Laws Don't Attend Funeral
Q My husband and I had been married for 7 years when my father died, and 14 years when my mother died. His parents met my parents only a few times briefly, but did not attend either funeral. Do you think that was rude or am I being overly sensitive?

A Yes, it does seem odd; however, we never really know what is going on in someone else's life, so we need to look at the big picture here. Your in-laws might have health issues they haven't shared. For instance, many older people don't like going to places where they don't know where the bathrooms are located. That might seem a silly excuse to you, but if you put yourself in their shoes, you will start looking at the situation from their point of view.

Then again, they might simply be clueless. Believe it or not, there are people who just don't get the whole funeral thing, or they think they have to be asked personally before attending. I get questions all the time from relatives who think "they" were slighted because "they" were not personally asked to attend the funeral of an extended family member.

We all come from different cultures with different traditions. For instance, some people just don't do funerals because they find them either depressing or silly. Christian Scientists, for instance, don't have funerals.

Do not let their irreverent behavior come between your family and your in-laws. You are not being over sensitive, you just have to understand that we're all coming from different backgrounds and therefore have different values. My best advice is to be gentle and let it go by acting as though nothing unusual happened, because they obviously don't feel that it was unusual for them not to have attended either funerals.

I know this can be difficult to grasp, but on the other hand, one really shouldn't be hypocritical by attending a funeral one doesn't really feel comfortable attending.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Ministers Are Insensitive to All the Family
Q A minister addressed a sympathy card to my husband only when his mother died, knowing us for nearly 25 years and the close relationship we shared, since she had been at one point as close as a mother to me. He had known that we went an hour's drive away each week to bring a supply of frozen food I'd prepared for them before she died. This minister's daughter married our son who is also bothered by the fact that he ignored the loss of others in the family. When it was brought to his attention, he declared he'd done nothing wrong and couldn't even seem to acknowledge he'd made an oversight. It is not like he didn't know us, which would have made the oversight understandable. Once brought to his attention, the overreaction made it look intentional. In a situation like this, where the one knows the other family, and has for nearly 25 years, is it not appropriate to include the husband and wife in a loss either one has and shares with each other? Please advise.

A This is not the affirmation that you are looking for. I understand your grief. You obviously loved your mother-in-law very much and the minister should have acknowledged that.

Traditionally, the clergy person would write to one member of the family, presumably the person who had the closest relationship with the deceased. In his eyes, the minister thought that he was doing the right thing by writing just to your husband. A younger, better educated clergy person would have written to you both. Or at the very least included your name in the letter. Nowadays, younger clergy people are more sensitive to the fact that extended family can be as effected or even more so by the loss of a beloved.

As clergy people become better schooled in the ways of the mind and not just the ways of the soul, they will begin to acknowledge and include other family members as well as other kinds of partners.

The clergy person thought that he was doing his job. He was relating to your husband because it was easier for him to identify with him than perhaps you or a daughter, if you have one.

At a time such as this, it is important to cut the minister some slack and move on. His slight was not intentional. His slight was just naive. As more women go into the ministry, we will see a greater sensitivity all around. Please don't give this another thought. Put it behind you. I understand, you will forgive but you won't be able to forget. For your own peace of mind, please try to do both.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Obituary Asks for Contributions
Q What is an appropriate amount of money to give in memorial? Obituary asks that contributions be made to children's education fund.

A It would depend upon how close you were to the dearly beloved and how much you can afford. If you would have sent flowers, send the cost of the flowers. If it is a non-profit, of course, you will receive a tax break.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When One of the Couple Dies, What to Call the Survivior
Q My boyfriend died about 2 months ago and I've been wondering how I would explain that to people when I talk about him being my boyfriend. Women call themselves widowed when their husband dies but when I'm talking about my boyfriend, what is the proper term for that?

A Grief occurs after the loss of a romantic relationship whether or not the couple was married. As you know, the grieving process is long and agonizing. I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your boyfriend. Just as a widow would refer to her husband as "my late husband," you can refer to your boyfriend as "my late boyfriend." If you were engaged, "my late fiance." If you called one an other your partner, refer to your boyfriend as, "my late partner."


