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Help! My very large family has decided to hold a "memorial" lunch at a pub in a trendy little town nearby. This translate into a large group of very different people who do not blend well together. This is not my mother's idea although she will go along with it. It was organized by my sister and younger sister-in-law because my sister flew in for what would have been my father's 85th birthday next week. He passed away in July with none of them present except me. Neither of my brothers will be there. One is deployed in a war zone and the other is a doctor and probably won't show up. I am not ready for this mass pandemonium and the drinking that will take place. I don't think I can do this yet. I haven't seen most of this group since the funeral and we are not all on good terms. I am my mother's primary caretaker and was at the hospital most of the time with my father. I am still grieving in a very different way from most of my family except my brother who is a doctor. Am I wrong to want to opt out of this? I woke up crying this morning.

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So glad you posted to let us know how it went, RLP. AND glad to hear that you do have some good memories from the lunch. Peace.
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Hi RLP, my father died three years ago and one thing I learned was funerals, etc. are for the living.. I would ask and do what the most important person wants, your Mom. What she doesn't probably want is fighting. If she is totally against the party or the timing is bad, you sister will just have to accept that. I also live far away from my Mom and would never do this unless she approved first. And if she approves then smile and think about making her happy for a few hours.
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RLP you sound very much like me... I have always been my family's caregiver! My grandparents, nephew , my Dad and now my Mother. When my Dad had his heart attack he was restless in his bed. I went and got a nice warm wash cloth and gently wiped his face. It comforted him and calmed him. MY Mother was amazed and asked how did you know to do that?
I am glad you could go to the party and enjoy yourself... take care, God bless
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I would reconsider the "opting" out! Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree and take the higher road. You may never understand the way she thinks, but keep the event about honoring your father for his special day. If you are uncomfortable with thte dirnking, show up early and leave after making an honorable appearance. In all my years of nursing, I have rarely found a "functional" family! : ) I would ask myself....am I going to feel better about who I am by not going if it is to make a point, or better about going and honoring my father. Good luck and God bless! Pamela
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No, you are definitely not wrong to honor your own feelings. A simple, "I'm not ready for such a gathering" should be honored and respected. We each grieve in our own fashion.
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Thanks RLP for letting us know what you did and how you fared. I am glad you have been able to move passed the anger you have felt for family members who did not "man up" during the time your father was ill. I know what you mean about still loving members of your family but not really respecting them. It takes a lot to kill love for family members but not so much to kill respect for them. I hope things go well for you in caring for your mom. I am sure that all that experience of being a special needs teacher will serve you as well in caring for your mom and it did caring for your dad. Our sick parents often require even more care than special needs children do. At least that's what I found when caring for my mom until she recently died.
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Im so glad that this was a good experience- and it sounds like
this experience helped u realize great deal, accept and see
with more clarity and compassion.
it certainly was a wonderful discussion- stirred up many emotions-
you are a wise and wonderful daughter-
im glad you shared something so personal with us.
I thank you and am very glad u dont feel like u are standing by yourself- because u definately are not -
K
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I appreciate everyone's concern and advice. I attended the memorial lunch and it created a few good memories and also made me realize that taking care of my father during the previous year had made me stronger. As several of you mentioned, being the caretaker has always been my role with my parents, nieces/nephews, and younger siblings.My mother was ill for several years when I was a teenager. I do not have a problem with respectful drinking but knew that some of my siblings would allow it to get out of hand.

