DEAR MISS MANNERS: My father died two years ago. He was not a religious man, a strictly “weddings and funerals” person when it came to the church, and he did not hold the clergy in high regard.
When he passed, our family requested that, in lieu of flowers, people donate to an educational foundation that he and my mother set up, or to the wonderful hospice facility that cared for him so well in his last weeks. Although many honored that request, many more instead gave money to their churches for a number of Masses, or even perpetual Masses, to be said for his soul.
While this might sound donor-worthy, it bothered me. However, we wrote thank-you notes to each person because we recognized their gesture of doing “something” in honor of my father.
But wasn’t he telling them that next time they would have to repeat the same thing for others who might not appreciate it? Sure enough, when my mom died a few months ago, we did the same exercise.
Why do people ignore the wishes of the bereaved family? And what’s an appropriate way to respond without encouraging the gesture in the future?
DEAR READER: By not encouraging donations at all. With all due respect to both the American entrepreneurial spirit and your own loss, funerals are not fundraising opportunities.
Nor are they gift opportunities, as the award winner is unfortunately no longer able to derive any pleasure from the concern of loved ones. Food or flowers are brought as a sign of respect and to provide the widow or child with immediate assistance during their mourning.
Miss Manners agrees that you’ll still have to thank, but perhaps friends who haven’t been educated about giving will be more inclined to cry with you.
(Please send questions to Miss Manners on her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or by regular mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106 .)