Reaching out to widow by email isn't personal enough

June 21, 2013 

Q. When you don't know the mailing address of a friend whose spouse died, and you didn't find out about it until after the funeral, is it OK to send an e-mail to her to express your sympathy?

A. No, not unless you have researched every possible avenue available to find her mailing address. Here are some options:

1. Call her to personally express your sympathy. No phone number? If you have an e-mail address, check to see if you have her phone number also listed in your contact information. Check the phone book for a home number. Or, call a telephone operator and ask for the number. (Though, there may be a charge for this.)

2. Do you have a mutual friend whom you could call, or e-mail, to get her address or phone number?

3. Pull up the obituary online to get the name of the funeral home. While it is not permitted to give out phone numbers and addresses, you could ask that a sympathy card you mailed there be forwarded.

Q. We want to have a swim party for our granddaughter, who will be 15 this summer. I know I don't have enough swim towels for all the guests. Is it

proper to ask each guest to bring their own swim towel?

A. Yes. You can add a note at the bottom of the invitation: Please bring your own beach (or swim) towel. A written invitation will also serve as a reminder of the time, not only for the guest, but for their parents. If you (or your granddaughter) choose to extend the party invitation by phone, you may have to have a lot of towels.

Q. Our daughter is close friends with another girl from our church. Her parents have asked if our daughter can go with them on a summer vacation for a week. We want to pay her way, but also want to be able to afford to take our own family vacation later in the summer. How do we handle this?

A. There are no doubt other questions you have for the parents who have invited your daughter to go with them on vacation.

Call them or set aside a time before or after church, or while the girls are in Sunday School, to go over some of the details of their vacation, such as where they are going so that you can get phone contact information at each location, as well as cell phone numbers for the parents.

Ask abou the type of clothes required.

During that conversation, offer to pay for your daughter's expenses. Then let the discussion ensue. Even if they do not want you to pay for anything, you could offer to provide them with an envelope with money for some of your daughter's expenses during the trip, and a separate envelope with a certain amount of spending money for your daughter to buy trip mementos, etc. Let them know the parameters of what kinds of things she can buy and a range. They can then monitor her spending and give her so much for each event, and you will not have to be concerned about your daughter carrying a lot of money with her. She will not have to worry about it, either.

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