Do I go or do I blow (it off)
January 29, 2008 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Family (blood) question. I have an elderly aunt (mothers sister) who is about to die (90+ years old). I do NOT like my two sisters

A few years ago I seperated from my wife (too long story). They were very supportive. Wife and I got back together (another long story). I went down ( I live 75 miles away) for Christmas with the family without wife (they thought we were well on the way to divorce) and they found out we were back together (never trust a brother in law) and flat told me,'she is not welcome here'. I left and have not returned or talked to either. Aunt was caught in the middle, in a nursing home, with them between. The remaining brother in law and I still talk (we worked together), so he keeps me up to date on aunt.

Question: should I attend her funeral (for the living, right) or merrilly go on my way (somewhat sadly). Am i being an asshole?

Thanks mefites....
posted by raildr to Human Relations (15 answers total)
Well, funerals being for the living--how will YOU feel if you don't go?
posted by padraigin at 10:41 PM on January 29, 2008

Attend all funerals. It is about the living--your feelings about the dead and no one else.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:42 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you want to go?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:43 PM on January 29, 2008


Say your farewells, be cordial with everyone, catch up on their latest news - and take your leave promptly. You will have reconnected, you will rest your soul of nagging guilt for not attending the funeral and who knows, perhaps some of the dislike may be lessened.

I am not suggesting that this one act will erase a lifetime of frustration and hurt - but from reading your post I see that many people in the story are getting on in years, and isn't it time to lessen some of the resentments. Again, no miracles - but you may find that this small act (and do keep it short) opens the door to more open doors, to more short visits and more random pleasantness.

Cutting yourself off completely - particularly at the eve of one person's passing - only isolates you and does not help any of the overall situation.
posted by seawallrunner at 11:03 PM on January 29, 2008

Yes, attend the funeral. With your wife.
posted by parmanparman at 11:03 PM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]

Go to the funeral if you want to. You seem to care about and respect your aunt and will probably want the closure. To hell with your stupid sisters. It's not about them. If they give you problems, quietly and sternly address them with "This is actually a very poor time to discuss any issues you have with me and my wife. I'm here to pay my respects to Aunt Raildr, I hope you'll allow me that" and just walk away.
posted by jerseygirl at 11:03 PM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

If your sisters are determined to start a fight, then your not attending the funeral will be a final gift to your aunt, who has lived a long life and has seen many squabbles in her day. She had many dreams and hopes for her life, and like most of us, in an idle moment, she probably imagined her own funeral. She imagined the eulogies her dearest friends and family would write for her. She most certainly did not stick around for ninety years in the hope that her funeral would provide an excellent battleground for you and your sisters.

The gravestone will always be there. If you don't feel comfortable being present at the funeral, consider giving a perpetual gift of some sort.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:16 PM on January 29, 2008

What jerseygirl said.
posted by ceri richard at 4:12 AM on January 30, 2008

Oy, why do weddings and funerals bring out the worst in people?

I think you want to go. I think you should go. Most funerals have a social time either before, after, or both before and after, the actual service. If you're loathe to talk to everyone, go to the service only and skip the social part. If there's a separate grave-side/burial portion, consider going to that only. Graveside services tend to be much more solemn (less prone to chattiness), and you can walk directly to your car when it's over, rather that sticking around to talk to others.

As freshwater says above, you can always visit her grave later and spend more time if you want or need to do that.

I'm sorry for your (impending) loss.
posted by Flakypastry at 6:34 AM on January 30, 2008

I'm so sorry. I've recently been through a funeral and subsequent related family drama, so I sympathize. But I agree with those who say that you should not let these women keep you from attending the funeral if that is your wish. flakypastry is right that the graveside service will typically be very non-social (meaning minimal opportunity for interaction with bitchy sisters), so if you prefer to avoid any confrontation, that's your best bet.

Besides, as long as you deflect any of their inappropriate behavior in a way that is appropriate and respectful of other attendees (i.e., don't let them bait you, don't stoop to their level, don't cause a scene) then no, you are not being an asshole. Not at all.

And (not knowing anything else about the situation), I'll also say that it's possible one or more of them could take this opportunity to make amends. Just because as much as funerals bring out the worst in people, they can also bring out the best.
posted by somanyamys at 6:55 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think whichever one you choose is okay, as long as you feel comfortable with the choice.

You can pay your respects to your aunt at a time other than the time that your family sets up for the funeral. If you want to see her at the funeral home, then consider making arrangements with the home directly to be able to spend a little time alone with her. They would probably be understanding if you explained that it's a touchy family situation.

However, you have every right to attend at the same time as everyone else, and every right to put your sisters firmly back in line if they try to make a spectacle.
posted by KAS at 7:02 AM on January 30, 2008

If any of us were at the funeral with you, we would stand with you, walk around with you greeting others and do whatever we could to help you and your wife feel comfortable in this unfortunate situation. Maybe you have an ally or two like that in the family and can phone them the day before the funeral and have a chat.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:07 AM on January 30, 2008

Is there any possibility of visiting your aunt now? I don't know if the circumstances allow it, but if you are able to see her and say goodbye at a time when no one, or only a neutral family member is there, then perhaps you'll have an easier time deciding how to handle the sticky family situation of the funeral.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:25 AM on January 30, 2008

I would do whatever you need to do to feel closure about and feel like you've appreciated your aunt. For me, this would mean going to the funeral. Take your sisters entirely out of the picture. I have been to funerals where I had to avoid contact with certain close family members, and it's definitely do-able.
posted by !Jim at 3:10 PM on January 30, 2008

I think you're being an asshole. Here's why.

Your sisters supported you throughout your separation, meaning you told them every mean thing your wife ever did to you. Your perspective was warped because you were hurt, and scared and angry and you weren't remembering the good and tender times you had with your wife. Your sisters love you and when you are hurt, they hurt.

When you got back together with your wife, they couldn't understand it. They didn't like your wife because they had heard so much about how awful she was and how unfair she had been to you. They didn't want her around at Christmas, because they were so angry at her and they didn't consider her part of the family--instead, they considered her a threat to your (and your family's) happiness. This was not the best way to react to the news that you and your wife had reconciled, and I'm sure you would have appreciated their support. In their defense, they were very surprised; at Christmas, everyone is a bit dramatic about family; and you never gave them a chance to soften their stance a little and welcome her back.

Instead, you promptly stopped speaking to them, compounding their hurt and confusion. Why would you stop speaking to them, your loving and supportive sisters, unless she had somehow manipulated you or abused you in some way? Or, perhaps they felt used and discarded--what a blow to realize that your brother could so easily cut you out of his life completely.

Go to the funeral alone. Use this as an occasion to apologize to your sisters, hope that they apologize (but don't require it) and maybe have lunch and catch up. Ask them about their children, and send them a small gift in a week or two.

A generally kind and supportive family is far too valuable to discard over one fight. Give them the same chance you gave your wife.

Good luck.
posted by sondrialiac at 7:41 AM on January 31, 2008

« Older Though-provoking sci-fi?   |   Sounds like a job for Monica Gellar... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.