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Doing The Right Thing In The Midst Of The Drama

I would love to know what the Etiquette Hell community thinks about this situation and whether I should respond or just ignore this ridiculousness.

My father passed away of cancer in October. Because my parents live a few hours from the rest of the family, the funeral was held on a Saturday, about a week after his death.

Almost all of my mother’s family attended, some driving 8 hours to attend. My Uncle (my mother’s brother) drove 3 hours to attend, but came alone. My Aunt said she wasn’t coming because she couldn’t close her small boutique for the day. Their five children also did not attend (all are in their 20s and 30s), though none called to say why they wouldn’t be there.

My mother’s sisters and parents were offended at the absence of my Aunt and cousins, while my mother had other things on her mind obviously, but after the fact has acknowledged their absence was at minimum rude.
Sadly, my Uncle is also battling cancer and it has spread, with doctors only giving him a few months longer. This is where the situation has become ridiculous. One of his daughters has posted on Facebook several times with a variation of “there is NO excuse for missing a family funeral.” Another cousin reminded her that she missed my father’s funeral, though that comment was quickly deleted. My Aunt called my mother to update her on my Uncle’s condition and told her that “you better be at the funeral,” and implied to my grandparents and other Aunts that my mother, my brother and I would probably not go just out of spite.
My mother is outraged; she wouldn’t miss her brother’s funeral for anything, regardless of what happened in the past. I am shocked that they are talking about my Uncle’s funeral when he is not yet at end of life (they are continuing treatment, so there is always hope).
I have no idea how to handle this situation that is quickly getting out of control for absolutely no reason. My Uncle is still alive, but we will all attend his funeral when the time comes. We feel under attack when it was never said or even hinted that we would get our “revenge” by not attending. Do we ignore these comments? Do we remind them that they all seemed to have an excuse for not attending a family funeral in the past?    0218-15
Yes, you ignore the drama queens.    When confronted with manipulative dramatists in the family, the best advice I can give is to do what is right irrespective of what the others are saying. If you remove the guilt manipulations and ugly speculations completely from this situation, would you still go to your uncle’s funeral?   Would you speak with kindness to the bereaved?  Would you send a condolence card and/or flowers?
At the end of the day when you make choices that are the right thing to do, you have the internal strength to ignore the ugliness and can have a deep contentment that you did the best you could do.
Just a head’s up, btw.   If they are already fighting about the funeral, it would not surprise me if they are already dividing up the estate well before Uncle has breathed his last.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • just4kicks February 24, 2015, 3:11 am

    First of all, I’m so sorry about your dad, my deepest sympathies to you family.

    And, I’m sorry, they already planning a living man’s funeral?!? What?!? How crass, and incredibly hurtful to someone who is battling cancer. What’s WRONG with them?!?

    I also fear Admin is correct, they are probably laying claims to his possessions and money as we speak.
    Appalling and just uncalled for.

    I missed my uncle’s funeral years ago, because a week after he passed away, (we knew it was coming, he was very sick and had been given Last Rites)and the night before the funeral, my son had collided with another player at his baseball game and hurt his ankle. He said it didn’t hurt much and went to bed after the game. When he woke the next day, it was swollen the size of a grapefruit, and I said we were going for xrays as soon as the funeral was over that morning.
    My folks who went to the game, called that morning to see how my son was and I told them we were leaving from the funeral to go to the emergency room, and we probably wouldn’t make the funeral luncheon. My dad (his brother is the one who passed) said “take him NOW, don’t worry about the funeral, I’m sure (son) is in a lot of pain, it’s sounds like it may be broken!”
    I said we would be feel awful about missing the funeral, and my said “Uncle J loved your son and loved to watch him play baseball….He wouldn’t want you to wait….GO!!!”
    We did, and his ankle was indeed broken, and he had a torn ligament to boot.
    It was an emergency, and my family said to pass along that they understood we had to miss the funeral.

    • CookieWookiee February 24, 2015, 7:49 am

      “And, I’m sorry, they already planning a living man’s funeral?!? What?!? How crass, and incredibly hurtful to someone who is battling cancer. What’s WRONG with them?!?”

      Erm…we did the same thing while my father was dying of pancreatic cancer. I knew that there was no way I was going to be thinking straight when the time came (I wasn’t doing so well just then either, but still…), so my husband and I (and other family members) made the arrangements about a week before he died. My father knew, and just asked for a few particular things to be done. Actually I think he was relieved things were taken care of. When someone dies there’s so much emotion and stress and thousands of details that need attention *now*–IMO there’s nothing wrong with arranging as much as you can beforehand, particularly if you want to make sure things are done the way the family (and the deceased) prefer. For me, it made a very difficult time rather easier to get through.

      OP, my condolences on your loss. And I’m sorry you have family members who are acting in a hypocritical manner. Yes, absolutely, ignore them and take the high road. At least you know you will have done the right thing, no matter what anyone else may say.

      • Beth February 24, 2015, 8:44 am

        I think arranging before hand is one thing, discussing it on social media, that’s another thing.

        • Goldie February 24, 2015, 10:01 am

          Yes, this exactly. My dad made all of the arrangements too, when his cancer became advanced. Nothing wrong with that. But arguing on facebook over who will come to the funeral of a man that’s still alive and who will not (interesting assumptions, by the way!!…) is completely uncalled for, rude to all involved, and contributes nothing to the actual funeral preparations.

      • clairedelune February 24, 2015, 9:31 am

        Agreed with Beth–pre-planning is wise and appropriate, for all the reasons you very eloquently mention. It’s the pre-bickering and speculating on who may or may not attend that’s crass.

    • Mary February 24, 2015, 9:02 am

      My parents pre planned my Dad’s funeral when he was dying of pancreatic Cancer. He even insisted on my mom driving him 200 miles for him to pick out his own handmade casket at a Trappist Monestary.
      However your cousins might be a little crass about it.

    • lakey February 24, 2015, 10:28 am

      OP, sorry about your loss.

      Your uncle is dying of cancer and they’re worried about who will attend the funeral? Yikes.

