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MIL funeral, but FIL won't allow my children to attend

edited 7 January 2015 at 7:33PM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
211 replies 22.6K views
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  • ALI1973ALI1973 Forumite
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    Thank you all.

    Fen1 - of course I am not taking it critically, any advise is worth looking at, hence why I posted, already there have been things suggested that hadn't occurred to me.

    I am not sure counselling could do any more for me, after all when it started in 2005 I was virtually agoraphobic. And planning strategies have worked all this time for me.

    cte1111 - thank you for your positive response. Yes I have friends who after 3.30pm will be available for me to bombard with text messages.
  • SpendlessSpendless Forumite
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    If the announcement is going in the local paper, have you had a look to see if they also put the info on-line? Some papers do.
  • G6JNSG6JNS Users Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    ALI1973 wrote: »
    I am at loss of what to do, as I feel torn. My much loved MIL passed away last week after years of suffering. They live 4 hrs away. I have 3 children, 14, 13 and 9. Due to the circumstances of her illness, they have not seen her for 4 years, but we have tried to maintain telephone contact with FIL, it has been difficult and he has not wanted to speak with the children. MIL has Alzheimers, so has been unable to speak for over 6 years. DH has visited alone for the past 4 years.

    There are brothers and sisters who all have adult children, only mine are younger. Sisters have pretty much estranged themselves from us, I am not totally sure why, as I have always encouraged DH to keep in touch, but I will admit that eventually I left it to him to converse with his family (as I do with mine).

    DH was informed before Xmas that MIL was dying, and he travelled as soon as reasonable to the hospital and stayed there for a week before her death.

    Everything regarding the funeral has been told to us (no input from us) eg. we have been told we cannot have our won flowers, that they have been purchased and we will just pay our share (as side note: they have flowers in the spray that MIL did not like), sharing of memories had to be ALL family inclusive and not specific to our family (very difficult when very few of our family memories include everyone). Anyway, we have made plans for the funeral, only to be told today by FIL that our children are not welcome because HE cannot cope.

    We do not have family local to us, and will have to rely on goodwill of friends to watch our children if we both attend, not to mention how upset our children are that they cannot say goodbye. My DH wants me to be with him at the crematorium and the wake at his sisters house after, BUT, I feel I am betraying my children by "socialising" with his family (whom I am very disappointed and angry with) at the wake.

    I know this is not what my MIL would have wanted (we were very close) but quite rightly DH doesn't want to cause a scene, I also though don't want to pretend all is ok when it really is not.

    What would you do?
    Difficult to say, and obviously it is a decision you have you make. The stress of bereavement often makes people behave in an uncharacteristic manner. Nevertheless their underlying character often shows through. From what you have said FIL is a bully and a control freak. Being firm but polite can be an effective way of dealing with them. Only you can say how firm you should be.
  • onlyrozonlyroz Forumite
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    About the seating in the crem, when my FIL died I was most surprised to find myself being ushered into the front row next to my husband and nieces. I did feel a bit awkward and would have preferred to be a row behind at least, but I just went with it. I have no idea whether it's normal for in-laws to be right at the front but I would just go with whatever is suggested to you, and don't necessarily expect to be sitting right next to your husband.
  • coolcaitcoolcait Forumite
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    Sadly, I have been to more family funerals than I want to think about.


    There were very few formal seating arrangements. 'Family' was at the front. That meant that the widow/widower and any unmarried children were in the front pew/row of seating.


    If there was enough room, then other children + spouses + (their) children sat alongside them. If there wasn't enough room, then other children + spouses + (their) children sat in the pews/rows behind, or in the front pews/rows on the other side. Always in their own individual family groups. And always without any nonsense about who was sitting where.


    Pall bearers sat with their own spouses/families.


    There was no difficulty in organising the pall bearers either on entering or leaving. They brought the coffin into the church, then joined their families. At the end of the service, they simply stepped forward, into the clear space around the coffin, when the funeral director asked for them.


    I have never yet been in a crematorium, funeral parlour, church, chapel or other funeral venue where everyone was so crowded round the coffin that it was impossible for this to happen.


    All of the above is absolutely clear to me right now, as I am not currently grieving for a loved one, or trying to help organise a funeral.


    In the throes of that kind of grief, I simply would not be able to deal with a question like "Where should I sit?" from another sentient adult.


    So, all of my sympathies are with the man who slowly and agonisingly watched his mother 'die' over the past four years and more - on his lone trips to see her. Who is now dealing with the grief, and regrets, brought down by her actual physical death.


    But who is being distracted from all of that by the apparently insurmountable grief of his wife and three children - who had no contact with his mother in the four years prior to her death. Not to mention little or no contact with (or liking for) his father or the rest of his family in the four years or more prior to this point.


    He must love you very much if, despite your behaviour at this time, he wants you by his side when he bids farewell to his mother - both at the formal funeral and the informal wake.


    Do you love him enough to accompany him unconditionally, uncomplainingly and undramatically?
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  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    Fen1 wrote: »
    Do you know the name of the undertaker? Phone him and ask for directions to to the crematorium. Alternatively, Google all the crems in the local area. Phone each in turn and ask if Mrs.X's service is being held there on Z date and time. There are usually only a few crems per county, so it shouldn't take long.
    Or if it's in the paper, that will almost certainly be online.

