Skipping a Funeral?

Updated on April 21, 2016
K.C. asks from Irvine, CA
20 answers

My grandmother recently passed away and I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make it to the funeral. My question is: have you ever skipped the funeral of a loved one and, if so, how did you feel about it afterwards? Were you ok with the decision? Or, did you ever go only because you felt like you should, but ultimately feel you would have been ok not going? Here are the circumstances:

We live on the west coast (including my grandmother), but she is going to be buried on the east coast. Per her wishes, there will not be a full funeral, just a brief (15 minutes max) service before the actual burial. She will have been cremated, so they are burying ashes, not a body. The funeral is going to be held on a Wednesday. I am already flying out to NY the following week, so going twice back to back won't be easy for me.

I was able to see my grandmother shortly before she passed away, as well as that morning, so I had a chance to say goodbye. While a part of me feels guilty skipping the funeral, another part doesn't want to spend the time and money to fly across the country for a 15 minute service. If I wasn't already flying out the following week, I would be more likely to attend. But having to make arrangements for my kids two weeks in a row is difficult and they cannot miss school that week due to state testing.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for the input. My parents are not pressuring me to go at all - in fact, they are telling me not to go, since it's such an informal event and they don't need me there for emotional support. No one has put any pressure on me so far, which definitely helps.

Staying out there all the way until the wedding isn't an option. It would be an 9 extra nights away, plus I would miss my son's birthday, which I don't want to do.

I am still thinking about it, but hearing that others have missed funerals without regret definitely makes me feel better (though I know others had the opposite feeling as well).

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answers from Santa Fe on

I skipped my mom's boyfriend's funeral. He died at age 70 from cancer. She told me she would rather I come out the next month and help her get rid of his things and to also have a big garage sale. So I did not go to the funeral. I was not close to him, but they had been together for 20 years. He was an alcoholic and was a really heavy drinker the last 7 years or so...he never made much sense when I visited and my mom would make him go stay in a hotel while we were there. But now 4 years later I am reminded of the earlier times when he was a happy person and when they would come visit and we would all do fun things together. I regret that I did not show my support to my mom and others. And I regret it just for being able to properly say goodbye. It's hard losing someone...even when you are not close. advice is it is hard to know what to do! I wish I had gone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I didn't attend my grandmother's funeral. With 4 little kids, a full time job, and the fact that it was across the country made it impossible to go. I felt a little bad about it but really sometimes you don't get to choose what you want to do when others are involved. I still miss her every single day and its been 23 yrs.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I would not be able to do that. I was close with my Grandmothers. My Grandfather's had already passed away.

I made it a priority to go be with them. With both, I had to fly 2 hours then rent a car and drive 2 hours. On one of those trips I was on one of the last planes allowed to leave DFW due to ice and snow. Then I landed in bad weather and it took me 4 hours to make the 3 hour trip due to icy roads.

I would do all of that again tomorrow if needed. That's just how special my grandmother's were to me.

Of course I had great excuses for not going but I would not be able to live with myself if I skipped out just to save some money and make my schedule easier.

You have to do what's right for you. You know what you can live with either way.

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answers from Portland on

I'm sorry for your loss. It's a hard time and making arrangement is stressful I'm sure.

When I've made decisions to no attend things like this because it's inconvenient or just for cost alone, I personally tend to regret it.

Or if I find myself making excuses or trying to justify my decision I typically regret it.

If I know it's absolutely not necessary that I attend, I don't feel bad about not going. That's kind of how I know.

If it were me, I'd be talking to the parent who lost the mother - if my mom/dad said "Oh there's no need to attend, it's just a formality" then that might help me make a decision.

If my mom/dad was in need of support and want family around them .. I'd be there.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I missed my grandmother's funeral. She died in 2008 and there were no direct flights to her location that were affordable. Driving there wasn't an option either.

She was a VERY frugal W. and would have been VERY disappointed if I had spent my money like that. I spoke to her the week before she died. She knew I loved her and she loved me.

My parents were fine with this as well. They were able to drive out to her funeral.

