Funerals are very hard under the best of circumstances. They are emotionally draining, and they can wring you out no matter how beautiful the actual ceremony is. If there are challenging family issues, also, it makes the funeral that much more difficult. In my case, there was a funeral with very complex family issues and divisions.
My father got sick quickly, declined, and passed away all within a matter of months. Upon noticing how fast his health was deteriorating as his caregiver, I knew I had to start planning services sooner rather than later.
All while planning the funeral, I knew how ugly things would become during this funeral, due to the unpleasant family circumstances involved. There was a division in the family due to many factors. Two of those factors was due to behaviors during the illness of the family matriarch and behaviors during her funeral.
The above-noted reasons were instrumental in my father keeping his illness from ALL members of the family and those connected to them. My fathers wish was that I tell family members about his illness, “AFTER he was dead.” So that’s what I did, knowing there would be fierce blowback and that this blowback would unfold AT THE FUNERAL.
Although I hate funerals and I plan not to attend another, I still think they are an avenue to show respect for the life of the deceased person. Some folks are narcissistic enough to make even a funeral about them and how they feel. So, I knew this funeral would become this type of event. When I say event, I mean shit show.
I knew in the initial planning stages that my son and I would not be attending the funeral due to the above-noted factors. We also knew that we wouldn’t tell anyone just as we didn’t tell anyone of my dads illness.
My son and I agreed that we would celebrate my dad’s life instead of attending the funeral. We wanted my dads funeral to be about dads life. We didn’t want it to be about us, about why we didn’t tell anyone of his illness, about the past years of family nonsense or anything else. The only way this would be accomplished was to remove ourselves from the situation. So, that’s what we did.
So, instead of planning to attend the funeral, we planned to celebrate his life as we celebrated him in life, while he was here with us. For the past ten years, the family was alienated, so it didn’t feel right for us to celebrate dads life with folks that were divisive in this manner. Instead, we decided to celebrate dads life at one of his favorite vacation destinations, eating the foods he liked, drinking the beverages that he enjoyed and saying goodbye in a way that felt right to us. So that’s what we did.
The day of the funeral, my son and I, hopped on a train at 5:00 am to Virginia Beach. That was my dads’ favorite vacation spot. Fifteen minutes before the funeral, I texted a few people attending the service. I let them know that I would not be in attendance. My text was not popular, nor was my actions, but that’s ok because I didn’t expect that either would be popular.
I stand by my decision and those that understand me agreed that it was the right thing to do and ultimately my choice to make. If I were presented with the same circumstances now, I would make the same choice, even though it was an unpopular decision.
Ultimately, I did what was best for myself and my son, and I KNOW my father would have gotten a huge kick out of it. I could hear his laughter at the unpredictable nature of what I did. I also know that he would appreciate that I didn’t allow myself to be placed in a situation in which I was powerless and at the mercy of nonsense, due to his death and attending his funeral.
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