≡ Menu

The Drama of Grief

I’m not sure if I’m in the wrong or not on this issue, but a third (yes, there were a first and second death to prompt this letter) death in the family has caused the conduct of a pair of my aunts (herein named 1 and 2) to weigh heavily on my mind. It bothers me so much because I’ve worked in funeral culture (a funeral museum that is now closed up), and I feel as if I’m being a bit unsympathetic.

The first death was that of an uncle who was, to all accounts, dearly beloved by nearly every member of the family. There was the standard reaction- weeping, remembrance pictures, stories told of sweet or funny things he’d said and done, a show of support for his widow and children. After a while, the bereft were left to their mourning and to pick their lives up as best they could and move on. Two years later, my grandmother passed. There had been quite a lot of fighting in the family concerning her estate, but of course everyone came to do their mourning. I have no doubt that their grief was profound. She was their mother, and I remember the horrid ache of losing my own at a MUCH younger age (I was 16 and they were old enough to be my mother then. It’s been twenty years.) Aunt 1 made much of having been beside the bed when she passed, crowing over it like a sort of crowning glory or great achievement. Aunt 2 was initially quiet until a few days after the funeral, possibly out of shock. From the moment Grandma died, Aunt 1 behaved as though she were proud of her grief, wearing it like a sort of regalia and mourning in an overdone way that would make the Italian funerary tradition (loud cries and weeping, much beating of breasts and tearing of clothes and hair) proud.

It’s been two years, and every day, the two aunts involved have been posting those glittery, pithy pictures of angels and roses and platitudes one finds on Facebook pages of the grieving. Both of them post multiple expressions of their grief per day. It’s like they’re trying to out-grieve each other, or like their grief is some sick trophy they share and revel in expressing and pawing over. I understand that, as their mother, they miss her. That much is natural. I miss her too, but having their grief flaunted and waved in my face like some kind of awful banner disgusts and angers me. I’m the kind who grieves in private and recovers fairly quickly, but having the wound opened multiple times a day like this is intolerable for me.

My cousin died a few days ago. Already, Aunt 1 has pounced on the fresh tragedy and is posting stuff about “my beautiful nephew, who will be in heaven with the angels forever” and similar stuff. Aunt 2 has shown the same restraint in every issue that she showed before Grandma’s death.

Am I being unsympathetic? Normally I consider the grief of bereft families as nearly sacred, but I don’t think I can use strong enough words for my disgust at Aunt 1. I have no plans to say anything to anyone in the family. Your answer will be solely for my own peace of mind or alteration of conduct. 0331-14

I am sorry for all your losses.

While your aunts’ preference for grieving may not appeal to you, the bottom line is that you cannot change them.   Grief can be used to create a victim identity and some people wrap themselves in it.  Demonstrative grief can also be a way to assuage guilt over actions taken (or not taken) while the person was alive.    “See how much I loved the deceased?   My grief is never ending.”     Their grief begins to define who they are and until they see the need to change, they won’t.

I would block your aunts’ posts from appearing in your Facebook feed.  What you cannot see cannot perturb you.   It is not disrespectful to block relatives from splattering drama all over your feed.  You can still check out how they are doing by visiting their Facebook profiles since it is you who determines when and how you wish to interact with these women.

You can also suggest to them that they seek grief counseling.   Hospitals often have a group grief counseling available and there are private organizations like GriefShare that offer group support for the grieving.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lo April 1, 2014, 7:49 am

    I agree in blocking the posts if you don’t want to see them.

    I understand why this would be frustrating and even offensive to you. I agree that you have no right to interfere. Their grief over the death of their mother is their own private business and even if they’re making a spectacle of themselves there’s nothing you can do about that.

    When you do interact with them feel free to keep turning the conversation to happier thoughts. It’s not disrespectful after two years and they certainly don’t appear to need anyone to feed into their grieving process in order to keep it going.

  • BH April 1, 2014, 8:10 am

    I have the same issue with my own mother, I have her hidden from my facebook feed. It’s been 29 years from my sister’s passing (tomorrow actually), 24 years from my father’s and brother’s passings… not to mention many other family members (these are just my immediate family). My mom knows I have her hidden but only because I told her. Stay strong, and sorry for your losses.

  • The Elf April 1, 2014, 8:54 am

    I think there’s one of these in every family. I don’t understand it either, but what can you do? She will grieve the way she wants to or needs to. I don’t think it is being unsympathetic to ignore her posts and not respond or “like” them. Being unsympathetic would be to tell her to “get over it” or something like that.

  • DGS April 1, 2014, 9:02 am

    This is a really tough one…on the one hand, it’s hard to not feel guilty and struggle with conflicting emotions when someone is grieving (and justifiably and understandably so), but on the other hand, it sounds as though Aunts 1 and 2 have engaged in a metaphoric suttee all over Facebook in a rather tasteless fashion. I agree with Admin’s recommendation to block their feed; you can still visit their FB pages or communicate with them in other ways (telephone, email, face to face), but you do not have to be triggered by their grief expressions.

    This is what is tough about social media; it tends to bring out the narcissism in the humblest of people. Grief tends to make most people selfish; the very nature of it is such that one focuses on one’s internal experience to the extent of all else, but social media only fosters it.