      • just4kicks February 24, 2015, 12:38 pm

        My apologies to anyone who was offended at my remark.
        There IS nothing wrong with pre-planning a funeral, say, certain music the person wants played, and having your will in order.
        I’m sorry I didn’t clarify, I didn’t mean that, my dad has MS, and has started to get his affairs in order etc.
        I meant “you had better not miss the funeral!” on Facebook, and the general remarks like OP’ s Uncle has already passed on…is what I meant by crass and a little disrespectful, as Uncle is still very much alive and some comments from his family make it seem like he already six feet under.
        Miracles happen all the time, and maybe reading comments like those from his family may be a reason for him to give up his courageous fight against his cancer.

    • Lucretia February 24, 2015, 2:26 pm

      “And, I’m sorry, they already planning a living man’s funeral?!? What?!? How crass, and incredibly hurtful to someone who is battling cancer. What’s WRONG with them?!?”
      Um, my father died of cancer this September. It was terminal when he was diagnosed, and he was on hospice care. He actually planned a great deal of his own funeral. He said it was surreal, but he didn’t want it to fall to us when we would be hurting so badly. My father was an amazing man. It was nice, when it was done, to not have to ask what he would have wanted. We knew what he wanted, and were able to carry it out for him.

    • SamiHami February 24, 2015, 3:21 pm

      There’s nothing crass or hurtful about planning a funeral. We are ALL going to die eventually and by getting the plans out of the way now they won’t have that worry when the time comes, whether it’s in 10 weeks or 10 years. It’s actually irresponsible to NOT have a plan in place. Take it from someone who has lost 3 in laws in the past 5 years, none of whom planned anything whatsoever and had no life insurance to cover the expenses. That created an extra dimension to our grieving.

      • Lady Anne February 24, 2015, 8:14 pm

        My parents had both pre-planned and pre-paid their funerals. My dad was on dialysis with end-stage renal failure, and my mother, my sister and I sat down and wrote an obituary for the newspaper several months before he died. Years before he died (he was on dialysis for six years) my sister and I had kit-bashed a dollhouse kit to turn it into a church for his 75th birthday gift. (He was an Episcopal priest, and there’s a limit to the pairs of socks and bottles of wine you can give a man who doesn’t smoke or wear neckties.) When I asked him for his favorite hymns so I could put them on the hymn board, he gave me the ones he wanted for his funeral – so we could find them when we needed them.

        And so we did.

      • K February 24, 2015, 11:41 pm

        I’m with those who say there’s nothing wrong with planning a funeral in advance. Counting presumed RSVPs on social media, on the other hand…

        • just4kicks February 25, 2015, 5:22 am

          Again, I apologized above, I’m sorry for a knee jerk reaction.

          What I’m trying to get across, rather unsuccessfully, is the Facebook rants this dying man’s relatives are posting, as if the poor man has already died.
          He is still fighting his illness, yet his daughters are already telling everyone “you had BETTER not skip the funeral”.
          That’s what I meant.

          My folks have their funerals preplanned and their will in order.
          I think THAT is a wonderful idea, and saves a lot of confusion when they do pass on.

          If I were dying, I certainly wouldn’t want to go on my kids Facebook/Twitter/whatever to see “yeah….when my mom finally kicks the bucket, y’all better be there for the funeral!”
          That’s what I meant by crass and insensitive.
          By all means, plan the funeral….just stop with the media rants about a funeral for a man who is still very much alive.

          • Goldie February 25, 2015, 9:13 am

            I understood what you meant. The way they behave reminds me of an old joke, where a dying old man wakes up to the smell of his favorite cookies coming from the kitchen, gets up, goes to the kitchen to get one, only to be told by his wife: “Don’t touch these, these are for the funeral!” Except it’s not at all funny when people do this in real life. If I were OP’s uncle, I’d be so offended at OP’s cousins’ posts.

          • AIP February 25, 2015, 3:21 pm

            Or the sketch from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, where a family member is strangely eager to kill off the elderly father: “I’m not dead yet!”

          • just4kicks February 26, 2015, 4:59 am

            @Goldie: Thanks! 🙂

            @Aip: ….is that the one where they also yell “Bring out your dead!” ???

  • AS February 24, 2015, 7:09 am

    My condolences to you and our family.

    I almost feel that some family members pointed out their error, and they feel guilty about it.
    Hence they are on the offensive mode. Ignoring seems to be the best strategy.

    I should mention that I had missed my own mother ‘s funeral (cremation actually). I lived half the way across the world, and visiting home would mean messing up my visa badly – and she’d never have wanted that to happen (she died suddenly, and we weren’t prepared for it). Not something that I was happy about. Also, my father didn’t want to store her body for too long, as he said that she still “looked pretty” (I feel that it was more to do with not wanting to see the lifeless body of th woman he loved, for too long), which I totally supported him. We decided that we’ll spend the money for him to visit us, because he really needed a change if scene, and he could stay longer as he was retired. Also, my husband and I made a contribution in her honor to a local animal shelter we were involved with in my mom’s honor (she loved animals!). Funerels are for the living as much as they are for the dead.

    • Heather February 24, 2015, 7:45 am

      Fantastic way to handle the situation!

    • Archie February 24, 2015, 11:23 am

      AS – it’s a bit scary HOW much your situation mirrored my own 10+ years ago. In some ways, it felt good to read because I made the same choices as did my family – and I do understand better now why my dad might’ve rushed through the cremation etc. I feel better for my choices because like you, I did what “she would’ve wanted” and I don’t regret for one second.

  • Mustard February 24, 2015, 7:16 am

    Sorry to hear about your dad.
    Ignore the ridiculous comments, and do what you think/know to be right. It sounds as though they are aware that their excuses for missing your father’s funeral were somewhat lame.

  • Saucygirl February 24, 2015, 7:22 am

    I am very sorry for your loss, and for the loss it appears you are about to have.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with planning a funeral for someone who is still alive, since he has been told he only has a few months. Cancer sucks. This way, hopefully, his wishes will be known and granted. And it gives him an opportunity to have closure.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if talking to their dad/husband about his funeral has made them finally realize how important the funeral can be, to both the deceased and his immediate family. So now they may feel guilty about how they treated you and your family. Trying to make you seem petty and vengeful may make them feel better and justified in their actions.