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When the Deceased Used to Be Your + Your Former Husband's Best Friend
Q My Ex's and my friend just passed away. My EX is remarried. I've not been in touch with "our" friend for 10 years, but when my EX and I were married the deceased was our best friend. Should I attend the funeral home for visitation, the funeral, send a card to his wife,send flowers or do nothing?

A The key here is the phrase "best friend". Your attending the funeral has nothing to do with your relationship with your former husband. If the deceased was your best friend at one time, you may want to go to the funeral, which is less personal than the wake - since you aren't close to the deceased's family at this time. You can also send a condolence card to the deceased's wife, and possibly his parents or close sibling, if you knew any of them. I am sorry for your loss; it is never easy to lose an old friend, especially when you were once very close.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When the Family Needs to Pay Burial Expenses and Not Flowers
Q Is it ok to ask for money instead of flowers to help with the funeral exspenses? This request was for everyone even people who may know the deceased casually. I have seen requests for societies and think that is perfectly fine. But not for the cost of the funeral.

A Yes, as soon as possible, notify the funeral parlor director directly to include in the local newspaper obituaries the following:

In lieu of flowers, please, send your remembrance to the family made out to ......, in order to cover the burial expense. The director may well have different wording for this, so work with him.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When the Former Wife and Her Husband Want to Speak
Q Recently my husband died of a sudden heart attack while we were cross country skiing. My husband and I have been together for a little over seven years, seconds for both of us. I have 3 children from my first, Brent had none. He gladly took on mine. His first wife left him for an other man at the age of 45, and deeply hurt him. She chose to have a child at age 48.

My question is: his ex-wife, would like to speak at his memorial service, and, through the grapevine, I heard that her current husband might also not only attend but possibly speak at the service...I understand to a certain degree the ex-wife attending and speaking, but I let it be known that her husband needs to remain silent. I am concerned that she will turn Brent's memorial service into "her" service. (We live in a small community and still socialized with common friends.) How do I put boundaries on what she speaks about without sounding cold and cruel?

A I'm sorry, but who speaks at your husband's service is at your discretion. You can invite whomever you wish to speak at your husband's service. The best thing to do is to have a one-on-one conversation with the clergy person who is conducting the service. Tell him that you would feel it would be too disturbing to everyone if his former wife and her current husband spoke at the service and you want him to monitor the speakers so this doesn't happen. Mention that there are mourning children involved and you don't want your husband's service to become a three ring circus.

Don't be bullied into handing over your husband's service to people who shouldn't be speaking. Set your boundaries and stick to them. You might also talk to your husband's brother if he had one, and ask him to intervene for you, or ask your own brother or sister, alternatively, if your husband had a male best friend or even a close co-worker. This is a very spiritual matter and you are in charge, so muster up all of the elegance, dignity, and grace that you can and take charge of your husband's funeral service. I am sorry for your tragic loss.

Please feel that you can contact me again.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When the New Wife Isn't Mentioned
Q My father-in-law recently passed away and my brother-in-law (husband's brother) mentioned the children as well as the daughters-in-law, his wife, my name and my husband's ex- wife's name. I said that was improper as my husband was not consulted and he has since remarried; therefore I would be the daughter-in-law, not his ex-wife and certainly not both! Please clarify this once and for all for us.

A Forgive him in his grief. There isn't a doubt in my mind that anyone would intentionally leave you out. The problem is that when someone is overwhelmed with grief, they're not thinking clearly. Usually, it is the funeral parlor director, or his/her assistant, who takes down the personal information that is then transmitted to the local newspapers. Please, don't take this mistake personally. I know it is hard to reconcile this unfortunate negligence on your brother-in-law's part, but do allow for the possibility of human error. The funeral parlor might not have asked your brother-in-law if in fact his brother had remarried.

It would be unfortunate if you let an oversight such as this come between two brothers, and between you and the brothers. Warning, don't let that happen. Let it go. If you make a big deal out this, it will only show you up as a smaller person. In situations such as this when in fact you don't know the facts, go up the ladder, take the high road. Smile next time you see your brother-in-law.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When the Prayer Card Name Isn't Correct
Q My dad passed away and as the daughter with a different last name here is my problem. I received 2 prayer cards from MY friends with my father's first name but my last name what should I do? Send the thank-you note with the little prayer card with my dad's picture and full name, call them and tell them it's wrong. Or don't say anything? I see them often and consider them very good friends.