    As for coping strategies, is it worth spending a few minutes (not too many!) thinking about the worst that can happen, and how likely it is.

    eg, at the crem, someone thinks you've sat in the 'wrong' place: what's the worst that can happen? Is it terribly likely that they'd shout at you? But if they did, you'd just smile sweetly, gather your coat and bag, and walk out, telling your DH on the way "I'm sorry dear, I'll wait in the car for you."

    And if they just give you a 'look'? You smile sweetly, say how sorry you about MIL, and move away if you're met with anything untoward.

    At the wake, someone starts a rant, you move away. If it's too awful, you smile sweetly, gather your coat and bag, and walk out, saying you'll wait in the car. You don't increase the drama by flouncing or responding, you just remove yourself.

    If the family is as controlling as it sounds, they will have worked out where everyone is to sit and no doubt discussed this with the undertakers. You may or may not get a chance to ask if there's a seating plan. But if in doubt, ask someone if it's OK to sit there or should you be somewhere else?

    If you cause offence, remember it's them being offended, not you deliberately giving it.

    At my mother's (recent) funeral, we all bundled into the crem fairly randomly. There weren't many of us, but we had cousins, spouses and grandchildren all mixed up together. The church was packed for the service we had after that, and we just arranged for family who were doing anything to sit where they could get out easily. One of the grandchildren (young adult) ended up in the gallery because a latecomer (not family) pinched his seat, but we didn't even take offence at that.
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  • I missed lots of my parents friends funerals growing up, as it is just a generational thing that you "protect" children from grief like that.

    What I really don't understand is this comment below.
    ALI1973 wrote: »
    they wanted to say goodbye to their Gran, but they have been very grown-up and have accepted that their Granddad doesn't want them to attend. They are very upset, and we have tried to explain that Granddad isn't doing so well after Grandma's death

    Why would you ever tell your children that the fil didn't want them there? Are you trying to turn them against him for some reason? The children should never have been told something like that. You could have just said there are no children going, and it is a school day and left it at that, not trying to make the fil sound like he was picking on just them for some reason.

    Can you just not arrange for the children to stay the night with friends then you're not having to rush back, or even if you do get back early it still gives you both time to recover together from the emotion of the day.
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  • edited 5 January 2015 at 4:12AM
    duchyduchy Forumite
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    edited 5 January 2015 at 4:12AM
    You may not have anything in common with every single one of your siblings in law but would it really be too hard to pick up a phone and say "I just want to check which crem it is so I can put it in the sat nav in advance" (after giving them your condolences first of course) ? Once they tell you which one - google for the postcode then stick it in the satnav.

    No fuss, no drama - just one issue resolved if you really can't just ask your husband which one it is or he doesn't know.
    ALI1973 wrote: »

    I too feel sorry for my DH, but some of this is his own making, is a call to his family to ask for details really too much?

    No more than expecting you to deal with the trivia leaving him to cope with the stuff he has to. Pick the phone up yourself "is making a call to his family really too much" for you to do for him ?
    I'm guessing you have never lost a parent or you wouldn't be behaving this way and making things so much more difficult for your OH.
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  • ALI1973ALI1973 Forumite
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    I missed lots of my parents friends funerals growing up, as it is just a generational thing that you "protect" children from grief like that.

    What I really don't understand is this comment below.



    Why would you ever tell your children that the fil didn't want them there? Are you trying to turn them against him for some reason? The children should never have been told something like that. You could have just said there are no children going, and it is a school day and left it at that, not trying to make the fil sound like he was picking on just them for some reason.

    Can you just not arrange for the children to stay the night with friends then you're not having to rush back, or even if you do get back early it still gives you both time to recover together from the emotion of the day.

    Because we had already arranged with them that they would go, and what would happen. It wasn't a case that FIL had declared that NO children could go go only that family children couldn't go (and we are the only ones with children under 18), so it was the truth that FIL had said that no children could go. We had even asked if they could just come to the wake, and was flatly refused, he doesn't want them (specific) there.

    No we do not have any family nearby (or further afield that could) have our children overnight, and we would not want them staying overnight at friends on this night, the older two are well aware of what is happening even if the younger isn't, I wouldn't be comfortable with it.
  • ALI1973ALI1973 Forumite
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    duchy wrote: »
    You may not have anything in common with every single one of your siblings in law but would it really be too hard to pick up a phone and say "I just want to check which crem it is so I can put it in the sat nav in advance" (after giving them your condolences first of course) ? Once they tell you which one - google for the postcode then stick it in the satnav.

    No fuss, no drama - just one issue resolved if you really can't just ask your husband which one it is or he doesn't know.



    No more than expecting you to deal with the trivia leaving him to cope with the stuff he has to. Pick the phone up yourself "is making a call to his family really too much" for you to do for him ?
    I'm guessing you have never lost a parent or you wouldn't be behaving this way and making things so much more difficult for your OH.

    I have now googled both as advised, and have the details, thank you.

    My father died suddenly 10 years ago, so yes I have had to deal with grief, at the time I had two small children, an hour travelling, and a husband who worked 7-7 (and who also happened to be having an affair I later found). I made no demands of him, he was free to deal with his grief as he saw fit, he accompanied me to the funeral and looked after the children, as were all the rest of my family, communication was very free flowing and we support each other including our inlaws and children. There was a person my mother didn't want attending, but after discussing and talking things through, she knew it was the right thing to allow them to attend the funeral but not the wake, there was no drama.

    I am very hurt at how my children have been treated by them, and although I will support my DH on the day and do as he wishes, I do not wish to speak with them unless it is absolutely necessary. So no, I still don't think asking him to speak with HIS family about whether there is a set seating plan is too much to ask.
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