NyaChan, the widow and only the widow is the one who makes the decisions about the funeral. The stepchildren have no say in this at all. So, my husband's aunt will have chosen the time, place, music, readings and everything else related to the funeral. Since she doesn't want to have a meal at the church after the service, there will be no meal.
Ah I see, it didn't occur to me that the widow's exclusive rights in general would be the same as the church rules.
It's less that and more simply that the church needs to have only ONE person to deal with, and they'll follow the lead of the widow.
If the kids had called up and said, "Stepmom doesn't want to bother w/ a dinner, but we'd like one because we know many people would come, would you do it?" they might be quite willing to.
I'd like to think this is a possibility, but I'm guessing not. I'm picturing the pastor, or whoever's in charge of putting on post-funeral dinners, backing away in near-panic at the thought of getting involved in a family feud by doing the meal against the widow's wishes. As a general rule, church folk do not like conflict!
Maybe my judgment on this is colored by the fact that I'm from a "funerals do not always come with meals" background, and I've been to a wide variety of funerals/memorials over the years. But I don't see the aunt's decision as mean-spirited. Maybe she's uncomfortable around them because they resent her for replacing their mom. Maybe they have rambunctious children who would be getting on her last nerve. Maybe she's a serious introvert who will have had her fill of being "on" by funeral's end. We don't know.
It would be nice if she could be the bigger person, swallow her distaste for being around the stepkids and include them in the post-funeral meal plans -- whether that meal is at the church, a restaurant or home. But like it or not, one person has the final say on arrangements, and if there is a spouse, that's the person.
I've never been to a funeral or memorial (or lack thereof) where someone wasn't happy with the arrangements. The religious relatives are upset that there was no church service. The atheist friends are annoyed that there *was* a religious service. Some people will be unhappy that there is no reception after the funeral, while others will be displeased to discover there is one, if they weren't expecting it and hadn't budgeted the time for it (this was me at the last funeral I attended).
And I said this upthread, but feel the need to reiterate: This is not
the funeral. This is dinner after the funeral. The widow is within her rights to spend the time after the funeral as she chooses. Besides, if she and the stepchildren don't get along, would they really want
to spend more time than they have to with her?