A Don't say anything. God knows. Your friends had the best intentions. Intentions are the important thing, not the mistake.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When There Are Two Spouses
Q My parents were married almost 55 years when my mother passed away. She was buried in a plot intended for her and my father. Subsequently, my father remarried (just over 1 year later). Marge, the woman my father married, was a widow. His 2nd marriage is currently in its 11th year. He is currently 90 and Marge is 94.

When Marge's first husband died, he was cremated and his ashes scattered. They had no burial plot. Recently, my father told me that he had checked with the funeral home which handled my mother's burial (and with which he has pre-planned his funeral) and was advised that, if Marge is cremated (which I assume she intends to be), she can be buried in the same plot as my mother.

I believe it is disrespectful to my mother and her memory to include Marge in the same burial plot as she and my father. Am I off-base?

Of note: There were bad feelings in my family (especially among my siblings) surrounding my father's remarriage so soon after my mother's passing. Those have been sublimated in the interest of keeping the family together (but I cannot say that they are resolved). If my father proceeds with Marge's burial in the same plot, I believe that it may cause an irreparable breach between my father and my sisters (not to mention my remaining aunts, uncle and cousins).

A Assuming that your parents' gravestone lists your father's as well as your mother's names (but obviously not your father's date of death), his ashes can easily be divided between your mother's lot and his second wife's lot. Again, assuming that there are two plots per lot. You can even instruct the funeral director to have the crematorium divide the ashes for you.

Remember, you have age on your side: the fact that Marge is older than your father. The executor of your father's estate should be able to designate the disposition of the ashes between the two graves. You should consult a lawyer about that. Even if your father's name is not on your mother's gravestone now, you can add it with his dates when the time comes. Alternatively, you can add an additional gravestone next to hers for him and half of his ashes.

It is difficult to change older people's minds, but not so difficult to get them to see the wisdom of compromise. Dividing the ashes is commonly done these days as people live longer and therefore often have several spouses. If you and your siblings can settle for half of your father's ashes being interned alongside your mother's, then he should be able to compromise as well.

In reasoning with your father, you can mention the fact that it would make better sense for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to be able to visit him and your mother at one grave site as opposed to having to visit two different sites.

No, you and your siblings are not off-base in wanting to be able to visit your parents without having to be reminded of your stepmother. I understand completely. That is why you have to broker a compromise. You should also be able to have the stepmother's gravestone located in a newer area of the cemetery.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When There Are Two Wives Ashes Are Divided
Q A second marriage. Mother's (predeceased) ashes are on one side of a divided urn. Father's ashes will be placed on the second side of this divided urn. There is an inscription on the front.

On the mothers side - name - date of birth - death
On the fathers side - will be the same.

The second wife (was with him for 22 years) feels she is forgotten if there is no inscription related to her. Any ideas

A Customarily, in a situation such as this, half of the father's ashes would be taken out of the urn and buried with the second wife. If that appeals to the second wife.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When You Can't Attend
Q I could not attend a neighbor's wake because of illness. What should I do?

A When you are better, send either a card, adding a couple of personalized sentences, or write a heartfelt expression of sympathy in the form of a short note.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When You Don't Know the Deceased
Q I have been dating my boyfriend for 5 months. My boyfriend's co-worker's brother died. I never met this co-worker, or any of his co-workers for that matter. Is it appropriate to attend the wake with my boyfriend?

A If you don't know your boyfriend's colleague and didn't know his brother, then you are not expected to go to the wake. You don't want to feel awkward at the wake because you don't know anyone, especially since you didn't even know the deceased. It would also be awkward going through the receiving line when you're asked by the mother, "How did you know my son?" What would you say?


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Your Brother Dies
Q My brother passed; just wondering if I send a card to his wife and family. We are sending flowers to the funeral and attending but I am unsure whether I should be sending a card also.
thank you for your help

A If you haven't already picked up the phone to ask, "What can we do to help?" do so now. A card is just a piece of paper. What may be needed is someone to lend a hand and help out with errands and preparations, whether it is answering the phone, finding a dog walker, or picking up dry cleaning, there is always a lot of busy work, which is all part of the mourning process for you, as well as for your sister-in-law and her family.

