- Jun 2003
Hello: I was delighted to discover that you
had published my submission Funeral0201-03, however, I need to bring
another bit of irony to your attention. The typo in my mother's
obituary read Bacelor's Degree, sans the letter "h". I'm
assuming that you ran a spell correction to read as Bachelor's so the
point of the story got a little obscured. Just thought I would bring
it to your attention. Perhaps you could "incorrect" it
A few years ago a friend died in a car accident in the
fog. “Mary” was an absolutely delightful soul, a genuinely kind and
excellent person. Her funeral was standing room only, as many had loved
her. One of her parents was a minister, but for obvious reasons this
parent was not presiding over the funeral. For some reason they selected a
minister who didn't appear to have actually known Mary. He kept calling
her by a form of her name she never used. Anyway, he went on at some
length and brought up those she left behind, and used this as an
introduction to go into a 15-minute plug for the “Left Behind” novels.
I excused myself for a few minutes and when I came back he had segued into
using the fog as a metaphor for being lost in sin, disconnected from God,
and so on. I'm not a big fan of railing about sin and hell at funerals but
So he continued with his fog-wandering metaphor and then
said “So when Mary SMASHED INTO THAT TREE IN THE FOG it was like…”
raised voice and hand gesture included. The entire congregation did that
shift-and-mutter an audience does when it's uncomfortable. Everyone was
horrified. He actually said this at least two more times (SMASHED into
that tree in the fog…) before I got up and left for the remainder of his
sermon. I had to haul my best friend out, as she was about to become
We were in good company outside. At least 50 other
people had fled with us.
This minister was guilty of bad taste to the point of
cruelty. Mary deserved better.
On the way to the interment, we were rear-ended by a
person who was riding with brakes she knew didn’t work. Just to top off
a horrible experience.
I recently saw an obituary which read, in part:
"In lieu of flowers, monetary donations can be made to the
deceased's grandchildren." Then it listed their
names. What were these people thinking?!?!!
Perhaps it was something like: Gramps died and left the
grandkids out of his will. Send money.
I have a story for the funeral etiquette section. My
mom's family is not the most well-mannered family you'd ever come across,
but the way they behaved during my grandmother's illness and, ultimately,
funeral, beats all I have ever seen. My grandmother had many health
problems in the last few years, multiple hospital stays, etc. Finally, she
had a stroke and was in the hospital in a coma on life support.
Now, my grandmother had made her wishes very clear to
EVERYONE that she did not wish to be left on life support. Unfortunately,
she didn't have any legal document to that effect (I believe they're
called living wills?) so her 4 daughters (my mom and 3 aunts) had the
final say on that decision. My mom and one aunt wanted to take her off,
but the other two didn't, so she stayed on life support against her will.
Now, I understand those are tough times for family members, and they just
wanted to keep her with them (even against her wishes), but it gets worse.
These two are finally convinced after a while to take her off the support,
and she eventually passes.
Well, while she was in the hospital (for over two
weeks), my three aunts live at the hospital, leaving only to bathe once a
day. My mom, however, just got a new job and couldn't get that much time
off (one of my aunts doesn't work and the other two had their jobs for
years, so got extended leave). Plus, I have a (then) 13-year-old sister
who couldn't be left alone (my youngest cousin was 15 with a driver's
license). Therefore, she came to the hospital after work and left in the
evening to go home. My aunts blatantly told my mom she was wrong for not
living at the hospital. They also didn't like the fact that I left after a
week to go back to college (in my major, I would have had to sit out for a
year if I dropped out that semester, like one of my cousins did in order
to stay there).
SO, at the funeral, we're walking up the aisle in the
church to sit down, and my COUSIN is sitting in my mom's seat on the front
row! Drive to the cemetery, said cousin gets there first, and again takes
my mom's seat! My mom confronted this cousin's mother (her sister) about
this and my aunt actually defended her daughter's actions, saying that she
felt that since she had been at the hospital (and my mom hadn't) that she
felt she deserved to sit on the front row. They also insinuated that
because of my mother's past actions (she had done some pretty bad things)
that my cousin deserved to be there more than her. Now, I believe that it
doesn't matter what my mother had done in the past, the funeral was about
my GRANDMOTHER, not my mother, and my grandmother would have wanted all
her daughters on the front row. It's been around 10 months since the
funeral, and they still don't think they've done anything wrong. Everyone
I have told this story to has been horrified, and I still believe they
This story still shocks me. A dear aunt of mine died
after dealing with health problems for many years. I was unable to attend
her funeral, but in a way it was fortunate because I was spared the
boorish, insensitive behavior of some of those that did attend and whose
only reason for coming, it seems, was to loot. According to my
mother, certain people immediately went about ransacking through her
belongings without permission or regard for her surviving husband's or
They took family pictures (one of which was the only
known copy of her and her husband together taken many years ago). They
also helped themselves to several items of great sentimental value, such
as gifts that had been given to my aunt by her brothers and sisters
throughout the years. One item in particular was an antique fruit bowl
that my aunt had specifically wanted to go a sister, who had given it as a
gift to her years ago. It disappeared.
My mother was appalled, but was unable to stop the
vultures because she was too involved in dealing with the rest of her
distraught family. She suspects, based on the character and
reputations of some of these people, that many of the items
were actually resold for a profit at antique sales!
Instead of allowing the immediate family and my uncle to
have any say if and how my aunt's possessions were to
be distributed, these people (including distant in-laws) simply
helped themselves without any shame. As if this behavior
wasn't despicable enough, my mother later discovered that even my
aunt's garden hadn't escaped unscathed. These ghouls actually
had the gall to dig up my aunt's prized flowering bushes and take them as
well, leaving my uncle with a garden full of holes! Some
people have no shame or decency.
