Social Etiquette and Good Manners/head stone


My father-in-law just recently remarried, not quite 2 years after the death of his first wife (my husband's mother). Both wives have the same first name, so it has been tricky navigating the situation. Also, the newlyweds live in the basement of his home, which he just sold to his daughter and her husband, who doesn't even acknowledge her father's new wife (but they live in the same house). The plan is for the newlyweds to continue to live there in the basement. My father-in-law placed his name with birth date on my deceased mother-in-law's head stone but now has a new wife with the same name. My husband nor his sister will ask their father how he wants to handle the situation when he passes, but I feel it is an important issue to clear up before it happens, so that it isn't a concern down the road. How is it typically handled when a name is already on the first spouse's head stone?

Side note - My father-in-law and his new wife's ex-husband also have the same first name...

Dear Elaine:
What an interesting coincidence about your Father-in-law's first and second wives' names being the same. And repeated coincidence with your new Step-Mother-in-Law's husbands.  
There is only one way to handle this situation and that is to have your Father-in-law write out his final wishes.  He can write them down and then keep them in a safe deposit box away from all eyes until his death or he could share them.  I am not sure why his children have a problem with asking him about this directly.  
Since he put his name on a headstone already, he may wish that that be his final resting place, no matter to whom he is currently married. That is not an unusual situation.  Many married couples wish to be buried together if they are parents together. The second (or subsequent) spouses are more company and companionship than life partner.  But that is the surviving spouse's business, not yours.
If your Father-in-law decides to change his mind about where he wants to spend eternity, he will purchase an additional plot and headstone and you can sand-off his name from your Mother-in-law's headstone.  His current wife may have plans of her own that don't include her  new husband.  ASK!  It is not too personal - it's practical.  

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

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Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

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