    I would let it go, although the evil side of me would be tempted to say “I’ll definitely be at HIS funeral, since after all, HE was at my dads”.

    • Amanda H. February 24, 2015, 2:24 pm

      Your third paragraph, all the way. They probably do feel guilty and are now trying to guilt the OP in return in order to make themselves feel better. That whole, “well, THEY’RE going to do it too, so we’re not THAT bad, right?” mentality. Bringing others down so that you have company in your faux pas misery.

      All the more reason to prove them wrong by being the bigger person overall.

      • Rowan February 25, 2015, 4:34 am

        Like they’re trying to get two wrongs to make a right.

    • Cat February 24, 2015, 3:44 pm

      It would be more evil to say, “We were planning to attend if he dies. Are you going to have it earlier?”

      • Cat February 24, 2015, 11:23 pm

        I recall a post from some years ago when a woman had her mother’s funeral. She invited friends over and they remembered the good times they had with Mom. The problem was that Mom was not dead. Daughter just decided to end their relationship by having her funeral.
        That tops everything I have ever heard about funerals.

        • MamaToreen February 25, 2015, 9:08 am

          I would love to see a link. I don’t remember that one

          • Cat February 25, 2015, 6:07 pm

            I have looked for it and cannot locate it either. It stuck in my mind because, I have that sort of a mind and it was so outlandish to have a funeral for a parent who was not dead.
            The only thing that has come close is an obituary which reads, “She was a flower in the mud hole of life.”
            Whatever my legacy to the world is, I hope it is not that I was a flower in a mud hole. I prefer to remain a Blooming Idiot.

        • AIP February 25, 2015, 3:26 pm

          I mentioned it above, but this is an even more apt place to mention Monty Python plague village scene:
          Old man: I’m not dead yet!
          Cleese: yes you are, shaddap
          Old man: I’m feeling better, I might go for a walk later!
          Cleese: You’re not fooling anyone you know!

  • Kirsten February 24, 2015, 7:34 am

    One of my cousins missed our grandfather’s funeral because she had a holiday booked. The family told her that grandad would have been furious if she’d cancelled the holiday for his funeral, and if she chose to go on holiday, nobody would mind or be upset.

    • Stephanie February 24, 2015, 11:05 am

      I missed my grandmother’s funeral because I was on vacation and I didn’t find out until I got home and found a teary message from my father on my answering machine. He had all of my contact details, so I would have totally come home for it as I was relatively close to my grandmother. He said he didn’t want to bother me while I was away.

      • AnaMaria February 24, 2015, 1:06 pm

        My grandmother died a few hours after my mom and dad’s wedding; she had been holding on for her youngest son to get married. This was in the 70’s, of course, so it would have been hard to reach my mom and dad in the first place, but, when my grandpa did reach them a few days later, he told them to finish their honeymoon because that’s what my grandmother would have wanted. I hope that my own funeral will be well attended by loved ones someday, but I certainly wouldn’t want people to cancel once-in-a-lifetime opportunities or put themselves in life-ruining situations (like being fired from a job or driving through bad weather) to get there.

    • Mary February 24, 2015, 11:33 am

      My grandfather’s funeral was three days before we were to fly from the United States to London. My mom said my Grandpa would turn over in his grave if we missed the trip. We managed to fly from Minnesota to Seattle and back and then the next day flew to London.

    • Adereterial February 24, 2015, 12:05 pm

      I very nearly missed my grandfathers funeral as I was on honeymoon. He died, not unexpectedly, a week before my wedding. I was all set to cancel the honeymoon but my mother took charge of the funeral arrangements so my new husband and I could come. I am forever grateful she did. I’d have cancelled the wedding too, had my grandmother told me in no uncertain terms it was to go ahead. She’d bought her hat and she wanted to wear it.

      • Firecat February 24, 2015, 4:45 pm

        Awww…I think that was wonderful of your grandmother. And maybe it helped her, too – something happy to think about in the midst of the sadness and loss.

  • Irish Chick February 24, 2015, 7:38 am

    I agree that you should ignore them. Do not let them get any sort of rise out of you. By ignoring them, and then when the time comes, attending the funeral (as you were always going to) you show grace and compassion and that you are the ‘bigger person’ (so to speak) without descending to their childishness.

    I think their constant harping on about the funeral of a man, who whilst yes has a major illness which is likely to be terminal at some point, is not yet dead and could last any length of time more before he dies, says a heck of a lot about them as people and how they treat and value others. I feel so sorry for your Uncle to be surrounded by these thoughtless, crass gimme pigs at a time when family and support is what he needs.

  • NostalgicGal February 24, 2015, 7:56 am

    Funerals the marvelous crucible….

    Condolences on your loss, and your uncle’s condition.

    Rise above the petty drama queens and just do what’s right. You’ll be happier in the end and THAT is the important part. I’d also be doing my darnedness to help your uncle finish his bucket-list. I’m sure he has one. Celebrate the living while they are here.

  • chipmunky February 24, 2015, 8:32 am

    My Grandma planned and paid for her own memorial service (no funeral, just direct cremation and a memorial service later). The service is being held 3 weeks from Saturday, and all of the music, prayers, and readings are set up the way she wanted. Heck, Grandma even arranged and paid for food to be delivered for during the fellowship time after the service. She left nothing to chance, and the executor of her estate (and former power of attorney) was shocked at how she had everything in place.

    There might be some drama from some relatives later, but that will come at the reading of her will. Hopefully I won’t have a story for ehell at that point, but stay tuned!

    • Skaramouche February 24, 2015, 11:11 am

      I didn’t know your grandmother but I love the sound of her :). What a good, no-nonsense way to make sure that your funeral is as easy as possible on your loved ones.

  • Outdoor Girl February 24, 2015, 9:02 am

    Ignore, ignore, ignore. Do anything you might normally have done if your Aunt and cousins had never said anything.

