How do I handle an absentee sibling at my father's funeral?

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Dad died Monday, funeral Saturday. I have been the sole 24/7 caregiver for both parents for 3 yrs. Left my home & fiancee & children & grand-children, closed my business, and moved to Fl. to live with parents in tiny condo. My only sibling (brother) has given me 2 one week breaks during this time. He & his family never ever calls us...have shown no love. Now that Dad has died he has had 2 calls to Mom lasting about 2 minutes each leaving her in tears and hanging up on him. He screams at her, tells her to "kiss his a*s" because he feels we haven't treated him right....just crazy in the head behavior. Then he emailed me telling me I am such a B---- and I haven't even talked to him yet.
The problem is this....he and his family want to come to the funeral. Mom wants their love so badly that she will do anything to a hear an I love you. His wife called now because I didn't reply to his nasty email. She wanted us to tell her that we want them to come and she also took the opportunity to let me know that they resent the closeness and involvement I have had with my parents and feel I owe them an apology! My mother just sat there on the phone and didn't come to my defense which hurt me deeply...she needs their love and is afraid to speak up to what is right. My question to you all is how do I handle this situation at the funeral? I plan on being a lady and proper as I can be. But know he will blast us when he can....he does that always to catch people off guard. I don't really want to talk or look at him. A friend of ours talked us yesterday about this and she asked a very good question....why does he even want to come to the funeral of his father after ignoring him for years? She thinks my brother thinks he is going to get something or wants to. Hadn't crossed my mind because I know there is one small inheritance and it goes to Mom. If that is the motivation I am loving it. Anyhow, what do I say to him if he starts trouble, any ideas appreciated.

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Top Answer
This is a hard situation. I have absentee brothers, three of them, but, they are not angry like your brother. Perhaps you have a friend that is a police officer who could wear their uniform at the funeral service and any social gathering afterwards and do not let yourself be caught alone with your brother. Maybe if there are other people around, he will mind his manners. If he yells or argues, try your hardest to stay quiet and find something else to occupy yourself. Maybe mention to the funeral director that you have a family member who may act up at the funeral home etc. and could they be watchful and call the police if someone (your brother) is aggressive in anyway...then he could make a fool of himself in front of everyone and be removed...wouldn't that be exciting? It is so sad that he and his wife feel hurt...you are the one that has had the burden of caring for your parents all this time. It is nice that he took a couple of weeks to help out but we all know that in these caregiving situations, we really need someone to take over for a good few months to make any difference and to know that every few months, someone else would be responsible. Let us know how it goes and stay calm and don't get angry yourself!
I know how you feel! I will have the same problems again when my mother passes. My father passed 4 yrs ago after a very brief illness. I tried my best to just do what I had to do and avoided the problemed siBLIng. He was the youngest and offered no help in the care of my father. Now that I could use help again he is no where to be found. I am dreading the future but I know in my heart that I have done right by my parents. Think about what is best for yourself no one else does...good luck
Wow - very similar to what I went through. But, after 3 yrs of caregiving, Dad went first (his condition had plummeted after Mom had hip surgery & bad stroke). His office partner would speak at the memorial service, but was away at a time-share, so we had to wait til he got home. So, the service was 3 weeks after date of death. My sister did come from Oregon, and my half-bro from 2 hrs away, for Dad's service. This service worked ok. Then, over the next 2 weeks, I would have phone conference calls with my sister, my aunt, and hospital Pastoral Care, so we were all apprised & deciding what to do in Mom's case. In that time, my sister found out the terms of Dad's Will, she was pissed, so when Mom died 2 weeks later (5 weeks after Dad), then Mom's memorial service was 2 weeks after Mom's death, my sister would not come down to the service because she was pissed about the terms of Dad's Will. It has now been 20 yrs since then, I still get comments from family friends about how careless and rude it was of her not to come to her own mother's memorial service.
There is nothing like caregiving and losing parents to let us know the truth about our siblings. As Oprah has said "When people show ya their true colors -- Believe 'em! (shudder)." It's appalling to me that my sister & I came from the same gene pool & growing up with the same parental training -- my parents were superb -- but sister does not reflect the same family values.
The problem: She was brainwashed by leftie academia, learned freeloading, and associates with her New Ager peers. Very selfish & greedy.
I'm sure my parents are turning over in their graves that childless sisters can't get along (anymore). Through the estates settling, I reflected Dad's generosity - and he and his sister had been my role models from when their parents died. But, what a difference between the generations. They were The Greatest Generation (so named by Tom Brokaw) - but my generation, well, the Me Generation turned into the Gimme Generation, and I'm ashamed of it.
If anyone has help advice for my case, I'd appreciate it.
Good luck to you.
Hi timmy48, I have a different perspective of this situation. I am the angry sibling. In my situation, I live in Florida and my brother and Mom live in Alabama. My brother hung the moon, always has. Mom has put him on her POAs, checking accounts, everything. I have been left off of everything (probably even the will). She has a large sum of money and is very paranoid and mizerly. In order to control everything, she could not have more than one person on her accounts. So she decided since I live in Florida, she would throw me under the bus. She has destroyed my relationship with her and my brother. He loves being in control because he is much like her. Even though I do talk to her periodically, I do not like her at all. And when the time comes for someone to look out for her, my brother will want to hold the check book and I should fly up from Florida and hold her hand, feed her, change her diapers, etc.

