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I am likely wrong one to ask. My parents both wanted "no services" as did my bro, as do I. For us it was about living, and once gone, we are gone, with memories of all the love and happy times in the safekeeping of those we love.
I certainly would not attend the funeral of an estranged person. If it was over in LIFE, it is most CERTAINLY over in death. The only circumstances that might change that decision for me is the request of a surviving family member who requested my presence. Because basically, again, for me it is about the living.
This is quite an old post, but certainly an interesting subject.
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I just learned that my mom died last week. My brother knew and did not have the decency to tell me. So now I have no idea where she is or if she even had a funeral. What can I do? He cant do this?
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MsKatz,

I am Catholic as well. I love offering prayers and having a special Mass said. I have done that too. I also burn candles in church.

It’s horrible that you weren’t able to attend your father’s funeral. Your stepmom should never have been so selfish. I’m sorry.
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I was not “allowed” to go
to my father’s funeral, at 17, due to an ugly divorce and his controlling new wife who married him knowing he had two months to live. That hurt, however I was a minor. I’ve been unable to attend other family member’s funerals, later in life, due to my own chronic illnesses. Once, admitted to a hospital, recovering post op, half way across the country, I was physically unable to attend a funeral. Not one family member called or inquired to my absence. Unbelievable, they began a vicious rumor that I had a “substance abuse problem” thus the reason I didn’t show up. I’ve learned from a lifetime of dysfunction and toxic family members, I need to do what’s best for me. I’m always damned if I do or do not. I did have some feelings of guilt, but I honored the departed in my own way. I visit their grave alone, after their funeral, and planted flowers. As a Catholic, I had a Mass said for them, contributed to a cause in their memory, or planted a tree in their memory. It’s not about other’s knowledge of what you do; the truth ALWAYS rises to the top. As long as you’re happy with your choice, that’s all that matters.
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Sunny,

Your mom was grieving too. I am sure that she felt that you were too young. It’s a tough call to make.

I didn’t take my youngest daughter to my father’s funeral. She was very close to him. Like you, she was upset about it. She didn’t understand why her sister and cousins got to go and she didn’t.

My parents drug me to funerals when I was young and I had nightmares so I was reluctant to bring her. Parents have to make judgment calls. Your mom did what she felt was best at the time.

So sorry that you lost your dad when you were so young. It’s heartbreaking and confusing. Your dad’s death was a tragic accident. I can see how this haunts you. I can’t imagine going through that.

This happens to be an old post that I wrote. It’s a disturbing topic for many of us. I made peace with it now. I am no longer focused on it. I understand that we all have our own situations and it takes time to sort through our emotions. I went to a therapist for quite awhile to help me.
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I mean, I didn’t get to go to my father’s funeral. He died in a car crash when I was three, and I simply was never taken to the funeral. I assume his body was very burned from the fire (he was driving a truck transporting gasoline and was jackknifed), so my mom just didn’t take me. I wish she had though as I was left confused and without closure for years. Definitely regret not going and wish I was given the chance.
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My father was a very sick narcissist who never lost an opportunity to be nasty to his family. I don't know how my mother stood him but she was impressed by his learning and for that she endured violent daily arguments and divorce once he became a university professor - the pre-divorce battles cleverly timed to be in my finals year. He subsequently married and divorced five times. Despite his vocal advocacy of women's and children's rights, we were his private property to knock about as he saw fit (it could well have been attempted suicide by proxy). I was brought up by slaps in the face, the first when I was 3 and I was to conjugate 'to be' in German. Later he contrived 'discussions' where I eventually said things he could consider grounds for hitting me. Our last argument was when I went to Kansas University classes after a bath without a sweater on a day promising to be warm, when I was lectured on health costs in the USA. Sighs of relief after he was court ordered out of the house after the divorce. We heard about his death some forty years later, but my sister and I have never been to his grave.
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Where is Needhelpwithmom? I miss her. This is her post. She is the OP for this thread.
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I’ve found that funerals have in general been harder to cope with than death itself. Modern funerals usually seem to include people getting up and spouting off. It's very difficult to bear if you loved the deceased and you are well aware that the gushers were not on good terms with them. Hypocrisy rules! The get-together (wake?) is a bit like Christmas – combine a group of people who don’t like each other much, often had difficult experiences with the deceased, fill them up with alcohol, and hope it works out OK. Perhaps!

