Etiquette on Attending Ex-In-Laws’ Funerals

By Amy Dickinson | March 18th, 2022

Ask Amy on attending funeral services, years after a divorce

mourning man at coffin during funeral photo by Arne9001 Dreamstime. For article, Years after her divorce, this reader questions the etiquette of attending her ex-in-laws’ funerals. See what Ask Amy has to say.

Years after her divorce, the reader’s ex-relatives are getting older, making her question the etiquette of attending ex-in-laws’ funerals. In this issue of Ask Amy, see what advice columnist Amy Dickinson says.

Dear Amy:

I have been divorced from my ex-husband for 22 years.

Is there a standard as to how I should pay my respects to my ex’s relatives when one of them dies?

While I was married, I was very close to all of my former husband’s relatives.

As many of them are entering into their later years, I’m wondering if it is appropriate to attend their viewing and funeral services?

It would be easy to say that I’m there for my adult children, given that these people would be their aunts, uncles, and cousins, but I don’t want to put them in a weird situation.

– Paying my Respects

Dear Paying: There is no one answer to this question.

You were close to these family members while you were married to your ex-husband, but it sounds as if you haven’t necessarily stayed close to them during the 22-year period you’ve been divorced.

If you have stayed in touch with these people during these past two decades, and if you have a cordial relationship with your ex-husband (and his current spouse, if applicable), then you would consider attending any services in person, especially if your adult children would like to see you there.

However, if you have not kept in touch with your former husband’s parents and siblings through the years, and if they pass away, then you should pay your respects through sending a note to your former husband and any surviving relatives you were close to.

Recognize this loss to your children and encourage them to attend any celebrations in person, and – if they get a chance – to verbally pass along your expression of sympathy.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from attending ex-in-laws’ funerals to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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