Story # 1: Funeral Etiquette
My fiancé's beloved grandfather had died, and family
and friends were gathered for the funeral mass. During one of the prayers,
I heard a cell phone go off in the row behind me. I instinctively glanced
behind me to see who the offending phone belonged to. I didn’t recognize
the lady taking her good sweet time to dig the phone out of her purse, but
there were a lot of people there I didn’t recognize. After 5 rings or
so, she finally managed to get the phone turned off. (At least she
didn’t answer it, right?) I didn’t think much of it. Sure, it was
rude, but people DO forget to turn the things off, so I was willing to
forgive. After the mass, I noticed the phone woman talking to my FMIL.
FMIL looked kind of upset, so I went over to see if she was okay. Phone
woman was walking away by the time I got there. It turned out that she was
a realtor who had appraised Grandpa’s house the year before, and she had
chosen THE FUNERAL as the appropriate time to try to get the grieving
family to list the house with her agency! All I can say is, it’s a good
thing she didn’t decide to follow the family to the burial. I can’t
say for sure I’d have been able to keep my temper in check. And no, the
family did NOT use her agency to sell the house.
My MIL is rather concerned with appearances, especially
weight. She greets my husband with comments such as "You'd be so
handsome if you lost weight." She once informed me "Oh, you have
a waist again." But the corker was at her older brother's wake.
Her brother John died following a long battle with cancer. A tall man, he
had wasted away during the last months of his illness. My MIL looked into
his casket and admiringly whispered to my SIL, "My, look how thin he
Hi Jeanne-- I absolutely love your site. Here's a horror
story for you. A few years ago my mother was bedridden and dying of
cancer. She was a very private person who tried to maintain her dignity to
the end. She had made it clear to my father that she didn't want anyone
but him and her nurse seeing her delirious, especially if she started to
lose control of bodily functions.
One night I was helping my father over there at the
house. Mom's sister, my aunt Sarah, had decided to fly with her son and
his wife a distance of several hundred miles so they could say their last
goodbyes to Mom. The problem was that Sarah didn't let my father know they
were coming. They just showed up and parked themselves in the living room,
expecting hospitality. Sarah demanded to see my mother, who was upstairs
in bed having a bad spell, and my father said he needed a little time (to
clean Mom up and hopefully get across to her that her sister was here to
visit). I got the guests something to drink, but there wasn't much in the
house in the way of food because Dad had been getting delivery a lot.
Sarah complained about what a bad host Dad was,
practically ignoring them like this. I offered to take them out to dinner
(and get them out of Dad's hair) but Sarah refused to leave. "I
haven't seen my sister in so long and I'm not leaving till I see
her." Well, Mom hadn't been in much of a condition to travel lately,
and Sarah never offered to visit her earlier in her illness. (During all
this the son and his wife just sat uncomfortably and kept their mouths
Finally Dad came down and said that they could go up and
see her, but Sarah refused, saying she was too old to climb those stairs--
she insisted that since she had come such a long way, my mother should
come down to meet her, and if she couldn't walk downstairs, my father
should carry her. Dad, who was pretty calm under the circumstances,
informed her that my mother wasn't coming down those stairs again alive,
and that that was how Mom wanted it. He offered to carry Sarah up the
stairs instead. Sarah was hugely offended by this suggestion and said,
"Well, never mind, if I can't see her tonight, then just show us
where we'll be sleeping so we can change and go to dinner."
Now Dad was starting to get upset-- Sarah already knew
that the one very small guest room in the house was UPSTAIRS, and besides
it was currently packed with medical equipment used by the day nurse, and
with his wife dying he didn't feel like dealing with houseguests anyway!
He didn't say all this, but offered to get them a hotel room nearby. This
was the last straw for Aunt Sarah, who, after expressing her high state of
insult that they would be shunted off like this, with hotels being so
EXPENSIVE around here (hello?! he offered to pay!), took her son and his
wife and *flew all the way back home* that very night.
Two days later my mother passed away, and the funeral
was the following week. Sarah did not attend, declaring to anyone who
would listen that it would be asking too much to have her spend the money
to fly up again so soon-- as if it hadn't been her choice. None of her
children or grandchildren attended either. Some time later, my father
invited everyone from my mom's family to his second wedding, as he was on
quite friendly terms with most of them. Aunt Sarah came and seemed to
enjoy herself. We later found out she was telling everyone how boorish it
was for my father to invite her-- forcing her to spend all that airfare
and hotel money (hello? in what way was she forced?)-- especially after he
WOULDN'T EVEN LET HER SEE HER DYING SISTER AND MADE HER MISS HER FUNERAL.
Nobody really listened, and nobody talks to her anymore except her own
descendants, which is sad. Thanks for listening...
I recently lost my big brother at the age of 34.
His death was unexpected, but not entirely unanticipated, but many people,
including family members, did not know how bad his health was before
he died. Anyway, after the shock of the funeral wore off and I
returned to my home in another state, it really hit me how many people
completely ignored the pain and grief of my sister and me. This was
much more true of those in my parents' generation than my brother's, but
you would be amazed at the number of people who came up to my sister or
me, gave us a hug, and said, "How terrible for your parents."
Yes, it was terrible for my parents, but it was also terrible for us.
Siblings are supposed to buck up and help out with arrangements, get
things for the parents and grandparents, and generally pretend that this
is not a devastating loss in their lives.
I was touched by one friend of the family, though -- she
had lost her son about 10 years before, and went on to tell me how
devastating she knew this was for me and how her daughters were available
for me to talk to if I needed them. It was very, very sweet.
