Metro-East Living

Etiquette: Divorced woman is not ex’s widow

Q: I have a girlfriend who, although divorced from her husband several years ago, remained “friends” with him. Now that he has died, she has been referring to herself as a widow. I’ve told her I don’t think she can call herself his widow. She says because he did not remarry, she is his widow. Who is right?

A: You are correct. Your girlfriend’s status with her ex-husband does not change because he has died. Whether or not he remarried someone else, she remains divorced from him, not his widow.

Q: Is it proper if you are out and see someone you know in the crowd to leave the person (whether you are a couple or just friends) you are sitting with and go talk to the other person?

A: Yes and no, depending on other facts not provided with your question. For example:

▪  Yes, if there were others sitting with the person and they had been introduced, and if the talk with the other person was brief, and if the departing person asked to be excused for a few minutes to say hello to someone else in the crowd.

▪  No, if the person was left sitting by himself or herself.

▪  No, if the talk with the other person was lengthy, even if the person left sitting had several other people with whom to converse.

▪  No, if the departing person was not polite enough to ask to be excused for a few minutes to say hello to someone else in the crowd.

Q: I’ve been invited to the baptism of my neighbor’s new baby. Can I just give money as a gift, or does it have to be an actual gift?

A: Because a baptism is a very significant event in a baby’s life, a traditional baptism gift is more appropriate than money. I say this also because as the years pass, parents remember with much sentimentality, traditional gifts and the giver. Traditional baptism gifts include: silver engraved baby spoons or cups; baby picture frames; children’s religious storybooks; inspirational figurines; keepsake baby books; engraved Bibles; framed Bible verses, especially the Bible verse selected for the baby’s baptism; a religious baby necklace or bracelet for a girl.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to