    My DH and I lost our first pregnancy, a set of twins, very late in the pregnancy due to a double placental abruption – I almost bled to death, and both babies died shortly after their untimely and tumultuous arrival. Thankfully, we have moved on with our lives – we are now expecting our fourth child, and we have a beautiful, thriving, healthy toddler, but there is a void in our hearts that will always remain, and we will always miss the babies we lost. In the initial emergent medical situation and loss and its aftermath, I posted regular updates on social media – some of it was allowing me to vent and to feel supported by friends and family far and wide, and some of it maximized the convenience of not having to repeat myself over and over by phone or email or in person when all I wanted to do was hole up in a dark room and alternate between screaming in despair and exhausted sleep. My DH, who is much more private than I, understood and respected that choice, and most of our friends and family members, were incredibly sensitive, kind and supportive to us during that difficult time. After some time, I stopped posting about my grief, when the rawness wore off. I always post something on their anniversary of their births, but the rest of the time, I prefer to keep my emotions regarding my loss more private, although the loss is always there, keenly so in certain circumstances (I do not attend baby showers – I will send a gift, but I will not host or come to one, for instance; for the record, we never had a baby shower for any of our pregnancies, and what baby supplies we needed, we purchased ourselves when our son was born – revolutionary concept, I know). I am not saying that what I did was right; it was what was right for me, but that certainly does not mean that it would be right for other people. I went with what felt emotionally sound to me at that time and what feels emotionally sound to me at present.

    All people grieve differently, and while their reactions are valid, so is yours when you see their postings. Treat them like a smell you dislike from a mall cosmetics counter; you cannot demand that strong-smelling cosmetics are removed or not sold to other patrons, but you can plan your route in such a way as to bypass the counter.

  • Kay L April 1, 2014, 9:02 am

    While the LW is criticizing the aunts for competing in their grief, she does the same thing when she points out that she lost her own mother when she was “at a MUCH younger age.”

  • lakey April 1, 2014, 9:37 am

    My take on this is that this is probably part of their basic personalities. Something like a death can bring it out to an even greater degree.
    I have a sister who is an attention sponge. She doesn’t miss a chance to draw attention to herself. Everything, including a death and funeral, is about her. My mother died at the age of 93. My sister lives a 2 and a half hour drive away. Years ago when my parents were healthier, she visited often, sometimes even once a month. When my parents’ mental health deteriorated, due to Alzeimer’s, she stopped coming except for 3 times a year, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

    Her behavior at our mother’s death was exactly what I would have expected. At the funeral and visitation she made a big display of taking her 3 year old grandson up to the open casket at least 4 times. When anyone annoyed her she’d go on about how HER mother, not OUR mother, had died.

    And now that it’s over? My father is 96, and she’s right back to only visiting 3 times a year. None of us waste anytime talking to her about any of this. She is like this, and she isn’t going to change.

  • Shannan April 1, 2014, 9:42 am

    That would get too old real fast……. My suggestion is to go to their FB pages click on the FRIENDS button and choose Notifications. This way you don’t have to see their posts. Just be sure to look on their pages once in a while (when you can tolerate it)..

  • Rap April 1, 2014, 10:00 am

    Having watched facebook dramas on the topic, I have to say, I am surprised people find it so acceptable to “splatter their grief” all over. I tend to take the opinion that Judge Judy Schiendlin expressed on the topic. “Your right to grieve as you like ends when it starts hurting other people”. I recently witnessed a drama laden debacle on facebook where someone was grieving their sister… and began posting photos of the sister *in her casket*. When the children of the dead woman began posting how disgusting they felt this was, it of course erupted into an incredibly ugly on line fight, with the origanal poster draping herself in her grief and of course railing against the family members daring to question how she expresses her grief.

    Grieving does not mean all bets are off. The OP is being hurt. OP, after two years, no, you’re not being unsympathetic to not feel the need to drape yourself in mourning. Unfortunately, because people who are invested in grieving typically don’t respond well (because they’re consistently told how no one can interfer with their grief) there’s not a lot you can do to manage the behavior, but be assured, you’re not the bad guy here.

    • kingsrings April 1, 2014, 1:21 pm

      I’ve also seen similar displays, except they’re at the workplace. For instance, my former co-worker had a picture prominently displayed on her desk of an adorable baby girl. Except that the baby girl had passed away from a heart condition before her first birthday many years ago. That wasn’t the first time I’d seen something like that at a workplace. The worker turns their cubicle or workspace into a memorial for a deceased loved one. Why that belongs in a workplace, I have no idea. I find it very odd and sort of inappropriate from a business point of view. I mean, what happens if a business associate asks my co-worker about that adorable baby girl she has a photo of? Does my co-worker then explain to the business associate that she’s deceased? All feelings and grief aside, it still just doesn’t seem like the appropriate environment for grief displays and memorials.

      • LovleAnjel April 2, 2014, 11:15 am

        Did your coworker have pictures of her other children as well? That was your coworker’s child, she was very loved, and her death does not erase her existence. Many loss parents still consider their deceased child a member of the family and keep their pictures around.

        • Rap April 2, 2014, 5:57 pm

          To me, this would depend on how the person handles being asked about the picture of their loved one. If the coworker can handle “is that your child” without bursting into tears, running off, coming back an hour later and then loudly explaining to whoever asked the nitty gritty details of how the child died, then its perfectly fine.

          If however, the person can’t handle innocent questions about the pictures on their desk without having a serious emotional issue every time they’re asked…. then maybe they shouldn’t have a shrine on their desk that people are going to be curious about.

          *Not judging how anyone chooses to grieve, but as a reasonably nice person, I don’t like sending coworkers I don’t know well into emotional breakdowns because I asked about the cute photos on the desk. I’ve been lucky to not provoke this reaction but I have seen this situation happen and the person who provoked it felt like hell but had no way of knowing the other person’s kid had died tragically.

    • Brit April 1, 2014, 3:59 pm

      Oh, I so agree with you. Grief tourism is vile.

