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Attending funerals?

(27 Posts)
grannot Tue 14-May-13 21:46:09

My Uncle died last week and his funeral is a week tomorrow but I'm undecided whether I should attend or not. I haven't actually seen him for 20+ years since my sisters wedding. This is for no particular reason just the fact that I live 100+ miles away from him and his family and we just grew apart.

But as a child he was very close to both me, my Mum and sisters. My Mum and Dad divorced when my sisters and I were very young and my Uncle basically became a father figure in our lives and was very special but by the time he married and had children , we were grown up and starting families of our own and we drifted apart.

I've always felt it was wrong to attend funerals for people you have not been close too and I'm pulled in two directions over this. I will of course send flowers but should I attend?

Any thoughts or advice please,

nanapug Tue 14-May-13 22:00:52

I don't envy you that decision. I can see exactly where you are coming from. I personally think it also depends on your beliefs. If you feel he is looking down and you want to let him know you appreciated what he did for you then I would go. Also, do you want to get closer to the family again or is it too late? Not much help I'm afraid but personally I wouldn't go, as long as you wouldn't regret it xx

HildaW Tue 14-May-13 22:01:10

grannot, here is my five penneth worth for what its worth. Having ,been through a couple of funerals for very close relatives and been acting 'hosts' in both, all I can say that when someone goes to the trouble of attending a funeral and therefore show their respect/affection etc, it is always greatly appreciated by the family. I found it particularly touching when an ex-co-worker of FIL made himself known to us. He was a little reticent but just said he wanted to come as he had such fond memories of working with him 20 odd years ago. We were very touched and am sure your uncle's family will also appreciate your thoughts whether delivered in person or by post.

FlicketyB Tue 14-May-13 22:04:01

I think it entirely depends on how easy it will be to travel to the funeral.

I confess that I make a real attempt to attend family funerals, while I feel my attendance shows respect and solidarity for family members who have been bereaved, but also opportunities to see cousins I am in contact by email but see rarely because of where they live.

I attended the funeral of an uncle last week. The funeral was in East Sussex and there were fewer family members than usual at the funeral. This was because the venue was difficult and time consuming for many people to reach. The absences were accepted for just that reason.

tanith Tue 14-May-13 22:05:24

If it were me I'd attend to pay my respects to someone who was once important in my life.. my Aunt was a big part of my life when a child but I only really saw her for weddings and funerals once I was an adult but I did attend her funeral and reminisced with my cousins about the happy holidays we spent with her in her country home and they were happy so many people were there to talk about their Mother and share memories.

nightowl Tue 14-May-13 22:05:30

There was a thread about attending funerals not too long ago which not surprisingly drew a variety of responses. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this question grannot. Personally, I would go - as a sign of what he brought to your life when you were young; to represent your parents; and as a show of support for his family. There were quite a few people at my mother's funeral who I did not know but I was touched by their attendance and obvious regard for her. Having said all that I still don't think there is a right or wrong answer, we all have our own views about this subject. Do what feels right for you.

merlotgran Tue 14-May-13 22:12:22

DH and I went to his aunt's funeral last year. He hadn't seen her for over twenty years but she had been a kind and supportive influence in his life when he was growing up. There were not many members of the family still alive so her son (DH's cousin) was pleased to see us. Funerals are for the living not the dead so nobody should feel guilty if they decide not to attend for whatever reason.

grannyactivist Tue 14-May-13 22:13:10

There is no right and wrong in this situation. It doesn't seem as though his family have particular expectations of you, so you can make an honest choice uninfluenced by others. I do agree with HildaW that it can be especially touching for the family to hear what their loved one has meant to people in the past though.

positivepam Tue 14-May-13 22:17:01

Hi Grannot these sort of decisions are always tough, but, I just think there are no wrong or right decisions, just different choices. I usually feel that if i go with my "gut" instinct that is usually the right choice. It isn't "wrong" to attend the funeral of someone you haven't been close to and anyway, who is going to judge you? It sounds as if once upon a time this man was very special in your life and good to you, so how could it be wrong to honour that person and the role he played once in your life? But again, it is your decision and if you decide not to go, then that is fine as well, because you will still have your memories. flowers

Faye Tue 14-May-13 22:37:30

I regret two funerals I didn't attend. I didn't go for small reasons and have always regretted those decisions.

Nelliemoser Tue 14-May-13 22:47:26

As he was important in your life at one time I would suggest that it is far better to attend now than to regret later that you did not do this. You only have this one chance to pay your respects

You will meet other relatives and cousins that are part of the family you have belonged to. As someone from a very small family group I really see the value of this.

