25 Comments

  1. Jaden Dawson

    I just have a question about funeral related etiquette. My best friend recently lost both of her parents with a week of each other, and at each (different) funeral home, they asked her how many ‘thank you’ notes she wanted them to order for her. WHAT? My friend told me that when she lost her brother six years ago, that funeral home asked the same question. I’m sorry, is it just me, or is that a completely monetarily driven “tradition” started by some funeral home somewhere? That left the worst taste in my mouth, I cannot tell you how offended I was by this when she told me about it. Are people who are in the beginning stages of grieving really expected to write cheerful little notes saying “Hey, thanks for attending the celebration(?) of the death of our beloved (or not) _________. He’d thank you himself, but of course, he’s dead.”
    Seriously? My friend thought it was ridiculous and refused them and I was totally flabbergasted and offended. What is the deal with this? I find it beyond the realm of good taste and leaning more toward the reprehensible. Thanks for any and all comments.

    • Alicia

      Well the funeral home should not be upselling her. However, yes the family writes thank you notes to all who did something like send flowers or food or whatever during the last days of life and the funeral process for the descesed or the family. No they are not always upbeat and cheerful but actually it can be a rather nice part of the grief process as you are thanking these people because they are nice to your family and your relative. To know that so many other people care and to actually take a moment and think about each person who cares while writing them a note is healing often.

      • I completely agree with Alicia. These thank-you notes are mainly for the flowers, or anyone who helped the bereaved through the grieving process with a special memory, a casserole, or something else.
        My mother-in-law and brother-in-law sent out hundreds of thank-yous after my father-in-law suddenly passed. They mostly read something to the effect of, “Thank you for supporting us during this difficult time. Your presence and gift of beautiful flowers were appreciated.”

        • Jaden Dawson

          My friend thanked all those involved in things like food, flowers, etc. These cards were expressly to be sent to just those who showed up for the service, that’s all. Not close relatives, not friends or family or anyone who would have been there already as part of the support team. These were to be send out just as one would send out thank you notes after a huge wedding were perhaps you didn’t know every guest, and said “Thank you for attending and for the lovely toaster.” That’s why my friend and I were offended by it. Otherwise, I’m all for following the proper etiquette of everything because my mother was the classiest woman alive who knew the proper etiquette of all things.

          • Alicia

            You lost me at your problem. So you think it is good that your friend sent out thank you notes but you are appalled that thank you notes are typically sent out?

          • Jessica

            I don’t know if there is some sort of regional difference, but I live in Metro Detroit and it is common custom around here to send a note to everyone who attended the funeral or visitation.
            The note always includes a prayer card or the like.

            I also recall a Miss Manners column once saying that thanking individuals for attending parties in your honor or to your benifit is standard because the mere gesture of showing up to celebrate you or support you is an act of kidness. Weddings and showers are unique exceptions to the rule because of the gift angle. Sending a thank you for merely attending card to someone who didn’t bring a gift to an event where a gift is often expected might make the person feel like they were being passive-aggressively berated.

          • Winifred Rosenburg

            Actually, Jessica, you have that one backwards, guests are supposed to send thank-you notes to hosts, not the other way around, weddings being an exception. Also Miss Manners specifically says in her book “Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior” (on page 819) that a thank-you note is not necessary just because someone attended the funeral.

  2. Jaden Dawson

    No, my friend thanked her friends in person who brought food to her house or took care of her son while she had to run out to make funeral arrangements, etc. My problem is the expectation that she should send out a note to people from her office or long lost friends of her deceased relatives or people she doesn’t even know, to thank them for attending the service. To me, thanks yous are for thank you for sharing in our ________ joyous event, not for perhaps “dutifully” attending a service for perhaps someone you didn’t know that well either.

    • Elizabeth

      In general, people are thanked for gifts of food, flowers, or favors that they do for the bereaved family. You do not thank a person for simply coming to your wedding, nor must you thank a person for attending the visitation or funeral. Many times, gifts of flowers are sent, you do not have the opportunity to thank them in person, and so a note is required. Your thinking that thank you notes are only used for happy occasions is erroneous. Why wouldn’t you thank someone for a gift, or a kindness, whatever the occasion?

  3. Jaden Dawson

    I guess all I’m trying to say is that I understand thank you notes after weddings and baby showers because gifts were given. I do not understand sending thank you notes to people for doing something humane and out of simple respect to the family and/or the deceased.

  4. Jaden Dawson

    No, of course, if flowers, food, ANY kind of assistance, help with arrangements, was done, yes, thank them. My issue was that both funeral homes were pushing the thank you note orders to send to everyone who attended, just for showing up.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree that it was crass of the funeral home to push anything on the family. Ideally thank-you notes should be on their own stationary anyway.