    • Kate April 1, 2014, 8:17 pm

      Oh, posting a picture like that, how horrible. This is one of the reasons that I left Facebook, people’s very public reaction to very private things. It is an extremely distasteful competition to be, the ‘best’ greiver, I guess? Imagine just going online to see your grandchildren, and having that on your feed.

      • Rap April 2, 2014, 7:47 am

        And frankly the argument that ensued over the pictures pretty much aired this family’s really dirty laundry and included the person who originally posted the pictures throwing down the “I have the right to grieve any way I like” card and certainly left me with the impression that this was all about that person attention seeking in a way that virtually guaranteed she’d get to be the victim.

        If I have learned anything from facebook and social media, its that there’s a lot of mentally unstable people who use it.

      • JO April 2, 2014, 11:07 am

        I’m afraid I must disagree on one point – having lost a baby myself, I doubt the mother has it displayed in order to invite sympathy. She has a right to see her daughters face in her cubicle, which is semi-private space, just as much as the parent of a living child does. If someone asks, all she need say is “that’s my daughter.” Having said that, I do completely agree that people who turn offices or Facebook pages into mini-shrines and bring it up at every opportunity, strike me as just exploiting death in order to feed their own drama addictions.

    • Ell April 1, 2014, 10:41 pm

      THANK YOU!

  • Kimstu April 1, 2014, 10:14 am

    @OP, condolences on the bereavements, and no, you are not in the wrong to feel distaste at your relatives’ ostentatious public mourning. Etiquette-wise, though, as you know, you WOULD be in the wrong if you committed the rudeness of telling them how you feel about it.

    The worst part about constantly dramatizing one’s feelings, even if they’re genuine, is that it produces a sort of boy-who-cried-wolf effect in the onlookers. It is going to be harder and harder for people to feel truly sympathetic towards your Aunt 1, as she becomes fixed in their minds as “that lady who’s always weeping and wailing over her relations who died years ago”. And the more perfunctory their commiseration becomes, the harder she will push her grief-y glurge on them to rekindle their sympathy, and so on in a spiral of melodrama.

    So @OP, make sure you take care of yourself and look both ways before crossing the street, because it would NOT be good to give your Aunt 1 the chance to make a similar buzzard’s dinner out of your own untimely demise!

  • Carnation April 1, 2014, 10:27 am

    It’s a relief to read of someone having similar issues. My grandparents have been gone 32 and 29 years, and my mother and sister, especially, grieve them as if it were yesterday, with the requisite Facebook posts, tears at every family occasion (sobbing over their absences at my wedding, for example, which made a maudlin spectacle out of what was otherwise a very happy day), and now memorial tattoos. They are even talking about erecting new monuments at their gravesites all these years later – this idea was spurred by the death of my favorite aunt two years ago, a dearly loved and missed lady.

    The grief performances extend to a bitter fight over my aunt’s funeral arrangements, when my aunt’s adult children did not include memorials to my grandparents in the service. My sister, in particular, was incensed at this and to this day does not speak with any of my aunt’s family over it.

    I love my grandparents, but they have been gone long time and I don’t feel they need to be memorialized every day, at every family occasion. I agree that I can’t and don’t try to tell my family how to grieve, but I can definitely distance myself from what I feel is an unhealthy connection to their deaths (as opposed, to, say, celebrating their wonderful, full lives). Thank you all for sharing your experiences with this behavior.

    • Huh April 1, 2014, 12:34 pm

      “I can definitely distance myself from what I feel is an unhealthy connection to their deaths (as opposed, to, say, celebrating their wonderful, full lives).”

      THIS exactly. I have known people that do exactly what you say, have an unhealthy connection to a loved one’s death and it’s like they completely forget all the days of their loved ones lives, they are stuck in the moment of their passing. I’m no therapist, but I don’t think that’s a healthy place to be.

    • Heather April 2, 2014, 7:08 am

      I so so SO agree. This isn’t about mourning… it is exactly that… an unhealthy connection to the death. I also think at some point, when a loved one dies, we must ask ourselves, would that loved one want us to define ourselves by their death? When my mother died of breast cancer 16 years ago, at the time it felt like the world was ending. I was plagued with grief and a measure of guilt… if only I’d pushed her to see a doctor sooner… if only… if only… One day, I asked myself: would my mother want me to spend the rest of my life feeling this way? Would she want all her hard work in raising me go down the drain because I was caught in a well of despair? The answer, of course, was no, she wouldn’t. So I stopped. 16 years later, I think of her every day… and yes, there are times when I get weepy because I still miss her. She died too young and was unable to really enjoy being a grandmother with all her grandchildren. I let myself have my moment (it’s usually just a few… and on my own… maybe sometimes with my aunt, her sister) and then I purposely try to remember something good to have a smile or a laugh. I refuse to let my mother’s death be the thing that defines me. Of course, we can’t force… or even suggest… that people grieve the way we want them to. But I do believe that at this point, at least with Aunt 1, it isn’t about grieving.

  • Lis April 1, 2014, 11:26 am

    What do the nephew’s parents (or remaining parent if his dad was the uncle who died), brothers and sisters (if there are any) think about Aunt1’s behaviour? That would be the clincher for me – whether the people closer to the deceased appreciate the gesture or feel sidelined by it. As regards the aunts’ own mother, your best option is probably to hide the offending facebook posts and not react. (Incidentally, were your mother and the deceased uncle both their siblings? Because if so I can see why it might build up into being overwrought by a certain stage)

  • PM April 1, 2014, 11:41 am

    For some, grieving is a way to show how important, how sensitive, how loving THEY are. And for others, they’re just not emotionally mature enough to handle loss in a dignified manner. I believe that everybody has to handle their grief in their own way. However, if your grief begins to affect those around you in a negative way, it’s time to reconsider your actions.