So, my question is, why is your brother angry? Has he even been included in decision making? Was he the scapegoat of the family? There are many questions.

If he is just a bad apple, then let him come to the funeral and ignore him. Then never speak to him again. I intend to do that to my brother. He was not there for me when I needed him to be.

There have been many, many comments on this site about worthless siblings. I have tried and cried from hurt feelings of being left out. And when my mom needs me and my brother dictates to me what I will and will not do. I will be the bad sibling who says, "Go to hell."

I don't know your brother but look at everything and see if he is hurt for some reason. It is ashamed you can't talk to him. I can't talk to my brother either. Not because I yell at him, but that he is condesending and arrogant. Just not working. I wish you well.
I felt so much empathy for you and the committment to your parents and disruption of your life is great. Your passing of your Dad is most heart wrenching experiences and the situation that you describe unfortunately is not uncommon.

At this point in time, do you still have a relationship with your ex-fiance, children, etc that would lend to moral support. It sounds as if your brother has a history with this type of behavior and unfortunately he will most likely try to engage you. Please keep your distance and walk away without discussion. Seek the support of your closest friends and have them stay close to you as your brother and his wife may approach you together. I also agree with the previous post, talk to the funeral director and appraise him of the situation. He may also be able to give you some helpful advise on how to handle this situation or have some intervention resources available.

As for your mother, she is elderly, grieving and will most likely look the other way. I see this behavior in my mother towards my sister. My Dad is in a nursing home, had pneumonia, c-diff and my sister got on a plane and went to her Florida condo for 2 and one half weeks on vacation. My mother asked her to postpone her trip for 4 days and she refused -my sisters a geriatric nurse practioner and my Dad is a wonderful father. My sister is self centered and often her behavior is inapropriate but this will never change. My mother, who also has serious health issues, is very upset by her behavior, but needs her and waits for her calls. The point is that my sister's behavior and your brother's behavior are not going to change and our mothers will continue to seek a relationship.

Take the High Road although this may be most difficult. Your actions and support of your parents speak for themselves!
Timmyk, First, I am so sorry for your lost. Second, I have to say you are being a better person than I would be for if my brother had any negativity to say and not helped, he would get a good pieace of my mind. Third, Mommag had a great idea to keep things from being stirred up. And Fourth, you friend may be right about he thinks he may be getting some assets or just to pull your strings. Be strong and I am truly sorry for your loss.
Thank you all for giving this some thought for me.
At this point I have not responded to his attempts to start a fight with me.
Mom has taken his phone abuse twice. My children are here now, know the
whole long scenario from years ago till now, and they are ready/waiting for the assault to happen. They are going to keep us flanked at the funeral, but I am now thinking he will wait till we are more alone to make trouble again.
Madge1.....you are right about 2 sides....no he has not been left out, he himself
cut off all communication, he was raised as the special child that could do no
wrong and had to do nothing for himself or anyone else. I realize his superior bullying attitude/behavior is to hide his insecurities....but I am done coddling him & his bad behavior. I am 64 he is 58...we are adults, games should
be over and him playing them isn't going to produce the results he is used to anymore. I did for parents out of love, really had no choice they were in such
bad shape. He is trying to belittle all I've done to make me look bad. He could and was needed to contribute, but he didn't even make one phone call. No Madge1, I don't think he is being treated unfairly. I think he is trying to cut me down to make himself look better and all this drama he is creating is to make people forget about his previous "missing" son status, because they are now involved with his new drama. If he succeeds I will leave Mom, take my life back and she can count on brother....she needs to put him in his place and stand up for me/us. She is afraid to do that, because she is afraid she will loose him and his family forever....(which she has already), but has hopes it could change.
Why would they want to see Daddy dead.....they didn't want to see him alive, or even call once to talk to him in over a year? I don't understand!!! Can anyone explain that to me....that is my big question now.
timmyk48...

