Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have a large extended family whose members reside all over the United States. We've always had a phone list to notify family of a loved one's death. This tradition has worked flawlessly for more than 50 years and has ensured financial and moral support for grieving family members. Recently a family member died. His eldest daughter volunteered to notify the family. Instead of calling one of us to convey the information using the phone list, she posted a two-line notification on a social networking site, to which no one except she is a subscriber. The result was that few people attended the funeral, which deeply hurt the immediate family. We only found out about his passing when the eldest daughter had a burst of anger and called a cousin, accusing us of not caring about the family by not supporting them in their time of grief. We are upset with her for ignorantly assuming that social network postings are the only way to communicate the death of a loved one. All the family's anger at us could have been avoided with one phone call. Then, we would have been able to support them with financial assistance and by attending the service.
-- Heartbroken in California
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: I agree with you that family members notifying others of a death in the family need to do so across platforms (as the kids say).
Unfortunately, this person didn't do this, and there are consequences for everyone.
I assume that you have explained yourself and expressed your own frustration to family members. Now, you should express your condolences (not your frustration) to the immediate family.
You say, "We are so sorry to learn of Uncle Joe's death and wish we had found out in time to attend services. We have such wonderful memories of him." Share one or two specific stories about this family member and say you hope his immediate family will hold these memories in their hearts.
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