When I returned to work, I was amazed by the number of
people who expected me not only to be "over" the death of my big
brother only weeks later, but also who asked probing questions about his
death and asked why an autopsy wasn't done...! I had no desire to
answer these questions, must less delve into the details about my family
[my brother was adopted, but his younger siblings -- my sister and I --
were not.] A grieving person will go into the details of the
death if they wish to, but if they don't seem to want to share, don't
Love the website, here's my submission:
A certain family member of mine (I'll refer to her as
Gretchen) has always been a little self-righteous and sometimes it's
downright hard to figure out what she was thinking, but this one blew me
away! But first a little background: her husband passed away a number of
years ago and she was absolutely devastated. A short while after,
Gretchen's self-righteous nature really began to show and I fell out of
touch with her. I found out that she later became involved with (and began
living with) the brother of her now deceased husband (the brother was also
widowed). This was strange to say the least, but we didn't begrudge her
for it because they both were happy.
However, both Gretchen and her new boyfriend (whom I'll
call Fred) were getting on in years and it was only a short time before
Fred was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. A short time ago, I
heard from my mother that Fred had passed away, a real surprise because
both of us are directly related to him and neither of us had been invited
to the funeral! We didn't even hear about this from Gretchen, it came from
another family member after the funeral. But that's not the
clincher...apparently, Fred had been in the hospital for about a week
before he died and Gretchen never bothered to contact his children to say
that their father was dying! It wasn't until after he passed away that she
called to inform them of the funeral. As I understand it, the funeral was
rather awkward because his children were understandably upset that they
didn't get to say goodbye to their father.
A couple of years ago, my husband’s grandmother passed
away after a long illness and the death of her husband a few months
earlier. The couple had both grown up and lived in the same small
town their whole lives, and were respected and well-loved members of the
community. My husband, his brother, and their male step-cousins and
step-cousins’ husbands/boyfriends (basically, all the men of their
generation in the family, all in their mid-to-late twenties) were asked to
It was a warm July day, but my husband put on his best
dark suit without a second thought. One of the pallbearers, my
husband’s uncle’s stepson (not a grandchild of the deceased), was not
at the church when everyone else had gathered. I was a little
worried that he might not show, and was trying to figure out a suitable
replacement just in case. Well, he did show up in time for the
funeral, but when I saw him I was speechless. He was wearing denim
shorts and a t-shirt for the state’s pro hockey team. To be a
PALLBEARER in an elderly woman’s funeral?
I understand that in this small Midwestern town (several
hours away from where my husband and I live) people may not dress quite as
formally as they would in a city, and may not have money for a suit, but
the other men were at least wearing slacks and a shirt and tie. This
guy looked like he was on his way to a barbeque. I think it was
incredibly disrespectful to the rest of the family, and my husband was
hurt that anyone, much less a family member, would dress that way for his
In 1996 I had a foster daughter living with me. Her
mother was very sick and known to be dying of cancer. I had spent several excruciating
visits at the hospital and the homes of several of her family members
while the family bid goodbye to her mother.
At about midnight one night the phone rings. My policy
is not to answer the phone that late, but the foster daughter was having a
sleepover and one of her friends picked up the phone. It is the older
half-brother. The mother had died previously that week, and the funeral is
scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00.
That day was one week after the girl's 17th birthday,
which had NOT been acknowledged by her family. She had planned to
celebrate by doing what teens are first allowed to do when they turn 17:
donate blood. We both had appointments for the following day.
I told her it was her choice. I would certainly take her
to the funeral, if she chose. We could reschedule the appointments. Blood,
after all, is needed just as much on Tuesdays as on Saturdays. She said
that her family hadn't bothered to tell her of her mother's death, that
the funeral notice was obviously an afterthought, and finished with the
quote, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."
Years ago, my roommate died after being hit by a
drunk driver. She was young and a had a few male friends. One of them,
whom we hadn't seen it probably six months, called and asked me for her
bed. I told him we had already given it to our third roommate.
He told me he wanted it for "sentimental reason". Needless to
say, I was so disgusted I couldn't say anything else.
I know you hear it all the time, but I LOVE your site! I
spend hours reading stories when I should be sleeping :-D
I recently attended the funeral of my great-uncle. Once
the gravesite service was done, the Reverend announced that the church,
which my great-uncle had attended very regularly, was kindly holding a
small reception with food and drinks for the family and friends of my
uncle. As I was comforting one of my great-aunts and waiting for the crowd
behind us to clear out enough for us to make our way to our cars, I heard
two of the mourners (a couple who had frequently driven my great-uncle and
his wife to family functions, since neither of them could drive
themselves - they were well-compensated for doing it, as well) discussing
whether or not to go to the reception. The deciding factor was, and I
quote, "Hey, it's free food" and a small shrug. Now I don't know
whether I'm simply being nit-picky or overly sensitive, but that managed
to strike me as disrespectful.
My grandfather died in April 2003. His family is at
opposite ends of a big Midwestern state, and I live on the East Coast, so
I attended the memorial service. I had only been to Catholic funerals
before (this will become important later), so I wasn’t sure what to
At the funeral home, we were greeted by energetic Gospel
music (unexpected, but not rude). The man seated at the organ was loudly
chatting on his cell phone.
The last speaker during the “Family Reflections”
portion was Granddad’s brother. “Great Uncle Bert” is a very
successful preacher in the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church, which
is often called the African American church. As “Great Uncle Bert”
went on about how Granddad “loved his people,” he paused, then said,
“You know, we have to keep our churches going.” Huh? He continued with
“When White folks didn’t want us in our churches, they were stronger.
I have no patience for Black folks sitting up in White folks’
As far as I know, Granddad was not religious. Grandma,
my aunts and uncles, and the rest of the family is Roman Catholic. Maybe
he didn’t know about Black Catholic churches, maybe he didn’t care.
But he had this ex-Catholic seeing red.
My step-uncle passed away suddenly a few years ago. It
was pretty devastating to the family as he dropped dead of a heart attack
in front of my two cousins who were then in the early teens. Needless to
say it was shocking.
