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Shippy's avatar

Why do we 'have to' attend Funerals?

Asked by Shippy (9857 points ) December 7th, 2012

Maybe this is a rant I don’t know. I hate funerals, and I know possibly we all do. However, some funerals are more complicated than others, consisting of bitter ex wives, ( a few) nosy family, and a few real friends thrown in. I am ‘done’ with sadness, tears and death. I have had too many over the last couple of years. However, I have been told I need to be there, to support my son. (As it’s his father). I do understand this. But has anyone had the same feeling? Do you feel forced to attend any function? because of obligation? How do you master the absolute anger at being forced if you do go? Clearly I need to do this before tomorrow.

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39 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I’m Italian. Obligation and guilt are the appetizers in the main course of life.

Seriously though, you go for the living, not the dead. If there is someone there you care about, you go to support them and out of respect for their loss.

But I suspect you know this.

jonsblond's avatar

You go for the people who are grieving because you love them. That’s how you get over the anger. Your son needs you. That’s why you go. It will be over and done with before you know it and then you can move on and be there for you son when he needs you.

JLeslie's avatar

You don’t have to. Why not ask your son how much it matters to him if you are there. He is an adult right? Is he married? My spouse’s support would probably matter to me most at the funeral. It’s nice to have family and friends around who have good memories also, but as long as there were a reasonable amount of people around me, I would not dwell too long on who didn’t show up.

However, if your son really wants you there, probably better to go.

Is the funeral where you live now? Or, you would have to travel?

I rarely feel forced. But, I have a very small family. My family generally does not dwell on obligations of this sort. Each individual does the best they can and hopefully people are understanding.

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie I have asked him, and he said I was to be there, he needs me. I do understand that. I guess it’s just been too many deaths at once, and I am going into some sort of anger phase. He does have a fiance, who is amazing. But I guess no one can replace a mother.

I wouldnt mind so much but already all the ex wives and wives are fighting. I even had one leave a message on my phone swearing and going bonkers. I just feel that was his life, these were not my choices. As in I didnt choose these people. But I shall go, blood pressure sky high!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy What is the biggest reason you don’t want to go? Your own sadness over his death (and the other many losses recently) or the drama?

Fiance isn’t the same unless they have been together for many years. The day I became engaged my fiances car was stolen. He called his sister first. He was accustomed to going to her, they lived a few houses apart. They were closer than we were. Now I would be his first call. I don’t know how old your son is, but it is a process that takes a while separating emotionally more and more from parents as we get older.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Shippy Jesus what a fucking mess. But, are you going or not going for him, or are for the circus around him?

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie To be honest, out of all the deaths, this has hit me the hardest. It was sudden and he was like our hero. He was someone I expected to be around for my life time at least. I am scared that I sob like a wild woman first of all. I also feel as though my life has been trailed with sadness, and I think that is why I am so angry right now. I want to shut the door on sadness. I also am dreading how the other wives behave, they are all young, they all have already been asking what is in the Will. This is what my son is battling with if I think about it. Since they have been phoning him. I don’t want to seem to be siding with anyone and I know some will latch onto me. One ex wife, was told the incorrect date, so then said she will be gatecrashing the funeral. So to answer your question its all of it. Plus I am feeling the absolute loss my son is feeling, its like a double edged pain. He relied on his father for everything.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Shippy He needs a lifeline and he asking for your help. He’s baffled I’m guessing by what’s going on and he’s reaching out to you. Two reasons we go to funerals: To help the living, and for our own closure. Sounds like both can come into play on this on. Just remember one thing: People don’t get under our skin. We let them get under our skin. Don’t let the other parties involved in this getting under your skin.

Shippy's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes true, he probably is feeling the same way I am right now.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Be there for each other. Screw the other asses and ignore them.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy I identify. I am a total mess at funerals. Well, graveside is when I just lose it. In my religion they lower the body and then throw dirt on the coffin and it is extremely difficult for me. Extremely. Burials take place within 24–72 hours of death usually, so there is no time to get it together.

I agree you have to ignore the other idiots causing drama. Be prepared to calmly say, “today I just want to focus on my son’s loss and my own, all the other details we can sort out another day.” Something to thay effect. Just shut down any crazy conversation or drama. Do you have a close girlfriend who can maybe go with you?

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie My sons fiance is probably a person I will stick close to. She is mature and very uplifting. Quite proud of my son in his choice of partner. I must say, considering all this, and all these ex wives. :)

Shippy's avatar

@JLeslie She is older than some of his stepmothers.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Shippy Good for you, that says a lot about how well you raised him. You three rally together and lean on each other.

JLeslie's avatar

@Shippy Good. If you can, confide in her that you think you might need help shutting down any conversations the other wives might start up that are upsetting. Empower her to run interferance if you feel it will help.

I understand the pain of seeing your son in pain. I’m not a parent, but every parent I know describes it as being worse then anything they can go through themselves whether it be physical or emotional. Many times it is harder to watch our loved ones goes through something difficult.

Judi's avatar

I have been to a lot of funerals. I have never been to one I didn’t want to attend.
This may sound strange, but I love going to some funerals. Many tend to be celebrations of life with laughter and remembering the good times. When a funeral is a celebration of a life well lived it can be a magic joyful time.
I hope that my funeral (Probably a memorial not a funeral, no need for my carcass to be laying around) will be full of song, laughter and funny stories. I know that’s the way my Mom’s was, and If I can die with half as much grace and dignity as she did, then my family will have cause to celebrate.
Not trying to discount the pain and drama you are experiencing @Shippy, just answering the question in general.

