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Family conflict.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
As some of you may know we lost my mother to leukemia in June. There was some bitterness between my stepfather and "us kids" meaning me and my siblings during her illness. After her death that bitterness kind of exploded for a little bit due to our(the kids) reactions. We by my stepfathers measure did not act appropriately, and to be honest we're still misbehaving according to him. IMO this all hinges on my mothers wishes. Mom was a nurse, and said numerous times that she wanted her body to be donated to science, failing that she wanted to be cremated. My stepfather announced to us that there was going to be a wake and a burial. He claimed(and here's where it gets sticky) that Mom changed her mind and told him so. My problem with this is that my mother had 2 strokes previous to passing and after the 2nd one was not capable of relaying any information. So my siblings and I(with the exception of one who had to have her gall bladder removed the same day Mom died) went to the wake and held our tongues. We were criticized for not "talking" to Mom one last time. To be quite frank I refused to even go into the room she was layed out in, I had no desire to see my mother that way. The funeral passed without incident.

Now it's been four months since Mom died and I have yet to go to her gravesite. My reasoning being that Mom isn't there, Mom's shell is there, but not my Mom. My stepfather asked me recently when I had last "visited" her and I was honest saying the funeral. He had a hissy fit(no offense Hissy). He apparently thinks I should visit at least once a week and take the kids so they can talk to Mom too.

I was hoping for some input on this. I honestly don't know of any circumstances that would cause me to go out there but I'm willing to listen to other points of view. My point of view is that I prefer to remember Mom as she was. I realize she's gone, and don't see how going to look at a piece of stone and some grass is going to bring me anything. I take that back, it may make me mad all over again that Mom's wishes were ignored.

Anyway, like I said, any input would be welcome. I know it seems an odd question but this has been my first experience with someone close to me passing away.
post #2 of 8
First, I want to say, I am so sorry about your mum passing.

Your mum is not at that gravesite - she is all around you, in you and in your children.
I would not let your stepfather tell you what to do, how you deal with your mum's death is your business, not his. He deals with it in his own way, without anyones interference and he should do the same for you and the rest of your family. Honestly, I think he is being unfair.
You could say that you talk to her every day, because she is all around you and you do not need to go to a gravesite for that.

Just my 2 cents.
post #3 of 8
My grandmother has been gone, for 25 years. I did not go to the viewing or the funeral and I have never been to her grave.

I prefer to remember my grandmother, as the feisty little lady telling my parents that I was a good kid and cooking chicken and dumplings for me, when I was pregnant.

When my husband died, I held a wake, at the bar where he played honky-tonk piano. On the tenth anniversary of his death, I went to the cemetery, to make sure that the marker was right.

You have to do what is right for you and makes you feel OK and damn what other people think.
post #4 of 8
I am so sorry about the loss of your mom. I lost my mom in January 2000 from cancer, and her husband (I don't acknowledge him as my step-dad) laid on the same cr*p on us - she wanted to be cremated and he arranged for a burial also. He didn't even want us in the house when she was ill and he was too old to properly care for her (she had home hospice). Her wish was to be buried with my father, and at the funeral, we had to have everyone leave the cemetary and come back to include my father's ashes in the ceremony.

I have visited her gravesite once since she passed, and that was about a year after she passed. Her spirit lives on within me, and I have no qualms about not visiting her grave. She wanted to be cremated and her ashes spread over a site in the Tucson area (the area she loved the most) and one day, after her husband passes, we will fulfill her wishes. In the meantime, we (my brother and sisters and I) love her and celebrate the life and spirit she instilled in all of us. Her burial is simply transient to us.

Don't let your stepfather put guilt on you. You need to do what is right for you personally.

(((hugs))) Losing your mom is the hardest!
post #5 of 8
I'll agree with everyone else here. It is a matter of personal "style" of grieving. I don't know what your stepfather wants to achieve, but this is between you and your mother's memory.

My mother passed away in January. She was cremated, we had a memorial service, and we have not even done anything with the ashes yet. Its was just not important to us. What is important is the way we remember her. For some people, going to a gravesite is a way of focussing memories, and keeping that person in their lives. For others, like me, that person is still all around in everything we do.

Maybe your stepfather needs to be told that. You respect his way of dealing with her death, and you expect him to respect yours. And if it would make him happy to have you visit the grave site once, maybe that would be a nice thing for you to do. Although I would not take the chidren, that could be tramautic, and you are completely in charge of their emotional well being right now.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you folks ((((((((all around)))))))))) I really appreciate the input more than I can say. My stepfather is one of the types that tries to drill a point home with unending repetition. He was really making me feel awful about it, but now I know I'm doing the right thing in going with my feelings.

I guess if there's anything to be learned from this thread it's to make your wishes known and write them down! Mom never did, thinking I'm sure that her husband would do as she wished. An alternate possibility(my family has knocked this around alot) is that thinking she was young(Mom was only 48) and believing she would beat the cancer so she would have time to fine tune her will later on. (Burial wishes weren't mentioned at all.)
post #7 of 8
I too lost my Mom to complications due to diabetes. I know exactly what you mean about your Mom not being there in that casket. The person I knew and loved as my Mom was gone and just her shell remained. I feel no obligation to visit her gravesite. I remember her every day (even when I don't think I do). I hear her voice inside of me, reminding me on things she taught me. I feel her unconditional love and when I'm stressed, she visits my dreams.

You need to tell that man that you will grieve your mother in your own way and for you that does not mean visiting a mound of dirt.

P.S. I too am sorry to hear of the loss of your Mom.
post #8 of 8
I haven't attended a blood relative's viewing or funeral since I was in my teens (almost 30 years ago), because my immediate family doesn't put much value on public displays of emotion. My husband's family views the issue differently, so I go along with it, but have found that my body objects - I've managed to get deathly ill whenever somebody in his family whom I was close to was buried. Although I can understand your step-father, I feel he has no right to dictate your actions or reactions. Celebrate your mother's life in your memories - she'll be much closer to you that way. While I love to wander through old cemetaries (Salzburg, Austria, has the best, IMO), I don't believe that it makes one iota of difference to those who have passed. Viewings, wakes, and funerals are designed to "console" those left behind, but are of little help to those who are turned off by the rituals. I still have graphic memories of my best friend's mother's viewing - I thought we were in the wrong place because I didn't recognize her, till I saw my friend. Her first words were, "She's not recognizable!" We were 19, and went into giddy fits of laughter. It was inappropriate, but there's no way Mrs. G. would have approved of how they had her "turned out". A couple of years ago I attended the funeral of a student who had committed suicide. His classmates wanted to go, but not alone, so a colleague and I agreed to accompany them. What a mistake. Instead of remembering M. at school or during our train commutes or walks from the train station to school (he lived in my town), I find myself focusing on his funeral, and really regret having gone to it. His parents may feel differently, but I still wonder if things might have been different if they were less concerned about "what other people think /expect" and more about what he felt and needed.
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