I did this just last week with my husbands aunt my late Mils youngest sister. We met all the cousins I have known at family get togethers for the last 38yrs. It was good to catch up and we laughed and talked about the aunties and my late mother in law. I had always felt I was accepted into their family.

We all know its only at funerals now when we have this chance. Go and talk to the nearest relatives about how much this man meant to you and your relatives. It will help them and your good memories.

Eloethan Tue 14-May-13 22:51:08

Often people lose touch with one another over a period of years, for a variety of reasons, not least of which are distance and family/work commitments. That doesn't mean that they don't remember or think kindly of each other. In the past, you had a close and affectionate relationship with your uncle and there's no reason for you to feel it would be "wrong" for you to attend.

You may feel it is something you would like to do, in memory of your uncle's kindness when you were a child. But I don't think there is a need for you to go just as a matter of "duty". The best course of action is probably to do whatever you truly feel you would like to do.

grannot Wed 15-May-13 12:55:50

Thanks everyone for your thoughts, I've decided to attend the funeral but not the wake after.

HildaW Wed 15-May-13 13:01:59

grannot, all the best flowers

MrsSB Wed 15-May-13 13:06:38

I just thought I'd add my thoughts, hoping to help. I'm glad youve decided to go to the funeral. My dad died in February, and we were so pleased to see people at his funeral who we hadn't seen for years. It made us realise just how much he was loved and respected, even though he and they (and we) hadn't kept in touch much.

However, we were saddened to discover that a cousin of ours (on my mum's side) had attended the funeral, but hadn't made his attendance known to us (there were so many people, we just missed seeing him somehow) , and we would have really liked him to join us at the wake, even if just to chat over old times.

I'm sure your uncle's family will be really pleased to see you, even at what will be a sad occasion for them.

HildaW Wed 15-May-13 13:16:35

MrsSB, your thoughts are similar to mine, it is greatly appreciated by the family and also highlights the need for a little bit of organisin. Nothing too formal, but a sort of official welcomer to just acknowledge those who attend. My daughter went to a co-worker's funeral and she and others felt quite embarrassed at one point when they were tentatively requested to join the wake. It turned out that the deceased (a youngish woman) had distinctly wanted all those who knew her to be treated to a proper high tea but, her family had not made this quite clear at first. All was sorted out and everyone was made to feel very welcomed but it was a shame it had not been properly announced or printed into the order of service. Its so easy to feel embarrassed at such occassions and clear messages always help.

Aspen Wed 15-May-13 17:36:04

I went to a funeral on Monday of my friend's husband, I had only met him once but I went to support my friend as I wasn't sure how many people would turn up and it is really sad went there are only a few people there.

nightowl Wed 15-May-13 17:45:53

I had a similar experience at my mum's funeral MrsSB. I think people sometimes feel they are intruding on private grief when in fact close family members would be pleased to have the opportunity to speak about their loved one. I respect your decision not to attend the wake grannot but would urge you to make your presence known as I'm sure it will mean a lot to your cousins.

FlicketyB Thu 16-May-13 11:29:49

There is nothing more consoling for the family of the bereaved than a good turn out at the funeral.

Gally Thu 16-May-13 12:09:36

Thought I'd just add my tuppeny-worth; J's funeral last year was attended by well over 300 and I found that very comforting. Sadly, many left immediately afterwards to return to work or other appointments, but at least 150 attended the 'party' afterwards and I was able to talk to most of them. I would say that if the person or their family meant something to you whether as a friend, work colleague, neighbour or relative, then do go to the funeral if you can. It will be appreciated.

soop Thu 16-May-13 12:12:41

Gally flowers

grannot Thu 23-May-13 11:41:34

Just a little update, I did attend the funeral and as many of you suggested I'm glad I did. My Aunt and cousins seemed delighted to see me and I was made very welcome. I was delighted to see that on the back of the order of service where my Aunt had placed various family pictures of my Uncle and his family, was a beautiful one of him sitting on a rug surrounded by his four young nieces (one of whom was standing behind him arms tightly wrapped around his neck; yes that was yours truly!). Needless to say that was my undoing!

But I am glad I went, I met some amazing relatives from Scotland who had travelled all the way down to Surrey to pay their respects to someone they hadn't seen for 30+ years and it was lovely chatting to them about old times and long passed family. My Aunt and cousins made me feel more than welcome and I'm glad I made the effort, so thankyou to everyone who commented and helped me make my decision,


Nelliemoser Thu 23-May-13 11:51:32

granot I am so pleased for you. It seems as though you were so worried about going it took you some courage to do so.

Nelliemoser Thu 23-May-13 11:52:04

grannot sorry! blush

soop Thu 23-May-13 11:55:09

grannot I'm pleased that you're pleased. smile