The big question is: matter to whom? So many rituals, which bind us together, have fallen by the wayside in our society – and funerals are on the endangered species list. Yet, if we trivialize death or banish it from our thoughts, what is important to our hearts and souls? How do we process loss? I recently faced a decision like yours when a dear cousin of mine died. A physician, he’d lived a long, productive life that was touched with joy and accomplishment – as well as heavy sorrows. I struggled with the question of attending. My siblings opted out. It was a long trip. Yet, in the end, I got on the train – for myself, as well as to honor him. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Only you can weigh the pros and cons for yourself. But the following considerations may offer a new perspective. I found that attending the funeral of a beloved family member can:
For me, the trip was worth the time, effort, and expense. I even had a long, fascinating conversation with a relative I’d only exchanged “hellos” with in the past. It turns out that he writes short stories. Who knew? Everyone’s family is different. But are there dividends to attending your aunt’s funeral, too?
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Florence Isaacs is the author of several books on etiquette, including My Deepest Sympathies: Meaningful Sentiments for Condolence Notes a.... She writes two advice blogs for Legacy.com: Sincere Condolences and Widow in the World, a blog for bereaved spouses and partners.
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