Dear Margo: Judge Not…

Margo Howard’s advice

Judge Not…

Dear Margo: My husband’s mother passed away suddenly. She was in her 80s. His father died the previous year. My husband, “Dan,” attended his father’s funeral but chose not to attend his mother’s. He wanted to remember her in his own way. He did not want his final memory of her to be the one in the casket. We live on the West Coast; the funerals were on the East Coast.

His three older sisters are angry and do not speak to him anymore over this. Everyone grieves in their own way. It makes me sad that his sisters are acting like this. They’ve called him every name in the book and dumped a big guilt trip on him. They all live on the East Coast, and we see them infrequently. My husband held his tongue to keep the peace when the girls stuck Mom in a home immediately after Dad died.

Was he wrong to not attend his mother’s funeral? I think his sisters need to get over this. — Sad in Oregon

Dear Sad: I have a little history with this subject. When my mother died, some of her friends were mad at me because there was no circus, I mean, funeral. One relative even had the gall to go on television calling the absence of a funeral “a tragedy.” Not only was this not my decision, it was my mother’s, but I can think of no more personal choice than how to deal with death — your own or someone else’s. Dan’s response was useful for him, and I would be supportive. You might suggest he ignore the sisters until they dismount their high horses. And how nice that they live on the other coast. — Margo, personally

Catch-Up.Com

Dear Readers: Here are a few talk-back letters, something I have steered away from, but now think may have value. Let me know what you think.

Dear Margo: You missed the boat with the mother whose son was freezing her out. She is one of millions of mothers who put their children at the center of their universe and then are shocked when the “child” turns out to be self-centered. She taught him that he deserved nothing but the best, and she would do without so he could have it. He internalized her message and found a woman who is materialistic. I’m not typically “blame everything on the mother,” but in this case I think it is justified. She is still making excuses for a 40-something instead of holding him accountable. To value his mother is a lesson she never taught him. — My Two Cents

Dear Margo: You neglected one likely element in your response to the dad whose daughter is able-bodied but is being supported and chooses to nap and browse Facebook all day rather than working. She’s probably suffering from depression. I urge people to keep this possibility in mind when critiquing inactivity and apparent laziness. The best support would be to help her find out whether she’s prone to this debilitating condition, which can make simple tasks unbearably difficult, if not overwhelming. — Valerie

Dear Margo: You had a letter from a woman who was upset that her daughter’s godmother hasn’t been a good friend. Could it be that this woman has too many family celebrations, expecting others to travel too often and obligating them to cough up gifts? The letter writer mentions that her friend had to deal with “her mother’s belongings and difficult family members,” but without a drop of empathy or support for her friend’s challenges. My take is that the woman sounds pretty narcissistic. — MZ

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2013 MARGO HOWARD DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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64 comments so far.

  1. avatar mayma says:

    Wha–? The east coast sisters aren’t the ones on a high horse! While brother and LW tut-tut from 3000 miles away about mom’s level of care and visit infrequently?!? I agree that everyone grieves in their own way, but not to attend your own mother’s funeral!?!? Did he offer to help with the arrangements or do anything at all? Or did he just assume that sisters would handle it, without any gesture of support, respect or appreciation?

    • avatar judgingamy says:

      That’s a good point, and something I didn’t think about. It’s easy to wring your hands over your mother’s level of care when you’re not the one who has to do anything about it. Sounds like he was basically expecting his sisters to do the heavy lifting while he sat on the beach and patted himself on the back for not letting his mother live her last days in a home.

    • avatar mmht says:

      I agree. I think that the sisters are angry at him more for not helping them with their mother and/or her funeral then they are that he didn’t bother to show up.

    • avatar R Scott says:

       ”I agree that everyone grieves in their own way, but not to attend your own mother’s funeral!?!?” So…then you don’t really agree that everyone grieves differently.  