Sorry to hear about your father's passing. You shouldn't be dealing with how-to deal- with-brother issues now, though I understand how that's entering your thoughts. You need to be focusing on your father's service, your mother and mourning your father's loss. You shouldn't worry or be concerned about your brother and what he will do. Whatever he does, will be a bad reflection on him and his family...period. You are only responsible for you and your behavior.

During the calling & service treat him and his wife with courtesy, unless or until they don't deserve it any longer If they do or say something uncool, then keep your distance. I would not entertain discussing his & her complaints or grumblings about the past. The funeral home and the death of your father is not the time or place for it. If it comes up, tell them that and walk away. Avoid confrontation. You know what they say...it takes two to fight. YOU control the situation and don't participate in any kind of prodding to argue.

Concerning your mother hurting you when she didn't come to your defense...I know how that feels. I've been there with my parents, especially with my father. It does hurt...but the intent is not to hurt you. I think you've figured out that your mother is so desperate for her son's attention and love. She probably hates it that she does not see or hear from him more often and fears making it worse. She probably blames herself...if she is like most mothers. She actually is perhaps in a no-win situation concerning the battle between you and your brother. Try to keep your mother out of it and give her a break for seeing things differently than you.

When my aunt died recently there was concern about how her adult sons would act at the funeral home, IF they showed up. After years of telling anyone who would listen in the family how poorly they were treated as children, I wouldn't have been surprised if they were absent at her calling & funeral. To our surprise, they were both there and were gentlemen, telling interesting and pleasant stories about their mother. They seemed to get along with their father too, with whom they also had issues. Perhaps your situation will surprisingly be different than you're forecasting. A death & funeral can often times be the jolt that brings reasoning, compassion and restraint.

I wish you and your family my condolences... and peace.
had issues with.

Wow timmyk48, you answered alot of questions. he sound sort of like my brother as far as the superior attitude and the golden boy thing. My brother loves letting me know I am left out and poor me, but then will say "but that is the way mom wants it". Sounds as if we both need to cut ties with the younger brother.

You are a good person to have done all you have done for your parents. You deserve to be proud of who you are. Your brother sounds narcissistic. Google that and what an eye opener the information can be if it applies. I realized about a year ago that was the issue behind my mom and brother's behavior. Brother wants to be in charge, wants me know I am not included but will not do one thing for Mom. In fact, I just talked to her this morning and found out her car hasn't been washed since Christmas. Neither my brother nor his 28 year old son will wash her car. She is 82.
unlike you he does nothing for her. i think their relationship is based on the fact that he lives near her. All of it just dysfunctional.

So read up on narcissistic people and I am sure you will get some pointers about how to deal with your brother. Sounds as if he is used to getting all the attention and now is still thinking about himself and his needs.

Take care. :)
TimmyK48: I understand your feelings and you have a right to them. I think Waddle1 gave you sound advise concerning your mom. Don't put in the middle. She doesn't need the stress right now having just lost her husband. Your brother is a problem person and very immature. To yell at your mom over the phone is terrible and I'm sure it grieves her. You've gotten through 3 years, you can get through the funeral. You don't need your mom to stick up for you and I hope you won't ask her to.

Timmy, you are a very good and loving person. Don't let your brother jerk your strings and put a rift between you and your mom. It would only bring him joy and in time you would have regrets.

Think 2 weeks from now. Be civil and at such time as your brother starts to get ugly, just walk away. If he starts yelling at your mom, gently take her arm and lead her away. This too shall pass.

My best wishes to you and your mom. Hugs, Cattails.

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