Do You Know Anyone...

Updated on February 24, 2013
B.E. asks from New York, NY
26 answers

...who had to skip their own parent's funeral?

I just heard that an acquaintance's father passed away and he and his wife are not attending the funeral. I don't know all the circumstances, but I'm not aware of any bad blood between father and son. No estrangement. There's no emergency that is keeping him away. The funeral would be a short flight or long drive for them.

I'm feeling very bemused but am trying to reserve judgment. What do you think? Have you had to miss a parent's or close relative's funeral or know of someone who has?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the responses and different opinions - it certainly has helped to give me all perspectives.

Normally I would feel this kind of thing isn't my business, but the "acquaintance" is a lot closer than I let on and I know quite a bit of the back story, but not some more recent details. I already know that other members of my family are definitely going to pass judgment on their decision, so I wanted to walk in with a more open mind. I do know that money and time off from work are not an issue in this situation. I am hoping to find out that the son made a recent visit to his dying dad, but I don't think that was the case.

I was definitely raised with the mindset of "Honor thy mother and father", so I guess I would do everything I could to be there, even though that person is no longer with us. I also know I'm going to be a complete emotional trainwreck when my parents do pass, so it's a disaster in the waiting. Funerals make me a weepy mess.

Anyway, to each his own, I suppose.

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answers from Tulsa on

Yes, my aunt-in-law visited him when he was alive, but dying. She did not have $ or time off of work to come back for the funeral. People offered to pay for it, but she could not get off. Her boss had let her take funeral time to see him. Plus, it was like 1400 miles and not necessary.
Only one selfish b made a point to tell everyone she wasn't her and we all defended her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I missed my grandfather's funeral. But I was not close to my grandfather even though we (my mom, sister, and I) lived with him while growing up.
My husband was receiving inpatient chemo so I decided to stay with him. It made my decision not to go to the funeral easier.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I've known several immediate family members who did not attend a parent's or sibling's funeral service. As with MusicMM's aunt-in-law, they had all been in close contact with the dying person, often having traveled in spite of personal illness, infirmity or financial difficulty. It really is not up to others to judge people, no matter how unusual the situation may appear. We usually don't know the whole story.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Seattle on

Quite a few.

Either for money or memory reasons.

Funerals are for the living, to help them. Some people absolutely CANNOT handle funerals and they do NOT provide closure, but instead fix that person's memory into the day of their death instead of the memories of their life. In my family -unless it's a child- we flat out don't have them except on rare occasions. We hold wakes instead. When we DO hold funerals, it's 50/50 whether or not 'the family' will show to the funeral (although we do draw straws for family reps amongst those willing to maybe go if no one wants to go). We DO hold and come to the wake (which is always held the night before, or two... depending). The two funerals my family has had in the past few years have all been because of OTHER people needing them (300 ppl at one, 500+ at the other).

Ha. My grandfather's "funeral" (or rather lack thereof) was one of my favorites. He would have been INCENSED (and said so regularly, even writing it into his will) for thousands of dollars to be spent out of his estate, and from the pockets of his loved ones, for travel/ vacation days/etc. He specifically wrote for people to work out how much it would cost them to attend his funeral and buy extra xmas presents for their kids, or go out dancing, or take a vaction somewhere to NOT be crying instead.

People grieve differently.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My first thought is money. What if they can't afford the time off work or gas/flight money to go?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

I missed my Grandmother's funeral because my Mom didn't have enough money to take us all to Colorado from Idaho. I thought it was strange and as a child I never received closure so sometimes I would still talk about her as if she were alive. I guess now looking back it made it a little easier, as a child that is. My Father missed my 18 year old sister's funeral. I couldn't understand it but he has always explained "he doesn't do well with funerals." I don't agree with it but everyone deals with death differently. That's a tough call.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My older sister, who was all her life a self-proclaimed "Daddy's girl" did not come for our Dad's funeral. She *said* it was financial - but wow, her hubby sure managed to buy a new steel guitar, and remodel his garage sound stage. Personally I think it may have had something to do with a protest over my other sister and my choices for the funeral. Who knows - but a few weeks later she announced that there is no longer any reason for her to come to Texas. (2 of the 3 sisters live here - she lives in Ohio)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm Catholic, so our funerals are much more for the dead than for the living. The purpose of our funerals is to pray for the soul of the deceased person. The wake, however, is very important for the grieving family.