    We’re dealing with a version of this now in my neighborhood. A young man lost control of his car near the intersection/entrance of my subdivision , crashed it into a telephone pole and died at the scene. It is tragic, and I’m sorry for the friends and family of this man. But they have spent the last week visiting the site of the accident, blocking the intersection with their cars as they stand at the site, crying. Several of them have taken their trucks down into grassy area behind the telephone pole, doing “doughnuts” and causing huge tracks in the grass. And they’ve spray painted memorial graffiti all over the pole.

    Frankly, they’re losing my sympathy with the destruction of property, vandalism and inconsideration for the people who live on that street.

    • kingsrings April 1, 2014, 8:08 pm

      That is way crossing the line!! Call the police immediately, as what they’re doing is against the law. Grief or not – nothing they’re doing is acceptable.

      • Kimstu April 2, 2014, 10:00 am

        Especially the part about blocking the intersection with their own cars while they mourn at the site of the tragedy! Way to cause ANOTHER accident while you’re expressing your grief over the previous one, folks.

  • MacFrannie April 1, 2014, 12:00 pm

    This makes me think of when my Mother passed away. I was 25 and am the youngest of 4 children. The way my father behaved was truly appalling IMO. My Mother committed suicide and at the memorial service my father appeared to be crying “on cue” for every new arrival at the funeral home. The wailing would last for about a minute and then stop and then the chatting would resume. He went around the room commenting on the “turn out” or lack thereof and said that when he died the room wasn’t big enough to hold everyone who would come to pay their respects (turned out to not be true). I was pretty shell shocked at the time but knowing my father the whole thing seemed like an act and didn’t ring true. I understand that people grieve differently but the whole thing seemed to be all about him, he really wasn’t too interested in us kids and how we were doing. For instance, after she died I was the last one to get home (about a day after everyone else) and I was sitting in the kitchen with my aunts bawling my eyes out and he strolled in from his bedroom and said “what are you crying about”? Weird. In retrospect I think there was a lot of guilt built into his behavior but it still made it hard to deal with, then and now.

    I’ve never spoken of this with my siblings or really anyone other than my husband or my therapist, yes, I needed therapy after all that, shocker. The whole thing was so surreal.

  • PWH April 1, 2014, 12:23 pm

    OP, everyone grieves differently. When my Father passed away, nearly 4 years ago, I used FB to notify people of his passing and relay the details. I will also post remembrances or pictures on the anniversary of his death, Father’s Day and his birthday. It helps me vent and friend’s and family offer their support. Your Aunt could be using social media as a coping mechanism, finding solace in the support she receives in response to her postings. She could also be one to wrap herself up in the grief or try to use it to put all attention on her. I have dealt with people like this, not that your Aunt falls into this category. Shortly after my Father’s funeral, I was on FB chatting with a friend who had also lost her Father a few years prior and came across my Husband’s SIL’s wall. She had posted something about how horrible it was that she knew someone who had died and she couldn’t believe she would have a funeral to go to. This solicited all sorts of condolences from her friends, Sorry for your loss and so on. Meanwhile, she barely even knew my Father. She saw him maybe 4-5 times in the entire time she was dating/married to my BIL. Somehow she had managed to turn is his death into an opportunity for her to be in the spotlight.

    • kingsrings April 1, 2014, 8:25 pm

      Something similar happened at a workplace of mine years ago. A co-worker of mine was murdered. Someone in another department right next to us who was a friend of his also acted like the Grief Drama Queen as well. She and her boss kept going on and on about how she’d never lost anyone close to her and all this self-centered poor me, poor me drama. Since when was it about her?? She wouldn’t attend his memorial service because of this, but went to the graveside service, where she proceeded to flee screaming back to her car midway through the service and refused to come back. Some people just have to turn things into all-about-them moments for who knows why. Attention hogs?

    • Vermin8 April 2, 2014, 6:41 am

      I’m not sure how to describe this behavoir but I find it off putting. I have an aunt and a cousin who both engage in this. The sister in law of the cousin (with whom they are both good friends) lost a young adult cousin to an unfortunate and preventable accident several years back – very tragic. The cousin recently (in the past couple years) posted an FB picture of the victim and gave a brief summary of the story. FB friends told her how sorry they were and they didn’t realize she had gone through this. If the cousin had met the victim, it was very brief, but that didn’t stop her from accepting everyone’s condolences as if the victim were cousin’s BFF. Her mother is just as bad – her mom had a sister in law (wife of brother) whom she never liked. For decades I’ve heard Aunt slam the SIL. Then SIL was diagnosed with a terminal disease and passed away a few months later. Aunt was constantly posting about her “dear, sweet” SIL and how devastated she was. Oh, yeah?
      As far as etiquette, I’m not sure if that if a violation or not – ie, playing up your pain for attention.
      With the OP’s family, I can’t say for sure if that is the case but their method of grieving is opening up OP’s wounds afresh and OP is understandably weary of it.

    • Kate April 4, 2014, 5:22 am

      I also know a ‘grief spotlight seeker’ and can’t imagine how awful it would be to be the people actually affected by the event in question. A girl I went to university with was like this – her friend’s partner died young under tragic circumstances, but from the way this girl carried on, you’d think it was her own boyfriend that passed away, not a guy she’d met twice. Like, running out of lectures sobbing, asking for extensions on every assignment to ‘deal with her feelings’ etc. Every time she discussed it, it was how the death was affecting *her*, not the guy’s girlfriend, parents, family, community etc.