      • avatar judgingamy says:

        Not sure what this comment is in reference to, but if I may, I think how you grieve and whether or not you come to your mom’s funeral are two separate issues. I don’t think attending the funeral has much to do with whether or not you’re grieving, or how you’re doing it. You could go to a funeral of someone you don’t even care about, if it mattered that much to someone you DO care about. You could miss the funeral of someone who meant the world to you.

        Seems like LW and her husband were sitting in silent judgment of the daughters putting their mom in a home, when they were not in a place to suggest any other alternative. “I don’t want Mom in a home” is much different from “I will make arrangements to ensure Mom does not have to be in a home” (whether that be moving back closer to her, or paying for a private nurse, or requesting that Mom move out to where they are). Yet LW complains of them judging her husband’s decision to not fly out there, and Margo agrees that they are on “their high horses”.

        I happen to feel that funerals are mostly unnecessary myself, but if it meant so much to someone important to me, I would suck it up and go. If his grief is so overwhelming that the thought of a funeral pushes him over the edge, he should tell his sisters that. Sounds like he mostly considers it an inconvenience though, and that is the final straw for his sisters.

      • avatar R Scott says:

        It’s a direct quote from Mayma’s comment wherein she then admonishes him for not going to him mother’s funeral. A bit of a contradiction I think.

      • avatar judgingamy says:

        I think it was too separate thoughts- he should grieve however he needs to grieve but he should still come to his mother’s funeral. I mean, she’s saying that the fact that he didn’t go doesn’t mean he is not grieving, but he still should have went.

      • avatar judgingamy says:

        *Two, not too

  2. avatar D says:

    Catch up letters are not a bad idea. However, it would be a good idea to provide a link to the original letter so that people can read (or reread) the original and form an opinion on the catch up letter.

    • avatar Belinda Joy says:

      D, I put the links to the letters in my post, it should help you understand the responses Margo has posted.

  3. avatar SBenson says:

    Yeesh – anyone who’s been following you for as long as I have knows which relative you’re talking about…do you really think this is the week to take a swipe at her – I thought you would have taken the high road where she hadn’t.

    • avatar Ariana says:

      I’m willing to toss her a bone here. I think it was a nice personal tie-in to the story without being snarky. Besides it’s a touchy subject this week and emotions are running high.

    • avatar CanGal says:

      Actually if you follow her as closely as you say, you would know the time lag between when she writes the column and it is published. She probably wrote this weeks ago and had absolutely no idea what was going to happen days before this was published. She is probably in agony over the timing.

      • avatar SBenson says:

        This is the Internet, not the Gutenberg printing press. If she wanted to delay the letter she could have.

    • avatar sc72 says:

      I’v been reading for a while and I don’t get this at all. anyone care to elaborate?

      • avatar Ariana says:

        Twin sisters started advice columns Dear Abby and Ann Landers. These twin sisters had a falling out due to their rival columns. Jeanne Phillips and Margo are the respective daughters of these twins and both have continued advice columns.

        You can probably find out more details by googling though.

      • avatar sc72 says:

        yeah I know, but that doesn’t explain the relevance of these catch-up responses.

      • avatar duranimal says:

        I’m guessing it was Jeanne who made the “tragedy” comment?

  4. avatar Donna Sampson says:

    lw1 I think that everyone grieves in his/her own way, but it sounds as if the son has been an absent part of mom’s life. It sounds as if he wants his sisters to handle everything. I wonder how absent he will be when it’s time to divy up mom’s belongings.

  5. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: The mother was immediately shuttled into a nursing home after dad died, and her only son wouldn’t attend her funeral. Was the mother seriously disliked for some reason (her own fault, or other)? Or was it merely her “misfortune” of being female in a family where males are preferred? I can’t understand not attending a parent’s funeral for any reason, barring ill health or drastic weather-related travel or hospitalization or said parent was an abusive monster. Did the letter writer’s husband “hold his tongue” when sisters put mom in a nursing home because to speak up otherwise meant they’d suggest he/wife take mom in?