I am sorry for your loss, because you are in mourning as well. Send cards, flowers, ask to help out. Do whatever you feel you can to do to help your family with the mourning process. Often weeks later when the attention has subsided is when you could be the most useful by finding time to have meaningful conversations over lunch with your sister-in-law remembering the good times and recalling all the funny stories.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Your Child's Stepbrother Dies: Do You Attend the Memorial?
Q My daughter's stepbrother has passed away, and my ex-husband's current wife (and mother of the deceased child) has asked me not to attend the public memorial. Do I need to be there for my children or respect her wishes?

A Unless the memorial is being held in a private home or club, nobody can forbid your accompanying your daughter to the service. Make it clear that your daughter doesn't necessarily need you to sit next to her, but it's important that she sit with one of her parents so that she can feel that families rally round at times likes these.

Since I don't know your daughter's age or maturity level, I can't give you a specific answer. She should be all right if she's seated with her father. However, if she is younger, she will need the consistency of knowing that the other members of her family are still alive and well. If she is, say, a young teen or younger, you could take her to the memorial service and tell her that you'll be sitting right in back of her so that when she turns around she'll be able to see you're there for her.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: When Your Close Friend's Parent Dies and You're Far Away
Q I was on vacation over 600 miles away and did not have a car when my close friend's Dad passed away. Would I be expected to come home for the funeral?

A No, you would not be expected to go home for the funeral of someone who was not your relative or your best friend. Send a sympathy card to your close friend to tell him/her how sorry you are for their loss. If you have a particular memory of the friend's father include that as well. Then when you see your friend talk to him about his father. The best thing you can do is to talk to people about the person they lost.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Where to Send Flowers
Q My sister just passed away. She is in Australia and I'm in Texas. We had not spoken in almost 12 years, not due to a fight or anything, mainly just distance and not getting along with our mother who lives with my sister. My question is, I am not sure where to send flowers, to the funeral home or to the house?

Thank you,
Mike

A If your sister's family is receiving family and friends at the funeral home, then you would send the flowers to the funeral home. If they are not receiving friends at the funeral home, then you would send them to your sister's house. The funeral home will have that information. You can probably find the e-mail address on-line once you get the name of the funeral parlor from her local newspaper in Australia.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Whether to Attend Estranged Father's Funeral
Q My extremely estranged father passed away 2 nights ago. I was informed by a text message from my half-sister, to which I responded by text message that my heart goes out to her and her family in their time of grief. To explain -

I am 49 years old with (2) older (17 and 21) children. I have (2) brothers and (2) sisters all with their own families. None of us has or have had a relationship with our father, although we have all reached out to him over the past few years. We found out that he had terminal cancer thru texts and emails from our half-brother and half-sister a year ago. In our own ways, we came to terms with his death at that time.

The funeral will be held on December 22, (2) days from now, and several states away. Only 2 weeks ago, I flew back home to the funeral of my mother's brother, whom I was close to. So... It would be financially very difficult to attend my estranged father's funeral. Additionally, I would be leaving my family while they are home for Christmas. I have spoken with my siblings and one or two would go if I went, although it would entail quite a bit of traveling for all of us. (I, however, appear to be the leader in this.)

My father had five children (my brothers and sisters and me) before my mother and he divorced. We were all under the age of 6 at that time. He remarried and had (2) children. Although my brothers and sisters and I lived in the hometown where his family and my mother's family live, we had very little contact with our father. We did see our grandparents and aunts and uncles on his side for most holidays. Generally my father started over with a new family and put all his resources and love into that new life. We received no support -- financially or emotionally. My half-brother and half-sister, my dad's wife and my aunts and uncles appear to have no real understanding of this deficit. Regardless, we have all forgiven him for his shortcomings, while we will never understand.

My brothers and sisters and I have seen my dad on (3) occasions in the past 10 years -- my grandparent's 70th anniversary and then at their funerals. None of the grandchildren from our side has ever met him. While we have all reached out with cards and such, there has been no real contact --- even after we all learned of the cancer. We are not close with our "halfs", yet we have no problem talking with them and feel close to them when we are together socially at these events.

So, if I read all your etiquette and advice correctly --- and I read all of it ---- The funeral is all about the grieving process and support of the ones close to the deceased. Our grandparents are deceased and we are not particularly close to anyone, although they are all very nice.

