Funeral plans or lack thereof

My brother-in-law is laying in a hospital dying as I type this. He is both an atheist and a very private man. He made it clear that he not only didn’t wish to have a religious service, but doesn’t wish to have a funeral of any kind. Rather, the family will have a party to celebrate his life at some point in the near future. I respect this, however …

His mother is deeply religious. She’s already been asked not to read scripture or pray aloud in his hospital room. She was deeply hurt. Yesterday, as he took a turn for the worse, she became hysterical. This was more than my nieces could handle, so my husband and I took her to the hospital chapel.

He will probably pass away today. And tomorrow or the next day, we will drive her back home (five hours from here). Given her age and health, it’s not very likely that she’ll be able to return for the party. And, even if she could, it won’t be the sort of event that an elderly lady would attend.

As an agnostic, I understand my brother-in-law’s wishes. As a compassionate human, I feel deeply for his mother. I feel that she is being denied the ritual she needs in order to gain some sort of closure.

Surely there was a better way to handle this?

Posted: February 11th 2013

George Locke

Funerals are for the living to honor and remember the dead. Your brother-in-law’s wishes are important to consider, but surely the concerns of his survivors are at least as important. I’d go ahead with the party and let your mother-in-law have the funeral she seems to need, but let it be a smaller, quiet affair.

Posted: April 8th 2013

See all questions answered by George Locke

Blaise www

There is. Your relative doesn’t want to be harassed in his final hours, and he has every right to expect that those wishes be honored. He even has the right to ask that he not be given a religious funeral. However, his mother has every right to mourn his passing in her own way. If she wants to hold a religious ceremony, that is between her, her beliefs, and her respect for her son’s wishes.

So why not ask her what she wants to do?

Posted: April 8th 2013

See all questions answered by Blaise


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