This may not be the correct site for this question but I couldn't find a better alternative.

How do I respond to this kind of question;

So I'd like you to be the pianist for my funeral. Is that ok?

What is the polite way to respond to this if I decide to say yes? Something tells me that replying with:

Of course! I can't wait!

...might just be frowned upon (ok...so REALLY frowned upon), but at the same time I want to be friendly about it. If I just say yes and walk away I might appear to be cold and perhaps not willing to do it.

Is there some thing I could reply with to lighten the mood?

Note that the person requesting my services is by no means about to die (this isn't like a deathbed wish), but is merely, let's say "older" - in good health but in the latter half of life.

EDIT: I am a college student who has known this person for about 15 years. We are not close friends but merely know each other from the fact that we both frequent the same groups.


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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about manners, not English as such. Or maybe it's just a lame joke - but we expect better on ELU – FumbleFingers Feb 22 '14 at 1:47
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    @FumbleFingers the expression of linguistic politeness is highly language-specific; this is the most appropriate SE site for it. – user31341 Feb 22 '14 at 2:04
  • I realize this may have been off topic but I wasn't sure what would have been better. Any suggestions? Also this is totally serious – codedude Feb 22 '14 at 2:10
  • @jlovegren: Pretty much by definition, the expression of anything is highly language-specific. By your logic we'd have to accept "How can I delicately ask my husband if he's cheating on me?", and "How do I tell my girlfriend I've found someone else?". – FumbleFingers Feb 22 '14 at 12:35
  • "Nothing would make me happier than playing at your funeral" mmm... perhaps not. – Mari-Lou A Feb 22 '14 at 15:41

The typical way to respond to something like this would be with a polite acceptance with a wish for continued good health.

Something akin to:

A long time from now, when that day should come, I will play piano at your funeral.

Depending upon your relationship and the culture of the person asking there may be other responses that are appropriate:

I'm Jewish, and for us a proper response might be:

What are you trying to give yourself a kinehora? But, yes, I will play piano for you someday.
Kinehora, yes, I will play piano for you someday.

A kinehora is akin to the evil eye or a curse by speaking of something bad aloud. Some superstitious people believe that it can be warded off merely by saying kinehora when discussing something uncomfortable.

  • Definitely like this. Haha, basically say you'd love to do - a very long time from now. :) – codedude Feb 22 '14 at 2:11
  • I think it has the lightness you are looking for, yet still says you care about this person. – David M Feb 22 '14 at 2:16
  • Exactly. It can't hurt to add a little humor into what is a heavy subject. Getting a smile on the person's face is always nice too :) – codedude Feb 22 '14 at 2:20
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    I hope I'll still remember how when that day finally comes. – Jim Feb 22 '14 at 4:19

To properly calculate the type of linguistic politeness to use, it would be good to know more about the social distance between you and the requestor. You might update the question with a full story about how you two know each other. A default response for a high level of politeness would be:

I would be honored to serve as the pianist at your funeral services.

  • That is an absolutely lovely way of saying it. – David M Feb 22 '14 at 2:17
  • That sounds over-written. "I would be honoured to play at your funeral" is far better. "Serve as" carries connotations of fulfilling a role for which you're not ideally suited, as in, "This heavy book will serve as a door stop." Rephrasing as something like "honored to serve you by playing" has a grovelling tone. – David Richerby Feb 22 '14 at 9:26

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