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by Abigail Van Buren

Photos Of Husband's Funeral Send Widow Reeling

DEAR ABBY: What is proper etiquette for someone who takes pictures at a funeral?

I am a recent widow who received a package from an out-of-town relative. In it were several envelopes for my family. One of them was for my sister, who lives 40 miles away. I gave my sister a call and told her it looked like it contained a stack of pictures. She said I should go ahead and open it.

Inside were photos taken at my husband's funeral -- pictures of the funeral home, inside the church, the casket, and some of me and my daughter sitting at the gravesite. Abby, it was like going to the funeral all over again! The latter were particularly disturbing.

To me, it felt like voyeurism. Why would someone take pictures of such a sad event? I hope you print this and tell me and others what your opinion is so they may heed your advice -- particularly my in-laws. -- GRIEVING WIDOW IN INDIANA

DEAR GRIEVING: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your husband. I can only imagine the shock you experienced when you saw the photos. No one should take pictures at funerals without first having received permission from the immediate survivors such as the widow, widower or children.

That said, the practice is not as uncommon as you might think. After a period of time, family members have been known to find comfort in having them. Short of asking your permission, your trauma could have been avoided had the relative who sent the pictures thought to label the envelopes or include a note explaining what was inside them. That way, you wouldn't have had to view them until you were ready -- if ever -- and were prepared emotionally.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Death