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DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Have you ever not attended the funeral of someone you loved dearly?

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11271points) December 15th, 2009

I just got word this afternoon that my favorite aunt died after a long bout with cancer. I had visited her earlier this year and put her on a regime that was shrinking her tumors naturally…and she was doing really well. I spent about four months with her and my family before coming home.

When I got back to the UK, she took a turn for the worse….mostly because some of my relatives insisted that she do chemo, when she wanted to rely on natural remedies. As soon as she started chemo, she went downhill. It was very sad and upsetting. At the end, she was pumped up with morphine and in and out of consciousness.
I am gutted. I have been crying all afternoon. This woman was like my second mother. She never married and had children, but she took care of all her siblings children (me included.) She was in her late 80’s.

I don’t want to go to her funeral. She won’t be at the funeral anyway…as she is wherever I am or I am wherever she is now.

I know that my relatives will think I am being rude and nothing could be further from the truth. I love her so much, but I just want to grieve and pay respects to her on my own and funerals are so political in my family. I can see the vultures circling her house already. Everyone will be there only to see who else went, who sent flowers and who was absent and the gossip-mongers are always ready to go in my old hometown.

I am heart-broken, believe me. That’s not it. Before I left, she insisted on taking out her boxes of vintage costume jewelry from the 1940’s. We spent hours poring though things as she told stories and telling me to: “Take what you want….no one else will appreciate this stuff..and after I’m gone, people will just toss it in the trash.” Even as I write this..I’m she must have known it would be our last meeting.

I just want to remember her laughing and sharing and just being goofy with me. I feel I don’t need to go to the funeral to “pay my last respects” because she isn’t there in that box. She is in my heart.

Have you ever decided not to attend the funeral of someone you loved very much? What made you do it? What did you do instead?

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33 Answers

rangerr's avatar

One of my good friends died last year Yeah, I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Our town seems to be a death trap and I went to his viewing, but not the funeral. Partly because I was in no shape to drive, but partly because I had been to 4 funerals within a two month span and couldn’t handle another one.
Instead, I slept. All day. Not very well, but I slept.

Don’t worry about not going. That’s your choice and what they think is irrelevant. You can grieve as you wish.
Stay strong. ::hug::

Dr_Dredd's avatar

My grandmother died last year while I was away at a meeting. The meeting was about 6000 miles away from the funeral. My parents didn’t even let me know that she had died until I got home, at which point I had already missed the funeral.

I guess they meant well and didn’t want me to miss a professional opportunity, but I resent not even being given the option.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I also want to say….how amazingly grateful I am…that the Fluther is here….especially today….‘cause I am on the other side of the world from home.

@ranger…..thank you….so much!
@Dr Dredd….that must have been really hard for you….:(

butterflykisses's avatar

I stopped going to funerals. I can feel your pain and I am so sorry for your loss. I too lost my Gram to cancer and it was an awful thing. I did not go to her funeral. I couldn’t. Seeing her sick was enough. I didn’t want the memory of what she looked like dead. I love her so much. I took care of her in her final days.

Your family doesn’t understand, and you know what, they don’t have to. How you deal with this is your right and your business. How you remember her is your choice and no one has the right to force the images into your head. It is that simple.

I will never attend another funeral. EVER. It is not because I want to be disrespectful, it is because I am being respectful of the memories I have of the ones I love. You only have those memories, I have momeries of my past loved ones over shadowed by the memory of their death mask. I hate it. Never again.

don’t feel badly for how you want to remember her. Feel proud that you recognize how you feel and what you want. Your Aunt would be too.

Again I am sorry for your loss.

Stargater's avatar

Yes my Grandmothers, I had had a row with my Mother ( nothing unusual there) and we had not spoken for months.
When i finally swallowed my pride (once again) and rang her she imformed that my dear GG had passed away and had been buried two months before!
And not one family member had dared go against her and tell me.
I was totally gutted because this was not the first time this had happened she did the same with my Great Grandmother too.
But i do know that my gandmothers would have understood and would still carry their love for me wherever their soul took flight to so i have the solace in that aspect.

Macaulay's avatar

Strange enough, my homeless oogle friend, Alex, this depressed Coheed girl, Jess, and I discussed this situation: What one would do if someone committed suicide and left a note claiming that they died because of unrequitted love from us, towards them.
Their relatives would surely blame us for their death, but we’d be heartless to not attend.
Well, in short, Jess killed herself due to “Alex’s unrequited love.” Alex and I bailed out on the poor girl’s funeral and instead decided to hop on a bus to SLC.

missingbite's avatar

Sorry to hear about your loss. To answer your question, no. I have always gone to the funeral. The reason is because I know that years from now, I would regret not going. I know this sounds selfish and in a way it is. The funeral is for you and loved ones to grieve in your own way. Mine is to pay respect by going to the funeral.