    But for planning a funeral before the person has died, I think that is normal and smart, really. One might be pressured to go with more expensive options by an unscrupulous funeral director under the stress of planning after the fact. Planning it ahead of time is less stressful.

    My Mom spent 10 weeks in hospice when she was dying. Fortunately, she was completely lucid and, for the most part, planned her own funeral. We did override her on one song choice. It was one of her favourite hymn – Morning Has Broken. But the service was to be in the afternoon and she said we couldn’t sing that. We sang it anyway.

  • Lo February 24, 2015, 9:03 am

    Don’t funerals just show the ugliest side of people? Ugh.

    Ignore. Attend. And afterwards if I were you I’d begin distancing myself from this side of the family. Not because they didn’t attend your father’s funeral, I think we always have to give a little leeway for grief because it affects all people differently. But because of the way they are behaving NOW. Now you see what kind of people they are. Be done with them.

  • another Laura February 24, 2015, 9:10 am

    There is a difference between planning a funeral for someone still living (perfectly fine if it is in keeping with the wishes of the one to be buried and next of kin), and making demands on others to attend a funeral for someone not dead yet.
    My daughters and I were not able to attend my father-in-law’s funeral. He died two months after we moved overseas. His health was fine at the time we left. I made the decision that it was definately important for my husband to go, but as our daughters were just babies (the older was 2 the younger 7 months) a second set of transatlantic flights so soon would be too much for them. We were able to skype with the family and hear a recording of the funeral, for a bit of what we missed. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I knew that the needs of my husband and our children were opposing each other and I had to make choices that would meet as many needs for all of them as possible.

  • Kimberly February 24, 2015, 9:21 am

    I’m guessing they feel guilty because they didn’t have a real reason for missing the funeral. So they are projecting what they would do, if the situation was reversed on you and your family. They may even be trying to make you mad enough to not attend for some reason. Personally because of such crass grubbing behavior I would worry that Uncle might not be getting the best care, and would see if family members could make regular visits to check on him.

    I would not call what they are doing planning his funeral. I would call it hogging the spotlight. Pay no attention to the ill gentleman pay attention to me me me me me. I would be prepared for hysterics at the funeral.

  • mommawhopper February 24, 2015, 9:26 am

    I’m not giving your extended family any kind of pass —but sometimes people just don’t understand the right thing to do until theyve gone thru it themselves and then the light bulb goes on. That might be part of this. I personally don’t hold the “ceremony ” of a funeral in the high esteem as some do. How, why and when I remember a loved deceased is a personal matter to me ( I guess the same way people have very quiet, personal wedding ceremonies with little to no one in attendance) I may not attend the funeral home service but instead take a picture of the loved one out to the beach where I say my goodbyes. Just as society is getting away from the traditional church weddings, people are also getting away from the traditional funeral services. I was attended a very thoughtful service once for a fellow employee that our work held and we planted a tree ( I did not go to thefamily funeral home service because this meant far for to me and brought good closure)

    • iwadasn February 24, 2015, 8:52 pm

      To me, funerals are more about the immediate family of the deceased than the deceased themselves. You go to offer comfort and support to the widow, the children, etc.

      • Goldie February 25, 2015, 9:34 am

        We had insanely low turnout at my dad’s funeral. Honestly I was reluctant to call a lot of people. The funeral home and cemetery somehow could only do it on Monday (he passed away late Thursday night) and I was mortified to pull people out of work for this. A funeral home employee actually knew my ex-husband and offered to invite the ex’s (rather large) group of friends, and I told her no way, we’d be uncomfortable with a large crowd at the funeral. Probably not perfect planning on my end, because we ended up not having enough men to carry the coffin and my cousin, who had cancer himself and wasn’t supposed to lift weights, had to help carry. But one thing I do remember was that none of us felt that we needed any comfort from whomever came. I had the opposite feeling, that it was on me to comfort them and I didn’t know how to do that. Between me, my mom, and my sons, we did a really good job comforting each other. Because of this experience, I do not understand the OP’s cousins at all with the preemptive fit they’re throwing about distant relatives not showing up to their father’s future funeral. I am afraid I just don’t get it…

        For my own funeral, I just want myself cremated (or a more eco-friendly burial, if one is available by that time), no ceremony at a funeral home (I don’t want my or my kids’ savings go to a random funeral home when there are better things they can be used on), and then if my family and friends want to get together and reminisce about my crazy antics over drinks, that’d be great, but that’s up to them. I’ve been to a few of these “celebration of life” ceremonies and they seemed so much more appropriate to me than a traditional funeral (which was what my dad wanted for himself).

        Reading this thread, I think I need to state this very explicitly in my will that I don’t want a traditional ceremony. Otherwise my friends and family might feel obligated to have or attend one, for reasons mentioned here.

    • Kimstu February 24, 2015, 10:59 pm

      It’s important to remember the departed in ways that are deeply meaningful to you, but it’s also important to attend funerals and memorial services when possible, if you were close enough to the departed to be invited to them. Participating in such ceremonies is part of a community’s expression of respect for the deceased and support for the bereaved.

      It’s nice to have one’s own personal solitary rituals of remembrance and so on. But I don’t think I’d have the face to explain to, say, the grieving widow of a deceased friend that I didn’t show up to support and condole with her at the funeral because I decided it would “mean more” to me to, say, hang out at the beach with my friend’s photograph instead.

  • twik February 24, 2015, 9:40 am

    So, if I’m reading this correctly, one of the nieces that missed *her* uncle’s funeral is now saying that her cousins have no possible excuse if they miss her father’s funeral?

    • MamaToreen February 24, 2015, 1:47 pm

      Yah. I wonder if it’s occured to her that she’s being an idiot?

    • AIP February 24, 2015, 4:17 pm

      One rule for her and her rule for everyone else?

  • Christina February 24, 2015, 9:40 am

    I’m very sorry for your loss, and for your uncles illness.

    I agree with everyone else. Ignore. No point in feeding the crazy, because it won’t make them realize they were wrong. It will only make them act more defensive.