  • just4kicks April 1, 2014, 12:23 pm

    My DH and I both have a relative like this on each side of our family.
    This person makes the death an attention seeking event for themselves. “LOOK how sad I am!!!” “Oh my GOD, I’m SO heartbroken!”
    My hubby and I, and many relatives, agree it’s exhausting to watch…

  • DGS April 1, 2014, 12:28 pm

    P.S. A lot of times, ostentatious displays of grief hint at the strong sense of deeply held, mixed unresolved feelings about the deceased from the person displaying such grief. I say this as a person who has witnessed this in my own family, and as a practicing psychologist who has witnessed that in my own clinical practice. For a personal example:

    A few years ago, my Stepfather’s mother passed away at an advanced age of a prolonged illness. She was a complicated woman and an inconsistent mother; while at times, she was quite attentive and loving towards her children and grandchildren, her own propensity towards melodrama, selfishness and attention-seeking behavior made her challenging to deal with, and her adult children had very complex relationships with her. My Stepfather would frequently roll his eyes when dealing with her, and my Mother (who is an incredibly kind woman and who showed endless patience with her mother-in-law) struggled with mixed feelings of bemused affection and resentment towards her. My Mother and Stepfather took care of my Stepfather’s mother together with my Stepfather’s sister (we’ll call her “Betty”) and Betty’s husband “George”. Betty, a very fierce and strong personality in her own right, frequently clashed with her mother, and she had set a very firm boundary between her own family (George and their 4 adult children, ranging in age from 36 to 25, and the children’s spouses and children) and everyone else in the extended family. My Mother, a much gentler personality, would be frequently bulldozed by Betty, and Betty and my Stepfather would butthead on a regular basis (they are only 11 months apart, and sibling rivalry has always been rampant between them, as well as, to be fair, deep affection).

    At my Stepfather’s mother’s funeral, Betty, who had driven the funeral arrangements, monopolized all the seats at the front of the sanctuary for her family – my Stepfather and Mother and the rest of us had to sit several rows back. At the funeral, Betty screamed, wept and cried, yelling out, “Mommy, Mommy”, and she had to be led away, supported on both sides by her husband and one of her son’s, weeping from the casket. She was evidently so unwell, that she had to excuse herself to lay down several times during the visitation afterwards. It resembled a scene from a news montage of natural disaster or war victims being buried, while their relatives, weeping, wailing and in rags, cluster around coffins. Frankly, it was very difficult to witness. I do not want to condemn Betty for being an attention-hog; it’s possible that much of this overly dramatic display was done for attention, but I also think that much of it had to do with her realizing that her complex and thorny relationship with her mother would now never be resolved.

  • Barbarian April 1, 2014, 12:34 pm


    You have my sympathy. Everyone responds to loss differently and usually true to form to their normal personality and character traits. We can’t control how others react at funerals. Admin’s advice is great-block them from Facebook if you don’t want the drama and don’t have an essential need to be in contact with them.

    When my mother passed away, my siblings put a very flowery inscription on the back of her tombstone eulogizing her for many character traits she never really had. At any rate, she was a difficult person during her life from my experience.

    I was very perturbed that this was inscribed on a tombstone I contributed to without the rest of the family informing me first. I remained silent though since they may have seen a side of her I did not. I have heard funerals’ true purpose is to comfort the living, so I let this go as their way of dealing with her loss.

    Hopefully, your drama hungry relatives will eventually get over this. Unfortunately, it will probably be a new crisis that they will then be using their energy to publicize on Facebook just like this funeral.

    • Kimstu April 2, 2014, 10:14 am

      Good for you @Barb for the dignified response. It can be hurtful when the near & dears fulsomely praise somebody who’s caused us suffering, because it seems dismissive of the trouble and pain that we got from that person.

      But in the long run, your siblings’ overly effusive remembrance of your difficult mother will dwindle to a trivial thing; having gone through a conflict with your siblings over the memorial arrangements, on the other hand, would always be a bad memory.

  • Cat April 1, 2014, 1:07 pm

    If you cannot change something, do your best to ignore it. Extremes seem to come out at funerals and in their aftermath. Some people do the “throw yourself into the grave” and some want to do the “dance on the grave and sing” routine.

    Block the posts and, if you have to see these women, leave the room if they start in on the “who loved them best” competition. If we spend our lives making other people miserable, we can guess what they will do when we ourselves are gone.

  • EllenS April 1, 2014, 1:27 pm

    This reminds me of some relatives of my dear mother. When she was lingering in the hospital for many months, in what soon became apparent was her final illness, none of them could be bothered to visit. Oh, wait – one did drop by for a few minutes, when she was scheduled for an outpatient procedure at the same hospital. At which visit she spent the entire time currying sympathy for her minor and annoying upcoming procedure (totally ignoring my mother’s recent, failed open-heart surgery). It was as if Mom had come to pay a visit on her.
    At Mom’s funeral you can bet these folks were first in line weeping loudly and copiously, throwing flowers into the open grave, and announcing to all and sundry how close they were and how much they were suffering from her loss.
    I did not maintain much relationship with these folks when Mother was alive, and do not do so now, either. Thank goodness I am not connected on Facebook with them.

  • AD April 1, 2014, 2:03 pm

    OP here. Lis- The uncle who died was not his father, but a brother. My mother had married into the family. I can tell you that my father and another aunt (their brother and sister) have shown similar but a bit more restrained distaste toward Aunt 1’s display over Grandma. I do not know how my aunt and uncle feel about her pouncing on my cousin’s death as yet, but the grief is still very new, and they may accept it as sympathy.