Good luck.

CaptainHarley's avatar

At my age ( 66 ), you begin to realize that you are, or soon will be, in your family’s oldest generation. I have buried all my grandparents, my father, and a considerable number of other relatives and friends. I always attend the funerals when I can, as a last gesture of respect.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I’m sorry about your loss.My heart goes out to you.
My dad died a few months ago and I almost didn’t attend the funeral due to problems I’ve had with his wife.I went to the funeral.I had to see him off.He would’ve wanted me to be tough.He taught me to be that way.And so I was:(

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I missed my grandfathers funeral because my wife had some crazy intuition that we were going to crash and die on the way (2 states away) ..

In retrospect .. I couldn’t be more regretful for not having gone.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Good for you! We should never allow others to determine our course of action where loved ones are concerned.

druebeall's avatar

Yes, The Lord came on July 12th and took my MOther Home with Him. It was a shock. You seem to realize things that you maybe took for granted before. I always idolized my Mother. I remeber when I was a kid saying to her “How did you know that?” and she would say ” I am your MOther and I know everything” and she did. We went to the mountains once and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and my Mother said “Drue go to bed now, you’ll want to get up early and play in the snow” my Dad told her “Audrey, don’t tell her that, there isn’t even a cloud outside”. In the middle of the night she woke me and my Dad up to the snow coming down like gangbusters.
When I was sick she would give me a bell to ring. Her and my father met during WW2 and after just 3 weeks were married and were till death do they part for 64 years. My Dad treated her like a Queen and also misses her dearly. The hardest part was calling everyone. There were so many. 385 people came from near and far to be there. She was an icon and it made me feel good to see that she was so dearly loved by so many. I remember while on the phone with my relatives back east the Lord said to me ” your Mother is with me”. That is when I went from sad to glad. Knowing that she is exactly where she is supposed to be turned a frown upside down : )

majorrich's avatar

I have had several, but cannot talk about them. I get too leaky.

sjmc1989's avatar

I did not go to my grandfather’s funeral. Ever since I went to my grandma’s (his wife) funeral I can’t bring myself to attend another funeral. They don’t help me at all. Like you I want to remember them for the laughing, beautiful, and often times crazy people they were. My grandmother who I loved very much died of Alzheimer’s she had gotten to the point where she just did not eat. When I looked at her in the casket I lost it. The frail woman I looked at was not my grandma that I knew, and now thats the image I have in my mind of her. Before I decided not to go to my grandfathers funeral I asked my father if it would offend him that I did not go or if he needed/wanted my support. He said that I could do what I felt was right for me and I probably will not attend very many funerals throughout my life. They don’t help me and I cry way too uncontrollably to do it in public. So with that said you too need to do what you feel is right not what you feel is expected of you.

fireinthepriory's avatar

I went to my fathers’ funeral, but I wasn’t really given a choice. I don’t even remember it all that well, I was 11 at the time. I think it was good, though. It gave me closure that yes, this had happened and was final (important at 11 – same for my brother who was 7 and sister who was 4), plus it was a comfort to see so many people come to the funeral. It meant they had loved him. It was a much bigger comfort than the wake, which seemed far more depressing and horrible.

I continued to go to the church where his funeral was held till I went away to college. It was uncomfortable for a little while (I remember being afraid that the adults would think I was crying or sad, since they all knew my dad had died) but soon it became comforting, since he used to go there with us. I still go there on Christmas eve with my brothers, sisters and my mom, and honestly it’s nice to go somewhere where there are people who knew him. It helps me to remember him.

Jack79's avatar

When I was at university, a couple of us were invited over to our professor’s house for his 40th birthday on a Saturday. He died the same night and we found out on Monday. I was too shocked to go to his funeral. The guy meant a lot to me, and dying so young really got to me.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Jack79: Did he look ill at the party, or was it a sudden death?

That’s so sad!

Jeruba's avatar

When I knew my grandmother was nearing the end, at 95 and after numerous surgeries, I also knew I could afford only one trip from California into eastern Canada. I elected to spend it while she was alive. I went to visit her one last time, to see her and hold her hand and hear her reminisce about my late father and grandfather and the “old days” she loved to talk about.

