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Death of a difficult elderly family member.

(112 Posts)
Sittinonthesand Sat 06-Mar-21 08:46:37

Just wondering if aibu about my feelings - or rather lack of them. He could be very unkind, judgemental, snobbish, no empathy - probably a narcissist. Really horrible about anyone living in difficult circumstances. Fell out with loads of people. But ‘respectable’, middle class, dinner party having, church going. Strongly disliked random, perfectly nice family members. I feel so ‘fake’ about it all - everyone really does knows what he was like but do we all have to pretend to be desperately sad?

My main question is - what do I say if people say how sad it is to me at the funeral? Just ‘yes’ and change the subject? ‘At least they aren’t suffering anymore’?. I would feel very awkward talking in depth - I just need some cliches up my sleeve!

OP’s posts: |
sqirrelfriends Sat 06-Mar-21 08:56:43

You aren't being unreasonable, people don't develop a halo or become a saint when they die.

It is what it is. Maybe you could be sad for those who loved him, instead of because of any personal loss.

mnahmnah Sat 06-Mar-21 08:59:38

I didn’t go to my grandad’s funeral precisely for this reason. He was a horrible man who treated my mum terribly her whole life. He was awful to me about my dad, who I was very close to. I couldn’t face being fake. Pretty sure other family members thought it was poor of me, but they never said anything as they understood my reasons.

CuriousaboutSamphire Sat 06-Mar-21 09:04:11

I can't help, am here for some ideas on how I will react when my father dies! I can't even focus on supporting my mother as she is just as bad, and supporting my DSis will only make it more obvous that we are estranged!

I suspect I will be the one who ends up arranging everything and being the strong one! Which is fine by me, at this moment, as my emotions aren't particularly engaged. God only knows how I'll feel when it actually happens though!

I would guess that I will revise a few stock phrases, but finding appropriate ones I won't choke on will be the trick of it!

Treaclespongeandcustard Sat 06-Mar-21 09:04:30

I would try to make non specific comments such as:
- he will be badly missed (even if not by you)
- he leaves big shoes to fill
- it’s such a shame
Good luck op, funerals can be horrible.

ImaginaryCat Sat 06-Mar-21 09:04:41

The small number of people at my mother's funeral were all perfectly aware of what a difficult person she was. Most of them came straight out and said they were there to support me, not to honour her. We all went through the motions, said the polite things.... "what a shame, she was so young" or "she's at peace now", etc, etc. It didn't feel fake, it felt like a group of people sharing an understanding and a bond of how fragile life can be, so don't squander it being an unpleasant dick. It was very cathartic.

Maybe you'll find everyone there shares your experience of this person. But anyone who doesn't and genuinely missed them, try to feel glad that at least some people on this earth had a positive experience of having the deceased person in their life.

ekidmxcl Sat 06-Mar-21 09:06:55

You could just not go.
Say you are ill?

user1495884673 Sat 06-Mar-21 09:11:33

Express sympathy for those he's left behind - wife, children etc. He had a good innings or words to that effect is factual and neutral. If he was ill for a long time, mention that you are glad he is at peace/no longer suffering as you might really dislike him but probably don't actively wish for him to suffer.

EmmapausalBitch Sat 06-Mar-21 09:16:58

Following with interest because I'm dreading dealing with this when my narc mother dies.

I'm thinking of saying things like:
I'm glad you have those memories of her
Aw, you'll miss her, won't you
Thank you for sharing your memories of her etc

Try to make your responses to people's comments about them rather than about you. Nod, agree and move on.

giletrouge Sat 06-Mar-21 09:20:44

Why do you feel you have to go to the funeral? Doesn't covid give you the perefect excuse not to go? And it will be streamed surely - are all funerals not given the option to stream now because of people not attending?
I'd get out of it if I could OP. Unless, perhaps, my non-attendance was going to hugely upset someone I really cared about.

TeenMinusTests Sat 06-Mar-21 09:22:44

My uncle was lovely, but difficult and cantankerous. He hadn't had an easy life.

At the funeral the vicar said something to the effect: There are some parishioners I used to look forward to visiting, but X wasn't one of them! shock I was amazed he said it, but he understood him well.

I was able to tell the vicar afterwards how absolutely lovely DU had been with my DC which I think he liked hearing.

Suzi888 Sat 06-Mar-21 09:22:52


You aren't being unreasonable, people don't develop a halo or become a saint when they die.

It is what it is. Maybe you could be sad for those who loved him, instead of because of any personal loss.

^^ this.