    Hmmm.

    • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

      It’s also entirely possible that the mother’s mental or physical state was such that she needed to be “in a home” being taken care of by professionals. My experience with out of town family of the elderly is that they often have no grasp whatsoever about their elders’ actual physical and mental state, and they tend to sit in ignorant judgment on their relatives on the ground.

  6. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1) Your husband “who chose” and who “held his tongue” sounds like a grade-A schmuck to me.  Since when is it all about what he wants and not about honoring his mother with his presence at her funeral … or for that matter supporting and providing unity for his sisters at a difficult time? Now that your husband has made such an ass of himself, you need to butt out, too. (Hope mom had his miserable number in mind when she structured her will.) 

  7. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Re Letter #1:  Honoring a deceased wishes on what type of service to have (or not have) is entirely different from failing to attend a service that is taking place.  It doesn’t sound like the mother and son were estranged for some reason because the explanation of the LW is wanting to honor her *in his own way* and *not seeing her in her casket*.  My guess is the sisters were responsible not only for the physical and emotional but some of the financial support of the parents in their last years with little or no help (or appreciation) from the LW and her husband.  Did he visit his mother in the last year of his life or is the last time he saw her at his father’s funeral (which the LW thinks was so big of him to attend)?  I gather the LW and her husband did not offer to have mom  come live with them when the decision was made to put her in a home (a decision which I know from personal experience is heart wrenching to make but necessary in many cases of a physically frail or demented parent).  I also know that having my sisters with me at the funerals of my parents was a huge comfort to me and would have been furious they had not attended the funerals.  One of my sisters who lived in another state(8 hours drive away) was very absent in my father’s last years, came for the funeral and left the next day leaving me to pick up the pieces of my mother, handle all the thank yous etc.  It took me several years to make peace in my mind with her (primarily for neglecting to visit my father as he was dying) and fortunately, by the time of my mother’s last illness and death, she was there to help and the breach in our relationship was mended.

    I think the LW and her husband should get off their high horses, and send the sisters a sincere letter of thanks for the care they gave his parents in their last years and apololgize for not being there to help them through their grief.      

  8. avatar martina says:

    Funerals are not for the dead, they are for the living and to help the living deal with death. It may have been his way of dealing with his mother’s death but perhaps his sisters needed him to be there and something he should have taken into consideration. Maybe they felt that the burden of dealing with the funeral was left to them and he was shirking his duties. I attended the funeral of a beloved “aunt” that I hadn’t seen in a while who passed after a battle with cancer and just didn’t view her in the casket because I wanted to remember her as she had been but I still attended the funeral. My daughter, who loved my father dearly and gave his eulogy, refused to view her Opa in a casket.

    As for the remark of putting Mom in the nursing home right after Dad died – as others have stated, he wasn’t there and he needs to get off his high horse about that. We had the opposite problem with a brother who lived three hours away who felt my father should be in a home with my mother after she had a stroke. He caused all kinds of trouble and my sisters and I managed to arrange it so that my mother was with my father at home until he was too ill to take care of her. Long distance children need to stay out of the business of caring for parents..

  9. avatar lebucher says:

    I have a hunch the son who skipped mom’s funeral did it because the first one for dad made him so emotionally uncomfortable that he didn’t want to repeat the experience.  Just because there is an open casket doesn’t mean you have to look, and I skipped looking at my grandparent’s.  However I did go to both funerals (6 months apart!) because I felt my Dad needed me there… he did after all issue a personal invite to me to fly 1200 miles to be there, and paid for the plane ticket (I was a poor college student at the time and didn’t have the funds).  He is also an only child so there were no siblings to lean on.  He had to deal with all of their affairs on his own, and did so stoically.

