Dear Miss Manners: My husband says that when someone is struggling to think of the word they want to say, it is impolite to suggest the word one thinks they may be trying to remember. He says it shows that one thinks one is superior and that it derails the other person's thoughts.

I will agree that someone who waits a fraction of a second before volleying the other person with a half-dozen synonyms can be annoying and derail the conversation. However, I often feel grateful when someone who has seen me struggle for the right word for a few seconds gently recommends one. I don't find it rude at all.

My question is not whether it is rude for me to help my husband find the correct word when he's having difficulty thinking of it. Obviously, persisting in doing something the other person finds annoying is rude. (I do occasionally slip up, because it feels rude not to offer assistance, but I do my best to avoid it.)

Rather, my question is whether he is correct that it is always rude. Should I try to break myself of this habit with everyone, rather than just with him? Presumably, I may still secretly feel grateful to those who offer me assistance, even if it is technically rude of them to do so.

That one should not continue to annoy one’s spouse is, Miss Manners agrees, a good rule. And yours happens to be right — except in regard to consenting spouses. Perhaps you know what it feels like when your device starts supplying words that you had not intended to type.

Anticipating what others want to say is generally demeaning, as it suggests that they are not worth listening to, because you already know what they are taking too much time to say.

However, Miss Manners knows several couples who encourage prompting, especially in regard to shared experiences or memories. “It was when we were at, uh …” one will say, shooting a look at the other.

Dear Miss Manners: My child died, and I am very slowly sending handwritten notes to people who came to his memorial service, sent a handwritten card, visited or were otherwise comforting. I believe this is proper etiquette, and it is helping me in various ways.

For the 45 or so people who brought us food, do we need to send a thank-you note? Some people have said that it would not be expected and, in fact, to expect it would be placing the very kind of burden on bereaved parents that these people sought to alleviate.

And yet you say that writing to people who showed that they cared is helping you.

Miss Manners is not surprised. To be able to do something on behalf of your beloved is often sustaining to the bereaved, who may be hit hardest when there is nothing more to be done. Some are able to keep themselves going by becoming involved in a related cause, such as combating the fatal disease or crime.

Please write those letters. Good people who cared about your loss deserve to be encouraged and may be a continuing source of emotional support to you.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com.

2019, by Judith Martin