It is never easy to face the prospect of going to the funeral of an ex. Learn how to cope in a respectful way with our guide on what to do and how to feel if you decide to attend the funeral of an ex-spouse.
Attending the Funeral of an Ex Spouse-Yes or No?
Attending the funeral of an ex-spouse can be an emotionally charged experience. It is up to you to decide whether or not this event is something you are willing and able to handle. If you do choose to attend, it is important to address your feelings properly and remember to take care of yourself.
Once I got that phone call, I knew I would attend the funeral for my kids no matter what. I had been there from the start of this process and I wasn’t going to send them to grieve alone at a funeral. I had to tell them their Dad passed away and held them and hugged them for days before the funeral. We slept on the couch together when they couldn’t sleep at night. I don’t think it was ever a question on if I wouldn’t be there for them during one of their toughest times. Anytime they talked about it, it was always like they expected me to be going. The situation between my ex and I wasn’t good when he passed away. But my in laws never made it an issue on if I was going to be able to attend to be there for the kids. I was included and that made it much easier.
Acknowledge the grief
Before deciding to attend the funeral of an ex-spouse, it is important to acknowledge your own feelings and the emotions that are associated with the event. It is natural for you to feel sad or ambivalent about the situation and it is important to take these feelings into account when you make your final decision. Remember that even though the marriage has ended, this does not mean that you cannot still mourn the loss of a loved one.
I think this was one of the most surprising things I went through. The grieving process and the process of coping with the death of an ex was very different than I thought it would be.
Honor their memory
Depending on the nature of your relationship, you may want to take some time to remember and honour the memory of your ex-partner. Speak with family and friends if you need support as you go through this process. You could also use this opportunity to write down a fond memory or think about what positive influence it had on your life. It’s important to acknowledge that it is okay to feel these emotions, even in this difficult situation.
One thing I did with the kids was make funeral stuffed animals for each kid to hold or have during or after their Dad’s funeral. Their Dad also got one. We put different charms on each of the animal’s collar that represented something the kids loved.
Collect and preserve your own memories together
Use the funeral as an opportunity to reflect and to remember only the positive experiences you shared together. Gather photos and other memorabilia that remind you of the good times, and consider writing down your fondest memories. These are yours, and nobody can take them away from you. Doing this will help you appreciate your history together without feeling sadness or regret.
A year after my ex passed away the kids got one of the most beautiful gifts from their extended family. It was a quilt for each of them made from shirts their Dad wore. It’s a beautiful way to honor their Dad’s memory.
For me, I allow myself to ride the rollercoaster of feelings and emotions. As I go through my old journals, I get to hear and feel some of those old memories come alive. Some are good and some are bad.
Reach out to friends or family for support
It is important to reach out to your friends and family during this time. They can provide comfort and guidance as you decide whether or not you should attend the funeral. Talking to them can give you a better perspective on the situation. They can also help you make a decision that feels right for you. Even if it’s tough, don’t be afraid to open up about difficult feelings; it will help in the long run.
I can tell you the amount of support we got at first was amazing. But that support began to disappear as the days and months go by after a funeral. When you have children involved, they don’t ever stop feeling that pain. And they need the support of friends and family to continue long after their parent has passed away.
Set boundaries for yourself at the funeral
Regardless of your decision whether or not to attend, it is important to remember that the funeral should be about paying respect for the deceased and offering comfort for their loved ones. When you do go, try to stay away from big groups if possible and stick to friendly yet respectful conversations. Avoid any gossip or sensitive topics such as money or property issues that may have come up during your marriage. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and show respect.
At my ex husbands funeral, there were times I needed to step away. On display on one of the lunch tables I saw his Tinder profile picture. This was the picture he had used for his profile when we were married and I had found him cheating. When I saw it, I had to step away for a few moments, gather myself and then come back. I had to remind myself that this was not the part of him I was going to allow myself to remember today. This was the day I got to remember the good things and the good times. Not that person.
What About Your Current Spouse or Partner?
Another factor to consider is how attending the funeral or being present at the deathbed may affect your current relationships, particularly if you have a new partner or family. It is important to be respectful of their feelings and understand that attending the funeral or being present at the deathbed may cause tension or discomfort for them.
I am so grateful I had a supportive partner at the time my ex passed. He was great to give me the time and space I needed for myself and the kids. I don’t think he understands the complexity of the emotions that we go through all the time, but he is good to step back and allow us our time when he can tell we are struggling. I don’t really expect a lot of people to understand though. It’s a difficult situation.