    Funerals are there to provide the living with a sense of closure and for support by loved ones that gather for the event.  My oldest sister skipped both funerals, saying “I don’t do funerals” which infuriated my father.  She also lived close enough that she could have driven or taken a train but opted to do neither.  I’ll bet my dad has never forgiven her for it, but he has not talked about it since.

  10. avatar Abby Stevens says:

    I find Margo’s title to the 1st letter quite appropriate (“judge not…”), and wonder how many of the regular responders even understand what that means. I have enjoyed Margo’s pragmatism for years, and mostly believe in budding out of people’s lives unless they are doing something hurtful to someone else. It seems to me that a vast majority of those who regularly post responses are extremely opinionated and judgmental, which is likely reflected in the health of their offline relationships (if any). I am thankful that there are lots of other personality types in this world, as it would be unbearable to live in the world that occupies the commenters here. Some introspection may be in order. We are all human. Even if you don’t believe the Bible, the character of Jesus set a nice example for us to aspire to – “Let he who is without sin…”

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      You mean “butting, ” not “budding” — that’s not judgment or opinion, but a fact.  

    • avatar Carrie A says:

      So you’re calling out others for being opinionated and judgmental (even though airing opinions is what the comment section is for) then proceed to be not only judgmental but mean, rude, and childish by basically saying they must have no friends or loved ones in real life? I think you need to read your Bible again and start by looking in a mirror before you start pointing fingers at anyone else. You are not as perfect as you seem to think you are.

      • avatar Abby Stevens says:

        My point was to look around at the health of your own relationships for some indication as to whether or not you may be alienating people by being so judgmental. I look in the mirror quite often, and have very good relationships with very good people who often provide very good advice. This is neither mean, nor rude, nor childish, but I can understand why those who it may apply to the most may think it as such. So many people here are so willing to attack every letter writer as though they are the problem, and I see enough people in real life who alienate many others due to the same type of personality. And yet, they continue to believe that everyone else is the problem for their lack of solid relationships. I’m sure this will fall on deaf ears, but I believe a little more compassion in life can go a long way. I am sorry you feel that is judgmental, and I know much of the Bible in the original languages in which it was written. Reading it again will not change the meaning, or my suggestions. And yes, the comment section is for opinions, and what dismays me is the liberal use as a means to attack others (as evidenced by your comment). Whatever happened to treating others with respect?

        I’m sure there will be other disrespectful responses, I expect as much from what I have seen over the years. But if even one person reads this and decides to tone down the harshness, it was worth a shot.

        JCF, thank you for the correction :)

      • avatar mayma says:

        “And yet, they continue to believe that everyone else is the problem for their lack of solid relationships.”

        But this is exactly what’s going on with the LW! That is the point (my point, anyway). They think the problem is with the sisters, and I am wondering if they did anything at all to HELP or at least acknowledge the sisters, or if they have looked at their own actions instead of putting blanket blame on other people. I see no problem in saying so.

        Also, pretending there’s no snark in your post is pretty laughable. “… likely reflected in the health of their offline relationships (if any).” Yep, we’re just a lot of lonely losers with no friends…. right….

    • avatar martina says:

      I agree that we should not judge but then we should also know that we need to deal with the consequences of our actions and we need to consider the consequences of our actions. He didn’t show at the funeral and the consequence is that his sisters are upset with him. Right or wrong he needs to deal with the consequences and it sounds as if he is and it’s his wife who is having trouble with it. Perhaps that should be the answer. He did what HE needed and now he has to deal with the consequences.

      • avatar Abby Stevens says:

        Very well said, a way to put things in perspective without attacking, and I completely agree with you!

      • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

        Semantics.

      • avatar A R says:

        Martina, your take on the LW’s spouse’s actions is the best I’ve seen yet. You wrote:

        “He didn’t show at the funeral and the consequence is that his sisters are upset with him….He did what HE needed and now he has to deal with the consequences.”

        I agree with you, and I would even that it’s really nobody’s business what made him choose not to attend. I hate when people take something as personal as death and try to define how another human *ought to* react.