WeatherwaxLives Sat 06-Mar-21 09:23:42

I have immense sympathy for you OP. When my DGM died my poor DM had a really bad time with this. DGM was truly lovely as we were growing up, but in her latter years became very difficult, argumentative, judgemental and had increasing care needs that she refused to accept help with and left my DM to struggle trying to sort out, from 30 miles away, and having to travel by bus, often with bags of laundry and god knows what. Complete nightmare.
When she passed away my DM was torn between grief for her DM, and the DM she was before she got old, and also relief that all the stress and difficulty of the last 15 years was over, and guilt at being relieved. It was very difficult for her to reconcile all of that. I think this type of situation is surprisingly common, for many different reasons.
I don't know how close a relative this is and how imperative it is that you attend the funeral - if there are other family members that had a better relationship with them is there milage in you saying with covid restrictions on numbers you'll give up 'your place' for so and so as you know it will mean a lot to them or something?
If not, and you absolutely have to attend then things like 'no longer suffering' or 'at peace' if there was an illness are bland and noncommittal. I personally hate 'a good innings' but people seem to say it a lot and again, it's suitably bland.
'a blessed relief' might be skirting a little too close to the line, but could work if there was protracted illness?

Failing all that - if you're feeling under pressure to visibly grieve can you sit in the corner and pray after the service / excuse yourself to 'take a minute' if there's a wake? Just to give you a breather and chance to regroup.

SheeshazAZ09 Sat 06-Mar-21 09:26:09

I had a similar dilemma at a family funeral—I was one of the closest relatives of the deceased so felt a bit in the ‘host’ role— I focused on thanking the other guests for coming! I appreciated their taking the trouble.

TakeTheCuntOutOfScunthorpe Sat 06-Mar-21 09:28:08

Just be honest. There's no harm in admitting he was a deeply unpleasant individual and that you are glad to see the back of him. By your description of him, he is beginning his eternity in hell, if his religious beliefs are correct.

I'm actively looking forward to my brother's funeral, it can't come soon enough! grin

MichelleofzeResistance Sat 06-Mar-21 09:30:05

Been there and done this - the atmosphere at the funeral was rather different to any other I'd been to, but everyone carefully avoided speaking ill of the deceased. Or really much of the deceased at all as far as I remember. Mostly it was all about so nice to see you again, how are you, what are you doing now, nice service wasn't it, oh what lovely flowers.

BunnyRuddington Sat 06-Mar-21 09:30:37

It's difficult isn't it because people assume that all relationships have been loving and kind and that's simply not the case in many families.

Put a smile on, get the cliches ready and enjoy the fact that you don't have to deal with their fuckery anymore thanks

NutellaEllaElla Sat 06-Mar-21 09:31:18

Just say I'm sorry for your loss!

Sleepingdogs12 Sat 06-Mar-21 09:31:34

I would just say , thank you for coming/asking . We are OK , what a nice service etc. In my experience people dont have in depth conversations about the deceased ar funerals. Hope you get through it OK.

Fairyliz Sat 06-Mar-21 09:32:07

I went to a funeral a few weeks ago to support my friend, It was her fils funeral and although I had met him a few times I didn’t have any close bond to him. From what I had seen he was just a miserable grumpy old man.
However once I was in the chapel and they are playing the music I was surprised at how overcome I was. It wasn’t really about the deceased it was more about being reminded of other people you had lost and about the cycle of life and death.
I think you will surprise yourself with a few tears and not really have to say anything.

LemonRoses Sat 06-Mar-21 09:33:51

It was a lovely service.

StormyInTheNorth Sat 06-Mar-21 09:34:23

Just don't go. With our nasty aged relative, I simply said no and gave no excuse. No one said anything.

JensonsAcolyte Sat 06-Mar-21 09:34:26

When my Grandad died he left essentially a poison pen letter to be read at his funeral.

My poor uncle had to heavily edit it. All about what a disappointment his daughters were and how hard and sad his life had been since their mother died (his second wife of nearly 40 years loved hearing that). Horrible swipes about all us lazy scrounging grandchildren.

Gran died suddenly at 50, Grandad remarried within a year and moved abroad to her home country. Came back in his 80s and my mum and aunts provided all his care. He was a racist bigot who never had a good word to say about anyone.

Anyway at the funeral/wake we all got drunk and laughed about it, nobody pretended he was anything he wasn’t.

Scarby9 Sat 06-Mar-21 09:34:45

'I will really miss him' - Thank you for coming.
'Isn't it sad?' - Thank you for coming.
'I can't believe he's gone' - It is good to see you, despite the circumstances.

MusicWithRocksIn1t Sat 06-Mar-21 09:35:24

My standard go to is, oh he was definitely a character that won't easily be forgotten.

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