Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Man Sets Sail After Dream as Wife Watches From Shore

DEAR ABBY: My mother and I attended the funeral of my great-uncle "John." Afterward a reception luncheon was held for everyone who attended. The general atmosphere was like a family reunion, but under unfortunate circumstances.

Because it happened to be my cousin's 24th birthday, all of my aunts, uncles and cousins decided to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. I did not join in and later said something about it to my mother, who assured me that no one was being rude.

Abby, was it inappropriate to publicly celebrate the birth of one person while mourning the death of another? -- REFRAINED FROM THE CHORUS

DEAR REFRAINED: Some extended family get together only at weddings and funerals -- and you stated that the general atmosphere was like a "family reunion." If your great-uncle had been ill, it's possible that the family accepted that his death was a kind of release.

Funerals are for the living. Obviously the majority of your relatives wanted your cousin's birthday not to be forgotten. I respect that -- and so should you.