What should I do?

  1. So I get home from the grocery store last night just in time to hear the phone ring.

    It was my aunt, telling me that her cousin, Patty, has died and the funeral is tomorrow. She asked me if I'd like to go. I'm not sure if I ever met her. (My grandpa had 12 brothers and sisters, so it seems like every family reunion my relatives have to reintroduce themselves to me. "I'm your Grandpa Kevin's brother's son's . . . ")

    I told her no originally, but after talking to my dad, I decided to go. I called my aunt back and told her so.


    Here's the thing. Should I be honest and say that I don't remember ever meeting her?

    I remember my great aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary party in the parking lot. I remember leading a drunken chorus of "Danny Boy" in the hotel parking lot. I was told she was there, but I don't remember her being there.

    (She died of lung cancer. A couple months ago, she thought she didn't have much time left, and so my mom went to see her. That's all I remember of her.)

    And we don't have any family pictures of her, so I don't know what she even looked like.

    I'm really hoping it's not an open casket wake. Funerals freak me out and I don't know what to do.
     
  2. Unless you have to, don't be honest and say you don't remember.
     
  3. i agree. i would NOT let on that you don't remember meeting her. there will probably be pictures and things at the service that may jog your memory. and even if there's not, this kind of honesty doesn't accomplish anything besides being hurtful and innappropriate. since you've already decided to go, spend the time getting to know the the family that's still with you.
     
  4. Obviously I wouldn't tell her immediate family that I don't remember her. But I could talk to my aunt about her in the car ride over there.

    My mom couldn't make it this time, so part of me feels like I'm going representing her.

    Thanks, everyone.
     
  5. Just say you didn't know her too well and would like to hear more about her. I think it would be a little harsh to admit you don't remember jack.
     
  6. agreed
     
  7. my guess is that most people who will want to talk to you about this woman are going to relate stories of THEIR memories about her. most likely you can get by just saying "mm-hmm" and such, and listening to other people's memories. if asked directly, though, i'd try to be straightforward but not harsh.
     
  8. Super approach! My son did this at a funeral that he could get to, but we couldn't. He told the parents of the young man who died that he was representing "our family" and the parents were thrilled that he took the time to attend. It's the right thing to do. If it's open casket, you don't really have to approach it. Just pay your respects to her family and sign the guest book. It will mean a lot to them, I'm sure.
     
  9. No don't say that you don't remember her, just sympathise & say the appropriate things, they will be happy that you came
     
  10. I'm back. The funeral was nice.

    I wasn't sure what to expect, but because my family is of Irish descent, it wasn't about mourning her death. We grieved in the church (and yesterday at the wake) but then after that, it was about celebrating her life.

    We heard Bible passages as well as a funny, heartwarming story told by a coworker.

    Her dog, Sadie, was in the church pews!

    I talked to her husband and I told him who I was, that I was representing my mom, and that the service was beautiful. I also told him that I half expected people to start singing, "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life."

    The only thing I got teary eyed at was when the priest was talking about how she planned all this three months ago.

    Then we had a reception at the church and then went back to her house for a little gathering.

    I told people I was representing my mother, who couldn't make it.


    Before we left, her sisters poured everyone a little bit of Irish whiskey and we drank a toast to her. (It was a moving moment, until we all drank and a bunch of us started coughing.)

    The whole thing was about celebrating her life, as well as celebrating love and family.
     
  11. That's great that it went so well for you Caitlin. It is good to celebrate a life. Some cultures grieve when a child is born & rejoice when someone dies. I can see the logic in that. As always when we cry over the loss of a loved one we cry for ourselves & our pain.
     
  12. Brilliant!

    Your presence there is intended to help the people who DID know her, so the fact that you didn't means you can give your full energies to doing things that will be comforting to them, without having to deal with a devastating sense of personal loss yourself, if that makes sense.
     
  13. aww hugs...just play the 'i was a little kid card' go there be a part of your family and just use the opportunity to meet your family that rarely get to see
     
  14. I am glad you went, I am sure it meant alot to her immediate family.