.I think some of your questions made me realize what was the most difficult part about the situation (although there are other issues):
My father suffered a great deal simply because family members enabled each other with not facing the truth and his wishes. I was finally asked to make decisions for Dad by the hospital at which my older brother has practiced medicine for over 30 years because he could not let my Dad go even though that's what Dad wanted. I did not tell some of my siblings even after my father died out of respect for the struggles my brother went through due to my family wanting him to make all of the decisions. It was something he had asked my parents not to do to him. He did attend the lunch which made it easier for me. We have a good relationship. Our family became divided during Dad's extended illness because no one wanted to "man up" and face or speak the truth. Since I am a very quiet and gentle person, everyone was shocked that I was also tough enough to do what had to be done.{ They haven't ever taught children. :)} My mother and sisters did not like to deal with the "icky" part of my Dad's long term needs. I am a special needs teacher and it is a daily part of my life, so I was not upset by bodily fluids, etc. At each hospital, hospice, etc, I became close to the nurses and therapists simply because I was there and helped when I could. My mother also asked me to arrange the funeral because no one came home quickly enough to help.Some of you asked about issues with anger. I think I have moved past anger and hurt feelings to a certain degree to the point that I know I don't like or respect some of my family members although I truly love them.I watched them treat most of the year my Dad was ill as an opportunity to party and then discuss it loudly in the waiting rooms of the numerous places Dad stayed. My father would not have been happy about that ,and I did not want this lunch to repeat those times. I have always been a peacemaker but realize I have to maintain my sense of respect, also. My mother changes when the "crew" comes to see her, and becomes verbally combative. I will just have to wait for her to calm down after everything settles down soon. Your concern and suggestions have made me feel more at peace about the situation. It seems that many of you have also experienced similar issues. Thank you for your help! I no longer feel like I am standing on an island by myself.
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If Mom wants to go, see if one of the family is willing to be responsible for picking her up, caring for her during the event, and dropping her home. or you could hire a proffessional caregiver to escort her for the day, and have yourself a few hours off to hold your own memorial for dad.

But no, you certainly do NOT have to go if you don't want to. Going when you don't want to, for whatever reasons, would be a bad thing for all involved, including your father's memory.
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My Mom and Dad's generation was more interested in the big funerals and cermonies. Every Memorial Day we (meaning all the women in the family) would hall flowers down to the cemetary. It was their way of coping with family who had gone before.
I suppose I am more practical. In my teens and 20s I did not attend funerals...instead, I spent quality time with my loved ones before they passed. There were grumblings from a few family members, but I felt I owed them nothing....of course, these were the people who never showed up at the hospital or nursing home because it was "too painful" to see their loved one in "that condition."
I do not think doing anything in order to "keep the peace" is a good idea. It usually means that someone ends up being forced into doing something that they do not believe in. And, like RLP, I
would not participate in any "dog and pony show" cooked up by family members who need to express their love publically (there's a touch on NPD in that).
RLP: To each his own...if you want to opt out and honor your father in another way, on another day, then do so. IMHO I would not worry about fulfilling the wishes of your guests...I'm sure your father wouldn't have wanted you to either. Not everyone believes in the same rituals.
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Something I don't think we know yet, RLP, is if the memorial in the pub would be to your father's liking. I am assuming it would be (if your mother has consented to attend and your sister chose such a location) but maybe this is not a correct assumption? Even if such a memorial would be to your father's liking I don't think this means you HAVE to attend it. You honoured your father the most by being there for him when he was alive.
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I think everyone grieves in their own way. Best to allow for that somehow if you can. And take care of yourself too. Memorials are primarily for the living, of course, though they ought not to be totally out of character for the deceased. On the other hand, a lot of people who know me might be suprised that I personally like the idea of a New Orleans/Irish funeral for myself; sure, shed a few tears unless you won't miss me at all, sing a couple songs I picked out at the church unless you genuinely hate them, but then please have do have some kind of a party and celebrate life that goes on! No need to get rip roaring drunk at it, but no need to abstain entirely if that's not your religion either. I'm Catholic and we do the drink but don't get drunk, aka "a little wine for the sake of the digestion" thing as St. Paul suggested.

My dad's funeral was a good one for the most part - my mom acted up a bit at the funeral home, but the service was what Mom and Dad had planned, plus a couple songs that had comforted me on those last few trips, in the Jefferson Memorial Chapel in Pgh., PA that reflected his love of American history. I felt justified in asking a Catholic priest to officiate just because Dad had experessed an interest in converting form Episcopal though he never did actualy get to, and that might have made a few of my Protestant family members a little uncomfortable beforehand but the guy did a great job and stuck a blow for ecumenism which drew compliments when it was all said and done. The family/neighbor dinner was at my Mom's favorite local Italian place, and her best neighbor/friend baked a batch of cookies for all of us, which most of us, especially my diabetic mom, did not really need. And I think that little gathering is what counted most. I went off and did my own little private rituals later. My husband was there too and supportive but laid back; my 22 year old daughter who also attended got a tatooo with his name and dates! My son chose not to attend and I let him off the hook since he'd visited more while Dad was still with us, and he talked more freely about good times they'd had later on after we all got back....