The incident in question happened at the viewing. My
cousin's friend attended the funeral. "Jake" was in his mid
teens then. He's a big boy, so he looked a lot older for his age. So the
whole family is mingling (my dad's side of the family is rather large) and
he comes up and starts hitting on me! Hello! This is a funeral, not a pick
up bar, besides the fact that he's much younger than I am. I politely turn
After the viewing we go to get our jackets and he says
to me "I know why you have such a negative attitude towards
men." "Oh really, why?" I answer. "I used to council
girls who've been raped." My jaw hit the ground. I've known this guy
for 10 minutes tops and now he thinks that I've been raped because I won't
go out with him? Luckily we were out of earshot from my family members and
I told him off. So he skulks off with his tail between his legs and starts
hitting on one of my cousins! Long story short they are now married
(shotgun wedding) with 4 kids. This jerk STILL tries to hit on me at
family functions in front of his my cousin/wife and even had the nerve
once to grab in inappropriately. When that happened I threatened his
My grandfather passed away several years ago. The
whole family was distraught, of course, but my grandmother was
inconsolable. They had been married 51 years...since she was 18
years old, and he was her life.
My grandparents' neighbor was a pushy, controlling
woman, but she was sometimes very helpful to my grandparents. My
mother and this neighbor did not get along because my mom felt she was
pushy, obnoxious, and they had had many arguments about what was best for
my grandparents (my mom's parents). My mother used to be invited to
functions at the neighbor's house until they started disagreeing about my
grandparents so this only made my mom dislike the neighbor more.
The day of the viewing arrives, and the neighbor lady
goes into overdrive in the controlling department. She starts
dictating to the family who they will ride with, etc. The family is
so upset they just kind of go along with her suggestions.
The next day is the funeral, and neighbor lady is still
in overdrive and controlling. The original plan was to borrow a
friend's mini van so all the family members could ride to the cemetery
together (no one had a car that would hold everyone in the immediate
family). Of course, the neighbor lady wouldn't hear of it.
Probably because it wasn't her idea. Neighbor lady takes
my grandma, my grandfather's sister, and her husband in her car.
My parents and I ride in another car, and everyone else takes their own
car. My mother is fit to be tied. She's already very
emotional, worried about my grandmother's emotional state, and just wants
to be near her mom.
Neighbor lady gets lost on the way to the cemetery.
She thought she knew how to get there (she knows everything of course),
but she didn't. She's asking my emotionally distraught grandma for
directions, and of course Grandma is of little help. Just a side
note: Grandma has lived in this town most of her life, but in
recent years has developed trouble finding her way around. They stop
at a bar and get directions, and we are on our way. My mother is
madder than a hen at this point. If she could have gotten to
neighbor lady at that moment, I think we would have had another
funeral. My mother knew where the cemetery was, but followed
neighbor lady who was leading the procession (of course) to prevent them
from getting lost permanently. The rest of the way to the cemetery,
my mom is complaining that if we'd all gone in the mini van she could have
given directions, and everything would be fine.
We go back to my grandparents' house after the funeral for the wake.
Here's the best part! My grandfather had become estranged from his
brother several years before my grandpa died. It really was up to my
grandpa's brother to apologize, but being too proud and an alcoholic, he
never did. My grandfather died before his brother could make peace.
Much to everyone's surprise, my grandpa's brother came to the funeral.
He actually arrived at the house the morning of the funeral, and spent
some time with the family (many whom he had not spoken to since the
falling out with my grandpa). My grandma was the most surprised, but
she gave him credit for coming to pay his respects. She figured that
having to live with not making peace with his brother before he died was
Well, at the wake, neighbor lady gets grandpa's brother
and one of his sisters alone in the garage. She reads grandpa's
brother the riot act about how he should have made peace with his brother,
and how awful he was to have treated his brother and family like he had!
First of all it was none of her business, not her place to tell him off,
and she wasn't supposed to know about the falling out! My grandma
had confided to her in confidence! Then his sister starts in on him.
After that he was mad so he left without really even saying goodbye to the
family he had just started trying to reconcile with! He still won't
speak to my grandma to this day.
This is my personal etiquette faux pas story! I
didn't intend for this to happen, but in an effort to lighten the mood
after my grandmother died, I committed the following faux pas:
My grandmother (my dad's mom) passed away. Since
she lived in Florida, only my dad could afford to travel for the funeral.
He returned home a week later with some of her personal belongings
that were to be given to me, my mom, and my other grandma. We were
sitting on the couch going through some of her costume jewelry. We
were talking about grandma, and where some of the jewelry had originated
from (gifts from us, etc.). I found a pin that was in the shape of a
banjo. It was pretty detailed, and even had little strings that
could be strummed although it didn't make any sound.
So I decide I'm going to act like I'm playing the
banjo. I know that Roy Clark is a legendary banjo player, and that
my family likes his music. So I start "playing" this
"banjo" and start singing the first Roy Clark song that came to
mind...ready for this? The song was "Thank God &
Greyhound"! One of the lines in the song (and the one I
opened with) is "Thank God and Greyhound she's gone!" Once
I realized what I was singing, I immediately stopped and made some
stuttered remark about how it was the first Roy Clark song I could think
of, and didn't realize the inappropriateness until too late. My
family laughed it off, but I'm sure they thought I had poor
taste at that moment. Why couldn't I have remembered the theme
from "Hee-Haw"? I felt like a donkey after that scene!
My boyfriend's grandmother, who lived outside of Boston,
passed away and we flew up from Georgia to attend the wake and funeral.
First, as the funeral procession drove from the funeral home to the
cemetery, I couldn't believe it when others cars merged into the very
short procession! They couldn't wait until all FOUR cars in the procession
passed. Nope. HAD to get where they were going, even if it showed a
complete lack of respect for the dead.
When we got to the cemetery, where there was to be a
graveside service, there was one row of chairs set up. Here's how the
seating arrangement went: BF's uncle (grandmother's son), BF, BF's dad
(grandmother's other son), BF's dad's girlfriend, BF's dad's girlfriend's
daughter, BF's dad's girlfriend's daughter's husband, then me. I wasn't
able to sit with my BF at HIS grandmother's service because of people who
A) hadn't even ever met the deceased and B) weren't related to her nor in
relationships with anyone who was.
