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Funeral Attendance Etiquette

Should I Attend My Ex Mother-In-Law's Funeral?


Spray mums and a crape wrapper (Mourning image)
sozaijiten/Datacraft/Getty Images

In most instances the answer to the question of whether or not to attend someone’s funeral is pretty clear in one’s heart. If you have to ask, and are feeling the nudge to go you probably ought to attend. We normally attend a funeral out of respect and honor for the deceased. Consider the message you might be sending to your former family members, children and perhaps grandchildren if they perceive you have snubbed their beloved ‘Nanna.’

In some cases, where there has been a bitter and nasty divorce you may want to reconsider attending an in-law’s funeral service. Despite your feelings about your former spouse, if your mother or father–in-law was always kind and inclusive toward you, it would be rude not to attend the service. Still, you should consider whether your presence will cause discomfort or confusion during an already very emotional time. If you believe your being there will cause extra anxiety or frustration to the situation choose instead to send a heartfelt card along with an appropriate floral arrangement to the family .

Consider your children. If you have children together with your ex and they are going to attend inquire as to whether they would like for you to accompany them. Their needs should outweigh any personal vendettas or agendas for both sides.

Remember if you do decide to attend that you may have a different role than you would, had you still been the daughter or son-in-law. If your former spouse is still unmarried this may not cause much disturbance at all. However, take your cues from the grieving family. Although you may feel that you are still one of them, they may not have the same opinion. Offer your help and be gracious during the service and if there are hard feelings you may want to bow out gracefully immediately after. You should probably not expect to ride in the limousine during the procession. However, if your children need your support and comfort during the ride, show the courage and fortitude necessary to accompany them without apology. In your children the two families became one; their emotional needs trump attitudes and even preferences during this stressful time.

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