    That being said, there is a huge difference in planning someone’s funeral while still alive, which is a private matter,and broadcasting plans on Facebook and making demands in advance on who better be there. It’s not a social event. They are making themselves look incredibly foolish and pathetic. As someone else pointed out, they seem to be jumping the gun because they know what ‘they’ did was wrong and can’t admit it. They are trying to put the bad attention on you and your family instead of themselves. Engaging in their ignorance would not benefit anyone.

  • PWH February 24, 2015, 10:06 am

    OP, My condolences to you on your loss. Cancer is a horrible disease.
    I agree with Admin. Rise above all the pettiness and do what you feel is right and what you feel your Uncle would want.
    For those that feel it is strange to be planning someone’s funeral when they are still alive, my husband’s family is going through the same thing at the moment. He has an Uncle who is very sick with cancer. On numerous occasions the doctor has given Uncle mere months to live (he has bounced back many times). Each time this happens, the timelines are relayed on to the family, so that they can plan accordingly. Many family members live outside the state where the Aunt and Uncle live, including my MIL (the uncle in question is her BIL), some of the Uncle’s children and grandchildren and his MIL. We still hold out hope that Uncle will continue to surprise the doctors and spend more time with his family.

  • JD February 24, 2015, 10:12 am

    I agree with the concept that it is okay to plan a funeral ahead, privately, but to broadcast demands to attend said funeral before the man is dead strikes me as very crass and morbid. What would they do if he outlives all expectation? It happens at times. I also agree that it sounds like they are using offensive tactics to deflect guilt at having missed the OP’s father’s funeral. OP and her family, as grieved as they still are, should not be subjected to this barrage of rude demands about uncle’s future funeral. That in itself is tacky in the extreme — OP and her family are still in mourning, for heaven’s sake!
    I think the offense here is not the pre-planning, but pre-demanding, as well as having some rather lame excuses for missing OP’s father’s funeral, but expecting others to have NO excuse to miss their father’s. OP and her family can do no better than to rise above it and do the right thing — this is her mother’s brother, after all — and I suspect the rest of the family will know exactly who is tacky and who isn’t in this drama. If I were OP, though, the one thing that might tempt me to say something to aunt and cousins would be in order to protect my poor mother’s tramped upon sensibilities, when her emotions must still be so raw and fragile. I think I would tell them to please not discuss anyone’s impending death or funeral with my mother at this time.

    • Dee February 24, 2015, 2:20 pm

      I see the pre-demanding on both sides – maybe OP’s family didn’t actually demand attendance but still they expected it. Did Aunt offer her excuse for not attending or was she pressured to give one? It is not mandatory to attend a funeral and many people, for whatever reason, simply choose not to attend even when it is for close friends and family. The “why” of it is nobody else’s business. Would OP feel better if she did not know why Aunt did not attend? Because it is entirely possible Aunt had a good reason, but she only gave the one she was comfortable giving. In any case, there seems to be firm pressure from this family – both sides – to attend any and all funerals. This ensures disappointment. Aunt’s family is being quite difficult and hypocritical but maybe this is in response to the pressure felt from OP’s family. Both parties should ignore each others’ directives and expectations and focus on their own actions and responsibilities.

  • PM February 24, 2015, 10:33 am

    What I’m hearing is, “We treated rudely and coldly, BUT DON’T YOU DARE think you have the right to the do the same to us!”

    • Shannan February 24, 2015, 10:40 am

      Your Aunt and cousins are aknowleging their rude, cold and unsupportive behavior by telling you you better not act the same way or it will look like revenge. Ignore, ignore, and if that isn’t enough, ignore…

  • greenbird February 24, 2015, 10:51 am

    I’d ignore all of their drama, and stop reading their facebook for awhile. The only thing I would do is contact your uncle and let him know you’re thinking about him. I would not discuss any of the funeral craziness with him; I’d just want to stay in touch with him so he knows how much you care about him, and so he can see that any craziness that his family is creating is not affecting how you feel about him.

  • rachel February 24, 2015, 11:01 am

    Some people only insist on staying in touch with family so that they have a captive audience for their drama. Go to the funeral and don’t engage the crazy.

    • Mary February 24, 2015, 12:52 pm

      I like this response!

    • JO February 24, 2015, 3:51 pm

      This exactly!

  • AnaMaria February 24, 2015, 11:29 am

    My mother was diagnosed with cancer last year; thankfully, when she went in for the first surgery, they found it was contained to one spot and could be fully removed. A year later, we learned that her immune system was attacking her muscles (probably in response to the cancer and surgeries), but as of right now it looks as though it is slowing down and may fizzle out. Both times, though, before we knew the prognosis, I found myself dwelling on the logistical side of death. I thought about what song I would sing at her funeral, how much time I could get off of work to go help my dad, whether or not my ex-boyfriend would want to know about the funeral, even what I would wear to the funeral and grave site. It was impossible NOT to think about the possibility of loosing my mom, but thinking about the odds and ends was so much easier than thinking about actual death. Yes, sometimes I even thought about annoying relatives and mentally prepared myself to deal with them.

    I’m not saying the behavior of the aunt/cousins of the OP is acceptable; I’m just saying that facing the possibility (or reality) of death does really, really weird things to our brains. It sounds like aunt and cousins are angry about loosing their dad/husband and want somewhere to re-route their anger, so they’re trying to stir up family drama. I think the OP is wise to refuse to take the bait, though; this is the last thing she (and her mom and brother) need right now!

  • Tracy W February 24, 2015, 11:29 am

    My condolences to you on the loss of your father and your uncle’s illness.

    I agree with others that a good response is to ignore, but if emotionally you feel up to it, you could respond to some statements as if it was a particular request for your support and thus a compliment.
    “You’d better be at my husband’s funeral!”
    “I hope that’s a long time off, but of course when the time comes I’ll be there. And it really means a lot to me that you are thinking of us at this time.”

    Implications to grandparents and other siblings, which presumably were passed on “Of course we would go anyway to say goodbye to uncle, but it is really touching that [aunt] wants us there in particular.”