As an aside, it was in early December in Massachusetts
and was rather chilly outside (luckily, no snow and warmer than usual, but
still cold) and, being the native Southerner that I am, I was FREEZING. In
addition to giving comfort to my BF, I could have really used his body
heat! After the service, my teeth were chattering and I was seeking out
spots in the sunshine. My boyfriend teased me, "You know you're the
only one who's cold?"
At my grandfather's funeral, my eldest cousin, who
hadn't bothered to visit my grandparents in several years, slung his arm
around my sister, and in the midst of the family, proclaimed, "You
know we were the favorites because you were the youngest and I was the
Now my grandparents were always very particular about
NOT playing favorites among their grandkids. Though another cousin and I
had always been particularly close to our grandparents, no one of us would
ever dare suggest that we were loved or favored over the others. My sister
gracious and stunned, performed a nonchalant but politely neutral reply.
The beauty of the moment was doubled edged. In the process of doing this,
my tactless cousin slighted both his parents and youngest sister. She'd
been adopted some years earlier into the family -- when my sister was a
My grandmother died very suddenly, after a routine
surgery that went wrong. She was a very kind woman and all of her children
were very grief-stricken, and struggled to organize an appropriate funeral
One of her daughters (my aunt) was dating "Rude
Rick" at the time. The rest of her siblings didn't care much for him
-- he was a heavy smoker, alcoholic and thought it appropriate to flirt
with her friends and family members -- but most people were too polite to
say anything about his behavior... until this funeral.
My grandmother was a simple woman who asked for very
little, and her only wish for her funeral was that no photographs be taken
-- not of the flowers, her, or anyone or anything else. Her children
thought it was a very simple request to grant, and wanted to be able to do
this for their beloved mother. They relayed this wish to other family
members and friends who were unaware of it, and everyone cooperated.
Everyone, that is, except Rude Rick. He was well aware of the request, but
he reasoned that in his family it is appropriate to take photos of those
who've passed away -- so why couldn't he take photos of his girlfriend's
mother? Somehow, he managed to sneak some photos of her lying in the
casket, without the family knowing. Then he showed some of his family
members those photos. When word leaked out that he had taken pictures, my
grandmother's sons, including my father, asked Rude Rick to give them the
photos (they planned to destroy them). Rude Rick refused to give them
away, but he told them he would consider exchanging them for cash. My
father ended up PAYING Rude Rick for the photos and negatives, just so he
could destroy them and try to honor his mother's wish.
My cousin, an only child, was married to an appalling
woman with whom he had two children. He contracted advanced stage
Hodgkin's disease in his early thirties. After two years of battling
cancer, he was hospitalized with pneumonia, which for someone in his
condition, was life-threatening. One night, his wife was summoned to his
bedside because he was gravely ill. She asked her neighbors to accompany
her to the hospital while my aunt stayed with the children at their home.
The next morning my aunt got a phone call from the undertaker asking about
the "arrangements". That was the way she found out that her only
son had died.
I found out from Mutual Friend that my neighbor's father
had died. I knew that "Anne" and her father were not close and
in fact hadn't spoken to each other for years. Anne's father was very
wealthy and remarried a woman with three children. Anne hated her
stepmother and stepsiblings. I called to express my sympathy and was
shocked by the conversation. She was irate because her father had left
more money to his eldest step-daughter than Anne. Anne was to receive the
same amount as the other two step-children. And even more insulting to
Anne was the fact that all of their inheritance is held in a trust, with
the interest going to support her stepmother until she died. Anne is
outraged because women in her family "die young" and she will
probably never see any of this money. Anne does add that at least she and
her brother and sister are being given a sizable (six figure) amount right
now, so at least she's not "getting totally sc#%wed".
Let's see, you have a strained relationship with your
father. You don't speak to him or visit him in the nursing home (her
sister would relay information to Anne of their father's condition) yet
you expect to be showered with money upon his passing? Inheritance is not
That weekend I go to breakfast with some
friends/neighbors (which includes Anne) and we're listening to her go on
and on about how she has been wronged when someone asks where
"Adam" (her live-in boyfriend) is. I knew, through Mutual
Friend, that Adam had been planning for weeks to go to "the
cabin" with a group of guys. (Bear in mind that Adam is rarely
"allowed" to do anything without Anne. I was really surprised
that she was "letting" him be gone the entire weekend!) Anne
tells us her inconsiderate boyfriend abandoned her, in this, her time of
grief. Now, I never heard Anne say she was sad about her father's passing
or wished they could have reconciled. In fact, she said that she was GLAD
she didn't visit him in the nursing home or waste money flying home for
the funeral. I think Anne needed the kind of consoling only a hefty check
A couple of weeks later I talked to Anne again. She
informed me that she had hired a lawyer and was contesting the will. She
doesn't expect to get any more money from the estate, but she knows it
will enrage her stepmother.
I love this site so much. Before the loss of my
husband 2 years ago, I took some of the stories with a grain
of salt. It was hard to believe people could be so clueless in their words
and deeds. Now, I'll believe anything.
My husband and I had been married for 16 years.
We had 2 daughters aged 13 and 15. My husband's death was completely
unexpected. I, literally, went to sleep a wife and woke up a widow. At
the very first, shock seems to switch off the emotions but leaves the mind
clear. Later, things go a bit hazy.
I did what had to be done. My children had to be
comforted. I had to arrange for a minister to break the news to my MIL.
She lived on the opposite side of the country. I didn't want her to
be alone when she found out her son was gone. Of course, there were
several other calls to be made. Then, the family started to arrive.
