Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Thank You


My husband was treated by a wonderful doctor during his fight with colon cancer, he died three weeks ago and I sent a beautiful arrangement to the doctor and staff. After a week, I heard nothing from the doctor or the office staff. Is this common practice that the doctor or staff do not to acknowledge the flowers, I really just wanted to make sure the doctor received them. I send three e-mails and finally had to make telephone call which they answered two days later.

Thanks in Advance for your response.

Dear Linda:

Please allow me to share my condolences. Next I must share my shock and sadness upon hearing of the occurrence you describe.

In difficult times, we rely on the kindness and concern of others to help us endure.  How ironic that you received neither from this group of professional caregivers. And, no, I don't believe that what you experienced is common practice, but rather an example of extreme insensitivity on the part of the doctor and the staff.
My guess is there is no protocol in this office for receiving and responding to gifts. In the case of your flowers, someone at the front desk probably received the delivery, perhaps in haste, and failed to notify others.  If the office was run efficiently, the office manager would have been notified of your gift, would have informed the doctor and, with the doctor's input, prepared a sincere letter for the doctor's signature expressing condolence and including a thank you for your thoughtful gift.
I find it hard to believe that doctors don't write to a spouse and/or family automatically upon the death of a patient they have treated. It is disturbing to think that the mechanics of treatment have begun to overshadow the human element.  

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Nancy Mitchell


Social etiquette; Business etiquette; Entertaining etiquette; Wedding etiquette; Protocol, domestic (US) and international; Flag etiquette; Dining etiquette; Restaurant etiquette; Spa etiquette; Travel etiquette


Nancy R. Mitchell is a nationally recognized etiquette and protocol consultant and trainer with more than 30 years of experience in the field. She owns the firm The Etiquette Advocate and is an owner and founding partner of the firm Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at The George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses in the School of Business and the Career Center, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was director of special events and protocol at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other distinguished visitors, galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, Mitchell served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, embassies, academia and corporations.

Protocol and Diplomacy - International Protocol Association

Mitchell is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by CNN, ABC Nightline, Martha Stewart Living Radio, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, the Associated Press and Washingtonian magazine, has been featured on ABC Good Morning America, Fox News and National Public Radio, and is an etiquette columnist for, etiquette consultant to Alexandria Woman and to Engaged! magazine, and technical editor of Wedding Etiquette for Dummies (Wiley, 2010).

B.S., University of Utah, 1969

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