Dilemma -- what to do?
I'm thinking of sending a flower arrangement to the funeral home from all of us, although I don't know what the card would say. Should I also send a card? Should I "take the higher road" and somehow go to the funeral?

If you could help that would be great. I appreciate your website. I wish I had found it sooner. I need to send a few apologies out to others I may have neglected in their time of sorrow.

Thanks,
Dee

A It sounds as though you have already bid your farewell to your father. Unless you want to make this a social occasion with your siblings, half-siblings, and close friends and relatives of your father's, you need not go to his funeral. Your immediate family need you more. The holidays are important to your children and it would be stressful for you to have to make the trip, especially at this late notice, leaving them behind when you really want to be spending as much time as you can with your own children. Leaving them at this time could even make you more resentful toward your father and you wouldn't want your children to pick up on that, especially at Christmas. At 17 and 21, children pretty much see you on their own terms and, if they are coming home for the holidays, you need to be there for them.

Send a funeral arrangement and list all your side of the family members' names on the card. You can address it "For Dad/granddad, Rest in peace," then list all the first names of the siblings and their children (maybe not the spouses).

Funnily enough, if this were any other time of year, I would say you should try to go, but this is family time and your children should be your primary focus. Explain that to them, say something such as this, "You two are the most important people in my life and I want to see as much of you as I can while you're home." Children love to hear that, no matter what their age. Your husband will understand. I don't want you feeling bitter about your father around your children, and unnecessary sacrifices to "keep up appearances" are not in the best interest of you and your immediate family.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Whether to Attend the Visitation
Q My sister-in-law's mother passed away and we plan on attending the funeral. Are we required to attend the visitation the night before also? My husband says no, but I'm not sure.

A No, you shouldn't do so, if your gut feeling is telling you not to go. Don't make up any excuses, just show up at the funeral and let your sister-in-law know that you are there. It's not good to go to visitations if you don't feel the pull to go. People have busy lives, they won't expect you to go to both. If your husband doesn't want you to go and you do want to attend, don't make him go because it's hypocritical to do something like that when you don't want to do so. Go by yourself, you'll certainly know lots of people.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Whether to Attend: Old Girlfriend's Father's Funeral
Q Would it be improper to attend the wake of old girlfriend's dad who I have not seen in forty years?

A Just the fact that you're asking means you kind of want to attend, but feel awkward having not seen him in forty years. You would be attending in support of the deceased's family. Wakes can be a social occasion and an opportunity to catch up with old friends and acquaintances. If your gut tells you to go, then attend, because it would not be improper.

We like hearing from you.
Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Whether to Attend: When the Service Is In a Different Language
Q A co-worker that I worked with for 10 passed way 2 years after I last saw him. I never knew his wife or family but talked with him a lot. I found out the funeral will be in Chinese only. I do not speak Chinese. Should I attend the funeral anyway?

A It might be quite fascinating to attend a Chinese funeral. Grieving is so personal. We deal with the death of a family member or friend in our own way and in our own time. If the spirit moves you, attend or send a note to his next of kin.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Whether to Attend? Former Partner's Daughter's Viewing
Q I recently ended a relationship of 11 years with a man who just lost his adult daughter. I do not know whether or not to attend the viewing. I knew his family, children and grandchildren (who have now lost their mother). His ex- wife (mother of deceased) never liked me (actually barred me from attending a baby shower), although she has never met me but once very briefly. I feel as though I should go to pay my respects because I, too, am grieving for my ex- and all of his family; but would it be more respectful to stay away?
Sincerely,
Damned if I do, Damned if I don't

A In my opinion, your former partner's ex-wife will be grieving so deeply that she won't be thinking about you. If she sees you, you may be a blur. Viewings, memorial services, and funerals held in a house of worship are open to the public and you have every right to attend. If an area is corded off at the front "For Invitees," stay well behind it or on the side.

It might be easier for all if you attend the service where a larger amount of mourners are concentrated at the same time. You would be less likely to risk having to go through a receiving line at a viewing, shaking her hand, and making small talk with someone whom you don't think likes you. Especially if she blames you in any way for the breakup of her marriage. If, as you say, you wish to pay your respects, you should do so. But do so with grace and dignity by keeping in the background and not imposing yourself on the bereaved family at this time. You wouldn't, for instance, attend a reception or put yourself in proximity to a receiving line.

