Dear 100 Hour Board,
My family is not LDS. Since I signed up for a family history class at BYU last summer (and sadly had to drop it) I've become more interested in family history/genealogy. I was planning on trying to gather as much information about my grandparents on my father's side over the summer but my grandfather passed away at the beginning of March. We're all very close and a few of my family members have taken it very hard. How should I approach asking about my grandfather's family without too much pain? Should I wait until next summer?
My birth family isn't LDS. When I met them, I asked them for family history information just because I was curious, but also a little bit because I wanted to make sure the names were in Family Search. My family was flattered and delighted that someone would be interested in learning about the family members they loved so much. I think your family would more likely enjoy talking about their memories or their relatives than being hurt or offended you'd ask.
Of course this is assuming you're doing it because you actually want to know. If you prefaced it with, "I need all these names so I can do temple work on them and have that out of the way!" then maybe wait to approach them until you're doing it out of sincere interest.
While you're at it, you might consider take a tape recording and getting all those stories on record. You could be extra-nice and type everything up in a book to give to the relatives as a thank you for their help, but that's your call.
-Marguerite St. Just