I guess I am saying, don't make people do anything they are super opposed to or uncomfortable with, and let the closest most heart-achy loved ones have something for themselves in their own style too. Just my $0.02.
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Is there any way you can talk with your sister and sis-in-law about your not feeling you can grieve in this way right now? I sense that that may not be an option, but I just mention it in case it is. Grieving is such an individualized thing; we all must cut each other slack and realize we're all doing the best we can. I have to believe that. You are definitely NOT wrong in wanting to opt out. What's hard to decide is which will be more difficult--opting out and dealing with others' reactions or going and dealing with your own emotions. I am sorry you have been put in this spot. I just wanted to respond mostly to say that your not wanting to go is not wrong. Don't go down the shame path no matter what you decide to do.
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I am sorry, dinak, that you thought I was mocking your response. I think I felt more sorry for you than anything else since you believe most events are about fulfilling guests' expectations. I believe in looking after guests well but this doesn't mean I become someone whom I am not. I don't believe RLP should have to become someone whom she is not either. I hope RLP does what will serve herself best. It appears to me that she has been and still remains the main caretaker in the family. Actions speak louder than appearances, I believe.
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i apologize for making u upset.
i was just expressing how i felt, i did not mean to make anyone feel as though i was attacking them or their opinions.
I guess i need to be more aware of what i am saying, and not
to be so personal-
i thought it was ok to speak freely.
however, i know now just what and how to respond.
please accept my apology-
but just because my opinions are not the same as yours, or that my words are not always positive, doesnt mean i am making jabs,i just have a different response-is that not allowed?
or was i too personal?
either way, i see now how it was taken, im sorry to have offened u and any one else-
k
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LCS, you mock my response to RLPs plea for advice on her difficult situation. She wouldn't have asked the community for feedback if she were 100% certain on how to proceed. You took what was my attempted real-life, positive perspective for RLP on a single evening event and turned around and presented her with a mostly negative, self-absorbed, family warfare perspective. I am sure that harboring all of that resentment and acting out childishly over a memorial will make RLP feel great when she looks back years from now at the event and how she responded to it. Whether one likes it or not, most events are about guests' expectations and now best to fulfill them. Nothing is perfect - who said it was? But there are certain social standards that self-respecting people abide by. RLP did not present this situation as a horrible, negative event - she is not thrilled about it, but she also did not completely rule out going. She asked for advice, I responded. How about dealing with the problem presented and leave out the personal jabs against other community responders?
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i dont think it is fair to try and hold her relationship hostage when people are going to do and think what they want, and sometimes it doesnt matter if it is correct or not- peoples perceptions are their reality- and u cannot predict their future
behavior,although u would think it best to try and get along.
at least u would think so- for some reason , family seems to change and act so strange and different, when one parent dies.never in a million years did i think my brother would act the way he has. i guess i never knew him, i always loved him, but never thought he could become so nasty and irrational-so bossy and
so selfish and egotistical. but , it is what it is-i am still trying to deal with this---but it doesnt mean it happens always-i guess i am just trying to prevent more pain and stress-and also
i am projecting--i dont mean to be so cold-sorry if i offended anyone.k
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I agree very much with Lilliput. Take mom, stay a short while then go do something you want to do for a couple of hours. The time on your own will feel wonderful! Take a stressful situation and turn it to your benefit. Hey, instant mom sitters for a short period of time! WOW! How often does that happen!? Mom will have fun, you will have fun ... win win situation. I also agree with Lilliput, in that you should not have anyone stay with you. It would be best to be able to have the seclusion.