    Although I’d pass on responding to the Facebook comment unless the cousin is openly discussing her father’s prognosis on Facebook, in which case I’d post below something like “Thinking of you and your Dad at this time, my best wishes to you all.”

    I’ve felt very conflicted in writing this. This must be a very tough time for everyone emotionally, and I kinda feel that it’s important to cut some slack for people facing a terminal illness, particularly if they’re acting out of character, but also it’s a very tough time for your immediate family, and they are laying more burdens on you and your mum by their behaviour. Basically, my sympathies.

  • Callalilly February 24, 2015, 12:02 pm

    There are some people who simply LIVE for drama.

    Months ago I got a call from my step-son upset because his mother and adult half-sister were torturing him about when his father’s monthly check was coming. The step-son is also an adult, and doesn’t even live there anymore.

    And the check? My husband drops it off the fourth Thursday of every month, and has for YEARS.

    I’m guessing they just ran out of things to scream about that day.

  • Cora February 24, 2015, 12:53 pm

    Condolences on your loss. I would take this as your warning to start preparing yourself for the uncle’s funeral now. Chances are that when you show up, they will throw all kinds of nasty nonsense your way — so gird your loins now. The more prepared you are for them to treat you badly (including steeling yourself to relentless kindness), the better off you’ll be. I’m picturing Facebook Daughter getting all up in your grill, to which you can respond with several beats of silence just looking calmly at her, then saying, “Well, I guess poking holes in me is just your way of dealing with grief, then. I’m very sorry.” And walking THE HELL away.

  • Lizajane February 24, 2015, 1:05 pm

    Sympathy to you. Ignore all the social media scuttlebutt. If asked directly if you’re coming, answer, “Why wouldn’t I?” Then be quiet and wait for the sputtering.

  • JWH February 24, 2015, 1:21 pm

    Sound’s like there’s a lot of drama in OP’s mother’s family, specific to OP’s mother’s generation. If (as I suspect) the drama is specific to OP’s mother’s generation, then I don’t think OP will do any good by jumping into it. I’m also willing to bet that the drama/feuding go back over several decades (at least) to issues that the principals have long since forgotten. I say OP ought to sit back, let the relatives fume at each other, and attend funerals, or not, as he/she sees fit.

  • picturegirl80 February 24, 2015, 1:54 pm

    Ah, the hypocrisy.

    Yep, just ignore the drama. That’s the best thing for you, your mom, your brother–for everyone, really. And if your uncle’s immediate family says anything along the lines of ‘you came?!’ then you just smile sweetly and say kindly ‘of course I came.’ And that is all you have to do.

  • JacklynHyde February 24, 2015, 1:57 pm

    1) I truly hope the behavior of the Uncle’s immediate family doesn’t extend into something worse at the inevitable funeral.

    2) My great-uncle Walter had terminal emphysema and knew that there would be hard feelings upon his death once the will was read. He was the wealthy bachelor brother and had named his youngest sister the executor, which did inevitably create some horrible scenes. However, for his funeral, he wisely arranged for an open casket service and an open bar reception. For at least a few hours, we had a convivial time toasting Uncle Wally.

    • Margaret February 25, 2015, 11:40 am

      I don’t understand why anyone would be upset about who got named executor. It’s a difficult demanding job that comes with personal liability attached. Executor does not equal beneficiary.

      • admin February 25, 2015, 12:45 pm

        My brothers and I filed with the superior court to have the executor removed from my father’s estate. He filed the final accounting for the estate before our appeal worked its way through the judicial system. He was later found to have embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from the estate. Some people do not make very good executors and the other beneficiaries know it.

        • MamaToreen February 25, 2015, 4:16 pm

          The executor for my parent’s will predeceased them. They don’t plan on naming another, and just told me that as the big sister, I am expected to treat fairly with my brother. I have a hard time conceiving(sp?) of doing otherwise, but I have seen too much to say they had no reason to say it.

        • Cat February 25, 2015, 6:28 pm

          It happens more often than most of us can imagine. My brother got Dad to put his name on Dad’s bank accounts so he could “pay for Dad’s funeral”. I paid for the funeral, tombstones for Mom and Dad, and all of Dad’s expenses that he incurred from living with a roommate. Brother kept all the money. His name was on the accounts.

  • Miss-E February 24, 2015, 2:01 pm

    Such a bizarre story! I don’t think that the aunt and cousins missing the OPs father’s funeral was a major deal, especially considering we have no idea what the particular circumstances surrounding their relationship were. I have missed plenty of funerals of relatives that I barely knew who lived many hours away. If its a major faux pas that I missed great-uncle Silas’s funeral when I hadn’t seen him since I was three, then I’m sorry. Personally, not a big deal.

    But how bizarre that they would go on to be so aggressive about their own husband/father’s funeral when he isn’t even dead yet?? Planning ahead is fine but calling people to harass them about attending…when you have just skipped their dear one’s funeral?? So weird!! OP – don’t let it get to you. They sound nuts.

  • SamiHami February 24, 2015, 3:34 pm

    One thing about the post that bothered me was the statement that it was rude to not attend a funeral. It is not rude. Attendance at a funeral is not mandatory. The OP and her family seem to be under the impression that it is. Sure, there are some that would generally be expected–close family members, close friends.

    But generally, no. Every person has their own life and their own reason for doing/not doing things. I did not attend any of my grandparents’ funerals, as it would have required time off work and expensive travel. I didn’t need to be at the funerals in order to grieve; I was able grieve at home. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    • Reboot February 24, 2015, 6:40 pm

      I’m in agreement with this. I attended my brother and my father’s funerals with great difficulty, but bow out of extended family’s funerals whenever possible. I send my condolences, of course, but given my particular circumstances, it’s really better for everyone involved that I not be present.

    • Kimstu February 24, 2015, 11:31 pm

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with not attending a funeral, even the funeral of somebody close to you, if you can’t make it or the hardships of attending would be too much.

