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Miss Manners: Flowers still show respect for deceased

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When a death announcement says, “In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to XYZ charity” benefiting research into a cure for the disease that caused the death, what do you think of someone who sends flowers despite knowing of that request?

Albeit rooted in a supportive impulse, to me sending flowers seems to presume that the giver knows better than the family itself what will be most comforting, and also seems to be more about the giver than the recipient. No doubt the family is grateful for any expression of sympathy and has bigger things on their minds anyway, but as a contributor to a group effort, I found this somewhat wrongheaded.

GENTLE READER: Now that baby showers, births, birthdays, christenings, bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations, engagements, weddings, illnesses, recoveries and divorces have all become excuses for fundraising, Miss Manners had hoped that the impulse to collect would be sated before the funeral.

While she is reasonably confident that this is the case for the deceased, it does not appear to be so for the mourners.

The purpose of a funeral is to show respect for the deceased and sympathy for the living. While Miss Manners does not agree with the practice of soliciting, even for charities, on behalf of the deceased, she will refrain from leveling criticisms at such a difficult time. In return, she expects survivors who do so to refrain from criticizing those who chose to show their respect in other ways.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.