The short answer is that it is perfectly fine to pay your respects, but with the understanding that everyone will need to have a lot of space. Obviously, you don't want to be intrusive or you wouldn't be so concerned about offending anyone with your presence.

We like hearing from you.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Who Attends Out-Of-Town Visitation
Q Do I attend the out of town visitation of a co-worker's father whom I've never met?

A No, you are under no obligation whatsoever to attend the visitation of a colleague's father whom you've never met.

However, you might want to send a note to your co-worker to say how deeply sorry you are for his loss and that he has your sincere sympathy. You can do this on your social note paper or with a sympathy card. If you use a sympathy card, then be sure to add a couple of heartfelt sentences in your own handwriting before signing it.

Nowadays, when people receive a handwritten envelope, they know that you have taken the time to go out of your way to acknowledge their loss and their sorrow.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Who Goes to the Funeral
Q Who should attend the funeral, only relatives but can close friends also?

A Relatives, friends, and co-workers are always welcome at funerals. The support of friends, close and casual, are greatly appreciated, especially when the spouse and family look around to see the pews filled with people who cared about the deceased. Whether you attend the reception afterwards is your call. It is customary to go to the reception and sign the guest book, but you need not stay after you've spoken with the family. If you decide not to go to the reception, you might be able to sign the guest book as you enter or exit the church.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Who Plans Funeral Arrangement
Q My mom just passed away. She had remarried and her husband will not let us in on any of the funeral arrangements. He has all the say. Is this legal?

A Find out who is the executor of your mother's estate. Then ask to see her funeral and burial instructions. Part of the executor's duties are to carry out your mother's instructions.

I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your mother.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Who Rides in the Limo
Q Is it appropriate to ride in the limo to the funeral of your deceased spouse? No children involved. Was never close with the family (although they asked).

A If you weren't divorced, then there is no need to question this. I am sorry for your loss and that you have to through the death of a loved one.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Why Family Members Get Left Out of the Obituary
Q I am curious, is it common place to leave half siblings' names out of an obituary/Death Notice while mentioning the decedent's full brother? I ask because the other siblings feel slighted and hurt. Some are considering not attending the funeral since they feel they weren't included by this omission. They also left out any mention of their predeceased mother's name as well. How would you handle this, if it were you? I am afraid there will be hard feelings if anyone says anything to the immediate family members who would have provided the info for the obituary and don't want any regrets by not attending. I do understand they're upset, though.
Thank You.

A What you have to understand is that the obituary is done very quickly. Everyone is in mourning and nobody really has their wits about them. Please, know that this kind of thing happens all the time; important people or family members are left out of the obituary. Remember it's just a newspaper. Those who know the real story, know what the relationships were.

When someone dies, the next of kin, or the next of kin's designate, is interviewed. The associate at the funeral parlor asks pat questions off of a standard form. When there are layered relationships, or complicated relationships, those aren't usually gotten into over the phone because those options weren't on the list of questions to fill out. The funeral parlor just wants to get the job done and get the information to the newspaper. Nobody's thinking about who was left out. The family never sees a proof of the obituary before it goes to press. This is precisely why a lot of people have their obituary written up ahead of time and approve it before giving it to the executor of their estate.

I am sorry for your loss and that you have to go through this difficult situation while you're also grieving. Encourage everyone to attend. This is not about them, it is about the loss of a person dear to them. In situations such as this - which happen all the time - the best thing to do is to give the deceased the benefit of a doubt and carry on as though no mistakes were made.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Widow Signs Holiday Cards
Q How should I sign my Christmas cards...my husband recently passed this July, do I still include his name?

A I am sorry for your loss. This must be a difficult time for you. In my opinion, you would not sign your deceased husband's name on your Christmas cards. It just isn't done. I get lots of questions from family members and close friends of bereaved spouses asking how they can politely ask "Mom" (the widow) to stop signing birthday and holiday cards from her deceased husband. It can be especially disconcerting to grandchildren when everyone knows granddaddy died. Personally, I find it upsetting to hear a deceased's person's voice mail asking me to please leave a message after the beep and they "will return your call," or receive a holiday card from a couple when one is actually dead. I understand that it is so hard to let go, but to others, it seems creepy when the dearly beloved and departed send cards and voice messages.

