DEAR MISS MANNERS: Apparently I am unclear about funereal etiquette and the acceptable behavior around a deathbed.
I was present as my mom passed away. She was 98 and died in her home in bed.
I observed a custom I was unfamiliar with. As a family member walked in, there was a look, a hand motion and a sentence that made clear that their related expenses should be covered by the dying woman or her estate.
I’m sure similar conversations were had while I was not present. This happened before my mom was actually dead; she lay dying in the next room. Other similar conversations followed her passing.
My friends were unhelpful in clarifying the matter. All I got from them was a jaw-dropping, incredulous look, and a “Huh?? ... They did what??? Oh dear Lord, I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
The trust company thought that typical estate procedures would prevent a payout. Apparently, spending a few hundred dollars on attorney fees can get someone a few dollars that were going to come their way anyway.
It has been a month, and I have remained silent, at first because I was speechless, and now under the premise of “least said, soonest mended.”
GENTLE READER: Because it is difficult to convey speechlessness in print, Miss Manners can only echo your friends’ reactions -- except that, unfortunately, she has heard of similar things.
Greed is not a custom; it is a vice. Its only relationship to etiquette is to violate its principles and forms. Your only response to such demands should be to continue to be speechless.