Open Thread

by epi on December 5, 2011

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Gene December 5, 2011 at 8:41 am

Funeral etiquette advice needed here.

I am currently engaged to a woman. One of my groomsmen for the upcoming wedding (an old friend of mine) recently lost his brother to cancer. I knew the deceased, but we were not close (he was not going to be invited to the wedding), but out of my respect for my friendship with his brother, will go to a memorial service for him about 2 hours flight away. This will take place before our wedding. My fiancee has never met the brother, nor the groomsman (we don’t see each other on a regular basis). Obviously my fiancee would rather do something else, but is she expected to attend? I’m worried it may be seen as rude for her not to go (by the groomsman, who is, after all, taking his time to come to our wedding ceremony later), but I certainly don’t want to compel her to go if it’s not expected. Or is my appearance sufficient for the two of us?

Thanks in advance.

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Pam December 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I don’t think it is necessary for your fiancee to attend the funeral. Your friend is well aware that the wedding is coming up and that your future wife must be busy with plans. Plus, he may figure that financially it is difficult to pay for 2 plane tickets when you are paying for a wedding. I don’t know if your fiancee works or not, but obviously that may play into it as well. As long as you say “Jane sends her sympathies” you will be fine. You don’t need to give reasons or anything about her absence. Obviously, if the wake was 10 minutes away this would be a different story. I’m sure your friend will just be so appreciative that you made the trip.

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Camille December 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Agree 100% with Pam.

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Zakafury December 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I don’t think anyone would expect her to travel some distance to support this family she has never met. If you were close with the deceased, she might go to be with you.
If you’re going mainly to support your groomsman, then I think her attendance would be going the extra mile.

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Scarlett December 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Gene – I don’t think your fiancee is obligated to attend; however, it would be nice if she did, for the reasons you’ve stated. After all, you two are a social unit, soon to be married, and as a married couple you will undoubtedly face these types of issues many times over during your marriage. We would all rather be doing something else when it comes to attending wakes/funerals/memorial services, but I can tell you from personal experience that friends’ attendance at such things means so much to the loved ones of the deceased. Best of luck making a decision and congrats your upcoming wedding. – Scarlett

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Michelle December 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

What would you do if you gave gifts to family members and never received a Thank you?

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Just Laura December 5, 2011 at 10:12 am

Personally, I’d start sending cards instead. If anyone dares ask about the change, mention that you didn’t know if the gifts arrived or were enjoyed, and didn’t want to continue burdening the family with extra stuff around the holidays.

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Jody December 5, 2011 at 10:14 am

Michelle — I think it depends on how close the family relationship is. One brother-in-law rarely sends thank-yous (even an e-mail) and one sister occasionally does. I continue to send them gifts since they always send me gifts (and yes, I do send them thank-yous). If it’s something like cousins or others you don’t see often, maybe send them a note to the effect that you’re restricting your gift-giving this year and would rather just exchange cards.

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Scarlett December 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I need some advice regarding post-funeral etiquette, please. My F-I-L recently passed away. To my knowledge, the thank-you/acknowledgment cards have not been sent. My S-I-L has them, along with the guest book, flower cards, etc. After the funeral, I offered to help her write the notes, and she said that would be great, she would let me know when she had time. I have asked her about it a couple of times since, but we still haven’t gotten together. We are fairly certain that she did not go ahead and do it on her own because she didn’t have everyone’s addresses and hasn’t contacted us for them. It has now been over 30 days, and we feel badly that the kindnesses of our close friends and co-workers who came, sent flowers and/or made memorial donations have not been acknowledged. At this point, and before any more time passes, the two of us are inclined to send handwritten (blank) note cards of our own to those people we know. Would that be appropriate? If so, we are inclined to simply express our own heartfelt thanks and not mention the tardiness or lack of an “official” acknowledgment from the family. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. – Scarlett

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Pam December 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I see nothing wrong with sending ones to the people that you know. I recently went to a wake for my grandfather’s wife’s sister. I went out of respect for the person I knew, my grandfather’s wife. She sent a handwritten thank you note a few weeks later. A couple of weeks after that I received a general thank you from the family of the deceased. You have obviously tried to light a fire under your sister in law and it is not working. This should be falling on your husband’s shoulders, however. He should be communicating with his sister about this. He has as much right to the guest book and flower cards as she does. You obviously may help with the card writing, but you should not be in the awkward position of motivating his sister to get going on the thank you notes.