If you aren’t local, it’s expensive to get there and you always think it would have made more sense to go earlier when they were alive. If you don’t go, there’s always someone to criticise the decision. My DH’s parents both felt strongly ‘no funerals’ (FIL was a Japanese WWII POW and had seen a lot of deaths and mass graves), and most of the relations were very critical about that. Frankly, I think they missed the social aspects, nothing to do with the dead.

Do what you want, not what someone else thinks is ‘the right thing to do’.
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I did not attend my father's funeral, even though he and I were very close. Following his death, my stepmother berated my relationship with him, blasted me with one hurtful remark after another, and refused to allow me to assist with the planning of the funeral. I had to drag information out of her. My father married this woman long after I had left home and was earning my own living. I got the distinct feeling that I was going to be lucky to get a seat at the rear of the event, definitely not up front with she and her adult children. I agonised over not attending the funeral, because I adored my father, but, because of the way I was being treated, I wasn't certain that I could behave myself and refrain from a massive public "come apart" on my stepmother. My father would not have wanted that. I elected to honor him, at the time of his funeral, up by the big oak tree where he and I used to talk.
Do I regret not having been able to honor my father at his funeral? Yes. Do I regret not attending the event that my stepmother hosted? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
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Ann,

I get it. It’s hard to know what a person feels before they die.

My husband’s grandma was so hateful that she wrote hate letters to everyone in the family from her hospital bed. She died with hatred in her heart. Sad, huh?

She died alone because no one could stand being around her anymore. She had one daughter that she treated like crap. Her husband had died years before. None of the grandchildren were with her. Her siblings were all dead.
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Thanks, Piper

Eh, I guess I started reminiscing because the year is coming to an end. I got a little upset. Flashbacks, I suppose.

I realize after reading Golden’s posting that I identify with her and need to continue to protect myself by not being near my brothers.

I appreciate your kindness. Thank you so much.
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I didn’t go to my father’s funeral. I was distraught, and could never had gotten through it.
I’m quite certain that he would not have wanted or expected me there.
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Not related to my own parent, because I would be present no doubt as I have been raised in their belief system of it's what you do. ....But I have always made it a point to "go to the funeral" and read that people always appreciate that. I may be different. For instance I don't know at this point if I truly would appreciate my coworkers being present. In the past 6 weeks or so our secretary lost her mother. She did not even tell any of us, which is her business...I happened to see the notice in the paper. Eventually she did reveal it. I did not go to the visitation or funeral. Same for a sudden death of a younger parent of another staff person. I don't live in a bubble, but I don't take unnecessary chances during this season of flu/cold. A few years back I was very sick with a cold that slid into bronchitis and then a loss of appetite that left me extremely weak. I was out of work nearly 3 weeks. There was no one else around to help me, and no one to help look after my parents, although they functioned well enough to manage for the duration. I'm sorry/not sorry. It seems more about appearances and rituals then it is about sincerity sometimes. I know in this day and age many funeral homes have ways of setting up connections or making recordings if one still wants to be present in a way.
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Need, when your mom dies she will be dead so the reality is funerals are for the living. Do you feel like you need to go for your brothers? I certainly hope not! Who cares what they say?!

You KNOW in your heart what you sacrificed (A LOT and too much!) and the hurt you then experienced at their betrayal. Walk away from that dysfunctional mess! You MORE than paid "respects" you gave DECADES of your LIFE.

It's now ALL about you and hubby and your family together.

If I were in your shoes I wouldn't go. I don't know if I will go to my mom's or not, that remains to be seen.
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Golden,

Of course, my brothers will trash me for not being around when mom dies, saying that I didn’t pay any last respects. I was the caregiver to mom in my home for 15 years and as my husband says, I have done more than my share.

I never wanted the messy ending but when you keep trying to resolve issues and nothing changes then we reach a point that it’s time to call it quits.

Whatever they feel or say won’t be of interest to me. Now, I get a little upset about the wasted time and effort that I invested in trying to mend fences but oh well...