        However, I believe that every choice that involves others invites their reactions. It may not be his sisters’ business, but he’s also naive to assume there won’t be fallout over his decision. How they feel is how they feel, and they have a right to their emotions all day long. He can choose to remind them that his relationship with his mom is none of their business, and he’ll be ready to talk when they are finished being mad about his decision, or he can ignore their fits and go on about his life.

      • avatar mayma says:

        “He can choose to remind them that his relationship with his mom is none of their business…. ” Well, members of a family are not in individual silos with separate connections; that is rather the definition of family, no? Anyway, he seems to have done just that — separated his concerns from theirs — but he & LW cannot also write in to Margo wondering why the sisters don’t cozy up to them now.

      • avatar A R says:

        “Well, members of a family are not in individual silos with separate connections; that is rather the definition of family, no?”

        Well, actually, they can be. Defining “family” is as tricky of a task as I can think of. By the act of saying “they are not individual silos” you give us a glimpse into *your* definition of family, but that’s only one view.

        As humans we have basic rights and needs (Maslow), but we don’t get to manage other family members ways of relating to each other, showing recognition for each other, or interacting with each other.

        I maintain that the sisters are quite entitled to their feelings, but not to tell him how to respond to his mom’s passing. He had a relationship with the mom that is unlike any of theirs.

      • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

        So we all just stand around never interacting? How exactly does one have a relationship with a person if you have no emotional stake in their behavior or feelings? The nature of love is that we open ourselves up to having power over others and them having power over us. It means that our opinions and actions matter to our love ones.

        If their brother’s response to their mother’s passing was to spit on their floor should they shrug and say he’s entitled to do whatever he wants? Should they say, “Oh well. Brother’s grief means that he likes to be mean to me. Oh well.”

      • avatar A R says:

        Wow. Where in the world did you get those ideas? I did not remotely suggest anything in the realm of those ideas about which you wrote. Never interacting? Not caring for others? Spitting on floors and being mean?

        My goodness!

  11. avatar tbirdy says:

    I don’t mind the talk-back letters so much, except that your column only runs 2 days a week, and I’d rather get your take on things. Your advice is more interesting and fun than that of random readers.

  12. avatar jennaA says:

    People often have a really hard time dealing with the passing of a parent. A few people in my family went off the deep end when my grandmother passed a few years ago. I think some understanding on both sides would go a long way. Everyone’s hurting and I have a feeling that’s why they all reacted as they did (the sisters anger and the brother’s absence).  

  13. avatar QuietGitl says:

    I don’t think the son was wrong not to attend his mother’s funeral. Funerals are for the living, not the deceased. It is to allow the living to acknowledge the death, even if unable to accept the death. The sisters would not have gained anything if their brother had shown. There have been accusations that the brother somehow did not contribute, but we don’t know that fact. We don’t know if the decision to transfer Mom to a home was made by the sisters as a fait accompli – with brother being told “this is what we are going to do” without any request for input by him. They may also have done the same with the Father’s funeral, and he felt totally left out. I do fault the sisters because they are angry that he didn’t follow their desires.

    • avatar judgingamy says:

      Well, what input could he have offered? I don’t think you can put people in a home against their will. If the mother was able to physically and financially take care of herself, and didn’t want to go into a home, she wouldn’t have to. So, it sounds like that was not the case. Basically, the brother is living across the country and isn’t able to physically take care of her. And, “I don’t want Mom to go into a home, so you make the sacrifice to take care of her basic needs” is not valuable input. He wanted a better outcome for his mother at someone else’s expense, (I mean physically and emotionally, not necessarily financially, he may have been willing to throw money at the problem), which I have a problem with.