One of the first relatives to arrive was my BIL, my
sister's husband. He hugged me and said he was sorry. Having done what he
felt was his duty, his next words were, ''Have you decided what to do with
Tom's car?'' My husband had been dead less than 5 hours! His only other
remark was to ask if my husband kept his tools in the garage!
Then things got a little hazier and family and friends
were everywhere. It was hard to keep track of everything. One ''friend''
took the opportunity to go through our papers. I found out weeks later,
when she asked how I was going to pay our bills and quoted the
amounts! I sometimes wonder, if God grants us shock to prevent needless bloodshed
in times of trouble.
One of the worst incidents took place 8 months later. We
have a neighbor who has taken being a busybody to legendary heights. I go
to great lengths to avoid her. Unfortunately, every now and then she
corners me. Once, after grilling me with questions about my income and job
plans, she came out with- ''So, are you ready to find yourself a new
man?'' I was stunned! She made it sound like buying a car.
I don't want to give anyone a wrong impression. For
every thoughtless, insensitive incident, there were a hundred acts and
words of support and comfort. It would be wrong not to acknowledge,
there are many people who do get it right. I am so grateful to them.
I was blessed to have someone near me, who had lived
through bereavement. She gave me so much understanding and good advice.
The day before I returned to work, she warned me to ''get ready for the
U-turns.'' My reaction amounted to ''Huh??'' She said, I would notice that people
would see me coming and suddenly veer off in another direction. It wasn't
personal at all. They just panicked when they tried to think of what to
say. I was amused when I had 3 U-turns on my first day back at work.
Later, these people found a way to come up to me and offered
So many people do have problems thinking up what to say.
It really isn't complicated. ''I'm sorry'' and ''Let me know how I can
help.'' are both good. For that matter, a hug and a ''Are you and the kids
ok?'' said in a caring way, was pretty wonderful too. Really, all that
matters is to let the bereaved know you care. Well, that and keep your
hands out of her desk and your mind off her possessions.
About five years ago my mother unexpectedly died of a
heart attack. Needless to say, it was very shocking and I was
utterly devastated. After the funeral, I returned home
exhausted and feeling as though my heart had been ripped out, I laid down
to rest and reflect. Suddenly there was a knock on the door from a
next door neighbor. As I answered the door, still dressed in that horrid
black suit with my make-up smeared and eyes puffy from the hours of crying
I had endured, my neighbor, Julie, offered her condolences. I was
just thinking of how nice it was of her to come comfort me, until she
really showed her true colors by then asking me to feed her cat while she
and her family were on vacation. They were literally pulling out of
the driveway honking for her while we were talking. Obviously this
lady (if I can call her that) has no idea what frame of mind one is in at
the time of losing a loved one. What a loser!
My mother and I were estranged for over 6 years before
she died, and her death, although not completely unexpected given her
lifestyle, was sudden - she was found dead in her apartment by the
building caretaker. My younger sister lives in another province; she had
her son drive her here, and she and I had to arrange our mother's memorial
service (she had never wanted a traditional "funeral" and had
always said she wanted immediate cremation, which we had done as soon as
the medical examiner released her body). Her only sibling, our aunt, also traveled
here for the service.
I am fondly known in the family as "the
faucet", because I cry at the drop of a hat - and when I'm angry, or
exhausted, or happy - you get the idea. The fact that my relationship with
my mother had been so very dysfunctional also contributed to some very
heavy grieving. I was quite a wreck all that week - and at the memorial, I
couldn't stop sobbing. Our aunt chose that time to go into a snit over
some never-explained slight she felt she had been subjected to by my
To top it all off, my long-term boyfriend had just been
through an emotionally traumatizing incident at his workplace, so he was
not able to even be with me at the memorial, but he did come to the nearby
Legion, where the after-memorial "coffee" was being held.
On entering the function room at the Legion, one of my
aunts from my dad's side (note- my parents split up when I was under 5,
and my mother was never in contact with her ex-husband's family, although
as adults we girls spent family reunions and holiday get-togethers with
them) rushed up to me, and before I could thank her for coming, she thrust
a piece of paper at me and said, " Here's my phone number and the
name of a good friend of mine who's in your hospital (I am a nurse-manager
at the largest hospital in our city). I need you to find out everything
you can about her condition and her chances of recovery, because I am so
worried about her." Yeah, thanks so much for your expression of
sympathy, Auntie Dear!
Just noted this story about the uncle who took pictures of
the body in the casket, casket and flowers at the funeral, etc.
While I do NOT approve of his taking pictures of the
grieving family, I did want to point out that there may be some
extenuating circumstances. When my grandmother died, my grandfather (who
was terminally ill with cancer) specifically asked for pictures of her in
her casket. After his death we threw them away, but while he lived he
seemed to find them somewhat comforting -- I'm guessing it let him feel
that she would be waiting for him.
As for the pictures of the headstone, etc., those are
often used in genealogy research.
And one very simple story for this category:
My husband's father's father was buried in a little
cemetery in Maryland -- but his name was spelled incorrectly on his
headstone. Seriously! They spelled his last name "Hendirx", not
Just a quick one for funeral etiquette...my mother
passed away last October and at the funeral the first thing her very
proper sister asked me is if there was a will. She wanted to make sure my
mother left me half of the house she shared with my father (my aunt does
not like him very much). I had no idea how to answer that. All I could say
was "no, no will and I'm pretty sure the house was left to my father
since he was living in it."
My mother passed away a week ago. She had been in
a nursing home for 6 1/2 years. She suffered a stroke three weeks
ago, followed by another a week later. She was in hospice care for
We had a wonderful funeral and burial. Then we
released 86 balloons, one for each year of her life. This was followed by
a nice family and friends dinner.
You may ask where is the etiquette problem here.
So, I will tell you. Immediately following the services in the
funeral home, I was having the grandchildren take their floral planters
with them so they did not have to return 15 miles to pick them up.
