Netiquette, Vol. 4, Issue 33

Dear Etiquetteer: As you will eventually learn more about, my lover of 27 1/2 years passed away last year. People kept saying to be prepared because gay relationships mean squat in death. I told them we had it all covered through our lawyer. HOW WRONG I WAS!My father passed earlier this year. My mother buried her head in the sand and never acknowledged that he was sick to the degree he was. She still won’t admit what an ass she was.Now my need for advice. I read a blog where the blogger came out and stated his illness. People wrote back saying how strong he was to talk about it and how he would lick the illness. I have heard the same remarks from PWAs who eventually died. I’m familiar with the disease this person mentioned in his blog. Not only is it terminal, it moves VERY fast. I’m for positive thinking and all, but this guy and his lover should also be making arrangements for the worst. Instead they are playing house and talking all sweet about how he’ll lick the disease (I really hope he does, but the odds are against him).I can’t just write a comment to his blog with this advice and he doesn’t list a personal e-mail address. Plus, he really should hear this from a close friend or even HIS OWN DOCTOR. One thing I’ve learned from watching my lover and father die is that doctors don’t know everything about every disease. Also, after losing friends suddenly to A.I.D.S., I’ve noticed that the level of health care varies from geographic location to location. Either his doctor is not really familiar with this illness (my lover’s and father’s doctors were in the dark), or doesn’t have the guts to tell the patient. I even wonder if maybe the lover is having the information withheld.This attitude really sucks and people get screwed. You can’t change things after the person dies. Right now I’m taking the view that I don’t know these people and it is none of my business (but would I let someone kill himself using the same logic?). Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Dear Concerned Blogger: First, please accept Etiquetteer’s condolences on your bereavement. So many emotions come with the death of a loved one, and it can be doubly difficult in your circumstances. Reading your query, Etiquetteer was reminded of a former colleague whose professional advice invariably included the injunction "Trust in God, but lock your car." It sounds like the blogger in question has Part A taken care of, but could work on Part B. That said, all bloggers are different. Some of them are eager to put all their business right under your nose, others focus on specific aspects of their lives, etc. It’s difficult to assume that he hasn’t, in fact, actually been prepared for the worst unless he’s explicitly said so.It’s never Perfectly Proper to tell total strangers what to do with their lives, in person or online. You’d never know it; it’s almost a national pastime (look at Senator Santorum, for instance). As much as Etiquetteer understands your concern and compassion for this couple, Etiquetteer agrees that you can’t post the type of comments it sounds like you want to make on a public comment board. If the blogger doesn’t provide a personal e-mail address, he probably isn’t interested in what you have to say anyway.Since all the information in the world is available on the Web now, Etiquetteer thinks you would not be skating right up to the edge (but not over it) to post "Check out these websites for more information about [Insert Fatal Disease Here]. I’m pulling for you!" and leave it at that. This way you might not be seen as telling them what to do, only providing an opportunity to read information from another source.And now I have to drop the Etiquetteer pose and just talk. Your letter comes at an interesting time for me. I myself just made an official will for the very first time in my life on the occasion of a trip overseas. With the world blanketed in violence and terrorism, I just don’t think you can leave the country without a will. We none of us like to think about our own death, but as a person who’s been through the death of a relative who died intestate, the inconveniences are legion. (Etiquetteer might even say it’s really rude to die that way, but he’s not talking now.) You owe it to your loved ones to make the aftermath of your death as smooth as possible, and the way to do that is with a last will and testament dividing your property and making quite clear all your arrangements. It should be accompanied with a letter of intent outlining your funeral plans and what you want done with your remains. I hope no one will have to read my will for decades, but now at least I know it’s there if some evil thing happens to me.

Find yourself at a manners crossroads and don't know where to go? Ask Etiquetteer at!

Etiquetteer cordially invites you to join the notify list if you would like to know as soon as new columns are posted. Join by sending e-mail to