    To address Kay’s comment, I mention it merely as a reference to what I believe is a proper time frame for public grieving. I was 16 when she died. I had myself decently well in hand enough at 17 to avoid such displays.

    Kimstu- Thank you for the advice. Such a display over my own death would be a horror beyond words.

    DGS, Carnation, and everyone else on this thread who has experienced a loss- You have my deepest sympathies. Thank you all for such useful information and advice. If it is desired, I will weigh in after the funeral.

  • Anonymous April 1, 2014, 2:09 pm

    Yes, block notifications from Aunt 1 and Aunt 2. Interact with them (or not) on your own terms, and move on with your life as you see fit. If enough people do this, they’ll see that “splattering their grief all over Facebook” isn’t getting them attention anymore, so they’ll move on with their lives too, and go back to interacting with people in a positive way. Also, this thread has made me realize that when I die, I don’t want any fuss at all. I’m young, active, and healthy, so this is all a moot point for now (barring a freak accident), but when the time comes, I think I’d like to go knowing that the people who knew me, are still happily living their lives, because I don’t want them to be sad, and I don’t want them to fight and argue with each other.

    • Heather April 2, 2014, 7:19 am

      I come from an Irish/Scottish background. Growing up and in young adulthood, for me, funerals were parties. They were wakes in the truest sense. Imagine my shock at my first funeral where people didn’t make jokes, drink, dance, tell stories, and pull pranks. I am with you, Anonymous… when I die, of course people will be sad… but I want it to be a celebration of my life and of the relationships I had.

  • Library Diva April 1, 2014, 2:17 pm

    These women remind of characters in an LM Montgomery novel. The novel in question was called “A Tangled Web.” The women were both young war widows, both of whom had been married briefly before their husbands went to war and were subsequently killed in action. Years later, they both still wore full mourning everywhere. They visited their husband’s graves together every day. They were both noted for bursting into tears at any provocation, and for steering every conversation around to the central tragedy of their lives. During the novel, one of the women reconnects with a man who was a childhood friend, begins courting him again and plans for marriage. Her friend and cousin was NOT HAPPY at the loss of their shared identity as the saddest widows ever.

    I know that this is how some people cope, and while I do think our society sweeps grief under the rug too much, there should be limits. It sounds to me as if what’s really bothering OP is that their grief is insincere and that they’re using it to somehow draw attention to themselves. There is, of course, nothing OP can do but hide them from her Facebook news feed.

    I have always hated those glittery platitudes, too, and I just lost my mother seven weeks ago. I can’t think of a less appropriate way to honor the person my mother was than by posting a glittery crying angel GIF on Facebook that reads “RIP dear Mom Your with the Angles Now and 4Eva in r Hearts.” (those things always seem to contain one misspelling).

    • Susan April 1, 2014, 9:10 pm

      There are people who seem to turn grief into their identity. It’s their choice to make, but it is my choice to minimize contact with them and roll my eyes (in private). Still waters run deep. So I sympathize even more with your recent loss, LibraryDiva, because I suspect you are the sort that does not make a public spectacle of it.

      And I also hate misspelled maudlin sentiments, especially when steeped in overt religiosity. I’m often tempted to ask why if they love Jesus so much they can’t they be bothered to spellcheck for Him.

  • mark April 1, 2014, 2:32 pm

    I still remember the pain of my brother’s premature death. I was at his side when he died, and it was a very lonely place to be. I was in contact with my family via cell phone so I had some help but the decision was mine to end life support per my brother’s wishes. I never want to do that again. As to grief it is hard to say how people deal with it. Some people make a lot of jokes a sort of gallows’s humor. (This is me.) Some people go silent. Some wail and gnash, and some act in yet different ways. I wouldn’t judge them too much for it. I would agree with admin and say there isn’t any reason for you to endure someone’s grief process if it is causing you pain or annoyance.

  • Julia April 1, 2014, 3:27 pm

    Years ago, widows wore black for a year. For some people, the grief never goes away and is strong every day (from what I’ve read when my BF’s mother died). On one hand, they are being incredibly public about it, but on the other, perhaps they still have raw wounds.

  • AS April 1, 2014, 3:51 pm

    First of all, OP, sorry for all your losses. Stay strong.

    Aunt 1 (and also 2, in case of grandma) might actually be grieving the loss. Or, they might be attention seekers, trying to milk dumpster from a tragedy. We wouldn’t know – only the OP can judge that. But what the admin says is true. Just block them. That’ll be less stressful for you.

    I have (guess had), a friend who was always depressed. If he didn’t have a reason to be sad, he’d invent one. When my mother passed away, we had to let him know, as we were supposed to meet him another day. I told my husband (then fiancé) to make the phone call, as I don’t want to deal with him. As expected, expected, said friend burst out crying, and my hubby had to console him! This friend didn’t even know my mother! And hubby had to console me, my dad as well as deal with his own feelings as he was quite close to mom.
    A month later, I tried to talk to friend (we tried to check on him often as he did was always depressed, and refused to take help). He once again burst our sobbing I’ve my mother. I had to console a person Ho never met my mother!
    Eventually, we just gave up trying to call him up. He never kept in touch either.

    • AS April 2, 2014, 7:33 am

      I meant “milk SYMPATHY”, not dumpster!!! Darn spellcheck!

      • AD April 2, 2014, 11:15 am

        Best. Autocorrect. EVER!!!

  • AIP April 1, 2014, 4:42 pm

    I do think that working in an industry connected with death does make you look at it in a different, perhaps taking a longer view, so I know exactly what you mean (in my case, I trained as an archaeologist and was privileged enough to work on a graveyard dig. I have worked with communities on other cemetery projects as well). That’s not to say the immediate grief is any less raw however.

