Seasons of grief tend to bring out the best – and the worst – in most people. Questions of etiquette are bound to arise, when it comes to funerals, particularly in today’s complex families. Second and third marriages may muddy the waters, at least in terms of what may be considered polite or impolite.
Here’s a difficult example of such an etiquette question for funerals.
What happens when an ex-spouse wants to attend a funeral of his or her former mother- or father-in-law? How about if the deceased is an ex-brother-in-law or sister-in-law?
There is no cardinal rule for such cases. Essentially, this is a personal matter, which has to be evaluated in each instance.
Influential factors may include the depth and recent status of the ex’s relationship with his or her former spouse, the deceased, and with the entire former in-law family. The presence or absence of children and grandchildren is certainly a key factor as well.
Geography and availability are important considerations too. Will the funeral be held far away? Is attendance even feasible?
Most important, is it possible for the ex to attend graciously and without his or her presence adding to the stress of those who must be there?
Basic etiquette stems from a concern for the comfort of others, and funerals are no exception.
Perhaps each case will be somewhat different, but a general consideration for the feelings of those grieving the most ought to prevail. Honest self-searching will likely lead to the proper decision, as to whether an ex will show up at a former in-law’s memorial service or simply send condolences in some other manner.
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