Originally created 09/09/06

Ask Carson: Funeral etiquette



Dear Carson: Is it appropriate for a woman to attend the funeral of her former husband? Regardless of whether their divorce was amicable, it seems that her presence, greeting old friends and accepting condolences would be inappropriate.

Also, the presence of a first wife could put undue stress on the current wife or widow. Wouldn't friends of both women feel awkward? Are there rules about these things? What do you think? - Thinking Ahead

Dear Thinking Ahead: A lot of facets come to bear in this situation. Are there children from one's earlier marriage? Is she close to her ex-in-laws? Is the first wife a friend of the widow? Is the funeral in the same city with "Thinking Ahead"?

I attended my first husband's funeral, because we had had three children together.

Also, I was especially fond of my former in-laws. I even expressed my condolences to his widow.

My presence turned out to be a healing experience for me.

It is at times of weddings and funerals, when one's emotions are as fragile as lace, that healing can take place.

On the other hand, if there was acrimony and a lot of unpleasantness, one might behave in a different way. For instance, one might attend the service, but not go to the house of the deceased.

Rather than attend the funeral, one might send flowers and write notes to various family members with whom one was still fond. Etiquette is really made up of kindness and common sense.

Dear Carson: During a discussion with some of my co-workers recently, the question of name tags came up.

On which side does one pin a name tag, on the right side or the left side? - Name Tag Dilemma

Dear Dilemma: A name tag should always be worn on the right side. If it were to be placed on the left side, you would have to obviously crane your neck in order to see it. When you are shaking hands with someone, your eye quite naturally glances downward to see the name without being too obvious about it.

Dear Carson: My fiance and I are getting married this winter. We are both in our mid-30s and therefore don't have any real need for traditional wedding gifts.

It seems that most wedding guests feel that they are expected to bring gifts. We would like to suggest two scholarship funds in lieu of gifts.

One fund is in memory of my mother, and the other is in memory of my fiance's grandfather. Is there any way to include this in the invitation without sounding tacky? I feel like the "pass the word" technique might not reach everyone. - Bountiful Bride

Dear BB: Any presumption or mention of gifts on a formal wedding invitation is inappropriate except one: "No presents, please; just your presence." Your guests will be overjoyed.

Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to askcarson@comcast.net. Carson Elliott's web site is www.theproperthing.com.