When she died a few months later, I left the funeral to my siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles. I was more than satisfied with my decision.

kruger_d's avatar

If you feel no personal need to be there and no desire or ability to support her family and friends, don’t go. Commemorate the day in your own way. Take off work, go for a walk somewhere quiet, bake one of her recipes, get a favorite photo of the her or both of you framed, or frame a piece of her jewelry.

Dr_C's avatar

My father’s funeral. He left us when I was 16.. I only spoke to him 3 times after that (1996). In 2005 an aunt i hadn’t seen in about 14 years came to my house when I was by myself… It was July 10th 2005, she told me my father had died because of a brain tumor on June 10th 2005. I was never given the chance to go to his funeral. One week later I flew to the last place I spent any significant time with my father and said my own goodbye atop the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Funerals are for the living, and not the deceased. I would manage the family expectations by sending flowers and writing something personal about about your aunt for a sibling or cousin to read it at the funeral. What you said about spending time with her the last time you were home is quite touching, and bespoke of the quality of your relationship. Very often the biggest wailers at funerals are the ones that did not spend time with the deceased while the person was still alive.

The bottom line is, she knew how you felt about her. By living abroad, you are missing her whether she’s alive or dead. You may not be able to generate new memories of time with her, but the memories you have have no regrets attached to them.

JLeslie's avatar

I have not read the above, sorry if I repeat anything said already.

Yes, both my husband and I have missed funerals of people we love. After reading your question I think you should feel no guilt about not going. How wonderful that you were with her for months at the beginning of the year. I think being with a loved one while they are still here is so much more important than at the funeral.

The funeral is for mourners, for closure, not out of respect for the departed. It is a ritual to help us accept the passing of someone, and also for us to be there to support other mourners. Since there will still be several people at the funeral to help each other through a difficult day, I think you should feel peace with your decision, you have had a long time to deal with her illness, and it seems quite obvious you accept she is gone.

Not to mention it is logistically more difficult for you being in a different country.

Sorry for your loss.

Jack79's avatar

@Dr_Dredd no, he was happy and laughing, died of a sudden heart attack in his sleep. I guess as far as deaths go, it’s a good way to go. But it was still a shock. He was not overweight or anything, but he did work far too much (I used to tell him to slow down) because the university was understaffed. I think he also smoked, though I’m not sure anymore.

Jude's avatar

This is a tough one. Ten years ago, I came out to my family (it was not by choice mind you. I was outed). I come from a strict Catholic family and the whole being gay thing didn’t go over well, especially, with my Mom. I was shunned by my immediate family right after I was outed. Right around this time, my 89 year old Grandma was sick in the hospital (renal failure). She was dying. I was able to visit her a few times in the hospital. I was alone, though. About a month after having been admitted to Chronic Care, she died. I found out through my sister that my Grandma had past away. I hadn’t seen my family in 3 months. I didn’t go to the funeral. I was told that it was best that didn’t. Sadly, all that I could do was drive by the cemetery and I got to see the funeral procession pulling in . I’m sure that no one saw me.

Growing up, my grandparents lived two doors down from us. Their place was like a second home for my siblings and I. My grandparents were also my Godparents and I were extremely close to them. So, you could imagine how hard it was for me not to be at her funeral.

JLeslie's avatar

@jmah How awful. Family can really suck. :(

Jude's avatar

@JLeslie The thing is, my Mom came around (accepted my lifestyle and had me back in her life) 4 months before we found out that she had Ovarian Cancer. She died 2½ months after that.

I was lucky to have made amends.

Only138's avatar

Yes, I was in Florida on vacation when I found out that my Uncle had passed away, and recently I could not get time off of work to travel to Virginia (from Michigan) to attend another Uncle’s funeral.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Jack79: Heart disease is often unpredictable. But I think I’d choose that way to go, if I had the choice. :-(

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I wrote a post yesterday….to thank everyone and with an update…but it isn’t on here anymore…what——?

Anyway, this question is now moot. She died on Tuesday, wake on Wednesday, funeral on Thursday. Even if I had wanted to go, there would not have been time to get there and there is also a huge airline strike in Britain.

I cannot thank you all enough…for the expressions of sympathy, support and for sharing your personal stories. I was so saddened by her death….when she was so full of life. So all your responses and sharing helped me so much as I am so far away from home.

Thank you, thank you thank you thank you!

Jude's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus I’m so sorry for your loss.

majorrich's avatar

Lurve for your loss.

Utta_J's avatar

I have because you know that in your heart that is not how you want your last image of them to be. ( in a coffin)

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