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Separate memorial services?

Posted by PaigeCT (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 20, 05 at 19:33

My grandmother died this morning. Thankfully, we were all able to see her in her last days and even though she couldn't communicate, she knew we were there. She was surrounded by her children and her passing was very peaceful.

Unfortunately, the situation I spoke of in a recent post has worsened dramatically since this morning. It seems that a relative has done some very dodgy things which means there may be a long road to hoe legally. It's very unfortunate that this has become the focus so soon after her passing, but what was done was so far beyond the pale that there will be a permanent family rift, regardless of the legal outcome.

I really don't understand how some people can live with themselves.

In any case, there remains the issue of a memorial service. My grandmother will be cremated, and there won't be a wake or a traditional funeral - - just a service. I simply can't bear the thought of being in the room with this other relative. I don't trust myself to be near her and keep my composure. The same goes for the rest of my family. So what to do? Have our own separate memorial service? And who to invite to each service? Invite everyone to the one we plan, and allow people to decide which to attend? I can't bear the thought of not commemorating this somehow. But I also can't bear the thought of sharing space with this other person and then watching this person play the self-sacrificing martyr in front of everyone. Any ideas/wisdom?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Separate memorial services?

You want my honest opinion? Honest?

Grin (or weep) and bear it. Yeah, it's a pain, but it's the adult way to do things. One service, everyone invited, be charming and polite to everyone. Once it's over, that's another story.


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So sorry to hear about your grandmother. Mine died in 1972 and I still miss her.

I agree with Helene, just have one service. You can take the high ground on this one, be polite and cordial, and you will never regret it. If this other person behaves badly, so much the better for you.

Once the service is over, haul their ass into court ASAP and generally make life a living hell!

Good luck.


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Fairegold, of course I want honest opinions! I know better than to post here otherwise. That's the reason I value this board - - on issues like this, we tell it like it is even when the poster is having trouble dealing with it.

I'm sure you're right that taking the high road is the way to go. I just don't know if I can do it.


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Paige, if there's one thing I've learned about you here, it's that you can do it. Take the high road -- it's who you are.

I'm so sorry for your loss...you'll be in my thoughts often.

Susan


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I understand so completely. Unless one of my eldest brothers makes it out here before Mother dies (better hurry, she's almost 96 and very frail), I will never ever see them again in my life, except if I run into one of them in an airport somewhere. Or maybe I can run OVER them in the parking lot.

But if one of them showed up, or even worse, their wives came along, I would have to grit my teeth and be polite. But know what? We'll live. Barb said it well, take the high ground and you will never regret it. Try to exclude anyone, and you will hear about it forever. Believe me on this one..... you get to court, or whatever, and the other party will say, why, they even didn't invite ME to the ceremony.

If it hurts too bad, you are excused to leave the service in the middle, just sit by an exit. Everyone will think that you were just overcome by grief. But show up and be nice.

You can do it. I know you can. Only this once. You can have a drink, or whatever vice you want to indulge, afterwards. Then you are in the clear.

And I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. May you always have wonderful memories in your heart.


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Paige, I'm so sorry to hear of your grandmother's passing.
I second what Fairegold and Garden of Darwin have said. Just keep telling yourself that in 24 hours it will be all over and in the past. You're definately a take-the-high-road kind of person, and I know you can not only do this, but you can handle it with style and grace. Think of it as a gesture of love for your grandmother.
(((Hugs)))


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Paige, I'm so sorry for your loss.

Like everyone else, I know you can do it. Your grandmother would be proud, and you'll be proud of yourself, for taking the high road.


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Paige, I am so sorry for your loss. I'm sure that some of the composure and compassion you've shown in this situation can be traced back to your grandmother.

I agree with the other posters, grin and bear it, just as you have at the nursing home. However, I know how physically and mentally exhausting that will be, especially added to your grief. One idea, I don't have first hand experience with, but have seen it recommended in magazines, is to write a letter of what you would want to say to this relative. Don't send it, just write. That is supposed to help get it out of your system and still allow you to take the high road. Might be worth a try.