I live 400 miles from my hometown and I move heaven and earth to get to funerals. In the past 9 years I have lost my grandmother, 2 uncles, a 5 year old cousin, and my best friend's older brother. I have driven, flown, and taken the Amtrak to be there. I cannot imagine ANYTHING keeping my away from my own parents' funeral.

My father-in-law's father passed away in the 1980s, while my FIL was dealing with having a heart attack and a bypass. Because they didn't want to cause my FIL a health setback, no one told him that his father died until a few weeks after the funeral. They thought they were doing him a favor, but he was LIVID. I can't imagine freely making the choice not to go to a parent's funeral. I know you say that there was no bad blood, but were they CLOSE?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I have missed aunts and uncles funerals, but I had lived out of state and didn't have the money to fly (or drive) to them. I am sure they have thier reasons for not going.
Funerals are very hard for some and even harder if they have a viewing first. We all handle our grief differently.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I personally have not attended my grandfather's or my father's funeral. That does not mean I didn't love them or didn't respect them. Neither one of them would have cared much about their funeral - after all it's more for those who are still alive...
I also never visited either of their graves - I am not even sure where my dad is buried, I don't think I will ever feel a need to find out. I don't need a gravesite or a funeral to remember them and no-one in my family is religious...

People have different beliefs i how they relate to death. To me a funeral or gravesite are meaningless. Everyone grieves and remembers in their own way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

Try your best not to you say you don't know all of the circumstances. It could be, as has been suggested that he spent his time with his Dad before he died. I would much rather my children spent time with me while I was still alive....after I am dead ...the funeral is for the benefit of the living....not the one who has died. Maybe he has shown his love and compassion for his father in ways that you will never know...and they had already said their goodbyes so the funeral is just not relevant to him.
I find it odd too but I really would try my very best not to judge him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I try very hard not to pass judgement on people. The people don't need to say why they can't go to the funeral. Sometimes there are family secrets that are best kept secret. It might even have to do with the economy/finances. You say it's a long drive/short flight...that costs a lot of money. Maybe not to you, but maybe it does to them. They may have encountered a situation that causes them to be short money like a new house, investment, price of gas, price of plane tickets...It could be anything. It's not the funeral that is important. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. I am sure they have another way to honor and morn the deceased father.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Yes, my dearest friend had to. I attended as her representative. My friend was attending medical school out of the country and was on a strict curriculum such that if she missed classes, she'd have to take the entire lot of classes for that semester over again. Although the school would not double charge, it still meant that she'd have double the living expenses for that semester of courses. So money was a big factor.



answers from Charlotte on

Yes, I do. The reason is complicated - partly because of depression and difficulty handling being around a lot of people. To be honest, this person also would not or could not go to the hospital to say goodbye - the hospital's social workers tried to get her to reconsider. Because the family was concerned that she would show up to the funeral and cause a scene of some sort, she was not told that her father had passed until after the funeral was over.

I know the people involved, and I don't blame them for their choice. I DO blame her for not being willing to just come see her father before he died, because I do believe she could have if she wanted to. She visited her mother after surgery. She should have told her father goodbye.

So I guess I do have judgment of some sort here, but that's because I know the family so well.



answers from Phoenix on

My mom.

In her words, she "doesn't do funerals". Any of them, including her only brother and both parents. I had to plan and attend all 3 of those BY MYSELF and I'm an only child. Not easy for me to do.

Some people just don't go to funerals.


answers from Washington DC on

There can be many reasons one cannot attend a funeral.

I have a friend who believes that funerals are a waste of time. Both of her parents died and she had a small memorial for them at a grave site. People wanted a viewing and a full fledged funeral....not her or her parents "style".

My dad? He's still alive but really doesn't want a funeral. He wants a party to celebrate his life. Funerals tear him apart. Me too.

Religion. Religion can stop a person from going as well.

If you are confused - contact them and ask if they need help - someone to watch the kids, etc. as there are some who don't like kids to go to funerals. Then your curiosity might be satisfied as to why they are not going.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I know someone who missed a step parent's final days and funeral completely. I don't judge. People often are doing the best they can at the time with what they have to work with.


answers from New York on

I feel people handle things differently. Maybe he does not want to remember his father that way. I do not go to funeral much even for family. My mother passed when I was 18 yrs old suddenly. I do not remember much about because I was so upset. Maybe I am just blocking it out. I try to remember my mother as she was. Every now and then a flash comes across my mind with her in her coffin. All I could think of, it wasn't her. It didn't even look like her. I hate it. So, if he decided not to go, thats on him. He knows why.



answers from Cleveland on

Well, there could be many reasons. I personally could never miss my parent's funerals, but I do have panic attacks at funerals and try to avoid them if I can. My husband missed his Grandma's funeral and she was like a mother to him. He already had a trip planned with his father and uncles that they go on every year, the funeral landed right in the middle of the trip. It was a hard decision for him to make, I don't know if he still thinks he made the right decision though.



answers from Washington DC on

I had to skip my one Grandmother's funeral because I had just started a new job a few weeks before.