I suppose I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet. Life has a way of toughening us up.
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Margaret,

It’s really odd, isn’t it? It has been eating at me since mom left my home in September. I am glad I brought up this topic because hearing from others on this has helped me tremendously. Thanks so much.
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My comparable experience was my first husband’s funeral last year. Ours was a cousin marriage, so he was also my sisters’ cousin, as well as my daughters’ father. I chose not to go to his funeral, not because of him but because of the others who would be there, particularly the woman he left me for, with her numerous relations. I went to his mother’s funeral (my aunt’s and my much loved MIL), and it was full of Jane and her relations, all making little speeches with falsehoods about how much they had appreciated her. When I walked in, I thought I was in the wrong funeral until I saw someone I actually recognised. I just couldn’t bear to risk it again, even though I was finally on good terms with him and Jane had left him. I got a bit of bad mouthing about not attending, but it was the best decision for me. I am absolutely positive that it made no difference to him!
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You know, it’s funny how memories float to the surface sometimes. I’m going a ways back. Daddy died in 2002. Mom was still living at home. I took care of her but she was able to be home still. She couldn’t drive or anything so I did everything for her. Mom moved in my house in 2005.

Anyway, daddy died and our family went to the funeral home to plan his wake. I hate wakes! I had many nightmares as a child from being drug to wakes at a young age. My great aunts would tell me not to be afraid because the deceased person was ‘only sleeping.’ That actually terrified me as a child because I was afraid when I went to bed at night I would end up in a coffin and then dumped into a hole in the ground too.

Well, at the funeral home it came time to select the casket for my father with the funeral director. My brothers jumped up, ready to go look at the caskets with my mom. I declined going to look at the caskets and remained in the office. It just creeped me out to go pick out a casket for daddy.

Later on my mom and brothers made fun of me for not going to help select a casket for daddy. I felt the way I always had when they belittled me and I told them I simply had no desire to go look at a bunch of coffins. Selecting a casket wasn’t a priority for me. I was grieving for my father. It didn’t matter to me what kind of damn wood the casket was going to be.

Of course, my brothers acted like big shots and my mother loved all of the fake attention they were giving her.

Fast forward to 2013, my oldest brother dies. Who had to plan his cremation and burial? You guessed it. ME! Not easy for me but I managed. Was my mom there? Nope! Any of my big shot brothers? Hell no! My oldest daughter went with me. The younger one was in school still.

My brother wanted cremation. I arranged for a graveside service. He was buried in our family plot. I was the only one to bring flowers. I did everything. My brother got upset because I gave a donation to the clergy at his graveside service. I do not consider a donation to clergy for a service a ‘waste of money.’ As he put it! It was my money. He wasn’t spending any money. Oh, and he claims to be a Christian, yeah right. The only charitable contributions that my brothers make are to themselves.

It just dawned on me that will be the last burial I will attend for my family. I have ended the relationship with my brothers. So I won’t be going to mom’s or my brothers burials. It’s odd how we don’t anticipate how life may turn out. I really feel it clicked about protecting myself after reading golden’s post. I thank you again, golden for sharing your experience with me.

Thanks everyone for listening. I hope that I haven’t bored everyone to death. Sorry if I have.
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JoAnn,

You bring up good points. I think being around my hateful brothers would interfere with any closure that could occur. So I will have to find closure privately, perhaps visiting the cemetery afterwards. I thank you for asking this important question. It made me truly consider what I need most.
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Golden,

Thank you for sharing this. I went to daddy’s wake and burial. Things were different then. Mom and dad were living in their home. I cared for her but our relationship was on the upswing at that point.

I didn’t have as much difficulty with my brothers at that time. Not that we were ever the best of friends or anything like that but we managed to be civil and have decent communication with one another for the most part.

I was close to my dad and I was his caregiver. He was kind, gracious and humble. I wouldn’t hesitate to care for him again.

Fast forward and things are vastly different. My brothers and I do not have a relationship at all now. They are despicable people. Nor do I ever anticipate or even desire a relationship with them in the future. I have learned with the help of therapy that this is the best solution for me.

I don’t have a close relationship with my mom anymore either. Things really changed after she moved into our house. When I set boundaries and she started trouble instigating and allowing my brothers to interfere it became unbearable.

So, your experience truly helps me to validate that I don’t think it would be in my best interest to be near my brothers. So I will accept that I won’t be attending her burial. I was struggling with this. It has helped to talk it out with others that have experience in the same situation.

