Ask Amy: News of relative's death traveled too slowly

April 4, 2014 

Dear Amy: I have a large extended family whose members reside all over the United States. We have always had a phone list to notify family of a loved one's death. This tradition has worked flawlessly for more than 50 years and has ensured our financial and moral support of grieving family members.

Recently a family member died, and his eldest daughter volunteered to notify the family.

Instead of calling one of us to convey the information using the phone list, she decided to post a two-line notification on a social networking site, to which no one except she is a subscriber.

The end result was that few people attended the funeral, which deeply hurt the immediate family.

We only found out about his passing when the eldest daughter had a burst of anger and called a cousin, accusing us of not caring about the family by not supporting them in their time of grief.

We are upset with the eldest daughter of the family member who died for ignorantly assuming that social network postings are the only way to communicate the death of a loved one.

We all believe she was out of place. All the family's anger at us could have been avoided with one phone call. Then we would have then been able to support them with financial assistance and by attending the service.

— Heartbroken in California

Dear Heartbroken: I agree with you that family members notifying others of a death in the family need to do so across platforms (as the kids say).

Unfortunately, this person didn't do this and there are consequences for everyone.

I assume that you have explained yourself and expressed your own frustration to family members. Now you should express your condolences (not your frustration) to the immediate family.

You say, "We are so sorry to learn of Uncle Joe's death and wish we had found out in time to attend services. We have such wonderful memories of him." Share one or two specific stories about this family member and say you hope his immediate family will hold these memories in their hearts.

Dear Amy: "Concerned Daughter" was worried that her randy older father might get an STD from the women he was sleeping with.

I have to point out that daddy could be the one spreading disease to unsuspecting partners.

— Also concerned

Dear Also: Exactly. His children need to "have the talk" with him about condom use.

 

You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at askamy@tribune.com, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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