I had to skip my second Grandmother's funeral because I had to have emergency surgery 2 days later and the dr. advised me not to travel.

It could be as simple as they don't have the money to go.


answers from Washington DC on

I missed my FIL's funeral - I'd just had a baby - she was not even two weeks old and my other one was 2.5. My husband insisted I stay home. As he said, "Why would we put two children in the car for 5.5 hours, then insist that they behave at the funeral home and church for 2 days? That's just asking for trouble!" He was right. We stayed home. He went. The rest of the family understood.




answers from Savannah on

I feel like I've been to a million funerals, I swear. But I missed my uncle's funeral b/c I had just had a baby and wasn't feeling up to making the drive. Sure, it was only 10 hours, but....I didn't feel like it. Sometimes the person in question may have a health concern.
My great aunt was VERY close to my grandma; they loved each other very much and talked on the phone all the time. But she lived 10 hours from grandma and did not attend her funeral. That is totally a doable distance, but they were a support to each other on the phone....they'd said their goodbyes....her husband was having health issues that didn't really need to be discussed, they are short on money, it just was what it was. Noone questioned her love of grandma, it just wasn't feasible for them at that time.
I'm not attending a different great aunt's funeral tomorrow. It's a 15 hour drive, but is just 2 days before my husband leaves the country and I want to spend time with him, we don't really have the money to fly on such short notice (cheapest tickets were $722 each, and it'd be me and the 2 little guys), and driving that distance right now isn't going to happen. I loved her very much.
My husband DID attend his father's funeral 3 years ago, but has said he won't be going to his mother's funeral. First, they don't do burials, they do cremation and the little memorial service after that's been done. He adores his mother, and we all speak to her every single morning on the phone. He's leaving on Sunday to see her for 11 days. But the prices are a big stretch for us. Of course I'd rather go into debt before saying he can't go to see his mom, anytime he wants to. But he says that he went to see his father before he passed away, loved on him, they said their goodbyes, he told his father what he meant to him and that we were naming our youngest after him. Then he came home and a month later he had to go back up for the service, and he did so to be a support to his mother. BUT we speak daily to her, he is on very good terms with her, he says "that stuff" to her all the time and kind of maintains his goodbyes with her because she has alzheimers and he wants to "make it stick". He knows in his heart he's done right by her and they are in good standing with each other. He will visit her every year, sometimes twice a year, but when she passes away, he says there's no reason to go. She won't be there. Everyone else is gone now except an uncle and 2 brothers (one of which we are absolutely not on speaking terms with). Some people will probably wonder why Jeremy won't attend when she passes away. But it won't be a disrespect or lack of relationship with his mom. His mom knows how he feels and she is fine with that. She is the one that said "I won't be here, and your uncle and brother can comfort each other".
Jeremy WILL be there spending some time with her before she passes though. We maintain contact with the social services and her doctors, and if she takes a turn, he will be there. Just not for a memorial service.



answers from Houston on

BVic, I get you. I would borrow money to attend a close loved one's funeral.


answers from Philadelphia on

if you know them and think its money why dont you ask if they need help paying? Unless I knew them very well I would reserve judgement since you don't know what happens behind closed doors. Also some people handle loss diferently than others



answers from New York on

No, I don't know anyone who missed their parent's funeral. But I do know someone who missed her brother's funeral, because the only flight she could get on that short of notice that would get her there on time cost $2,500, and she didn't have that type of money readily available.

Since this person is only an accquaintance you don't know every little detail surrounding the situation. Maybe one of them has health issues and can't fly and the drive would be too much. Maybe they can't take time off from work. Maybe there is an issue with another member in the family. I'm sure they have their reasons.


answers from Houston on

I missed my grandmother's funeral because I couldn't afford the flight. I ALMOST didn't make my own father's funeral because of work issues and I couldn't afford the flight then either. I had to quit my job to attend and a family member helped me pay my plane ticket. My dad missed his father's funeral because it was an overseas flight and he was military and couldn't get out of duty. Just because a person has to miss a funeral, doesn't make them a bad person. You never know what the underlying circumstance is, whether it is financial, work related, emotional....

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