Thanks. I have always appreciated your posts.
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need - I did not go to either of my parent's funerals. My father died many, many years ago and my FOO dynamics are such that my mother and my sister were/are nasty to me and blame me for whatever. When my father died I felt my family was really no more. He was my nurturing parent. I saw him a few days before he died and we said our good byes, I simply could not face the nastiness I was already getting from my sis and mother as well as dealing with his death. Fast forward to this year when I organised my mother's very simple burial service on the other side of the country. My sis was going to be there so I decided I would not go for the same reason as I did not go to my father's funeral - basically self protection. I was tired from care giving and doing executor's duties and had already decided to go no contact with my sis (as her nastiness has continued) once the estate was pretty well finished. I have absolutely no regrets about either situation. It was much better for me. I wish you well in your very difficult family circumstances .
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Blackhole,

Thanks for sharing your story. It’s so interesting, isn’t it? How religion is viewed by some. My brother is like your mom. Geeeeez, if he was the only Christian on the face of the earth I would be first in line to be an atheist.

It’s a brainwashing of sorts in some churches. My brother used religion to beat people up with. I find that disgusting. He is the most arrogant person that I know. Uh, shouldn’t a Christian be humble? Not him! He made up his own twisted interpretation of the Bible.

Oh, and speaking of the excess of money spent in ridiculous ways regarding their religion, once he announced that God told him to buy a brand new truck! Yeah, right...

Meanwhile he owes a ton of bills and back taxes. Just crazy thinking if you ask me. Guess he chose not to hear what my father taught us which was not to spend money that we did not have. Neither of my parents were spendthrifts. All of my brothers became irresponsible with money. Just ridiculous!

Their foolishness is exhausting as you say. Well, you’re not alone. As you can see my family has it’s share of nuts too. It’s in every family. There is always going to be someone who is off kilter. No one has a perfect family.
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Hi NeedHelp: My reluctance to have a funeral for my mom was not due to extended hurt feelings or estrangement. It was just..... calling it like I see it. Or desperately wanting to.

During my lifetime, Mom had two religious “conversion experiences.” The first one was a 100% reaction to the hurts of her childhood and her awful marriage to my father. While Mom was very sincere in Faith #1, her embrace was alienating. Mom gave no thought (at times, no respect) to whomever around her felt unheard or confused — because Mom had God on her side.

Well into my adulthood, I realized - with sadness - that Mom’s faith was her loud-and-proud excuse to never develop proper coping skills.

As a result, I had to teach myself how to be a high-functioning adult with healthy boundaries. It was a long, clumsy journey.

I finally succeeded. But in Mom’s faith, this level of personal agency was not something to celebrate. It was cause for concern. 🙄

At the time of my mom’s death, she was deep into her 2nd “conversion experience.” A full embrace of a religion Mom formerly had nothing good to say about. In fact, she likened it to a cult.

This conversion was to “prove her worth” to her 2nd husband’s family. To her immediate family (her sister and me), Mom vacillated between downplaying the depth of her new faith.... and going to great pains to school us in her new faith.

Mom alienated her friends from Faith #1. Mom decided in advance that they would not accept her as a member of Faith #2.

For non-religious reasons, Mom grew to distrust the step-fam she married into. But remember, no real coping skills! So Mom would ritually embrace any and all Pomp And Circumstance - for the benefit of the stepfam.

The disconnect caused Mom to retreat into her own little world. After Mom’s late-life brain changes started, her “checking out” became even more profound.

When Mom was still 100% cogent, she told her sister and me (on the sly) that she wanted to be cremated and no viewing, no traditional funeral, bla bla.

Eventually, Mom’s death came. It was traumatic. And it was a direct result of mom’s self-neglect. Which was inextricably linked to Mom’s prime directive of “proving” to step-fam that she did not squander one penny of the nest-egg that step-dad (who died a few years prior) left behind. **Outsized religious donations notwithstanding**

Mom assigned someone in stepfam to be the executor of her estate. It was clear from the outset that there was plenty of $$ to pay for any ridiculous funeral and after-stuff. The stepfam immediately started in on what Their Faith requires.

I let them run with it.

