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estranged father's funeral

(32 Posts)
raggymac Sun 11-May-14 23:29:25

I have just heard that my elderly father has suddenly died. I have not seen him since I was a small child when he left my Mother. He tried to keep in contact for a few years but it dwindled out.(We exchanged Christmas cards)
He subsequently married the woman he left my Mother for and they have one daughter who is eighteen years younger than me Last year I tracked her down and we have met once.A year before we met I had tried to re establish contact with my Father but he didn't want to know I suppose I desperately wanted to fill in all the gaps in my childhood memories.
My half sister said that he completely blocked out his previous life and marriage and NEVER discussed it with anyone- in fact it was her Mother who told her of my existence.
She informed me of his death last week and asked if I wanted to come to the funeral My own Mother is in a Nursing Home and has advancing dementia so I cannot discuss it or even tell her.
My thoughts are in turmoil and my own family tells me I should do what seems right
The funeral will be very small (6 or 7 ) so I will be very conspicuous and two or three of the people there do not know of my existence.

Can any of you wise ladies help with my dilemma?

thatbags Mon 12-May-14 06:37:47

In your place, I think I would go. It is said that we only regret what we didn't do. flowers

JessM Mon 12-May-14 06:43:14

What is your gut telling you. Is there a bit of you that wants to go? Would you like to know your half sister better maybe? Or do you just feel obligated because you have been asked. Follow the feelings of what you want to do, not what you feel you should do.

suzied Mon 12-May-14 06:49:05

It sounds like you feel you should go, but are worried what the few other people at the funeral may think about your being there. I think you should go otherwise you may regret it. You know your half sister so there will be one person to say hello to. You don't have to go to any gathering afterwards , if there is one, unless you wish to, but maybe a a chance to make more contacts and fill in some gaps in your father 's life.

Aka Mon 12-May-14 06:51:02

I think you ought to go.

Greenfinch Mon 12-May-14 07:09:37

I agree with Aka flowers

DebnCreme Mon 12-May-14 07:23:55

You should go, no question in my mind.

HollyDaze Mon 12-May-14 08:07:34

I agree with JessM; go with what your gut tells you.

Question why you need help to decide - what's making you question it? There's no point going to funerals just for the sake of doing what is considered right (I hate that level of hypocrisy at funerals) but if you want to say farewell to your father, then maybe it's something you should consider strongly; you won't get a second chance.

raggymac Mon 12-May-14 08:46:16

Thank you so much for all your replies.

I'm questioning whether I should go because his second wife will be there and she is a rather frail lady in her late eighties. Will she want me there?
Was he protecting her by not being in contact with me? There were plenty of opportunities for him to contact me over the years and he chose not to- only a Christmas card signed with the word 'Dad' Why? So many questions I will never know the answers to. My half sister does not know why he did not keep in touch and says he was a very private man and never spoke of his feelings.
I am still feeling very confused and said I would contact my half sister today.
If only the funeral was a bigger affair and I could slip in and out unnoticed.
My half sister also said I could go and see his body in the chapel of rest- should I do this instead of the funeral ?

raggymac Mon 12-May-14 08:56:55

The funeral is on Friday this week.

Elegran Mon 12-May-14 08:57:25

You could ask your half-sister not to say who you are, or to make it vague - "a relative who had not met him for many years, but came to say goodbye". At the actual funeral there will not be much chance for the others to chat to you, and you do not need to stay for any get-together afterwards.

If his second wife already knows about you (it is possible) she may suspect your true identity, but if she doesn't, she will not be upset.

Follow your instincts.

janeainsworth Mon 12-May-14 09:01:13

Your half-sister sounds a very caring person Raggy.
I think viewing the body is a different thing from going to the funeral - it would be just for you and not make any difference to anyone else.
Going to the funeral as you say, would have an impact on others.
I think it would be a positive impact, from what you have written about your sister.
I would go.