We were very shocked to find the beautiful peace lily picked to go to my
daughter had disappeared. That quick while everyone was there.
My cousin's husband had walked over, picked it up and
taken it to their car. There was not enough flowers to go around.
I guess this is not near as bad as some, but I am still
perturbed about this. Nothing was said to me about the flowers and I
did not get the card which should go into the memorial book.
I guess I just wanted to vent. Thanks for
My mother had passed away and at her funeral I witnessed
the most bizarre behavior by my aunt, her sister. On the third day
of viewing my aunt pulled her mini van up to the side door of the funeral
home and started loading the plants and floral arrangements that had been
sent by friends and loved ones. My sisters and I were baffled by
this so we quietly went over to ask her what she was doing. She
matter of factly said she wanted them and if she didn't take them now,
some mere guest would surely take them home. This was the day before
the actual funeral. We assured her that she could have them after
the funeral was over but to please leave them until then. No such
luck. She steadfastly continued to load over half the arrangements
into her van.
At the funeral the following day there were many
concerned people wondering where their gifts of condolence might be.
They felt badly and wanted to assure us that they had indeed sent them. We
spent a great deal of time explaining the situation to many a shocked
I think I may also deserve to be in Funeral EHell
for this one, but I will let you decide. My nephew's
wife's mother died unexpectedly last spring. The day before the
funeral, my nephew informed me that he had stolen some of my jewelry to
put in the casket with his MIL, as "dragonflies were her 'thing'
". (This was not the first, nor would it be the last time he
stole from me. Long story.)
In my defense, I was recovering from an awful virus, a
fact which may have affected my judgment. I didn't go off on
him like I wanted to, but I did tell him I wanted the ring back. (He
had taken a ring which had been a gift from my husband and a bracelet that
I'd made myself.) I informed him that I would have given him the bracelet
had he only asked, or I could have made a nicer, more appropriate piece
for her. (The pieces were not used as jewelry for her, but rather just
laid upon her chest like an afterthought.)
That evening I attended the viewing with my mother, and
I was already regretting my demand. Not seeing any way to back out
of it (and still wanting my ring back) I just hoped that my nephew would
be tactful in retrieving it. It could have been worse, but he did
find it necessary to tell his wife what was going on. She was
already under a great deal of stress, being very young and dealing with
her two children, the unexpected death of her mother, and handling all the
arrangements herself. I wish my nephew would have kept the
thievery and recovery of the goods between us, rather than burdening his
wife with more drama. In the end, I did get my ring back, and
now my nephew and his wife are going through a divorce.
My mother recently passed away after a long struggle
with emphysema. My husband gave his teenage son, who lives with his
mother, the news right away. My stepson was very saddened by
the loss of his "Grandma" that he'd known and loved for
over 10 years and wanted to attend the funeral. My husband
purchased him a flight and called him to give him all the details.
My stepson then sadly informed my husband that his mother would not let
him come to the funeral.
About a year ago, my great aunt F* died. After her
funeral, the family gathered at her house (full of expensive
antiques) for food, etc. Now, my great aunt was a widow before she
died, and had only one son, R*. R* is mentally challenged, though he can
drive and almost live on his own. There was a lot of controversy
over who was going to get what of aunt F*'s belongings. So, during
the gathering at her former home, people decided to go ahead and load up
into their cars what they thought was owed to them. R*, by the way,
inherited everything legally except some land which was given only to my
dad and his cousin.
So, these family members actually stole from
mentally challenged R*! To top it off, once some of the family found
out my dad inherited some land (because he actually treated F* kindly)
they began calling him saying that they deserved some of it too....and how
he ought to split it up. The nerves of these people! I know
these people are my family, but I'm ashamed of them.
My daughter was living 200 miles away from home and
needed to be in town here for the funeral but found it necessary to return
home right after the service. She was 17 at the time and was dressed very
well. Problem? Well, some people were flabbergasted. Her hair was a very
VERY pink. It was her grandfather's funeral and she knew he would just
laugh and get a kick outta the whole deal. No one he was there will
remember her name, but she'll forever be a funeral giggle...and that's
just grandpa would like it!!!
About a year and a half ago, my mother passed away very
suddenly. I had had no warning besides a phone call from her a week
before her death where she complained of headaches. She died in a
hospital ICU the day after she had been admitted.
My stepsister (let's call her Evillyn) was present at
the hospital. From that point onward, she took on everything.
She and my mother had not been close before. As a matter of fact,
Evillyn had on a couple occasions sent nasty letters disowning both my
mother and her father.
At the funeral home, I found a beautiful poem that I
thought was fitting. My stepbrother agreed. Evillyn did not
care for it, and substituted another. Evillyn told me to write the
obituary, and then did not like how I worded it. She glared at me
and yelled at me for saying that I was my mother's only daughter.
She then added herself, the other stepsiblings, their children, and the
dog and cat. She went into hysterics about how my mother was an
angel from heaven and insisted that line be added. My stepfather had
to pay for all of that and they charged per word.
She picked out the casket after deciding she hated all
of my choices. She told me to pick out what my mother would wear at
the viewing, and then decided she hated it all and went out to buy an
outfit for her to wear.
The worst part was when she began digging through all of
my mother's things and found her credit cards and charge cards to various
stores. She launched into a tirade about how greedy my mother was
and how she was spending all of Evillyn's father's money. So much
for my mother being an angel! All of this right in front of me.
I was so mortified that night that I just left and never offered to help
with anything else.
On the day of the funeral, I was bemused to see that my
staunchly protestant mother had a rosary entwined in her hand as she lay
in the casket.
If my stepfather passes away, I am staying far, far away
from his funeral.
