Posted by: chlost | July 24, 2010

Funeral, reprised

Another one. I made it through one more funeral today. More accurately, it was a memorial service, but it was just about the same as a funeral.

My husband’s Aunt Grace. That was really her name to all of us. Both words. They were always spoken together. They defined her and identified her all in that phrase.

We weren’t sure how many people to expect.  An 86 year-old woman. A Saturday afternoon in the middle of a July Saturday. 50? Maybe a few more?

There were about a hundred or so, at least. We ran out of programs. The food barely made it. So many people she had known, but we did not know about these people. She had people from her neighborhood, her church, the community center where she took classes. It was wonderful.

My husband’s brother, however was beyond belief. I cannot find the words to describe him. Snarky, smarmy, controlling, demeaning to my husband, his wife and his children.  I made it through the day without losing my cool. I feel as though I deserve a medal. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. We have been up since 5 am, and I am exhausted-that did not help my ability to ignore his shenanigans.

My husband is finally seeing his brother for what he is. How do you help someone change his self-image? His brother has never respected my husband, and that is the one thing my husband has been seeking all of his life. My husband’s role in the family has always been the peace maker, the mediator, the one who gives in to avoid problems.

I have always hoped that my husband would stand up to his brother. It would be so good for him. He can’t respect himself until he is able to feel good enough about himself to stop letting his brother treat him badly. I can’t do it for him. I am amazed at how deeply these family roles are set within his identity. I feel awful for him.

He realized today that he cannot trust his brother. Then he second guessed himself and tried to find excuses for his brother’s behavior. Is it too late for the power within this relationship to change? They are ages 56 and 59. Seems unlikely to me.

In any event, I am relieved that the day is over.  I don’t want to have another funeral/memorial service for a long time. Tomorrow, we plan to relax and recover. And see no relatives from that side of the family!

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Responses

  1. You made it through and kept your cool….maybe you DO deserve a medal ch. I know one thing…you should be very proud of yourself. I know it’s hard watching your husband being mistreated and disrespected by his own brother; but there’s really no one else who can make it right except your husband. I hope he finds the strength within himself to do it…he’d feel a lot better. ~Joy

    • Yes, it has been a long week and I think exhaustion has taken its toll, as well. My husband will hopefully gain some strength in the next day or so, after a few good nights’ sleep. He seems to have a clearer eye toward things just in the past day.

  2. When my mother died I was amazed to find out all the people her life had touched. Who would have thought?

    Your brother-in-law sounds like my father was, always cutting people down while thinking he was just oh so charming. It took me many years before I finally told him I would take no more of his put downs, especially in front of my children. He went crazy, threatening me and my kids, harassing me. Controlling people don’t give up control easily. He got the whole family involved in trying to bring me back in line. What a mess! Hard to find anyone to stand by me since the usual response was shame on me, why was I making waves. I had to block his email, change my phone, throw out his letter unopened. And then I had to work on building up myself because I was a wreck after all of that. It was months before I saw him again and realized I was happiest not having him around at all. I seldom saw him again. At my sister’s funeral he made one last control play and that was it for me. He only lived an hour away but I never saw him again. I moved and did not tell anyone in the family where I lived. When he died just under three years later I felt sad that our relationship was what it was, but I never regretted having him out of my life. May my children never feel compelled to say such a thing about me!

    Sorry to ramble on. I just feel like you can relate to and understand all the screwed up pieces, all the sad pieces, of my life. May we both have LONG breaks from funerals and may you get a nice LONG break from seeing those relatives!

    • OH, I am so sorry that you had to be put through all of that. You do seem to have come out on the other side of it very strong. My husband and bil will be dealing with each other over the next several months to figure out the estate. I think that my husband will be having a very limited relationship with him after that time. I am staying out of it as much as possible.
      Thank you for your kindness…..and yes, may we have no funerals in our lives for many, many years.

  3. I’m glad so many people turned out to remember Aunt Grace; it shows how special she was to many people. I know it’s tough to watch your husband treated badly, but you are right that only he can decide to change it. (I watch a similar type of thing with my husband and a member of his family).

    By the way, good for you for keeping your cool with brother-in-law!

    • It is surprising to me to hear of so many others who encounter the same issues within their family. Difficult siblings or other family members can spread such poisonous feelings throughout an entire family. I have tried very hard to distance myself from it, as I have realized that I must respect my husband’s ability to handle it. That has been a challenge for me!

  4. Consider yourself awarded that medal – from your fellow bloggers!

    You must both be badly in need of R&R after such an emotional roller coaster, I hope you manage to carve out some down time. Watching someone else struggle with a relationship is always hard: but as every parent knows you cannot do things for others, just support people as they do, or do not, do what is needed.

    I’m glad so many people came to pay their respects to your Aunt: that in itself speaks volumes. Don’t let one mean person spoil that memory for you.

    • Thank you! You are right, we heard so many wonderful stories of the good things she had done in her life that we did not know about until the service. The family had focused so much on the hoarding and difficulties they encountered with that-losing sight of her wonderful qualities. I can only hope so many people have good things to say of me at that point.


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