      There is, however, something a bit wrong about people treating the decision whether or not to attend a funeral as something that’s only about “their own life” and “their own reason for doing/not doing things” and their own requirements for what they “need” to do “in order to grieve”. Funerals are not held just to provide individual attendees with their own personal grieving opportunities. They’re about families, communities and circles of friends coming together as a community to pay respects to the deceased and stand with those who are mourning them most deeply.

      It’s understood (except apparently by people like the OP’s relatives) that of course nobody can always manage to attend every funeral where their presence might be supportive and comforting and valued. But the default attitude for non-attendees is traditionally considered to be along the lines of “I wish I could have been there and my thoughts were with them and DearDeparted”. Not “I didn’t make it to the funeral but I can do my grieving on my own and there’s nothing wrong with that; after all, attendance isn’t mandatory”. Very touching, that.

  • Cat February 24, 2015, 3:38 pm

    I am very sorry to hear that you recently suffered the loss of your father. We know that, in the natural course of events, we will outlive our parents, but it is still horrible when it happens.
    The only reply to the “You had better come” comment is, “What an odd thing to say. We have never missed a family funeral. Is there some reason you thought we would not come?” Always put the ball in the miscreant’s hands.
    My own family funeral story. Dad had multiple health problems and was a very old man at sixty two. My older brother always went on a month’s holiday in June to go big game hunting out West . I asked him what he would want me to do if Dad died in June. Brother’s exact words were, “Have the funeral! I am not giving up a day of my vacation for any funeral!”
    I told him I thought he might feel differently if it actually happened and asked if he’d like to call me once a week to see how Dad was. Exact reply, “I don’t care how he is! I am not wasting my money on long distance phone calls.” (This was in 1975. Long distance was expensive.)
    Dad died June 15, Father’s Day, at 5 am. There was no way to contact my brother; and he did not call to wish Dad a happy Father’s day. I held off for eight days and finally gave into the family’s demands to have the funeral.
    Brother did not find out that Dad had died until he stopped to visit relatives on June 30th and they told him. Now he tells everyone that “he was not allowed to attend his Daddy’s funeral because I would not let him”.
    I have finally ordered a copy of Dad’s death certificate. I can now prove that the date of death was June 15th and the burial was June 23rd. Brother can explain why he wasn’t there.Here’s the ball, bro.

    • Asharah February 25, 2015, 3:04 pm

      Well, given that at your mother’s funeral, he grabbed her arm, waved it around, and called out, “Look, she’s soft!”, you were probably better off without him. Or else he might have tried to grill you some more for names and phone numbers of any friends you had that were on the pill. Did your grandmother show up and try to steal some more like she did when your mother died?
      Some family members you are better off without.

      • MamaToreen February 25, 2015, 4:20 pm

        Wait, what?

      • Cat February 25, 2015, 6:20 pm

        True, I was fine with his not attending. What irritates me is that he refused to attend and now blames me for “not allowing him to attend.”
        You missed a post from me that I made years ago. People did not believe it and thought I was a troll. To remind you-my brother complained to my grandmother that he had, when I was at university, driven all the way up to see me; I had refused to introduce him to my friends and had thrown him out of my apartment. What he did not tell her, and I cannot write what he said because it is obscene, was that he walked into my apartment and said, “I want a list of all the women you know who are on birth control, names, addresses, and phone numbers. If they are ******* their boyfriends, they can **** me too.” I told him I knew no such women and, if that was the only reason he had come to see me, he could leave. It was and he left.
        One man said he didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t know any women like that. I had to explain that I knew women who were on birth control but who were engaged to be married. I did not know anyone who would not be offended if some strange man showed up on her doorstep and demanded that she accommodate his desires.
        Granny didn’t get to steal flowers at Dad’s funeral because she was living in another city and there was no room in the car for three adults and several large flower arrangements. Ah, memories.

        • Cat February 25, 2015, 6:22 pm

          I should have written “Some of you may have missed a post…” Asharah remembers it. I have never decided if having a family is a blessing or a curse.

          • MamaToreen February 26, 2015, 4:18 pm

            Thank you. I can believe someone might do that. Is it safe to assume that drugs and/or alcohol are involved in a lot of these life choices?

  • Ange63 February 24, 2015, 3:45 pm

    There are always people for whom you can’t do any good, whatever you do.
    Both my inlaws died last year. So you can immagine my husband is quite devastated.
    In between their deaths a cousin married. They would have raised hell hadn’t we come to their wedding. We live 1200km away from them and the rest of my husbands family.
    When my mother in law died, very unexpectedly, in december they didn’t come to the funeral. Ok, they have a bakery and the funeral was on Christmas eve. But we were there for two weeks and they never found a moment to come and give their condolances. Or even give a phone call or something. And yes, they live only 15km away from my inlaws.
    I’m sure though they would be very offended if we should decide to not come one of their occasions.

  • AIP February 24, 2015, 4:28 pm

    I’m very sorry for your loss, my own father passed away last August quicker than expected. Most of his nieces and nephews live in a neighbouring country but all but one came as he was on holiday, so we wouldn’t have expected him there. We only expected one of the brothers to come and both did, which meant a lot. It is hurtful when people you expect to be there don’t attend without any acknowledgement, especially when virtual strangers have been so good. In our case we had a big, proper and traditional West of Ireland wake, which we were able to extend by a day or so as he wasn’t able to die at home and we figured he’d be long enough gone. So it’s not like they didn’t have the best part of a week to pay their respects.
    What is and would be galling is that, the longest day I live I, nor my father, would’ve treated them like that. I’ve taken days off work and drove hours to attend a funeral, as most of your family did; these cousins are not the ones to be casting aspersions.

    However, it may very well be that she wasn’t referring to her own father. Is it possible that a friend had a loved one die and that it was that friend who was upset at the non-attendance, prompting your cousin’s sympathy rant?

    • AIP February 24, 2015, 4:30 pm

      Sorry, I had forgotten the aunt’s cheeky phonecall to the OP’s mother.

  • Enna February 24, 2015, 4:30 pm

    OP I am sorry to hear about your father.

