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

Bumping a Milestone Event to Next Year

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We take care of a former neighbor (let’s call her Mary) who is largely a shut-in. When another neighbor recently passed away, Mary wrote a sympathy card to the widower of the deceased, addressed it “John Doe, widower,” and asked us to deliver it.

We feel that this is in extremely bad taste, and are holding the letter until we can decide what to do.

Mary has a barely concealed crush on John Doe, and we feel she has designs on him. Addressing the card “widower” seems like pouring salt on an already-open wound. Oh, did I mention that this letter was written on the day John’s wife died?

What should we do with this card?

GENTLE READER: As it is too late to avoid accepting the letter, you are going to have to speak with your former neighbor to explain why you have not delivered it.

“We saw John and we were going to give him your letter, but he was so distraught that we realized you would not want to make him feel worse with an envelope addressed to ‘widower.’ Would you mind if we put your letter in a new envelope before we deliver it?”

If the friend declines, then apologize and return the letter to her. If not, address the envelope -- and drop it in the mail.

Miss Manners realizes this is not the delivery method your neighbor is expecting, but she is equally confident that you do not want to be associated with whatever further insensitivity is to be found inside the envelope.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)