      • avatar QuietGitl says:

        Well, how old was the mother? Did she want to stay in her home but the sisters decided she was better off in a home because they didn’t want to be troubled? Maybe she didn’t know what options were available for her and was grieving over her husbands death so she was unable to deal with the situation? My mother waited a year before deciding what to do as have many of the widows I know. Their children helped to keep them in their home until then. The son is 3000 miles away. He may not be financially able to help so they decided he didn’t have a say. Maybe he was willing to help, they didn’t ask. We don’t know and should not assume. You can’t equally split the responsibility because each person has their own responsibilities and issues that can affect their ability to help. You don’t know what was said. According to the letter he was told that Mom was going in a home and he bit his tongue. He didn’t protest. Maybe because he knew Mom couldn’t come to his home. Maybe whatever. He accepted their decision. Now they won’t accept his decision that he didn’t want to be present.

    • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

      The sisters wouldn’t gain anything from their brother being with them while they grieved for their recently dead mother? If he didn’t want to go to the funeral, he couldn’t fly out to be with them but stay at the hotel for the funeral? Help them talk to mother’s friends? Write thank you notes? Dispose of flowers?

  14. avatar Anais P says:

    I just wonder why the husband of LW1 attended his father’s funeral, but not his mother’s. It is strange he dealt differently with their deaths. I don’t think we have all the information here.

    • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

      It’s not that strange. It’s entirely possible that, after attending the father’s funeral, he realized that the experience felt painful and counterproductive for him, and resolved not to attend his mother’s.

  15. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    *The sisters would not have gained anything if the brother had showed*?  How about one other person to make the calls to distant family and friends,  greet the mourners, pour the coffee, keep an eye on the young children,  make sure feeble Uncle Roger can make it to the  service and look out for him while there, deal with the undertaker/minister/cemetary folk, write the thank you notes, clean up after the visitors, and all the other mundane tasks associated with holding a funeral and burying the dead.  Not to mention the emotional support he might have offered to the sisters who I assume were grieving just as much as he was and might have appreciated having him there to comfort them.   The sisters are exactly who would have gained if he had shown up…the mother is gone to this world.   Holding a funeral is a lot of work for the immediate family.  It doesn’t just materialize out of thin air. 

    • avatar QuietGitl says:

      If there are so many mundane tasks that three women could not handle them, maybe the funeral was more for show than for saying good bye. When my father died we had a simple private graveside funeral with a memorial service afterwards followed by food and drink. We used the church kitchen and hall so that no one would get lost and everyone could be taken care of. We actually were surprised by how many people showed up and were thankful that the caterer brought lots. Family came back to the house afterwards. If these women were married then they had the support of their spouses. They also had the support of one another–and since they had taken care of Mom without input from brother as to the nursing home, I really doubt that they needed his support. The only person the women could have expected to support them is their SO, whoever that might be. As for “pouring coffee” it is usually in an urn and you pour your own. No, I still think it was his right to decide not to be present. Of course, having made that decision, he must now undergo the consequences.

      • avatar Maggie Tenser says:

        So you were able to afford a caterer rather than to attend these tasks yourself and you were grateful not to have the issue taken care of by them? And you were able to use a church kitchen? If you hadn’t been able to have those conveniences, but nevertheless had numerous guests, who exactly would be dealing with the accompanying complications?

      • avatar Artemesia says:

        I understand their disgust at the brother who didn’t bother to help their living mother and now can’t be bothered to show up for her funeral. My best friend’s brother was like this. Lived far away, visited rarely, while she dealt with a very difficult woman with some serious mental issues for 25 years. When he did visit, he would not even help out on tasks he could easily manage. e.g. Mom needed a new car and she asked her brother if he would take her shopping for one and help her with the details (not PAY for it, just help her shop for it) No, of course that was too much trouble. So add that to the pile of tasks that my friend and her husband managed for his and her difficult mothers. They took them to the doctor, dealt with household problems, managed eventually their assisted living arrangements — all the things that take both a physical and emotional tole. The distant brother wouldn’t even tackle one small task on this giant pile of tasks when he visited.

        Grief? yeah right.