Sign your cards: Emily Dickinson. If you are on a first name basis with the recipient, then put a slash through the last name with a pen. For the return address, you can use: Mrs. George W. Dickinson. Unless you remarry or legally change your name back to your maiden name, you will always be Mrs. George W. Dickinson. Once again, I am sorry for your loss.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Widow Wear: Legwear
Q My husband passed away last Saturday and we are having a memorial service for him on April 21st. I am naturally wearing a black dress, but confused as to what to wear or not wear on my legs since the style is bare/naked legs. Should I go with the bare legs or wear black stockings? I know this seems silly, but I am there to represent him and I want to be just right for him. Thank you for your having this web site, I look forward to your insight.

A First, I am sorry for your loss. Wanting to look right is always admirable. Not a silly question at all. What you want to wear on your legs is really good quality legwear. In my opinion, you would wear a high quality, light-toned pantyhose that has a slight shine. Always go a slightly lighter color than your skin tone. This will give you an elegant and dignified look with your black dress. Also, good quality legwear lasts forever, if you take care of it. I love Wolford (they have a Web address), but any good quality brand would be lovely.

Black would look too Italian mafia. Ordinary pantyhose will be to orange/bronze. You want to look elegant. That's what you said.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Widower Signs Holiday Cards
Q I am newly widowed and want to include my late wife's name when sending cards and gifts to family, especially hers. Do I state her name in parenthesis after my first name? For example, John (and Jane) Doe.

Similarly when addressing widowers, would I include the deceased's first name after the widower's surname? For example, Mr. John Smith (Jane).

A I am so terribly sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, it is just not good etiquette to sign a card to or to address a deceased person. I know it sounds cruel and I feel your pain, but quite frankly it makes people feel uncomfortable when they receive a gift or card from a deceased person.

Believe me, I get questions from friends and family of widows and widowers asking me how they can politely stop Uncle Tom or Granny from including their spouse's name in gift giving, addressing, and messages of any kind. Mostly, they don't know how to explain to their children or grandchild how Aunt Betty or Granddaddy can be buying gifts and sending cards since they are in heaven. One reader wanted to get her mother to change her voice mail message, "George and Annie, will call you back shortly, after you leave your message." George died several years ago and Annie's friends and family don't know how to tell her that it makes them uncomfortable to hear a deceased person's voice on a voice mail or receive a gift from her. I know this will make sense to you when you think about it, but you no longer can make gifts from her or send cards from her.

However, you can say in your note or card, "I know Granny would be very proud of you for doing so well in school." Or, "I know your mother would like you to have her string of pearls, which I've enclosed." It's perfectly OK to talk about your wife, but it's not so nice to remind others of their loss. We all mourn differently, in our own time and in our own way.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Widow's Response Cards
Q My husband passed away recently. The funeral home provided thank-you cards that said "from the family of..." I sent these cards to acknowledge everyone that sent flowers or a cards, etc. My husband's aunt said that it was inappropriate for me to send her this card because she is "family." Was this wrong?

A No, you did not do anything wrong and how dare anyone criticize you. Nowadays, it is appropriate to use the thank-you cards provided by the funeral home. Your husband's aunt is coming from a different time zone; however, you might want to write her a short, handwritten thank-you note and that should end the matter for once and for all.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Wife's Family Has Difficulty Expressing Sympathy
Q Didi - my sister passed away 9 days ago in another city. My wife's family in the city we live in hasn't even sent a card, a phone call or even a visit. I am feeling a lot of resentment. Please give me some ways to remove this feeling ? Thank you

A It's a matter of culture. Different people deal with death and mourning differently. It's really up to your wife to give them a poke and say, "I'm so hoping you won't forget to send Daniel a note of sympathy about sister. He was so fond of her and I know he would welcome a note, card, or call from you."

Just as wives have to remind husbands about certain protocol, sometimes husbands have to remind wives. It's OK. She can suggest that they send you a card.

