How to handle estranged father's funeral?
July 31, 2012 6:35 PM Subscribe
My estranged father passed away last Sunday. I've decided to attend the funeral. Please help me conduct myself with something resembling grace. Overly complex snowflakey stuff inside.
posted by Ephelump Jockey to human relations (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My father left our family when I was three days old. He was an alcoholic, abusive, and manipulative. He had little sense of empathy for others and even less accountability to anyone. Last summer, he found me on facebook in a bid to establish contact. I went ahead and played along because regardless of the immense hatred I have for the man, I needed my curiosity sated. I figured the worst thing that could happen is that I'd find out he was the piece of shit I'd always assumed him to be. Short answer, I was right. He spent two hours blaming others (my mother, my grandmother, so on and so forth) and then after the fact he had the audacity to tell me he loved me. I'd never spoken to him in my life and the emotional tone-deafness of that move is still mindboggling to me. The one benefit I can say I got from speaking with him was the chance to get in contact with a couple of half brothers I have. One is a huge mess (like multiple psych ward admitions) and the other is successful but has made a point of distancing himself from the whole family.
My father passed away on Sunday. One of my aunts on his side contacted me to let me know. I've never spoken to her or anyone else on his side. She was very kind about the whole thing and cognizant of the fact that I might not want to go. I spent a few hours thinking it over and decided I would. After all, I may not get an opportunity to meet all of these family members again. I would also like to gain some perspective on my father from points of view that have biases unrelated to mine or my family's.
I fly out tomorrow and I am positively in shambles. I'm finding myself grieving for someone that I have spent my whole life hating or otherwise tucking away in a dark corner of my thoughts. I'm at a total loss how to comport myself with his side of the family. I don't know how to be there and not say terrible, hurtful things about him. I don't even have a suit for crying out loud. I am set on going. I think it's the right thing to do. But how do I deal with the family? How do I compose myself and act like a respectful human being around them? I don't want to offend them. This is the first truly significant death in my adult life and it's thrown me for a major loop. What can I do to make this go just a little easier? I know this is all very vague and I'm sorry for that. I just need to know how to not turn this into a trainwreck.