As long as YOU are okay with your decision. It shouldn't matter what other people think about it. You are at peace and your grandmother knows your situation? You're fine. Stop making excuses. Just tell people that your grandmother KNOWS you loved her and that you are FINE with your decision not to go. It's really that simple. Don't make excuses.

If you are flying out the following week - why can't they change the services? Either way?? You pay your respects when you can.

I'm sorry for your loss. May her memory be eternal.

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answers from St. Louis on

I can't imagine missing any of my grandparent's funerals. I spent plenty of time with them, loved them, but to skip the last chance to see them, ever? Couldn't do it.

When my paternal grandmother died I was over 8 months pregnant and had to drive 8 hours to the funeral, so I drove. It would have been easier to skip it, I had a built in excuse, still could never have done it.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I have skipped funerals, weddings, birthday and anniversary parties when I had what I considered good reason to do so. If your reasons are valid to you, then don't go, and don't accept anyone's attempts to make you feel guilty.

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answers from San Francisco on

Funerals are for the living so do what is best for YOU and don't feel bad about it. Sorry for your loss :-(

ETA: as someone who doesn't believe in ghosts or spirits I'm not at all selfish thank you very much, I simply feel that only living, breathing people have feelings and emotions. I may be wrong but so be it, but that doesn't make me selfish, it only makes me believe what I believe. And I was present when the most important person in my life passed away, so I am VERY familiar with death and what it means to experience that firsthand :-(

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answers from Tucson on

As someone who missed her grandmother's funeral - if I could do it over again, I would have gone. It is one of my regrets in life. Just my two cents.

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answers from Miami on

I'm so sorry for your loss. Please don't feel bad about not going. Your grandmother clearly didn't want a fuss. The only people who would want a fuss are those who would have a problem with any family member who isn't going. Hopefully your family isn't like that.

I just want to say that not going to her funeral all the way across the country doesn't mean that you loved her less than someone who would. Don't EVER let anyone make you feel that way.

What I would suggest is that you invite her family and friends to join together at some convenient time to have a "Celebration of Life" get-together to talk about her and remember what she meant to you all. Make it a pot luck. We have done that and it was very meaningful. Pictures on the computer as a slide show was very special. Even songs that meantt something to our loved one were played and sung. The teens talked about what they remembered most about their grandmother moved the adults to tears.

Your grandmother would understand and appreciate your circumstance. After all, funerals are for the living, not the dead.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

First of all, never ever feel obligated to do something you don't want to do. This is for EVERYTHING. I try to remember this now and at age 49, it's so much easier now to just say, "no" and not feel bad about it.

My aunt died about a year and a half ago. We were not close but I felt for a second "obligated" to go. But I didn't. I asked my husband and kids if they wanted to go and none of them did, that made the decision a little easier. I don't regret it.

My mom on the other hand has not attend ANY funeral at all. She did not go to her only brothers back in 1999 and neither parent when they passed within 4 months of each other in 2000. She is just way too emotional and she can't handle them. So basically everyone that knows her knows this about her. She doesn't feel guilty or bad about it. She is an adult and it's her decision.

If you don't feel like going, no matter what the reason, don't go. You we able to see her before her passing and I'm sure she would understand you not being there. As far as anyone else, their opinions don't matter. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think you have good reasons to not go. If I were you I wouldn't go to the burial. It's not a funeral. It's a brief informal event.
I would be OK with not seeing relatives because I would be seeing them in a couple of weeks.

You've said your good bye. Going would be a hardship in many ways. Would going be worth the financial and logistical difficulties?

I'm a very practical person and base most of my decisions on practicalities. I mourn my way. I was the decision maker at my cousin's death. I arranged his cremation. I talked with friends and relatives. I did not bury his ashes. I had thought to have a family get together/reunion later. Several months later we did get together for a cousins' reunion during which we shared memories. I found the remeniscing later to be happier and a better memory of who he was.

Perhaps your later visit will be a time of remembering. Perhaps that is all you need. I suggest that once you decide, don't go over and over your decision. If you expect to accept your decision, you'll be OK with what happens.

