I've been around the block enough times to know right from wrong. I understand the importance of kindness, tolerance and patience. And, I'm generally considered by friends and family to be a smart woman with a big heart whose manners are quite good. If I drank hot tea, I'd hold my pinky out, my napkin is always in my lap at meals, I offer my chair to an elder, and I always bring a hostess gift to parties. In short, I know life's "rules" and mostly play by them.
So why, for the life of me, can I not figure out the rules of etiquette for a funeral?
Yes-- A funeral.
I have been to countless funerals over the years and have rarely been stumped by one particular "situation" that continously comes up. Since I'm not getting any younger and neither are my friends and loved ones, I know I will come across this situation again, so perhaps you can help.
Here's what I'm talking about... And yes, all names have been changed to protect the innocent and I've combined more than one funeral where this question came up.
John passed away.
John and Jan were married for 30 years and had 5 children before divorcing after all the kids were through college and out of the house. They've been divorced for more than 25 years. Their children are now grown and all are well on their way to "middle age", with a few having already crossed the 50 year old milestone so they are not "kids". John and Jan have not spoken more than ten words in the last 25 years so needless to say (no pun intended) it was not a pleasant divorce although they were civil when the necessity required them to both be in the same place at the same time.
Ex-wife Jan now lives with Bob and has for the past 20 years. She had no intention of marrying Bob because if she did her alimony would cease. This was a particular bone of contention for John.
John married a second time to a woman named Sue. They celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary shortly before John very unexpectedly passed away. They had no children together. Jan has never spoken a word to new wife Sue and neither have ever been to the other's home.
Of John and Jan's five adult children, three are currently divorced from their (for back of a better term) "original" spouses. All are either remarried or in long-term relationships. One has elementary school-aged children. The other two have college-aged children. Tension between the ex-spouses definitely exists. But, the ex-spouses of the adult children had a good relationship with John before he passed away.
And that bring us to my funeral etiquette questions.
Ex-spouses. Who attends the funeral?
Do the ex-spouses come back to the family home (John and Sue's house) after the funeral for a meal with everyone else?
Is the comfort (or discomfort as the case may be) of the grieving widow and adult children a factor to be considered by the ex-spouses resulting in them not attending/participating?
Where do the ex-spouses sit at the funeral? (With the family/adult kids in front?)
Do the ex-spouses bring their current partners with them to the funeral and/or home for a meal?
And how long should an ex-spouse wait to ask for the Death Certificate so he/she can cash in their life insurance policy on the deceased?
What do you think?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © chesky - Fotolia.com