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Abbot -- Obituary Etiquette question for you: Is it

Hello Dr. Abbot -- Obituary...
Hello Dr. Abbot -- Obituary Etiquette question for you: Is it customary to mention by name the first cousins of a deceased person in their obituary if they had only two and such had been close to the deceased for most of their lives? The deceased had other more distant cousins they were not close to but only two first cousins they WERE close to for over 50 years (even living together in same home for a period) but were not mentioned by name in the obituary and referenced only in passing as "cousins" surviving the deceased. The omission by name did cause offense. Was such offense well founded by rules of etiquette, if such exists for obituaries and who should be mentioned by name in the list of survivors? And in this case, nieces and nephews of the deceased (who hardly knew the deceased) were mentioned by name by the writer of the obituary (i.e. the deceased's sister and mother to the nieces and nephews), but not the first cousins who knew the deceased like a brother for 50 years. Is offense warranted, if even never communicated to the obituary writer, our First Cousin and sister to the deceased?
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Answered in 1 hour by:
1/8/2018
Rev Dr August Abbott
Rev Dr August Abbott, Adult Etiquette Pro
Category: Etiquette
Satisfied Customers: 7,876
Experience: 40 yrs: Etiquette teacher,Formal event officiate, announcement author, minister
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very good question and I'm happy to address it for you. please give me a bit while I wrap up a chore on this side of the computer

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Please feel free to share this with your family, the deceased's family and anyone else taking sides in this matter:

It is not customary to name cousins or even nieces and nephews in an obituary. Exceptions might be if an obituary is relatively short (John Doe was born, he went to school, he worked, he died. Survived by a brother and his brother's children Jane and Josh and cousins Tom, Dick and Mary). You get the idea

This is not to say it's improper to list extended family even in larger obits. Many newspapers these days charge a fee to publish obits in general or a fee if an obit exceeds a certain number of lines which helps families decide on whether or not to list names

Now, specific to your question, if those cousins who were very close to the deceased were to have been named, then ALL cousins known to him besides them "must" be named as well. Just like you can't list one sibling's offspring (nieces/nephews) and not the offspring of a sibling who has been out of contact for any reason.

The cousins should know this and defer to the family - especially at this painful time. Why add more stress and sorrow?

If they are truly close and good hearted they would not only understand not being named, but support it: 'We understand you can't name everyone so don't give this a second thought. We know what we meant to him, we don't need to see our names in a newspaper'

Hopefully this settles it and rather than having anyone kicking the ground with hurt feelings, they'll move on from something that cannot be changed and get with life that is lived, at least in part, in honor of the dearly departed

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Obituaries survive the newspaper they were first printed in and are added to the electronic record by which the surviving and subsequent generations can track in family tree charts and who was related to who. Therefore inclusion in the Obituary by name in the present does not merely serve to validate the present survivor but also validates the surviving families so they can be tracked and identified later as having been blood relatives of the deceased. In this situation, there were only two first cousins such that no other cousins beyond those two needed to be mentioned as those were cousins either once removed, second cousins, or further down the bloodline. And the deceased was not close to those other cousins beyond their first two immediate ones, of which I am one.So close to this family was I that I was called to give the recently deceased's father's eulogy -- my only uncle -- 18 years ago. The deceased, my First Cousin, was buried in a family plot, next to which I may be buried as well. The relationship is not distant or so insignificant that it was not worthy of mentioning for a couple of bucks more in what was a very brief obituary to begin with. I was prepared to give the Eulogy for my First Cousin, if asked -- but was not even CALLED by the surviving sister (my other First Cousin) when my male First Cousin (living one block away) was found dead in his home. Yet the deceased's friend living 500 miles away was called by the female First Cousin when her brother died and the distant friend traveled those miles to stand up and speak words at his friend's (my First Cousin's) memorial services, indicating coordination with the surviving sister and her husband, a pastor, who gave the primary eulogy.. I think, Dr. Abbott, that I've been snubbed and it was purposeful. It speaks to long history with my mother and the surviving sister's mother who are not blood relatives although friendly (for the most part) with one another for all their lives. I'm looking to see if I have reason to feel snubbed and look to rules of etiquette for potential support. Your thoughts / feedback?

Ahh, there's the 'other half' of this story - and it shed light on important issues. First, well, you're right that in a brief obit and given your relationship it would have been proper to name the "first's" (cousins) in order of age (eldest to youngest by fact or best guess). This oversight (even if it wasn't) is compounded by your not being asked to speak at the services, but inviting someone not as close to contribute to the eulogy.

You would have been within proper guidelines if you stood up on your own and said you had something to add. In fact, most services will invite anyone with anything to say about the deceased to come up and say it.

You are also within your rights as a close relative to post your own obituary. It's not 'uncommon' these days for that to happen since extended families, step-families, ex-families are the new 'norm', but if you do so, be the bigger person and make it right - do not react with a snub for a snub.

Please remember that sometimes grief addles the brain in survivors. This is why widows/widowers etc. are advised to not do anything major with property or monies for at least a year following the loss. No matter how sure they are about what they're doing, chances are they are not as clear minded as they think. And observers can't know what is going on at the deepest levels of grief.