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Pam December 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Scarlett, just a follow up: if, say, your parents or siblings attended or friends of you and your husband, etc then you may sit down right now and send out thank yous from you and your husband. If they end up getting another one that is written by the sister, then so be it. That’s why I gave the example of the 2 cards I received recently…I didn’t think it was strange, I thought it was nice.

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Scarlett December 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Thank you, Pam. We will work on the cards and not bring it up again with S-I-L. In defense of my hubby, this will sound silly, but I just took it upon myself to follow up since I’m the one who volunteered to help. And yes, these notes will be going to our friends and co-workers. While you are correct about asking for the guest book, doing so would be futile. At least we will feel good about taking care of our little “circle.”

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Pam December 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Not silly at all! I often take it upon myself to start buying xmas gifts for my boyfriend’s family that will be from both of us. Often females, no matter how modern we are, end up starting to take care of things like you tried to do. It was just that as it started to become obvious that she isn’t moving toward the cards, it would be more on your husband to pursue it than for you. And I also understand how certain things in families are futile, but at least you both know you tried to do the right thing by those who paid their respects.

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Grandma M December 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I’d like some input about birth announcements. Is it okay to facebook the birth of a child (including what was happening in the hospital, drugs used to induce labor, then finally, after nail-biting hours, the time and weight of the baby)? We are the grand parents who expected a live call from the parents, but learned of it on facebook along with 75 other people who “commented” or “liked” the birth. It was a hi-risk pregnancy, so we were very worried. My step-son (the baby’s father) said he just wanted to get the word out as soon as possible, and thought facebook would solve the burden of a lot of phone calls. I say his actions made us feel mighty unimportant as family members and grandparents.

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Elizabeth December 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Well… the fact that you were attuned to facebook and did receive the announcements does give credence to the idea that it’s a good way to disseminate information. It would be one thing if you were the kind of grandparents who didn’t own a computer, but since they could count on your checking it, it does seem to have worked. It seems what you’re not happy about is the fact that your step-son didn’t make a special call to you and your husband. I would cut him some slack – his child was just born after a complicated birth, he probably wanted to enjoy the moment! You will have plenty of time to enjoy the special grandparent role, so don’t start the baby’s life out in a snit. There’s nothing that can be done now.

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Winifred Rosenburg December 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I agree that a personal call was needed to the grandparents if no one else. He could have posted it on Facebook after calling VIPs like yourself.

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Grandma M December 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for your kind words – you are right as we are attuned to that darned social media! Also, my step son flew in from Afghanistan on a 36 hour red-eye just to be there for the birth. I do need to cut him some slack, and I will.

Again, thank you -

Grandma M

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Elizabeth December 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Congratulations on your new addition, by the way!

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Katie December 7, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I would like some advice about a holiday / couples party I recently planned. Unfortunately, only one of the four couples that I invited can make it. I would love to still have the other couple over, but I do not want them to feel awkward. How do I politely let them know that they do not have to feel obligated to still attend without making it sound as if I no longer want their company? Thank you for your help.

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Country Girl December 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

How very thoughtful of you to be such an understanding host! I would simply say “Jake and Kate, it appears that the other 3 couples we invited are unable to make it to the holiday party. We would still love to have you both over for some holiday movies and dinner if you’re up for it, but we completely understand if this news changes your plans.”

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Katie December 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Excellent advice. Thank you for your help!

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Elizabeth December 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Without canceling the get-together entirely, you should let the couple know about the changed nature of the event. You could just say “Hey Mike and Susan, the other invitees for this Friday can’t make it, so we’re turning it into more of a dinner and a movie night. How do you feel about fish?” You can indicate that you’re still very much looking forward to hanging out with them while also letting them know that it’s not going to be the same kind of thing. (One reason to do this: personally, when I know it’s a bigger party, I tend not to be so concerned about being on time, whereas if it was just dinner with one other couple, I would definitely be on time.)

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Tisha December 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I work in a building that houses many different companies. A woman from another company is a part of a book Club. I’ve never been in a book CLub But I’m eagar to try it out. How do I give this woman a “hint” that I’m interested if they’d be open to a new person?

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Celeste December 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I would suggest that you strike up a conversation about the Book Club. Ask her what they are currently reading and what they’ve read in the past. Mention how much you love reading and how fun her club sounds. If she doesn’t get the hint, maybe then it’s time to start your own club!

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