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Ask Anyone

a rock and a hard place

I separated from my husband about a year ago. Until recently we remained cordial and I’ve kept good relations with his family, with whom I am very close. But recently things have turned acrimonious, my husband wants to get back together and I don’t, so we are no longer speaking and I have not talked to either of his parents or siblings in a while. His grandmother just passed away, I learned from our children. Should I accompany them to the funeral? I can’t decide if my presence there would be disruptive and distressing to my in-laws, or if it would be ruder and more distressing if I don’t attend. Either way I can hear it: “Can you believe she came?!” or: “Can you believe she didn’t come?!”


Man About Town says: You may not love him anymore but you obviously still care for him and his family. Going to the funeral will only show that and I’m sure they would appreciate it. Just quietly pay your respects and they will notice your true intent.

Ruthless says: I don’t know, it depends. Are your in-laws assholes? Seems to me, in this awkward situation it would be equally understandable whichever course you choose, and if they aren’t assholes, then they will be understanding whether you attend the funeral or not. But you seem to have a sense that you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, which leads me to suspect that these are not the most easygoing of people. You should do what would make your children most comfortable: behave the way you would want them to behave in a similar situation.

The Practical Cogitator says: Yes, you should absolutely attend the service. This is the great grandmother of your children. Accompany your children to the service, talk to them about their great grandmother, and reassure them that she loved them. Tell them how excited she was when they were born, how happy she was to have had a chance to know them. Show them the photos of her as a young woman, talk to them about death, and help them pay their respects and say good-bye. Your children are very lucky to have known their Maternal Great Grandmother. You should guide them through this.

Now, until the divorce, you were related to this woman. I’m sure she was at your wedding, and that you’ve spent holidays with her, been to her home. I’m sure she rejoiced when her grandson fell in love with you and married you. She was probably thrilled to meet her great grandchildren when each of them were born. I’m quite certain she provided you with gifts for all of your milestones. And I am also sure that she was saddened when your divorce came about. You should go to this funeral service and pay your respects to this woman who accepted you as a family member as long as you were one.

If you attend the service, guide your children, pay your respects and leave, the rest of the family will have nothing to say at all. They’ll appreciate that you had enough respect for their paternal matriarch to attend. This is a funeral, not a family picnic, everyone needs to remember that.

Dr. Sigmund Fraud says: You are not struggling with the awkwardness that may or may not come from relatives talking behind your back. Nor are you confused about the appropriateness of attending. Of course you should attend, for all the reasons listed above. You know this. What you don’t realize is that you still have intense feelings for your ex. Despite your unconvincing remark that you don’t want to get back together, you know as well as I do that sometimes, at night, you lie in bed, gazing out at the moon, realizing there is so much about your former life that you long for.

This funeral is like the fragile brink of a dizzying chasm spreading before you, and your discomfort is not unlike vertigo—yet it is strangely intriguing, is it not? And did you know the French social theorist Michel Foucalt called orgasms petit mort, or “mini-deaths”? You are awash in emotions, but then again, so am I. Go to the funeral, and if everything I’ve said is not true, I will make you dinner at my place, for, to quote Foucalt “life is fragile, and death is certain.”

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