I've gone to funerals and not gone. I felt good about each decision. I suggest you do what feels right for you and your children in these circumstances.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Funerals are for the living. You said your goodbyes. I can say with certainty that under these circumstances my grandmother would have been very upset if I had attended her funeral... cross country...leaving my kids...spending money on airfare etc.

So sorry for your loss.

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answers from Atlanta on

Going to the burial sounds difficult logistically, and I don't get the impression you feel a great need to be there. It also doesn't sound like your parents really need you there either. Perhaps you can do something with your kids and husband to commemorate your dear grandma on the day when they will be interring her on the East Coast? Perhaps make a meal or go someplace which you all enjoyed together and talk a little bit together about your good times with her and the valuable lessons she taught each of you? You won't have 'skipped the funeral,' in my view, if you spend time intentionally commemorating her.

In any case, have faith in your ability to discern what you need and do what will be best for yourself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

i skipped my aunts funeral. went to the wake but couldn't make it to the funeral. i was grandpa sitting (babysitting my grnadpa) and he skipped the funeral too. don't feel guilty about it at all
i also skipped my husbands uncles funeral but i gave birth the day he passed and had a 4 day old baby to care for and it was a chilly windy day so dh and ds went while i stayed home with the newbie. no guilt there either

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answers from Wausau on

I typically don't attend funerals. I have never once regretted it. I know myself, what I need, and how I feel about things. Some people like to go to say goodbye, have a sense of closure, or find support in a crowd. I prefer to grieve privately.

That is what you need to figure out about yourself. Are you feeling outside social pressure from someone to attend? Emotions run high but remember that funerals are never obligatory. On the other hand, if you do want to go and are talking yourself out of it, you may feel regret if you don't.

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answers from Norfolk on

Our family is spread out all over the country.
We all understand that people can't make it to every funeral.
If you can't, you can't - send a nice card or flower arrangement.

My Mom is 80, has her arrangements all planned out.
She's donating her entire body to a medical school to be a medical cadaver - she has specified that there will be no funeral - and after a year the school will cremate her and mail me her ashes.
She wants to be sprinkled on a beach.

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answers from Atlanta on

Just don't go. In a case such as yours, you have no reason to feel bad or regretful. Communicate to her about this, she'll be fine with it.

[the popular belief that funerals are for the living rather than the dead is wrong, they're for both. This is believed because of selfish people not wanting to deal with death or the dead. ~ Just as there are those that gather together on the other side, there are those that gather on this side. In fact depending on the situation and people and such, the "living" can actually help those that are on the other side.

Just sayin'

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answers from Boston on

Funerals are for 2 purposes: to comfort the bereaved family/close friends (if you are one of them), and to go to support the family if you are not one of them (which would be why someone would attend the funeral of someone they didn't actually know personally).

You are in the first category here - this was your grandmother. If you have said your goodbyes, if you would derive little or no comfort from the 15 minute ceremony, and if you don't need to be there to support your parents, you can stay home. You are going back the following week, I assume to be with the other family members, should be okay.

You have children, you said goodbye, you don't need the 15 minute service for your own benefit, so you can do what you think is best.

Guilt is something you do to yourself - so don't do it if it's not warranted (that is, if you don't have regrets about your relationship to her). If someone else is handing you a guilt trip, you don't need to accept it.

I don't know why it matters whether they are burying a body or ashes, or scattering ashes somewhere, or if there are no remains at all (as in the case of someone lost in an explosion or at sea). The funeral is the funeral. I also think it's not up to the deceased person to decide whether there should be a funeral - it's for the survivors, so they should decide whether they want something more substantial or not. I'd take the kids out and skip the testing if they were close to her and would benefit from being with family, but if they were not and if traveling so far would be hard on them, then don't. Just my opinion.

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answers from Boston on

If you were not close to your grandmother then I would support your not going. However, if you were close to her then, I think that your missing the funeral will be something that will bother you for the rest of your life.

Can you just go on Wednesday and stay until the meeting or whatever that next week. The money used to stay in a reasonalbly-priced hotel and cheap meals should be less than another full flight.

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