Invitations to a Memorial Service?

Updated on July 21, 2013
E.S. asks from Hackettstown, NJ
12 answers

The wife of my husband's second cousin lost her father about a month ago. He was interred privately and then a public service was scheduled this week. The only reason we found out about it is because my husband saw it on her FB page about his passing.

We don't really see his cousins too much as he is not that close with him.

I still sent her a sympathy card.

Anyway, I ran into her two weeks ago by chance and I expressed my sympathy again. She mentioned the service but said we didn't have to go.

I then learned that she sent invitations to the service/luncheon, which we did not receive.

Long story short, the service was today, about an hour away, and we did not go. I feel really guilty like we should have been there but my husband had no intention of going. Again, he is not close with his cousins and we never met his cousin's wife's father.

Add to that, the fact that I had guests in town. But I still feel guilty and probably would have went alone if I didn't have guests.

What would have you done, and have you ever heard of an invitation to a memorial service?

I'm trying to forgive myself but can't get passed it.

What can I do next?

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answers from Grand Forks on

It sounds as though it was a private event to which you weren't invited, so there is no reason to feel guilty for not going. I haven't heard of invitations to a memorial, but it makes sense. Some people may prefer to grieve in private with only close friends and family.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Attendace at funerals serve two purposes, in my opinion. I use each as a "checklist" to gauge how important it is that I attend.

1. To provide closure for the survivors. Some people need to attend a formal service (memorial / burial etc) so that the occasion is marked as "real". It aids in the grief process and it can be therapeutic to grieve en masse, with others who loved that person too.

2. To support the family and other mourners. For this you would need to be *close personal* relationship with someone affected by the death.

It doesn't sound like either reason is applicable, in your case. So no appearance, or guilt, is necessary. A card, casserole or flowers will suffice.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on never met the man and were not related except distantly through marriage, and the family that you are distantly related to, no one is particularly close to? I wouldn't have gone, and probably wouldn't even have known of the death/relation unless my Grandma brought it up when I call her on Thursdays. I wouldn't worry if I were you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

That sounds pretty far removed. If one of my own second cousins passed, I'm not even sure I would attend the services. I definitely wouldn't if I wasn't ever close to him/her. And here you are talking the father, of the wife, of the 2nd cousin, of your spouse. I doubt your absence was noted at the services (no offense).
I too come from a large family and this sounds like an acceptable one to miss, especially since you got the word via FB and not the express invitation.
Why are you feeling so guilty do you think???? How many second cousins do you have, and how many does your husband have? I am just curious because in my family, I don't even know how many 2nd cousins I have, and I'm not even sure I've laid eyes on all of them in my lifetime. I can't even keep my parents' 1st cousins straight, let alone their kids (who would be my 2nd cousins). There are tons of 'em. Thanks to FB I have a little grasp on some of my husbands extended family, which is smaller, but he is clueless about most of his relatives past his first cousins.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It's always nice to support a grieving family, but I think it's even more important how you treat people while they're alive.
Don't beat yourself up--it doesn't sound like hear people are all that involved in your lives or you in theirs.

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answers from Columbus on

I don't think you should feel guilty at all. You weren't invited and additionally, when you ran into her, by her saying you "didn't have to go" might have just been her nice way of saying you weren't invited.

Since it was a relative on your husband's side and he didn't even have any intention to go, sending the sympathy card was nice and in my opinion, satisfactory. No further action was necessary.

I don't really think there's anything you need to forgive yourself for; you should just let it go.

Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Please don't give this another moment's thought. If I went to every funeral/memorial for every member of my extended family we'd be at one a week. No joke there were two funerals in our extended family on the same day. Your husband's second cousin's wife's father? If you have to name 3 people in between you and the deceased, they're not a close relative. Really, don't worry about it no one expected you to go.

I have not heard of invitations but if the service was held this far after the burial, it makes sense to me as it wasn't the usual public wake/visitation/funeral/burial scenario where things are announced via the obituary.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Don't feel guilty for not going! You are so far removed from the deceased.

I have received an invitation to a luncheon after the funeral service. We were close to the family, and they wanted to host a private lunch after the service. Funerals can be as expensive as weddings, so I can understand why people would send out invitations. They can only afford to pay for lunch for the people they invite.

You did just fine with the card and your expressions of sympathy.

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answers from Springfield on

My FIL is the youngest of 11 or 12 kids, most of whom live an hour or so away from us. There have been close to 10 funerals in the past couple of years. My husband has always known the deceased. I have sometimes. I know a few people each time and recognize several others, but even my husband doesn't know most of the people who attend.

We go if/when we can. Period. We really do go when we can, but we don't worry about it if we can't.

I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about. Funerals and memorial services are for the living. They are to provide comfort to those who will miss the deceased the most. If you don't know the family and close friends, it's still nice when you are able to attend, as just having people there to support you really helps. I didn't live close to any of my grandparents, but seeing their friends at the service helped me. If you can't go, you can't go. It's just really nice when you can.

Do what you can, but don't feel guilty when you can't.

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answers from Hartford on

I honestly wouldn't worry about it or spend one more second feeling guilty about it. This was a second cousin that your husband wasn't close to. The wife handled the services way she wanted to, and likely handled it the way the cousin who died wanted it handled. They kept it to the people they were close to and knew well, and controlled it by issuing "invitations."

You gave adequate sympathy with the card and again in person. When you saw her she told you about the service but didn't invite you so I guess I'm not sure why you're surprised you didn't get an invitation. I'm even more unclear as to why you feel guilty for not attending.

You had your own commitments anyway. Even if you were close to this second cousin, you wouldn't have canceled on your guests. It would have been too rude to shut out the living for the dead.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Funerals right after the death are usually announced publicly via the obituary page, to save the family the trouble of sending things out, not to mention the close time frame. Memorial services are sometimes announced via the newspaper, and more recently via email and Facebook.

Your husband wasn't close with them. They may have wanted to keep the luncheon smaller and more affordable, and limit the number of people they have to talk to. They didn't want anyone coming out of obligation or guilt. She mentioned it to you but gave you an "out" - if you had been more insistent and said, "Oh of course we both want to be there," she might have sent you something. But you were more laid back (which makes sense because she kind of set it up with the comment that you didn't have to go), and between the 2 of you, it seemed they didn't feel the need to send an invitation. The distance could also have been a factor, plus the fact that you didn't know the deceased.

Let go of the guilt. You sent a card. That's fine. If you still feel the need to do something, you can make a donation to a charity in his memory. Those can include a reputable association dealing with the disease the man died of, his university, the public television station in their area, or the ambulance service that transported him to the hospital (if there was one). You can also check the on line obituary to see if the family named an organization for memorial donations. If you do that, include the names of the cousin to receive an acknowledgement from the charity; they will not disclose the amount.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I've never heard of sending invitations to a memorial service. We post the time, date, and location in the obituary section of the paper. Those who can/want to come do so, and those who can't/don't want to don't.

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