I'm saying this hoping to give you a justification for letting go of feeling snubbed. Remember, we choose to feel how we feel when reacting to someone else's behavior. No one can "make us" anything (sad, mad or even happy).

You, in my opinion of you from our correspondences at this venue, are better than that. You generally rise above the rabble and live with a certain dignity that puts snubs and affronts beneath you.

So yes, given all the facts, it was cold at the very least, to be overlooked this way and you can correct it on your own with an additional/new obit that is proper. Yes, your feelings of being snubbed are founded and now it's time to replace those feelings with sympathy for the person who behaved so badly and petty - and doing so, forgive and move forward. After all, be honest, aren't those feelings uncomfortable to live with? Fix the faux pas and never look back. You have more important feelings to feel and a life to live going forward.

Rev Dr August Abbott
Rev Dr August Abbott, Adult Etiquette Pro
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Experience: 40 yrs: Etiquette teacher,Formal event officiate, announcement author, minister
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Thank you for your good advisories, Dr. Abbott. Yes, I did already post my own short eulogy online for my cousin and received condolences from friends of my cousin and those who knew only me. My concern at present is how to proceed now with the surviving members in our family relationships if indeed the snubbing I received was intentionally meant to push me (and the family I represent) away. I'd like to know why, as it was not deserved but my goal has always been to foster greater familiarity between the deceased's children and my own the way my sister and I were close to our nearest cousins -- if indeed that makes sense to do after the treatment I've received. I plan to ask the deceased's sister (my first cousin) in a non-accusatory but honest way if her not calling me when her brother passed away one block from my front door and she did not include my name as a significant person in her brother's obituary (who all his life referred to me as his "big brother") -- was something meant to send me a message or if it was truly unintentional. This sister chose to hold cremation memorial services just 5 days after her brother passed on Dec. 18 and 2 days before Christmas so she could combine her 4000 mile trip to his location to also see her own children for Christmas another 1000 miles away. If including those in the family who wanted to attend her brother's services was the primary concern, she would have chosen a later date (as cremations do allow) and AFTER the holidays when more could attend -- but it wasn't. Seeing her own children on this trip was her primary concern and she recognized that as a "selfish decision" (her words) which resulted in rush decisions where many were left out, and I believe I became on of those casualties of rushed and bad decision-making. But if there are indeed hidden agendas in her mind that caused her to purposely snub me, I'd like to know what they are and why she didn't try to talk them out with me versus snubbing me, if indeed such callous treatment was intentional. I will ask nicely -- but not accuse. The sister will either tell me the truth or get embarrassed and just lie. I may never know. But I will have done what I could to clear the air and hopefully not go forward forevermore with the wrong impression of what was intended by the snubbing I received if indeed it was not intentional. Thank you for validating that I have basis to feel offense but I will take the higher road and assume it was unintentional until I have some feedback to possibly confirm that offense was intended, and will solicit that feedback in tactful and considerate ways.

You, my dear sir, are better than all of this nonsensical and possibly ill will behavior by these family members. You're right that asking them point blank would likely result in a dishonest cover-up as all bad behavior, revenge and animosity cannot stand the light of day (being confronted)

It doesn't matter why she did it. She has to live with the negativity she generates in her own life. You must continue to live your life above it all. Don't stoop to anyone else's level.

MY mantra when faced with bad behavior or inappropriate actions by family, friends or strangers is, "I will fly my own flag. My actions are from my heart and soul and will NOT be dictated by anyone else"

And just to 'mess with them' - I'm often especially nice to people who are not nice at all to me.

You might enjoy this true story: Many years ago I got on a shuttle bus at the airport, going to the lot where my car had been parked. I climbed aboard and asked the driver if he was going to 'lot C' and he rudely told me to go sit down. I did. The next person getting on the bus said 'good morning' and asked the same question about which lots he was driving to. He again was VERY rude and told the passenger to sit down and for everyone to just shut up. Yep, those words! He was terrible and he was making everyone very unhappy. He was spreading his bad mood like the plague. I was determined to change this and tried to engage him in small talk to which he responded that he was not my friend and never would be. Wow. Finally, a fellow spoke up and admonished him for being so callous and unpleasant, but he did it rather nicely. The driver insulted him, told him to mind his own business and honestly, the tension on this shuttle was thick in the air. The young man started to get angry and we all expected a full on blow out when suddenly the young man took a breath - smiled and gently asked, "It seems that someone could use a hug"

The driver stopped his tirade and the passengers all lightened up and we began talking among ourselves about our trips, our homes, our families, etc.. Then something 'miraculous' happened. As the first passengers were getting off the bus, the driver told them, "Hey, drive safe and have a good day" -- and he continued to tell everyone else the same as they departed

YOU are that young man on the bus driven by (what appears to be) ignorant or neglectful, distracted family members

You can change everything by being true to yourself and teaching by example. Behave the way you wish everyone else would behave. Rise above the negativity. Go out of your way to be even kinder and more attentive to those who offended you most. At the worst it will confuse them and make them wonder what you're up to; at best it will educate them.

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