    It is one thing planning ahead: for example if the cousins had had an adult talk to you/other family members that when the time comes Uncle has planned this. But what they are doing is crass, especailly with the FB drama. If it gets really nasty you can always report that. If they sart guilitng you say “why ever not?” and if they bring up the fact they didn’t attend your father’s funneral just say “you must have had your reasons”. If that doesn’t keep them quiet then I don’t know what.

    Maybe the Aunt is struggerling with her shop? In some countries you have to pay for your treatment or pay insurance, if the family live in such a coutry they might need the income. Or the aunty might need to earn as much as she can if she knows she is going to be a widow. A death of a spouse can cause fiancial hardship on the survivor. If that isn’t the reason/s I think your aunty and cousins are very selfish people.

  • RC February 24, 2015, 4:52 pm

    My condolences for the loss of your father OP, and for the illness of your uncle. Please do your best to ignore the petty, sad, spiteful members of your extended family who are causing you pain right now; and I know ignoring and turning the other cheek can be hard, so know that you have a whole community of people here on your side, sending you well wishes xo

  • Ellex February 24, 2015, 5:57 pm

    They are hurting. Be kind with them. They are angry at the world. Be gentle with them. They’ve likely realized they were butts before and they will likely realize in the future they are being butts now. Be supportive, if you can.

  • Colleen February 24, 2015, 6:16 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this since I read it earlier today and something seems off to me. Yes, the family’s behavior is rude. But I really wonder if there’s a piece we’re missing. That seems like such a scorched earth pre-emptive strike. I just have to think that perhaps something was said to them about how rude they were to miss the OP’s Father’s funeral and that’s why they’re responding so vehemently. Not that it justifies it at all. But it’d make more sense to me.

  • Tara February 24, 2015, 6:33 pm

    How is it rude to miss your uncle’s funeral when you live hours away? You don’t attend funerals to be polite, you attend to say your goodbyes to the deceased. If you weren’t close to the deceased then you send your condolences to the family through a sympathy card, a phone call, or care package.

    But OP’s cousins sure are being nutso by insisting everyone else attend their dad’s funeral when they didn’t attend OP’s dad’s funeral, unless as someone else commented, they were dragged through the mud publicly for their failure to attend. Then their behavior makes perfect sense.

  • N February 24, 2015, 7:41 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that you and your father and loved ones are dealing with this illness. I also lost my father to cancer, and there are relatives who should have attended his funeral but did not. I have not really forgiven them after many years, though I’ve never brought it up and never will. No excuses or apologies were ever offered.

    But that is all beside the point of YOUR situation, which is that these drama-creators are acting very inappropriately and selfishly. I think the admin hits the right note on this. You can’t focus on (much less do anything about) the negative behavior of other people. You are doing good by your dad, and you will pay your respects IF the time comes, and that is all that matters. The most I would possibly consider doing is to politely ask that these people stop discussing anything about a funeral or your dad’s illness on Facebook, unless it is a positive or uplifting comment intended to help him. If they want to discuss the tougher issues they seem to think are so important, they can always do so by private email or phone.

    I just don’t know if your saying anything like this would just pour fuel on the fire and drag you into their swamp. It could, so think about it. God bless.

  • Karen L February 24, 2015, 7:57 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I think the drama llamas can be met with variations of “What an interesting assumption” or “Why would I do that?” Just keep saying “Of course I’ll be at the funeral” with the same expression you would say “Of course I breathe oxygen” like you can’t imagine why people think you would breathe argon.

  • Mary February 25, 2015, 8:02 pm

    When my father was dying, there were certain tasks and arrangements that were most efficiently accomplished before the fact. When the inevitable happened, I was relieved that the funeral was preplanned, I had a suitable new wardrobe, and I’d written up a week’s worth of lesson plans for my bereavement leave. I don’t think I spoke of my activities to anyone, as it seemed ghoulish and was difficult to talk about.
    Now, three months later, both an uncle and a close friend are dying. I am being besieged by relatives who aren’t having any trouble talking about death: they call and email me multiple times per day with “updates” not about their loved ones’ health but about details of the impending funerals. One even assured me that Uncle’s funeral would be on Wednesday. Well, Wednesday has come and gone and Uncle has thwarted everyone by remaining alive. I dread tomorrow when a whole new set of plans will undoubtedly be devised and disseminated.
    I get that everyone’s upset and that they find me sympathetic as I’ve recently been through this, but I feel as if what they’re really doing is telling me they expect me to attend. I will do so in any case and don’t need to be convinced. Conversely, had I chosen not to be involved, this kind of pressure would not persuade me.

  • Angel March 1, 2015, 1:12 pm

    From your letter your aunt and cousins seem like terrible people. And terrible people often assume that everyone else is terrible as well. I’m sorry about your dad and it’s a shame that your uncle is in such a state–there is nothing wrong with doing some pre-planning when a serious illness is involved. HOWEVER, talking about the impending funeral proceedings and trying to guilt/manipulate/threaten your family members into coming, that is just reprehensible. It is bad enough that your family is going through all this but your aunt and cousins are really making things a LOT hard than they need to be. You need to do what you think is right in this situation, rise above their terribleness.

  • Cheryl March 25, 2015, 1:47 pm

    Sorry, your aunt needs a come to Jesus meeting. Yes, your uncle is seriously sick, and they are planning ahead because they have talked to the doctor and the odds, regardless of him getting treatment may only extend his life a couple of weeks/months (your optimism is commendable but in this type of situation, realism is the best medicine). As for your aunt, either your mother or grandmother need to jerk a knot into your aunt making it clear that none of you would miss your uncle’s funeral even though she and her kids did miss your father’s funeral, you have more respect and manners than she does, which will make her mad but is the truth. What she is doing is being a bully and is hoping that her and her children’s absence will be overshadowed by the ever looming pending passing of your uncle. This seems like for the most part this side of the family is a one way street, in other words, the streets only go to where she is but for her to travel anywhere else is just to complicated and a burden to her. I feel your dilemma but let your mother and grandmother handle this, however, if your aunt contacts you directly, then give her a piece of your mind with the statement made that you love your uncle and will be there for his funeral.

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