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Wow, Dinak, "most gatherings are about fulfilling the expectations of guests" ? How does your husband determine what the expectations are of all the different guests who might be coming to a gathering? I hope he has managed to do this in the 20 plus years of your marriage. Have the gatherings been what you wanted? Putting that aside, RLP, you are facing a real dilemma. If you wish to maintain a relationship with your sister (and sister-in-law), perhaps you could make a short appearance at the memorial as you drop off your mom (since she is willing to go along with the party) but have it pre-arranged that someone else from the family will look after your mom that day after the drop-off. What you will do while others are at the memorial party, I don't know. That will be a very hard time for you. Do you think you are being influenced in your feelings about the memorial because your sister wasn't there for your father and you were and now your sister is sponsoring this big hoopla that makes it look like your sister is honouring your father (when he is dead!!) more than you did (by being at the hospital) when he was alive. Incidentally, why is it that you are now the primary caretaker of your mother? (I can guess - it is because you live close to her). What is your sister going to do to help out with this care? Nothing? And then fly in after your mom dies and put on a memorial party for her? I would guess that this is how you might be feeling right now. Maybe a reason for putting in an appearance at the party is so that your sister can't turn sulky and say, because you didn't show up at the memorial, she doesn't want to have anything to do with you in discussing your mother's future care. However, if you don't think you will ever need or want your sister's future help and you don't really care about continuing a relationship with your sister (which sounds like a sad situation but may be reality), then do exactly what you want about attending the memorial. Do what will be best for you on that day and/or for the years after that.
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i understand that point of view- but if it is something that is already causing a great deal of stress-why do it ?
it is fine if it helps others, its good-
maybe u should just make yourself go thru it,
, however , i have learned that it is better for me
not to subject myself to something that i know will be filled with stressful situations- its for my protection- but that is just another way to think about it- either way, i am sure u will make the right choice-
there is no wrong- it is what it is-k
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Just prior to our wedding 20 years ago, my husband-to-be and I were deliberating over options for the rehearsal dinner and the reception. There were things that I wanted to leave out that I didn't think were necessary; but my fiance' told me that most family gatherings, celebrations, memorials are about fulfilling the expectations of the guests, whether we are jazzed up for those event specifics or certain traditions. For whatever reason, other members of your family need to do this to feel that they are appropriately recognizing your Dad. It's just one night, not a month-long difficult task that will negatively effect your life. I agree with a previous post that you do not have to stay the entire evening. As long as you show up for a little while, drink some soda water, and allow for everyone to express their feelings for you and your dad, they won't care if you have to cut out early. The big picture here is that they mean well and it's a small, short-lived event.
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I would say- if your insides are saying dont go-listen to yourself.
I definately wouldnt go!! for what? like u need more stress.??..
i believe your dad knows the deal- u dont have to prove anything to anyone- you were there for your dad, he knows
your feelings- why expose yourself to a situation where u know
ahead of time will not be pleasant? let someone else take mom -one of your sibs....the less stress in your life-especially if you have a choice, the better-u need to be good and take care of you. just my thoughts--karen
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Wrong? Hell no. You are as right as can be right. You have revealed it all and I can relate completely. Your decision is right for you, for your Mom and for the memory of your Dad. The guests want an "Irish wake" and it is not your desires. Invite any of these guests for a personal and private meeting with you and Mom if they wish for your (plural) health and happiness.

I'm 90 y/o and can well relate.
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I had a very similar situation in my family. My Father passed away in July also. I was his primary caregiver we kept him at home. We had hospice for medication and equipment however they did not care for him. I really miss him, and I am my Mom's caregiver now. I would say if you can't don't!!! I know that I could not handle that and I would NOT even try...My sister recently got married again, and I am happy for her. It was sad for me! take care and I do understand the tears...
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I have a big extended family too. I actually tired of these massive get-togethers when I was young.
Take your Mom to the memorial. Stay a little while. Then say something like, "I have to do something for Mom." Then spend the day doing something for yourself.
Also, do not allow anyone to "bunk" in with you. Tell them it would just be too hard both caring for Mom and entertaining guests.
You do not owe anyone an explanation about your decisions, nor should they advise you how to grieve.
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