    • Elizabeth

      Apparently, it is at least somewhat common for people to send thank-you notes broadly. If that’s the case, I would say that the funeral home isn’t trying to upsell you so much as offer you something that you might want. During times of grief, it’s hard for people to think of everything, so they help by offering it to you. I mean, we weren’t there, maybe it was crass and jarring to be asked. But it also sounds like they offer it as a matter of course.

      • Jody

        Speaking here as the daughter of an undertaker — I think Elizabeth is correct. Preprinted cards are often standard options in a funeral “package.” The funeral home was likely offering them because many clients do want and use them. If somebody isn’t used to using them (or seeing them) I can see where that person might think it was a bit jarring. Most funeral directors are sensitive to people’s thoughts, however, and I’m sure an upsell was not intended.

  5. Shay

    A friend of mine is getting married in June and I am helping plan her wedding however, she has expressed that since she and her future husband are combining two households they would like to put on the invitation “In Lieu of gifts, we ask that you give gifts cards to Walmart, Home Depot or Lowe’s.” Is that appropriate to put on invitation or should it be included on a separate enclosure.

    • Elizabeth

      It is never proper to mention gifts in the invitation (or in an enclosure in the invitation). Their desires can be expressed by: 1. Not have a registry for stuff. 2. Friends and family may spread the word as to their preferences when asked.

    • Alicia

      No mention of gifts belongs on an invite in any way nor as an enclosure. If people ask for registry info then they can say they would like gift cards to those stores or that they are registered for the items they would buy at those stores.

  6. Maid of Honor

    I am hosting a Bridal Shower. When I was going over the guest list with the bride, I learned that many of the guest that she asked me to invite are people whom she and her groom have no real relationship with. The groom isn’t very close with his extended family and my friend wants me to invite aunts and cousins of the groom who he has only ever met once and hasn’t been in touch with. These relatives also live out of state and therefore there is pretty much no chance of them attending.
    To me, this seems rude. A shower is sort of a gift grab, afterall, so inviting strangers strikes me as very greedy.
    Do I controll the guestlist of a party that I am hosting, or am I under obligation to the wishes of the honored guest?
    If I don’t invite these people, do I explain myself to the bride, or should I just not invite them and not bring it up?

    • Elizabeth

      I think the only thing you can do is bring up your concern to the bride. Say that you have been checking out etiquette websites, and that you have discovered that it is only proper to invite close family and friends to showers because of the potential for the invitation to appear as a gift grab. If you relay this information in the spirit of “helping her avoid a potential faux-pas” it will be better received than if the bride feels you judging her. But in the end, if she insists on those invitations, the best thing to do is to send them out. It will not reflect poorly on you, as you are simply following the bride’s directions (and everyone understands this).

      • Jody

        Once I again I think Elizabeth has good advice. I would like to add something. Are you hosting the shower in your home or in another location? You could also raise the question of the shower location being able to hold the number of people the bride intends to invite. Just because there’s “pretty much no chance of them attending” doesn’t mean they won’t surprise you and accept the invitation.

  7. matty beard-plahn

    My partner and I hosted our girlfriend’s 50 th birthday party. Not all the guests knew each other. Who’s responsible for introducing everyone? We tried to get to everyone ourselves but inadvertently missed an important guest.

    • Elizabeth

      It’s your job as hosts, but you aren’t required to introduce every guest to every other guest. They are also capable of introducing themselves!

  8. Julie

    At Thanksgiving, my father’s girlfriend asked us (myself, my husband, my brother and his wife) what we thought about a surprise 80th birthday party for “Dad” in May at the country club. We all thought it sounded great, we asked the girlfriend to get back to us with the details. My husband and I live in CA, my brother and his wife are in TX, and Dad is in MN. We have not heard anything: date, details, or who is paying for this. Knowing Dad, there will be 200 people attending. I’m pretty sure the girlfriend will not be able to afford this, I refuse to ask guests to pay, and I do not think it is right for my Dad to get a bill for his own party. Between airfare, hotel and rental car, this is going to be expensive for my family and my brother’s family. How do I tastefully approach the subject of who is paying for this party with the girlfriend?

    • Elizabeth

      Call her and ask her. Since you could possibly be on the hook for thousands of dollars, it’s not something to pussy-foot around. I would just call and say, “Hi Girlfriend, back in November we talked about possibly having a party for dad in May. Since that’s coming up quickly, I was just wondering if you were still interested or if you had made any plans.” The time to talk and make decisions is
      before

      any invitations are issued, so that the guest list can be pared back if cost is a problem. If no plans have been made, and you find yourself no longer in the position to foot the bill, you should also be upfront with her about that. You could suggest a family-only part at the club, rather than some big event. But in any case, you should be very explicit with her as to what you are able to contribute and any limitations or stipulations you want to place on that money.

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