Miss Manners: A co-worker I’ve never met sent this shattering email

Judith Martin

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received an email that was sent to a distribution list of everyone in my division of the large company where I work. It was from a co-worker that I have never met, telling us that his young son, who had been ill, passed away the night before.

I can’t imagine how difficult this is for my co-worker, and my heart goes out to him, but I don’t know whether or how to respond. Replying to the email to express condolences seems crass, especially since hundreds of other employees might do the same. The email includes no address information.

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I suppose that I could Google around to see if I can find an address where I can send condolences, but that seems intrusive. Ignoring the email seems cold and insensitive. What is the polite way to handle this message?

GENTLE READER: What you have received is a death notice, albeit as an electronic communication from the principal mourner rather than a printed obituary in a newspaper. The etiquette is identical if you think of the company as the newspaper’s readership.

Etiquette does not require you to take any notice for someone you have never met, particularly in a large city (company). This does not mean that Miss Manners does not appreciate your feelings for your bereaved co-worker, nor does it bar you from sending a handwritten note (to an address your company can provide) that you are under no compulsion of etiquette to pen.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been invited to a family wedding with a plus-one.

A few months before receiving the invitation, I ended my long-term relationship, but I was fairly private about it and did not make it widely known.

The family member who invited me had met my former partner, and I believe that she extended the plus-one expecting he would attend,

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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