Double Take: Do I have to “bless” every sneeze?

by epi on January 21, 2014

Q: The woman next to me at work sneezes in sets of two, through-out the day.  When is the appropriate time to say “God bless you”?  Do I have to say it with every sneeze?

A single blessing to a serial sneezer is plenty.  Saying “God bless you” or “gesundheit” is a time-honored courtesy, but not a requirement; these phrases are simply a kind response to the (usually) mild annoyance caused by a sneeze.  My advice is to acknowledge this chronic ah-choo-er’s first sneeze duo of the day with a blessing and leave it at that.  There’s not a lot more you can do other than give her the name of a good allergist or offer her tissues when she runs out.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Winifred Rosenburg January 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

I disagree. I think every sneeze series (not every sneeze) should be acknowledged unless you’re in an environment where talking would be inappropriate. Most people sneeze in sets of two so I usually wait for a second sneeze and then wait an extra second to make sure he or she is done and then say “Bless you.”


Eileen January 21, 2014 at 11:44 am

In a work situation, I agree with the given advice – its disruptive for both you and the sneezer to have that exchange every time, especially if its very frequent.


Sarah January 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

Or you could say nothing…I have allergies and happen to be atheist so I always feel very akward when someone says “Bless you.” Unless you are directly in conversation with someone I don’t think making comment on bodily functions is neccesary.


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