Soutra Mon 12-May-14 09:02:39

The only person who matters in this decision is you yourself. Will you regret not going? If so then go to "complete" the circle of his role in your life. If your feelings for him are such that you do not want to go, there must be no sense of obligation on your part. Personaly I would go but I am not you and you are not me. Do not feel you have to take anybody else's feelings into

janeainsworth Mon 12-May-14 09:03:03

Wise words as usual Elegran

thatbags Mon 12-May-14 09:04:05

Your last sentence is wise too, soutra.

dogsdinner Mon 12-May-14 09:04:55

My father too left when I was three. Very limited contact. Again I met my half sister only a couple of times and after he died I received from her pictures they had found he had kept of when I was a child. I was sad they hadn't told me of the funeral. Since you know when it is definitely go.

HollyDaze Mon 12-May-14 09:05:28

raggymac - the main question is: do you want to go to the funeral? Ignore what others may think (for now), is it what you want to do?

Agus Mon 12-May-14 09:08:33

I don't know if you feel you don't have a right to go but he was your Father and your half sister wouldn't have informed you of his death if there was a problem with you attending his funeral.

As has been said, you won't get a a second chance.

If you want to go to the chapel of rest and the funeral, that's what you should do.

whenim64 Mon 12-May-14 09:18:54

If you have the slightest feeling that in the future, you will regret that you didn't go, then go. I wasn't close to my dad, who was an emotionally distant man who put himself first every time. When he died in hospital, I was in another hospital and very poorly, but could have been taken to part of his funeral in a wheelchair. I decided not to go, and eight years on I don't regret my decision. My issues with him had been addressed before he died and I didn't feel any need to complete the circle of his role in my life that Soutra refers to. Good luck, whatever you decided to do. flowers

Lona Mon 12-May-14 09:25:34

I too think you should go with your instincts, but why don't you ask your half sister how she feels about it. This could be the beginning of rewarding relationship with her.
Good luck.

raggymac Mon 12-May-14 09:32:20

whenim64 emotionally distant are exactly the right words to describe my Dad. I am afraid of regretting my decision if I decide not to go and as thatbags said 'it is said that we only regret what we didn't do'

It is a great help to be writing down my feelings and to get the wise opinions of people who don't know me -thank you

Mishap Mon 12-May-14 09:48:23

Presumably your half sister will be able to tell you what her mother does or does not know about you.

But in any event, I agree with what others have said - it must be about what feels right for you. Will going to the funeral close a chapter for you and help you to move on? Or do you think the potential discomfort of the situation for you outweighs this? Viewing the body alone and not going to the funeral would get round the social discomfort of the situation and might serve to close the chapter for you without having to appear at the funeral if that is what is concerning you.

Please remember that whatever you decide, you have a whole life that did not include him behind you and to look forward to and that this is just one particular moment, that looms large in your mind just now, but will fade.

Bellasnana Mon 12-May-14 10:06:37

We are all different and, as others have said, you should do what feels right to you. You can't worry about other people's attitudes.

I wasn't given the opportunity to attend my father's funeral. My parents had divorced, acrimoniously, a year before he died,and at 9years old I wasn't given a choice in the matter.

It has been a source of great sadness to me over the years even though, like you, I didn't really have much of a relationship with my father.

I think you might have regrets if you don't go, but I wish you all the best whatever decision you come to flowers

Mishap Mon 12-May-14 10:12:16

When my Dad died last year I took the decision not to view his body in the chapel of rest - I wanted to remember him as he had been. My sister and brother did see him, my sister in the home immediately after he died and my brother in the chapel of rest. I had been to see my Mum after she died and did not find it helpful.

I have never regretted not seeing Dad - he remains in my mind as a feisty guy, and not seeing him has not interfered with coming to terms with his death.

It is so interesting reading these posts. There seems to be a general feeling that people of our age just accept the death of elderly parents and do not grieve for them, because they were so old. How wrong that is!

granjura Mon 12-May-14 10:13:56

As others have said, only you knows what YOU want to do- follow your heart. I'd say go or you might regret it- but if you truly can't face the pain- don't. There is nothing you can do for your dad now- and he won't know if you are there or not, truly. Follow your heart and do not let anyone bully you into doing what you feel you can't do.

Thinking of you, jura