How do you politely tell an ex that they are invited to your parent's visitation, but not the funeral?
December 19, 2007 6:01 AM   Subscribe

How do you politely tell an ex that they are invited to your parent's visitation, but not the funeral?

I've often heard that that funerals are for the living and not the dead, but I would like AskMeFi's advice on how to gracefully invite an ex to the visitation/wake of a parent but not the funeral. We parted ways several years ago and soon afterwards one of my parents was diagnosed with a terminal illness. My ex was upset and I assured him/her that I would keep them updated as things progressed. After not hearing from me for several months, my ex assumed that one of my parents had passed away and posted in a public forum, my parent's name, Rest in Peace, along with some other things that deeply hurt me and other members of the family.

I want to recognize his/her need to grieve via the visitation, but want to avoid the drama of having him/her present at the funeral as it would make several family members uncomfortable. Any thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
Were the things he posted a matter of him sticking his foot in his mouth or were they deliberately cruel? If the funeral is in a church/temple/synagogue he has every right to be there. Is he capable of apologizing for the things he posted?
posted by brujita at 6:20 AM on December 19, 2007

Just say that what you said in the bottom paragraph - "Ex, I appreciate your concern and grief over the loss of my parent. However, he/she was *my* parent, and there are some family members who just don't get why you felt the need to share private/inaccurate information about my parent with others. Just as I'm trying to respect your need to process your feelings, please respect my need to do the same, privately, without taking care of anyone else. This is a very rough time for me, and I need to clear a path for my own grieving. If you come to the funeral, it may create a situation in which I worry about you and my family, and that's just not what I'm there to do. We can go to lunch/dinner/whatever once I've gotten past some of the immediate pain I'm feeling, and I'll tell you how it went. Thanks again for caring so much."
posted by pomegranate at 6:41 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wakes/funerals aren't really events requiring an invitation. They're pretty much open to the public.

But what you could do is talk to the funeral director and ask them to keep an eye out for this person, and head them off if they show up. The funeral director's job (or his/her assistants) is to make the bereaved feel comfortable. So take advantage of that.

Another option would be to enlist the help of a cousin, uncle or friend who can stand out in the lobby and ask this person not to come in. You know all those people who ask "What can I do?" at times like this? Put them to work on this, especially if they have decent people skills.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:43 AM on December 19, 2007

The least awkward/embarassing way would be to not extend an invitation to either, but that's just me.
posted by chips ahoy at 6:52 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm with chips ahoy. I really don't see why you would offer an invitation to either event. But, that's just how I'm wired.

If you must invite him/her, then I second pomegranate. Be clear and concise. Don't mince your words. "You are welcome to come to the wake, if you want, but because of what happened, you are not welcome to the funeral."
posted by milarepa at 6:58 AM on December 19, 2007

If it were me, I wouldn't extend and invitation to either as well.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 6:59 AM on December 19, 2007

AN invitation
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 6:59 AM on December 19, 2007

Not only would I not extend an invitation to either, I would specifically ask that this person NOT attend either. But, as the others have said before me, that is just the way I am wired.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:25 AM on December 19, 2007

My cousin who runs a funeral home says that SuperSquirrel is on track. He has had to do this more than once and he says it's pretty common and the staff should be capable of handling it. If they seem to find it an odd request, enlist a family member/close friend, who can even be counted on to stay behind to make sure the Ex does not follow from viewing to funeral. If you, yourself, feel up to it, approaching the person at the viewing (or prior to it) and saying "Thank you, but please, we're trying to keep the services small and limited to immediate family members." would be appropriate.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:35 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Invitations are not general extended for funerals or visitations. They are considered to be open to the public.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:03 AM on December 19, 2007

Invitations are not general extended for funerals or visitations. They are considered to be open to the public.

In line with that, you usually see an announcement in the newspaper obituary section. Anyone who sees the announcement who has an interest may attend.
posted by Robert Angelo at 9:09 AM on December 19, 2007

The announcement in the newspaper does not have to go out before the funeral. If it is posted after the fact, it just doesn't mention the time and location of the service.
posted by onhazier at 10:08 AM on December 19, 2007

You can't dance around a fact of this magnitude. It's a favor for you to invite this person to the visitation, and they should know it. It's also a favor for you to warn them that if they come to the funeral they won't be welcome. You should make it clear:

"I know that a lot of people are still stinging from what happened a few years ago, so it probably wouldn't be a good idea to come to the funeral, but I think it would've meant something to X if you'd come to the visitation."
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 AM on December 19, 2007

Also, either extend an invitation or tell them not to come, but don't simply neglect to say anything to your ex. That's passive-aggressive, and it's just begging for something bad to happen. You have to face up to it and make sure it's going to work out right.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 AM on December 19, 2007

How do you politely tell an ex that they are invited to your parent's visitation, but not the funeral?

"Hi Ex,

Just to let you know, my parents funeral is on $day at $place. If you'd like to come to the visitation, you're welcome. But we've/I've decided to make the actual funeral itself family only.

Let me know what you're doing,

posted by Solomon at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

That invitations are not typical and anyone may usually attend is immaterial -- the OP is looking for advice on how to politely keep someone from attending.

I agree with pomegranate -- if you have a fairly open line of communication with the ex, ask them not to come to the funeral

How long were you with them? I.e. how well did they know your parents?

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:37 AM on December 19, 2007

solomon nailed it. i wouldn't even mention that "i decided" it was family-only, though. i'd just say "thanks for your concern about my parent during his/her final months. the burial will be private, but the public visitation on xx/yy, if you'd like to come." they'll get it. if they show up at the cemetary, be polite cool, and ignore where possible.

also, alert the family members with whom this person has friction that if they see this person, to do likewise, and that it is more important for you that the day go smoothly than to remove this person from your presence.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:51 AM on December 19, 2007

You can also request the newspaper to simply print it as "the funeral service will be private" and any callers asking for the date and time will not be told. You can tell whoever you like.

It may not work for your family, but when a certain member of my family dies (someday in the far future, I hope), I'm hiring a guard. (Yes, it's really that bad.)
posted by IndigoRain at 1:11 PM on December 19, 2007

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