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by Abigail Van Buren

Funeral Flower Distribution Causes Added Grief

DEAR ABBY: I am 64 and have been reading your advice my entire life. Now I need some for myself.

At the end of my mother's funeral, my sister was very upset that I had not set aside some flowers for her that had been sent by her friend. My sister did not plan or pay for any part of the funeral. After the service ended, I told the attendees to take what they wanted to relatives who had asked for them. My sister became so upset she even searched their vehicles to find the plants her friend had sent.

Mom received a lot of flowers that day. I allowed the grieving people to have them because I felt the flowers had been sent to her. How should I address this with my sister, who has told everyone who will listen that I failed to follow funeral plant protocol, which is why she acted out the way she did. -- PERPLEXED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PERPLEXED: People who are grieving are often not their best selves, and you and your sister are no exception. While the disposition of the floral tributes can vary from family to family, no rule of etiquette dictates what "must" be done. Some suggestions include leaving the flowers on the grave, offering them to family members and close friends, and donating them after first removing anything that identifies them as having been used in a funeral. Because you didn't offer the arrangements to your sister, apologize to her for the oversight.

Read more in: Death | Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting