anxiety · life

A Death in the Family (Sorta)

The short story is the paternal grandfather of my cousins Lily and Tara passed away a few days ago. I have only seen the man a handful of times during my teen years when I would stay over with my cousins at their house in NJ and sometimes we would stop by their grandparents‘ house along the way. I must have not seen him for more than 5 years now. The issue now is I feel some sense of obligation to attend the funeral services tomorrow even though I don’t really want to go. I feel an invisible pressure since my dad is going and then my own brother announced he was taking off from work to drive there. And now I’m finding out my mom is tagging along as well. My dad directly asked me this morning if I would like to attend. Once again, I’m too scared to outright say no out of fear that my declination will make him or other people perceive me as cold-hearted for not going and paying my respects. To clarify about the title of this post, I added “sorta” because while there indeed was a death, I was not even a little emotionally close to my cousins‘ grandfather and I don’t consider him part of my family while he is most certainly part of their family.

On the flipside, how I see the situation is I can’t understand why either my brother or mom feel compelled to go. I get why my dad might go since he at least spoke to my cousin‘s grandfather on the phone infrequently, like when he’d call him to wish him a Happy Father’s Day every year. I suppose they are going to show support but the cynical side of me wants to scoff in annoyance. If this was my grandfather who died, I wouldn’t want people there who barely knew him. But that’s my opinion.

It’s not that I don’t care for how my cousins are feeling now. They were both very close to their grandfather. And hearing from my dad about the news of his passing was a shock to me. My anxiety-ridden brain is going into overdrive. I would like to give my condolences to them by text message but I can’t help but think every sentence I attempt to come up with sounds fake or cheesy. And I don’t mean to sound cruel, but other than the few times I saw their grandfather years ago, I didn’t know him at all. It would almost be like attending a stranger’s funeral if I did go. I hate the feeling of obligation that compels me to attend just because my immediate family will be there. I hate the guilt settling in me and the perception I’ll somehow be perceived as awful if I’m the only one out of my parents and brother to not be there.

Also, I have plans for tomorrow that I already scheduled last week. So there’s that. No matter what decision I eventually make: to go or not to go to the funeral; I will be uncomfortable. 

My dad told me that I could decide if I want to go but that I don’t have to force it if I don’t want to. You’d think that these words would’ve given me reassurance, to be honest about my intentions of not going to the funeral but no. Now I’m worried if I say no that my brother might give me a hard time about my decision. I know I have no proof that my brother will get upset at me but I can’t stop picturing in my head what he’ll say to me.

What do you think? Am I selfish for not wanting to attend the funeral?

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8 thoughts on “A Death in the Family (Sorta)

  1. Funerals are not for everyone. I prefer not going. I had to go to my moms memorial service though, that sucked. I’ve written about how I grieved her years before she died. There was nothing left in me so watching how my extended family reacted and constantly talked about what a wonderful person she was, which she was not, was just frustrating and difficult. I couldn’t wait to leave. However, it was across the country so I was stuck for like 10 days. If I couldn’t get a ride to the airport I would have walked… seriously. I know it’s really difficult to say no but it’s perfectly fine to. As far as I’m concerned, there are only 2 people I’d go to their funerals for, assuming they die before me. If people question me then I let them know I’m honoring the person in my own way. They don’t need to know how I’m doing that (or if I even am) either.

    Hope my perspective has been helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, funerals are not for everyone. I wish there was not an underlying negative connotation attached to those who choose not to go.

      I had asked my dad how the funeral went and he said none of the grandkids except my two cousins came for the funeral. I have to admit, that made me feel a little less bad about not attending knowing I was not the only one who skipped out on it. I did keep my cousins in my thoughts and silently wished them the best as they dealt with their loss but I just could not bring myself to text them and tell them all this. I’ve been out of contact with them for so long it’s like what do I even say? I was really afraid my words would come off as disingenuous sounding or really overtly formal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m happy you did what you felt was best for you. For some reason my cousins continue to send me invites to graduations, weddings, etc. of their children. They live on the other side of the country so not sure what they are thinking. Are they going to pay for my passage? 😳 Nope. I don’t even know their children. I’ve met them briefly once or twice years ago but that’s it. It’s just odd.

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      2. Yeah, I can see my own cousins doing the same thing with me in the next few years, by inviting me to things out of the blue but I will likely choose not to go because I don’t want to deal with the awkwardness of playing “catch-me-up”. I can imagine I will become a mythical figure to their children if they ever have any, in which I’ll be weird “Aunt Nat” who they never see lol.

        Liked by 1 person

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