      • avatar QuietGitl says:

        My “guests” would have had to deal with what I was able to do. I am not required or mandated to provide food and entertainment. After the memorial service we could have stood at the door and thanked everyone for attending. We chose not to, to provide food and drink – sandwiches, coffee, tea and cookies. Certainly I could have stopped at the store and purchased the cold cuts, rolls, lettuce, onions, mayo etc., but decided it was much easier to pay someone to provide food. My mother had not planned on providing food, my brother suggested it and paid for it. I have never attended a church that did not have a hall for the use of the church that could not be used by the parishioners. But that is not the complaint. The problem is that he didn’t fly three thousand miles to follow his sister’s dictates. A friend of mine stated that it was so much harder for him when his mother died than when his father died. It is quite possible that there was no funeral for his parents – I don’t know. I know that his mother told him that they had cemetery plots and he had the cremains placed there with a headstone. He was not present for the burial, that I do know.

    • avatar A R says:

      Well, not necessarily. He’s useful only if he is able and willing to do those things. He might not be either of those. Some folks become really limp and inert in the presence of events like this.

      From my perspective, the sisters wanted him there because they wanted him there. If I could count on my fingers how many times I’ve know folks who wanted something because…well, that’s what they preferred. They could even have been worried about how it would look, or what others would think of his absence. Who knows?

      I did notice the LW didn’t say that the sisters begged him to come because they’d all been so close growing up, or that they wanted him there because it would have meant so much to mom.

  16. avatar mmht says:

    I have to say that I find Margo to be contradictory on this subject. She has often stated that funerals are not for the dead but for the living, yet when she didn’t hold a funeral to allow her family to grieve and say goodbye (at her mother’s insistence I will give her that), she becomes upset that they are upset with her. I’ll give her the fact that the way she was criticized was horrible and out of line, but she had to expect her family to be angry about not being allowed to say goodbye to someone they loved also.

    As for LW#1, I have to say that there are some holes in his story. He goes to his father’s funeral but refuses to go his mother b/c he doesn’t want to remember her in a casket. He does know that he doesn’t have to look at her in the casket right? He doesn’t have to view his mother. And then the whole thing about keeping his mouth shut about his mother being put away. He does know that he could have taken on responsibility of his mother if he truly felt that strongly about her not going into a home? Sorry, but I just don’t by this whole he was trying to grieve in his own way. To me, it seems that he couldn’t be bothered with his mother when she was alive and he couldn’t be bothered with her when she was dead. If he has guilt, its b/c his sisters are pointing out what a horrible person he really is.

  17. avatar Artemesia says:

    The ‘grieving husband’ sounds like a self absorbed jerk from here. This is especially so given his smug attitude towards his sisters for ‘putting his mother in a home’. I didn’t notice the LW writing ‘We begged her to come live with us.’ The daughters should do all the heavy lifting with Mom while the only begotten son’s main job is to sit back and criticize (and yeah, don’t believe for a minute that he didn’t communicate this to his sisters.)

    He didn’t do any of the work to help his mother deal with her loss or her final years and then he can’t be bothered to show up for her funeral. He sounds like a narcissistic twerp and that is inferred from a letter written to justify him by his presumably loving wife.

  18. avatar Artemesia says:

    re: Margos not having a funeral for her mother. My mother was also adament about funerals. She didn’t want one; she didn’t have one for my father either. It was well known that this was her point of view. My brother and I honored her wishes — we kept her ashes with our fathers until we could gather our immediate families for an ash scattering in the Pacific exactly as my mother had hoped.

    But right after her death we did hold a luncheon for her closest friends and our uncles, aunts and cousins so that we could all share some memories. No corpse. No formal eulogy or ceremonies, but a chance to talk and remember. We were grateful to a neighbor and close friend who offered her home (we were going through and disposing of our mother’s things and so the house was chaos) and felt that this low key wake of sorts offered some closure for her siblings.