Shippy's avatar

@Judi Yes! I have too, and have been uplifted so much afterwards. It is always a celebration of their lives. (Or should be).

KNOWITALL's avatar

@cookieman I completely agree with your sentiments completely.

As a matter of fact, I just discussed this with my husband last night. My great-aunt died, and visitation is tonight, then the funeral is tomorrow, he thinks we should only have to go to one. I told him since we are very close with my cousins and hang out with them for poker night and major holidays, we were emotionally obligated to go to both. So who knows, I may fly solo tonight.

Shippy's avatar

@KNOWITALL My sympathies to you and hugs.

burntbonez's avatar

Funerals are about grief. You have to trust the process. Having a chance to gather with other people in the deceased life will help you process some of your feelings. At the very least, you will share some. You may have conflicts and side issues, but that’s family, and funerals help you remember family, no matter how dysfunctional, is still there, whether you want them to be or not. Often, this helps. Occasionally, it doesn’t.

gailcalled's avatar

Can you go to the service, if there is one, and skip the cemetery? During a service, there is very little time for chit-chat if you arrive just before the service starts and leave soon after it is over.

Shippy's avatar

@gailcalled Yes, I have decided to attend the actual service, I am still thinking on the actual burial site. I am certainly not attending the snacks afterwards. So excellent point. @burntbonez Thanks for your input, but this is not my family.

burntbonez's avatar

Oh. I’m confused. I thought you said this was your son’s father. How can a son not be family? Or, for that matter, a man you created a son with?

gailcalled's avatar

@Shippy: Can you have a private debriefing and listening time with your son when the official events are over? Perhaps, tea or a meal?

If you do part of the official ritual with him and then spend some private time with him, you are offering a good compromise that offers him support and yet takes care of your needs.

Shippy's avatar

@gailcalled Good idea. I’m not sure how to do that, as I am unsure of the arrangements, but if this is an opportunity it is a great way to as you say ‘debrief’ him. Which no doubt he will need. From me, his only real family left. Thank you.

zensky's avatar

I hate weddings, too. Maybe we shouldn’t attend anything and leave couples alone at the alter, grieving families forsaken at the gravesite.

Shippy's avatar

@zensky Let’s not forget I am grieving too. I’d quite happily stay at home with my grief.

ucme's avatar

Agreed, never heard anyone claim they’re “dying” to attend.

janbb's avatar

Be very clear in your own mind about why you are there and what you expect to get out of it. You are going to support your son and it is a choice you are making. Set boundaries for yourself about how much participation you want to have; maybe you will not go back to the house or to the funeral meal if you do not feel you can. Maybe set up a little bit of time just to be with your son and let him grieve with you.

I am traveling to a wedding with my Ex in England next year and I had to make a similar decision. I decided I wanted to go for my in-laws and also mainly because both of my sons will be there. There will be some pain but also some pleasure. Excluding myself would have hurt more.

“If I am not for myself, who am I? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” – Hillel

rojo's avatar

I used to get all bent about attending funerals but I notice that the closer I get to my own, the less they bother me. I go now not for the dead but for those left behind.

Sunny2's avatar

You do not have to. See your question on difficulties with saying no.

mazingerz88's avatar

Because someone died. : )

Gabby101's avatar

I attend funerals as a way to show respect for those that have passed and for their families. Both my parents are gone and so to represent them and my family, I attend funerals (and such) that I wouldn’t have in the past. I also do so because I want to thank those that supported my family when my parents died. Yes, I had to deal with boredom, nosy people and sometimes awkwardness, but you get back what you give.

That being said, when my brother was married to a crazy lady, I went out of my way to avoid her because she would manage to make a scene wherever she went (she once charged into a church brunch I went to with my Mom and started yelling at me about calling my niece fat (I didn’t). When I sell yelling, I mean yelling. Everyone one in the room stopped what they were doing until she finished yelling and left. Crazy!) If they were still married and I was forced to attend something with her, I’m not sure what I would do. I agree with others who say ask your son if he needs you. He might prefer you don’t come if he knows it will cause tension.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I go either because I want to support the grieving person or because I loved and cared for the person who passed away.
Nothing bothers me more then when someone can’t let shit go for a few hours in one day. This happened to my uncle who is divorced and he lost his son his new wife got upset at my cousins mother the ex wife at the funeral..wrong time to totally be selfish. that’s just my thought from experience.

You know don’t feel obligated to go but don’t regret it if you don’t.

Bellatrix's avatar

You don’t ‘have’ to do anything. You can always say “No I won’t be there”. The question is can you live with that decision comfortably and who will you hurt if you do that?

Certainly funerals, weddings and those traditional family occasions bring together family members we might rather not see – but it is also a time to pay respects to the one who has gone and their (and our) remaining loved ones. It is a time to be the bigger person and not bring out those old and often silly animosities.

Shippy's avatar

It was a lovely yet tiring day. It lasted most of the day. I am glad I went. Oddly three wives comforted each other. One wife was banned from the graveside. My son and his siblings really needed our support. They did us, the mothers proud. Thank you all for your input on this. I hope there are no more funerals for a while. A long, long while. :)
I just need a break from sadness

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Shippy Good for you. Hang in there.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@Shippy I’m glad you went, I’m sorry for the circumstances though. I’m also glad everyone was adult enough to put their differences aside and support eachother in such a time. I’m glad you will no longer wonder or live with regret. big hugs.

cookieman's avatar

A toast then, “to a break from sadness”. salut

I’m glad it worked out @Shippy. Cheers to you.

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