I was outnumbered and exhausted. I planned and spearheaded the funeral because I lived much closer to Mom and her church than they did. I chose to smile and nod (and check out completely during the service) - rather than fight for a truth that Mom did not have the courage to express to them.

Important note: I never (in my life!) doubted for a minute how much my mom loved me. She always knew how much I loved her, too.

The takeaway = Sometimes love does not conquer all.

Despite the the length of my story, it’s as simple as that.
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I too do not want a funeral service. I definitely don't want to be viewed. I am still debating on burying or cremation. DH wants cremation. At 70/72 we still haven't looked into anything. I have told him if he is cremated, I will not have a service. He is a golfer so told him will have a luncheon for him at the club in his memory. His brothers live 12 and 18 hrs away. Neither have gone out of their way to visit just us. We r either a stop over on the way to see friends or like one brother they stay at SILs sister's and visit us for a hour while they are here. My DH is very aware so I don't need to say anything. So, if he passes first they will be notified but told there is no need for them to make the trip.

I believe that a funeral service is for family and close friends. Its a closure for them. Do you need closure? If so, sit in the back and leave as soon as the service is over. If not, then don't go. They are gone.
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I wonder how the very first people on earth handled burials. What was the first recording of all of this? How did we progress to funeral homes and cemeteries?

I will have to research the time line on our modern day culture regarding burials and cremation.
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Thanks, Jada

I have to say that in all honesty that I feel nothing for him. I am sad that things could not work out peacefully. I do not have any feelings for him though. Too much water under the bridge. Too much pain and heartache has occurred.

I have chosen to never speak to either of my brothers again. I don’t wish them harm. I just don’t want to have them in my life. They aren’t concerned about me either so we’re even. It’s sad but that’s how it goes.

I am sorry about your situation. Does not surprise me in the least that your brother has several failed relationships too. I’m not saying failures don’t happen to good people. I am only talking about people like our brothers who brought their failures upon themselves. Right? Lord, I don’t know what his former wives or current wife saw in him to begin with.

Oh wait, did I ever tell you that he claims to be a Christian? Hahaha! What a joke!

If he was my only example of Christianity I would be first in line to be an atheist.
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NeedHelpWithMom,
I completely understand what you’re saying.......I’m in the same situation. I’m sure brother will not notify me when Mom passes as he hasn’t let me see or speak to her for over 2 years now.

I spoke with a local police officer here & he even told me that brother will probably ban me from attending funeral. However, I’m torn just as you are. I know people will be there to offer condolences for me and my sons so how can I not be there. But yet I don’t want to see or deal with my brother.

I swear our brothers are so much alike. Mine too had 3 failed relationships due to him trying to control people. That’s why he’s alone now & the only one he can control is my mom with dementia. What a pathetic life he lives doing things out of spite, control & greed.

My thoughts & prayers are always with you because I know this is a daily struggle for you too. I hope someday we will both find peace. In the meantime just take it one day at a time. Hugs! ❤️
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Blackhole,

I planned my brother’s funeral because no one else would and my mom asked me to do it. My oldest daughter offered to go with me to the funeral home to have him cremated.

He may have been the ‘black sheep’ of the family but in many ways he had a bigger heart than my other brothers that I now have absolutely no contact with.

Yeah, it was a tough to go through. It was simply a graveside service. He was buried in our family plot. He died far too young, HepC. Was really hard growing up with a heroin addict.

Silver lining is that I have never or will never stick a needle in my arm. I saw him overdose. I saw him suffer through withdrawals. I saw him suffer with HepC. I saw him dying. I was the last one with him before he died. I did forgive him.

I choose mainly to remember the happy times before his addiction and there were some happy times later on as well. He just couldn’t stay clean.

At one point he was able to run a successful business. It’s so sad he could not overcome the demons in his life. I hope he is finally at peace now. I believe he is.

I don’t think I want to be buried in the family plot. I don’t think I would rest in peace there. Guess that sounds crazy to some people. I don’t know what I want.
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Cap,

I feel like you get it because you did not wish to be near your ex at your son’s funeral and you said goodbye in your own way. I can appreciate that.

I simply can’t be near my brothers. I can’t really view them as brothers. They are biological siblings. That’s it. So I will say goodbye in my own way as well. As always, I appreciate your honesty.
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