Please, don't take this as a personal slight. We all deal with death as our parents did and sometimes people choose not to deal with death at all. It makes them feel uncomfortable. In their own time and in their own way, your wife's family will express their sympathy. It just might take a while for them to figure out how to do it. I'm sorry for your loss. It is so very difficult to go through the death of a sibling.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Women Pallbearers
Q Dear Didi,

Is it ok for my daughter to be a pallbearer at her father's funeral? Name withheld, Providence


A Dear Anonymous,

Traditionally, in western cultures pallbearers are male family members, close friends or colleagues of the deceased who 'carry' the coffin. In some cultures the pallbearer is a ceremonial honoree who just carries a tip of the pall (the cloth placed over the casket) or the pall's cord. My question to you is this. Should the daughter's memory of the funeral be of her role as one of the pallbearers who helps carry the casket or should it be of some function equally as important?

It seems to me that a gentler role would be to have the daughter initiate a family ritual in which she carries long stem red roses to the burial and hands them to those closest to the deceased. Then she is the first to toss her rose gently into the grave and onto the casket.

Unless, say, a teenager is adamant about serving in a pallbearing role, think twice. Women should be chosen as pallbearers and there is no rule stating that they should not accept that role when offered, but that choice should be up to the woman, and should not be forced on her.

More and more, often at funerals for dignitaries where representatives from the military carry the coffin, a woman is included. ~Didi


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Writing Notes of Sympathy to Siblings
Q My husband's father died. I am going to send sympathy cards to his mother and 7 siblings. How do I sign the cards? My name only or my name and my two children's names included? Also, do I address the card to the blood sibling only or blood sibling and family? On a personal note inside do I address it Dear Jane,Joe, Bobby and Jill or Dear Jane and Family?

A Especially when sending commercial cards, you want to make your personal message just that--personal. The note should be heartfelt and handwritten. You would address the envelope (Mrs. William Brown, her address) and the salutation to the blood relative: Dear Jane,

However, in closing you can write something such as this:
John (your husband), Jane and Joe (your children) join me in sending our deepest sympathy. Please know that you are in our hearts and our prayers, Jill (sign your name).

You have the option of including your husband's name in the signing even though he is in mourning too. It wouldn't be wrong for you to sign his name too, even though you mention him by writing "John joins me..."

With siblings that have spouses and/or children, you can add their names after the word you: "you, Bill (sibling's husband), Alice and Karen (siblings children) are in our hearts and prayers.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Writing to Close Family
Q What is "immediate family" for purposes of sending funeral sympathy cards? Siblings don't give each other sympathy cards when a parent dies, but more distant relatives would. My uncle just died. Our families have always been close, his only sibling was my mother, and his two children's only cousin is myself. We have shared all holidays, important events, and, when my generation was younger, many more events. Still, we aren't joined at the hip. I was physically unable to attend the funeral, but would have been part of the family party were I there. Should I send sympathy cards to my aunt? My cousins? To my cousins' grown children (grandchildren of the deceased)? My instinct is to send cards to my aunt and cousins, but I don't want to suggest a family separation.


A Send short, heartfelt, handwritten notes to the members of the family to whom your uncle was closest.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Younger Brother Mourning Older Brother
Q My older brother has passed away and I want to know if I should send his wife a sympathy card? They live 2000 miles away and have no plan for a wake or funeral. I was notified by another sibling of his passing, Please advise.

A Yes, send his wife a heartfelt, handwritten sympathy note telling her that you are deeply sorry that she has to go through the death or her husband and that you are sorry for her tragic loss. I'm sorry for your loss and that you have to go through the death of your older brother. Grieving and mourning are a process, so let yourself grieve and mourn. In your own time, in your own way, you will be fine. However, it will take a lot of time.


Codes + Conduct: Funeral Etiquette: Your Ex-Husband's Mother's Funeral
Q My ex-husband, after a wonderful 38 year marriage, is so guilt ridden he never speaks to me. His mother just passed away. I am not invited to the memorial service even though his family still adores me. I am sending flowers. What should I write on the card? Should I make them aware I am hurt?

A Sorry to tell you this but this memorial service is not about you. It is all about your former mother-in-law. It is not about your being hurt. If the memorial service is in a house of worship, anyone can attend and you wouldn't have to be invited. The reception afterwards is an other story, as you would need to be invited to that.

What you're telling me doesn't add up. If you really had 38 wonderful years of marriage, then why did you get a divorce? Why do you still care about going to the funeral of your former mother-in-law? Not to be unkind, but It sounds as though that chapter of your life has passed, so you might want to let it go and try your to move on.

On the card say,"Kindest regards" and sign your name.

Didi Lorillard
NewportManners.com