In the meantime, take care of yourself, it's all too easy in times like this to lose sleep and get run down. Carry a piece of your grandmother with you always - then she can live on through the generations. Take care.


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Paige, please don't get upset, I'm only telling you what I think. I think you should be the bigger person and the grown up and gracefully sit through your grandmother's service, with this person there. No separate service. You can do this. You can rise above it. Don't let the wench get you down or remotely affect who you really are.

I'm sorry for your loss.....

Ivette


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Paige I am so sorry to hear this news. I remember the other thread. I had to face a decision when my Mom passed early this year and one of the best things anyone said to me was "no regrets." Later, when you are less shaken by the loss, you should not look back and be sorry you didn't go. I think you are getting good advice here. Let the ones who have done wrong exclude themselves. Stay strong. (((hug)))


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Paige, I agree with the others. Bring a bullet to bite on if you have to. The high roads hurts but you will be better for it, and like everyone else I know you can do it. And think of what a fine example you will be to your son.

Paige, I am so sorry that this got so complex and muddied the memories of your grandmother's last months. Hang in there. We will all be thinking of you.


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Paige, so sorry to hear of your loss. There is nothing worse than a difficult situation made more difficult by others' bad behavior. I agree with the advice you have gotten already. You can hold your head up knowing you have taken the high road. If you feel the need, you can always gather a smaller group for a brunch to share memories of your grandmother at another time, so you get a more intimate mourning situation without the "politics" of the memorial service.


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Oh Paige, I am so sorry for your loss. This is a sad day. I know that you were close to and very fond of your grandmother. I knew that she was ill but I had no idea that she was so close to the end. My sympathies to you and your family. I hope you have good memories of her. I'm also glad that she passed away peacefully.

As for the other, your service is for the memory of your grandmother. Have one service where everyone can remember her. Invite the other family and remember your grandmother, not the attendants. Fairegold is right; if you create any confusion about or at the funeral service, you'll hear about it forever.

My sincere sympathies for your loss. A hug to your son who was so lucky to have known and had memories of his great grandmother.


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Paige,
My deepest sympathies on the loss of your dear grandmother. I have to agree with the others, too ~ get yourself and DS through the service, recharge emotionally and then deal with the wicked one. Please take care!


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Of course, you are all right. Thank you for your support and for the collective reality check.

We'll have to see what happens with the other party. It's been left up to her to plan the service, so it's very possible we won't even be informed of the time/place. In which case, we will do something private.

This is DS' first experience with death in the family. He knew my grandmother fairly well but I wouldn't say they were very close. Yet he's having trouble sleeping at night and he seems to want lots of extra quiet time with me, which of course I've been accommodating. I think the concept is hard to absorb and very scary for him. We had a nice long talk last night when he couldn't sleep and I'm hoping that helped.


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Please accept my Sincere Sympathy at the loss of your Grandmother. I will never understand why death and dying brings out the worst in people yet it is so common. I hope you are informed and honor your grandmother at the memorial service.


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Paige, I'm so sorry for you. As much as it's a "part of life" and all that, it still stinks to have to lose people. It really does. Especially around the holidays. Hang in there.

As far as difficult people at the service, we had to deal with some of that too when my FIL died this year. I was SO overwrought about it. THankfully, our "EGR" family member (extra grace required) found other people besides us to "corner" and dump upon. Often even the funeral workers. Since there were so many folks there, her venom didn't have as much sting, as she was able to spread it out over "new ears". It was sad to watch, but it was easier to deal with than I expected.


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Paige, I am so glad you were able to spend a bit of time with your grandmother before she died. That is a blessing to hang on to. I also agree with the majority - for her, you can get through this. As reno_fan says, you might be in the same room, but you might not have spend time "with" them.

