Newport Manners & Etiquette: Burial Mishap + Halloween

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


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Where's the body?

Q.  My husband’s father was buried in a place that was not of his choosing. Sorting out his files after he died, I found handwritten instructions that specified a different cemetery and a different method of burial. After her husband died, my mother-in-law said he should be buried, after being embalmed, in a different cemetery close to their home. The handwritten instructions said he wanted to be cremated and buried in a cemetery a few towns away where his own father was buried. My mother-in-law died shortly afterward and was buried next to my husband’s father. Knowing what we found out, should we have moved my father-in-law to the other cemetery after having him cremated? Should we move them both now? If they weren't religious and not affiliated with either church does it make a difference?
–S.S., Wilton, CT

A.  To avoid a burial mishap, not only should a responsible person leave burial instructions, but they should tell those around them their wishes. Offering up the information by talking about the disposition of their body and the location of the burial lot should be as important to talk about as who inherits grandmother’s diamond ring? — if not more important.

It sounds as though either your husband’s parents didn’t communicate or they weren’t interested in discussing the inevitable. Your mother-in-law voiced her choice as the only choice. Let it be.  ~Didi

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Halloween and children's allergies

Q.  Our children are vegans, have food allergies and don’t eat sugar or any of the other ingredients found in traditional Halloween candy, but we want them to be able to participate in Halloween festivities in an educationally fun manner. Even when there are trick-or-treat options for the kids to choose from, we are wary of cross contamination concerning nut allergies. Because it is a bit harsh to dress them up and send them out to collect candy that we end up throwing out, we’re looking for a healthy way for them to celebrate Halloween. Any suggestions?
--Matthew, Dover, MA

A.  Because in the past many Western religions encouraged abstinence from meat on All Hallows’ Eve in favor of eating vegetarian, Halloween sounds like the perfect holiday for your vegan children. Centuries ago children trick-or-treated for spare change instead of candy, and now you have a Halloween teaching opportunity.

Have your kids Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF (a United Nations program that supports humanitarian aid to children in developing countries). It was the first kids-helping- kids movement — a way for kids to help kids in need of more than candy — where small UNICEF boxes are used to collect spare change instead of Mars bars on Halloween.

With a slogan like It’s scary how much good you can do! — you can discuss with your older children the recent refugee and immigration situation affecting children in other countries right now.

Ahead of time, help your children memorize the gee-whiz facts:
$5 will feed an undernourished child for five days.
$15 will supply a child with a year’s worth of clean drinking water.
$30 will provide measles protection for 100 children.
$100 will provide malaria protection for 100 kids.
$400 will provide a pump to enable an entire village to have clean drinking water.

Go to trick-or-treat for UNICEF for small and large UNICEF Halloween collection boxes and more information.

Let your kids go wild with their choice of costumes and feed them a hearty vegan supper before giving them their UNICEF boxes in which to collect spare change instead of candy.

Didi Lorillard researches all matters of manners and etiquette at NewportManners. The best questions of the week appear here weekly.


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