Someone I know just learned that her ex’s maternal grandfather died. Though this man was like a grandfather to her, she’s getting pressure to stay away from the wake and funeral because her ex-mother-in-law doesn’t want her around.
Some of you might say she should stay away, that her ex-mother-in-law’s wishes should come before other considerations. After all, it’s her father who died, and she needs all the comforting loved ones could give her. She shouldn’t have to see people she can’t handle.
I can appreciate that sentiment. But I don’t agree.
I recently went through a similar experience. The dad of one of my best friends passed away last fall. Nobody told me to stay away, and they wouldn’t have done so. But various members of the family have been angry with me in the last decade and a half, so I felt some pressure to stay away all the same.
In the end I attended the wake and the funeral. Some of the family were as cold to me as I had expected. But the deceased was a great man who played an important role in my life, so I’m glad I did it.
And that’s the point, really: When someone you care about dies, you have to do what you feel is right to honor that person’s memory. If that person was special to you, then your presence will honor them. The desires of other mourners — no matter how close they were to the dead — are secondary.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you flaunt your presence in front of those who may not want you there. Go in, quickly offer them condolences, say a prayer in front of the casket and go find a corner where you don’t have to see certain people. There will always be someone there to talk to, and they won’t care if you get along with the family or not.
If you stay away because someone can’t handle you, it’ll haunt you forever. That would be a damn shame.