    In the aunts’ case, I suspect that it’s just a particularly lazy form of attention seeking – like slacktivism for mourning. It’s easy to just like and share some mawkish, glittery guff to prove to others just how much “FEELINGS” you have with the least amount of actual effort or actual introspection needed. This is a completely different animal to those who have used their own personalised updates as a way to help them through the grieving process, and gain the support of friends and family who may be separated by distance.
    I can guarantee you they are probably the same clods who fall for every hoax going, the “share this post of a stolen photo with an accompanying made-up tissue of lies, and Facebook will pay for a new central nervous system” posts being particular favourites. Therefore I support Admin’s recommendation of either blocking them or just unfollowing them so you don’t have to deal with their foolishness.

  • Daphne April 1, 2014, 6:28 pm

    I am so very sorry for your losses.

    I also agree with most everyone else that you should waste no more time before blocking them on FaceBook. But I also might go a little further if I were you and explain that you want to believe that life is for the living, and that therefore you are having a hard time with their negativity through the constant reminders of sadness and grief. In fact, I sort of do think it’s the proper thing to do to let someone know why they are being blocked. Especially if you want to have a continued relationship with them.
    But I also understand how you would want to do nothing. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that others see things from your own point of view. I hope the fact that so many of do will bring you some comfort.

    • Daphne April 1, 2014, 6:31 pm

      oops–I meant “so many do” not “so many of do”

  • Gabriele April 1, 2014, 9:48 pm

    I was raised in a family where feelings were hidden away so other peoples’ emotions when publically displayed are difficult for me.I have been accused of being cold or unfeeling but a caring, wise friend told someone else that she knew me well and knew that when I felt something deeply I could not express it…either joy or sorrow.
    It gave me insight into myself and I found when confronted with someone else’s emotions (those that were difficult to take) if I were asked how I felt, I would say what my friend had said. It worked well and over time found others who told me they felt the same way and adopted the same approach.
    For Aunts 1&2, in a public setting I’d probably just say I felt the loss too greatly to talk or hear about it, please excuse me.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith April 1, 2014, 9:49 pm

    Agree with Admin- a simple, practical and elegant solution. Some people do post to Facebook even years after a death….. But you don’t have to see it, interact with it or deal with it unless you choose to. What a relief, right?

  • Ell April 1, 2014, 10:27 pm

    I am currently experiencing this issue with someone quite close to my heart.
    She became the god mother of her friends baby – this position she took very seriously…
    Unfortunately due to reasons I cannot say, the young girl passed away, aged 4. This is now 2 years ago.
    This person has now locked herself in a cage and refuses to get passed this, now (at stages) calling herself the girls mother.
    I, myself, find this rather intimidating, strange and hurtful towards the true blood relatives.
    She posts the glittery flashing butterflies on facebook often and stories of other parents who have lost their young ones… (which I feel she could not possibly comprehend how it feels to lose your own child… but maybe I’m being cold hearted?).
    It frightens me to think that she truly believes she was the mother of this young girl…
    I tried to talk to her about her grieving and that getting through it and moving forward in life is apart of grieving… I tried to say something out of pure care and concern for this human who is being destroyed by not letting go… I then was blocked on facebook and am being ignored…
    I dont understand it at all, I guess!?

    • Kimstu April 2, 2014, 10:24 am

      Gotta watch out for criticizing people’s expressions of grief, though. Speaking as a godmother myself, I cannot understand how any godparent could POSSIBLY usurp the title or role of “parent” as long as the godchild still had living and loving parents of his/her own. And responding to the tragedy of a godchild’s death by claiming parental status and focusing on one’s own grief instead of the real parents’ bereavement is BEYOND creepy.

      So @Ell, I understand why you find this behavior kind of horrifying and unhealthy. But as other posters have pointed out, it’s generally not productive to advise other people how to grieve, no matter how sympathetic and helpful you’re trying to be. Hope your friend gets her head on straight and stops trying to make this family’s tragedy all about her.

      • Ell April 4, 2014, 6:17 pm

        Thanks everyone! It actually makes me feel less of a demon having your responses there. We are on talking terms again and I decided after that not to say another word.. I just hope she finds the right path.

    • Library Diva April 2, 2014, 11:56 am

      That’s disturbing, Ell. There’s healthy, normal grief, and there’s destructive grief. It sounds to me like your friend is engaging in the latter, from what you’ve said. She needs counseling and maybe a doctor’s appointment to determine whether there’s something deeper going on that needs to be addressed. Sadly, though, if she refuses to do it, there’s not much you can do.

    • AD April 2, 2014, 11:39 pm

      Holy hellcats… Kimstu’s right, that is WAY beyond creepy. That goes into Stephen King territory on my radar. That lady needs help, and she needs it now.

  • InTheEther April 1, 2014, 10:57 pm

    I have to agree that doing what you can to ignore them is about all you can do.

    I can’t tell from the post whether the aunts are honestly overemotional and wallowing in it a bit, or if they are taking advantage to say “look at me!”. Unless you are confident that they can take it in a mature manner, I’d disagree with some posters and advise against even saying anything about it to them. Whether they are sincere or attention hogs, it would be really difficult to say anything without you coming out as the b****. Considering how public they’re making their grieving I doubt that any words would stay just between you and them. If the grief is legitimate then they’ll be upset that you just “don’t understand how I’m/we’re feeling” and if they want attention they’ll use your words to get more.

