Miss Manners

Sister-in-Law's False Bereavement Is Better Left Unremarked

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law attended my mother's funeral visitation as one of the first to arrive and the last to leave (a 2 1/2-hour stay). She had met my mother only a few times and knew very few of the guests attending.

She managed to join in on every conversation, felt the need to inquire about who the guests were and why they were there, stated how hard the day was for her since it brought back memories of her own mother who died six years ago, and cried and hugged everyone in sight.

When she finally left along with the last guest, she stated, "How fun."

Is it wrong for me to be upset that she used my family's grief as her social outing for the week and her topic of conversation to anyone who is "stuck" listening to her for the next several weeks?

GENTLE READER: No, it is not wrong. But unfortunately, saying it is.

Miss Manners does not see any polite, or even reasonable, way to put it. "I am sorry, but your show of grief was excessive, given your limited relationship to my mother"? or "Please don't socialize at my mother's funeral"?

Controlling another's demonstrated grief, no matter how misplaced and excessive it might be, is a fruitless and unbecoming task. At the very least, think of your sister-in-law's antics as a momentary respite from your own more tempered and legitimate bereavement.

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