My grandmother on my father’s side recently passed
away. When I say my father, I really mean my stepfather, who has been with
my mother since I was 6. I look to him as my dad, and after this
experience with his other mongrel children from another marriage at my
grandmother’s funeral, he’s more proud of me then he’d ever been…
possibly because I turned out to be the good one, and I’m not even
First, let me start off by describing his four other
biological children (children is an under statement word, these are adults
much older then myself). There’s “M”, who showed up at the funeral
in jeans, a punk top, PURPLE HAIR, and face piercings. Next up the chain,
there’s “R”, who came with his wife, “P”, in sweat-pants and
oversized sweaters (more adventure with “P” later). Next, we have
“S”, who grew up to be a breeder living off the system and popping out
kids faster then you can shake a stick for the income (who was also
sporting the most delightful and classy sweat-pants and tee-shirt with
baby stains). And last but certainly not least, his eldest, “A”, who
honestly isn’t as bad as the rest, though did drop out of University
twice. Other then that he’s doing pretty well.
My fiancé accompanied me to my grandmother’s funeral,
as I had never dealt with a death before and was really emotionally
shaken. He wore his beautiful CF’s (he’s in the military), complete
with medals and all to show his respect to my father, who was also in his
own CF’s for the funeral. I think this meant more to him then he’ll
ever really let on. I can’t believe that his other offspring showed up
in sweats and dirty clothes! They’re not poor, he sends their ungrateful
butts money all the time. So disrespectful!
A few hours later, we’re all sitting in my
grandfather’s house, and we’re told that we can take one thing right
now, anything we want, to remind us of our grandmother. For once I see
that perhaps these creatures have some type of inner feeling, even though
they don’t express it on the outside. I took a home-made knitted dog
that my grandmother had made years ago when I was little, that I used to
sleep with when I went to visit them. “A” suggested that my
grandfather pick something out for him because he thought it would have
more meaning if it was given just to him from her. “S” took some
knitted blankets for her kids. “M” wanted something similar to what I
took, which was a knitted rabbit my grandmother had made that was her
favorite when she went to visit. Unfortunately, “R” turned his vote
over to “P”, who demanded the knitted rabbit from “M”!
“P”’s a rabbit freak (I mean, she has the ashes of
her two cremated pet rabbits on her night stands), and she started with
the whole “Grandpa said before the funeral I could have it!” This
woman is in her late 20’s! Well, “M” was heartbroken, because it’s
all she wanted, and had to fight like hell to get it. It didn’t even
belong to “P”, it belonged to “M”.
When she just won’t let it be, it got too much for my
father, who began to cry. My mother saw this, and went ape-sh*t on
“P”! Saying how childish she was being and how much it’s hurting her
father-in-law to see that all she cares about is the stupid stuffed rabbit
on this day, etc. etc. After exchanging incredibly crude language to each
other, “P” ordered “R” to pack, as they were just going to leave.
But before they left, she went into my grandmother’s jewelry box, and
took our family ring! It was all the children’s birthstones on it (yes,
including mine), and my father’s and his brother’s. 7 precious and
expensive stones in all. So that’s what she chose to take if she
couldn’t have the rabbit. How awful is that?? She’s not even immediate
family. She’s so greedy, I finally couldn’t hold my tongue and backed
my mother up outside, away from the other guests, not to upset my father
more. We haven’t heard from her since then.
Miss Jeanne, My father in law passed away
recently and my husband and I attended the visitation and funeral. I
was taught growing up that it is appropriate to wear a dark
color to the funeral and that 'Sunday Best' was the rule.
Apparently, no one ever told my husband's extended family these rules of
One cousin thought that a Tim McGraw concert t-shirt was
appropriate funeral attire (he had worn a different t-shirt to the
visitation the evening before). His wife was in spandex pants and a
I think my favorite though was Betty. I was
introduced to her at the visitation and noticed a necklace with some
writing on it. The word started with the letter B and at first I
thought it said Betty. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it
said, "B***H!!!! I was stunned! I actually choked on my
coffee! I thought there was no way she would wear that necklace to
the conservative Baptist church service we were having the next day...I
thought wrong. It was her accessory of choice for the funeral
service as well. Did I mention she is in her 30's - old enough
to know better!
I am still shaking my head over that one!
My Uncle John died very suddenly and funeral
arrangements were made. I come from a very large family of 10
children. 6 girls and 4 boys. 3 of my sisters (Pamela,
Priscilla and Alison) and I attended the funeral together. My
sisters and I sat in one row, and all of our husbands sat behind us.
The details of the arrangements were not clear to all of
us. My sister Priscilla and I were told that our Uncle was being
cremated, while my sisters Pam and Alison were told he was going to be
buried. When the funeral procession began, the priest walked to the
alter, followed by the casket and immediate family. My sister,
Priscilla was seated at the far end of the pew next to my sister, Pam.
Priscilla (thinking Uncle John was being cremated) saw the casket and was
confused. She leaned over the Pam and said "Wait a
minute....I don't get it". My sister, Pam, not knowing anything
about cremation arrangements, thought my sister was referring to the
incense being spread by the priest, which is traditional Catholic
My sister Pam leaned back over to Priscilla and said
"I NEVER get it!". At this, my sister Priscilla began to
giggle, which started Pam into a giggling fit. Now, mind you, my
sister Alison and I never heard the conversation between Pam and
Priscilla, but we knew something was said because we could feel the pew
moving with their laughter. The next thing I knew, Alison let out a
tiny giggle. I looked at her as sternly as I could and said "Do
not, under any circumstances, look at them. Don't start!".
It was too late. Alison's giggling was soon out of
control. Well...I couldn't help it. I started in too.
The four of us were sitting there laughing our fool heads off at the
funeral of our Uncle and nothing could get us to stop. Every time we
tried, we failed. We only hoped that people would see us and think
we were crying instead of laughing. Our husbands, on the other hand,
didn't see anything amusing about the situation and all of us were
thoroughly tongue lashed after the services. It was wrong....it
was so very wrong...but to this day, when my sisters and I get together,
we still laugh about it!
Page Last Updated May 15, 2007