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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Rules for ‘Unofficial’ Remembrance Gatherings

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner lost a friend who was suffering from depression and mental health issues. The family of the deceased decided to have a big celebration of life later in the year.

In the meantime, my partner, who was grieving, wanted to host a small dinner in remembrance of his friend. Although the friend was not from the small town we live in, he was part of the community and was friends with many people.

In trying to keep the gathering intimate, my partner only invited close friends of the person who had passed. The people who attended had all worked together for many years and shared a common bond with one another and with the deceased.

This was very upsetting to a few people who expressed that they “deserved” to be there, and that it was “mean to exclude them.” What is the proper etiquette for a situation like this?

GENTLE READER: Although it is rude to protest to a host for not being invited, Miss Manners believes that it is worth assuaging hurt feelings when possible.

The solution in this case is to invent an objective grouping. Saying that your event was for people who worked with the deceased -- particularly since the family is doing a separate remembrance, and your partner and the deceased were not related -- will answer anyone who was not a co-worker. If necessary, you can further limit it to people who knew the deceased for some length of time, worked in close proximity to him, and so on. The rule need not be an exact match for the guests, as those who are not invited will not be present to check.

Read more in: Death | Etiquette & Ethics