Ask Amy: A grieving daughter aggrieved by hungry mourners

Dear Amy: Can you please settle a question?

When a loved one dies, who should pay for a luncheon after the service?


When my father passed away, I was in a poor financial situation (and still am).

After the service, all I wanted to do was go home and have time to myself.


I overheard several people grumbling about no after-service meal being readied for the mourners.

Why should the grieving party have to be sure that attendees eat afterward?

The family is going through enough losing someone dear to them without trying to come up with money to feed the crowd.

I feel that if attendees want a meal after the service, someone should gather others and organize something.

Your thoughts?

– Grieving Daughter

Dear Grieving: There is no one answer to this. Some families who have the means will cater a lunch. Other families will welcome mourners (many bearing casseroles), back to the home, where a friend or more distant family member will help to organize and serve.

Others will meet at the corner pub to raise a glass in memory of the departed.


In my church community, a group of volunteers fixes a simple lunch for those who attended a funeral at the church; the funds are donated by others.

These gatherings can be positive experiences for family members; no doubt sometimes they are also absolutely exhausting.

No matter what, you (the grieving party), were not responsible to pay for, feed and entertain people after your father’s funeral.

The remarks you overheard were unconscionable, and have added to your burden during a very difficult time. I’m very sorry.

Dear Amy: I am an older woman, retired after a long career as a counselor.

I am the oldest of five siblings. My sister is one year younger.


She is very talented, creative and generous.

However, my relationship with her can often be difficult due to her bipolar disorder.

She has described herself “as mean as a snake” during her manic periods.

She is medicated and has been seeing a psychiatrist for years.

She lives with her husband who is a wonderful man who drinks to excess after he plays golf most days and does volunteer work.

I think it’s how he manages.


My sister has had conflicted relationships with all four of her children from time to time.

We live on opposite coasts.

There is one daughter in particular with whom she has the most problems. Perhaps they are more like each other – I’m not sure.

That daughter contacted me yesterday via text, asking me if I could give her some advice for dealing with her mom.

I can’t imagine how hard it was growing up with a bipolar parent. I dodged her request. I also told her that perhaps her dad could help her better than I can because he knows both her and her mom the best.

I’m very reluctant to get involved in any difficulties between her and her mom.


I love them both, but what should I do?

– Confused

Dear Confused: Your sister’s illness has had a profound effect on all of you. You see her qualities and positive traits, and I hope you will anchor to this knowledge and respond to your niece’s request for advice.

You’ve dodged her “ask,” but you don’t seem to know the question, yet. She may need mainly to express her own frustrations or concerns.

You might be able to pass along some of your own strategies for maintaining a relationship with her mother.

In my experience, when people ask for advice (versus being offered unsolicited advice), they are more likely to listen intently, consider it carefully, and (sometimes) follow it.


You know and love your sister. If you believe that she might use your contact with her daughter against both of you, you could emphasize that your conversation must remain private.

Dear Amy: I read your response to “Unsure” with my mouth open.

Some 17 years ago, I had an online relationship just like Unsure’s.

Although I did meet my online person in real life, he had all the power because I forfeited it, and I hung on far too long hoping and, sadly, even begging after he’d clearly moved on with a real-life partner.

Hindsight shows I passed up several opportunities to create my own real-life happiness holding onto that virtual attachment, and I’m now alone.

I really hope Unsure takes your sage advice.


– Been There

Dear Been There: There’s still time for you. I hope you’ll use it well.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)