    You know these people, so you’ll need to determine whether they can take being told that they should probably try to start winding it down (If it’s legitimate then wallowing in their grief like you describe is still not healthy and I’m pretty sure can prevent them from coming to terms with everything). If you do decide to say something then I would caution you to really think about how you phrase things. As I said before, it is really hard not to come across as they bad guy in this situation.

  • Marozia April 2, 2014, 5:22 am

    You can’t tell people how to grieve and how long for. But, there is a limit for ‘drama llama’ grieving.
    You know the type I mean. On social media sites, telling the entire world about it. Some may call it ‘coping’ or ‘accepting’. Once is OK to let friends know about your loss. But to keep it up, suggests more drama than anything else.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe April 2, 2014, 6:32 am

    Reason number eleventeen billion kajillion why I am so so so happy that I am not on Facebook (or other social media sites) at all. And the entire notion that those who do choose to engage in such activities are “forced” to feel certain ways by the postings of others and that those others therefore owe some duty of care regarding such postings is absurd. If you don’t like what someone is posting, don’t read it.

  • Enna April 3, 2014, 11:56 am

    I agree with Admin’s advice 100%.

    Social Media can be a bane when it comes to things like this but other times it can be good. When my firend was bereved she did post some things on fb but not a massive amount. I did message both her and her mother privately saying sorry and I’m here if they need someone to talk to. Another firend lost her son 35 odd years ago and she gave me some valuable advice: don’t be scared about talking about death or a particular death. But then there is the oppiste end of te scale.

  • Kate April 4, 2014, 5:16 am

    Social media unfortunately exposes aspects of people’s personalities that we can often find jarring. I have blocked a number of relatives or acquaintances from my news feed because, while I don’t want to ‘defriend’ them both on Facebook and real life, I find their posts to be incredibly annoying! Grieving hasn’t been an issue with my Facebook friends, but I’m at an age where a lot of people are getting married or pregnant, and some people’s daily updates about the progress of their pregnancy or insufferably twee quotes about ~*a mother’s love*~ just get on my goat. Likewise, my posts probably annoy people too – for all I know, half my friends list could have me blocked.
    I would block these people and grieve in the way that you see fit.

  • AD April 4, 2014, 10:59 am

    OP again. The funeral was yesterday, and it was interesting. We got there very early (Accidentally. The immediate family were the only ones at the casket and we thought it best to give them time alone together before the service, so we waited outside until others arrived). The pastor had short notice and almost no material to go on at all, as the immediate family do not attend church with him (reminder, my father, his uncle, does) but he did a wonderful job. A great many stories were told and some excessive behavior engaged in- my cousin’s one-time girlfriend wailing about how much he loved her and wanted to see her and how the rain (which had been forecast) was sent because God was weeping over him, one cousin sat whispering loudly with my brother during the ceremony itself about his recent breakup and about how “the skank” wanted him back. Another, at the cemetery, mentioned streaking through it as a joke. In a bout of sarcasm, I remarked to my father that his nephews and son were “beacons of class and taste”. Taken as a whole, though, it wasn’t as horrible as I’d feared.

    Someone on here urged me to avoid Aunt 1 for obvious reasons, and I would like to thank that person for their advice. I’m only halfway awake and haven’t had coffee yet, so I couldn’t find the post. I did as best I could. She didn’t extend the same courtesy, but there was only one brush between us.

    A bit of background is required to make sense of the encounter, so I’ll be brief. I haven’t been to church in ages. I adore my father’s pastor, though, a very pleasant and kind man who goes out of his way to make me feel welcome when we happen upon each other in public places. I saw him sitting alone during the wake and sat down with him to say hello. We were discussing the job market (he’d asked if I was employed yet) when Aunt 1 sat down right next to him. I thought nothing of it at the moment, as a pastor’s job is spiritual comfort, and she looked upset. We both greeted her politely, as I couldn’t get up and walk away just then without being a clod. She didn’t return the greeting, but launched immediately into the subject of dead children. When it looked like they were well into it, I excused myself to the restroom (I didn’t feel it proper to sit and listen) and resumed avoiding her for the rest of the day. Aside from the occasional remark about “my sweet nephew” (I’ll give her credit: the funeral is the appropriate place and time for such), she managed to hold it in.

    Thus far, her Facebook feed (yes, I checked) has been one platitude and a picture of Easter Peeps posed in indecent positions. Aunt 2 behaved with her usual moderation where Grandma isn’t concerned.

  • Mojo April 5, 2014, 5:10 am

    I’m sorry for your losses, and it’s good to hear the funeral went better than expected. I just wanted to add my small thought on incessant grief. Psalm 30, ends with “Weeping may endure the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Also Ecclesiates 3, says that everything has its season. If you see their pastor again, maybe he could remind them that God doesn’t want us to grieve forever.

  • me July 11, 2015, 8:23 am

    I have been going through this with my own family for 16 years. They were actually doing well until another woman dragged them into this unstable behavior. It destroyed our relationship because I could no longer take care of them. They lost their home, one went to jail, drinking problems began, a bad marriage, and an even worse divorce because of the drinking. People really do what you are saying. I have blocked friends who behave like this. There is a difference between never truly getting over a loss, and seeking attention for that loss. It has taken a decade to be able to discuss the person I lost and not the tragedy, but that is my burdon to bear. In the past few years we have lost a few very selfish people who have planned out funerals that make the tradition of the jazz band and parade look simple. We have had coffins driven in a parade in the backend of a pick up. We have had 8hour wakes with one performance and award after another. We have had bodies shipped 2 hours away for preparation. We have underage drinking in sympathy for loss. We have had fund raisers for families years after a loss, who never needed one. Yet, there are families I see who honestly have turned their tragedy and loss into positive ways to help others. Some people can do that and should do that.