    I think that when someone’s views are well known as ‘Ann Landers’ views on this subject were that their child honors them by honoring their wishes. The friends are certainly free to get together and talk about their old friend if that is what they wish to do.

  19. avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

    First off, LW1′s husband held his tongue to keep the peace when the sisters put mom in a home. I read this to mean that he didn’t say anything because he was 3000 miles away and in no position to dictate the who and how of mom’s care. He avoided the funeral for his own peace of mind, so he wouldn’t get caught up in the grief-driven drama of fighting with his sisters over mom’s final years.

    Whoever thinks it’s that flipping easy to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice hasn’t had to live on beans and rice for five years trying to pay off a $1000 credit card.

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      The cost of the airfare didn’t come up. And for future reference, the airlines do charge you only half for funerals of immediate family.
      Since you brought it up: taking 5 years to pay off a $1000 loan is a bit crazy. Besides the rice & beans you might consider some other cuts. Like I hope you are typing this from a six year old computer with free internet access or from work. Or there is overtime or a second job. We’ve established you have a computer so why not try medical transcription? I had a quadriplegic friend who did this. Made a killing.

  20. avatar Lym BO says:

    Forgive the pun, but I would surmise that after not helping with mother’s care that not showing up to the funeral was just the final nail in the coffin for his sisters. I realize people grieve in their own way. Funerals are one of those social oddities that no one wants to attend but feels required to do so to respect the family & deceased. A lot of credence is placed on whom attended a funeral. It would not have been that difficult for brother dear to attend & just not view the casket. My mother is still annoyed that her own brother did not attend his mother’s funeral back in ’81. His excuse was he had hemorrhoids & the plane ride would be too much. He sent his wife who then made off with the family photo albums & fought with my mom over various items of her mother’s. Mom, however, feels justified that she did not attend her grandmother’s funeral because it was an eight hour drive & she was 3 months pregnant & had a two year old. Go figure. I think with both cases the sisters wanted some family unity to be expressed and shown at this time.

    • avatar QuietGitl says:

      We don’t know that he wasn’t willing to help take care of Mom. We know that Mom was put in a home immediately after Dad died and that the son held his tongue – implying that he didn’t agree and maybe not even asked. Maybe he was going to suggest that everyone chip in to get a live-in caregiver, or that they all trade off to have Mom live with them, maybe 2-3 months at a time. We did that for my grandmother- she spent six months at my aunt’s and then six months with us. It was approximate so that she could alternate seasons. We had Meals on Wheels as my mother worked and I was in high school. My father would come home for lunch when possible. My grandmother still called the police and told them she had been kidnapped, and also would put the tea kettle on and forget about it. She also turned on the oven planning to cook. So I understand the stresses and strains of taking care of an elderly relative who was failing. But dress her up and have a party and she delighted everyone.
      I don’t know what the sisters need – but their needs and the appearance to the neighbors do not override personal needs.

  21. avatar bright eyes says:

    On the LW that didn’t attend his mother’s funeral, I haven’t lost a parent, so I can’t say how people deal with grief of a parent.
    However as some people are mentioning, that maybe LW left his two sisters to take care of Mother and wasn’t even caring enough to attend the funeral. I’ve had the occasion to tell tell a sibling that if they’re not willing to step in and take care of Mom, then stop complaining about how I’m doing it. So I understand if that’s the sister’s story.

    As for everyone grieving in a their own way – I got a taste of that in the past few weeks when an old friend’s brother passed away. She is heartbroken and grieving. So when she rants and yells at everyone via facebook (the only way we communicate currently) her friends tell her it’s ok to vent, it’s ok to yell and scream and we say we’re there for her, no matter what. One of her issues was about the people who couldn’t take the time to travel and honor her brother at the funeral. He was a really great person who she loved deeply and people she expected to show up and support her did not. She was very upset and let everyone have it. We are there for her, that’s all we can do.