I have a friend whose father died recently. His daughters and his second wife did not get along well at all. I believe that they had one service, but I know they sat Shiva separately.

You could do the memorial service together, and have the rest of the family, or your friends, gather separately afterwards.

more ((((hugs))))


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O Paige,
How very difficult. I am so terribly sorry about your Grandmother.

I agree with all above about handling the funeral ordeal. Lots of deep breathing-- focus on your son and other dear members of your family and you'll get through it. You really will.


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(((Paige))))

Deepest sympathies to you and your family. May she rest in peace.


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Paige, my heartfelt sympathies to you and your family. Your grandmother would be proud of you for doing the (difficult) right thing at the memorial service.


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Thank you all. I really appreciate the support. I think the anger is wearing off and the grief is setting in. I just hope my father is able to find a way to make peace with all of this.


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((((Paige)))), coming in late to this...of course I agree with the wise folks here...it is SO hard, though, I know. Maybe you can focus on helping your *father*, being there for him the way he's been there for you. As well as being *there* as a Mommy to your son. Both of those are *way* more important in the long run than whatever some other messed-up relative is doing. Block that relative out of your awareness if need be, and focus on those you love. Just know you'll have us all to come back and lean on.


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Paige, my sympathies on the passing of your grandmother. I too have been following your trials regarding family members. It was good you were able to see your GM at the end.

I would have to agree with the above posters. One service, with dignity. Even if you have to pretend some family members are just strangers from another planet, just be polite and go on.

When my ex-husband was in his last days, it got pretty ugly amongst the ex/current girlfriends to the point that one was even barred from his home. There was talk about separate memorial services, and fighting about who would get his ashes. I finally called up all the factions and told them it was a good thing he was cremated, otherwise they'd have to decide who would get his leg, his arm, his head. Gruesome but it got the point across. From that point, people dealt with their problems privately and the service was dignified and what was deserving for a kind man who lived his life without malice.

When it's all over, go to a place where you sense a bond with your grandmother and say your goodbyes there. You won't regret it.


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Paige, so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I have no wisdom to add beyond that already expressed by the other good folk on this forum. Be graceful. It's one final gift of love for your grandmother.


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Paige, I'm so sorry for your loss, but happy that she had the family around on her final journey.

I agree with everyone...you have to bite the bullet for this one. It's not easy, and trust me, I know exactly how you feel. I had a similar experience this past summer. Once the service is over, you can concentrate on the other issues and in the future hopefully NEVER have to see this person again.


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Well, apparently there isn't going to be a service. My grandmother is being cremated and then they are going to bury her in the Spring, but the wicked relative has no service planned, according to her anyway. So we will have to do something on our own. We will invite her to whatever we arrange.


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Bravo for you, Paige! Very very good! You are going exactly the right thing.

Hugs,
Helene


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How come this relative gets to make the decision about burial? Did I miss something Paige? And they haven't made any arrangements for a Memorial Service??? That's wicked, truly wicked. But I'm glad you're going to be bigger and better about the whole thing by inviting this wicked relative. Hopefully she won't show up :-).


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So sorry for your loss, Paige. I am also very sorry that you have been placed in this predicament by an evil relative. I very much admire your strength and the fact that you are able to follow the wonderful advice on this thread. It must be so difficult to feel manipulated by this horrid woman, yet I think you are showing the world, and more importantly, your son, what it means to be a person of integrity and honor.

However, I do hope karma takes a nice bite out of her fanny. The sooner, the better.


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MT, it's a long story that I can't get into in a public forum. She is carrying out the wishes of my grandmother re: cremation and burial. But I know my grandmother wanted a service, so we will have to patch one together. We don't have the phone books so we have limited means of contacting my grandmother's friends in the neighborhood and such. We do have the number of one special friend, so hopefully we can spread the word through him.

The worst part of this is that it has become apparent that my grandmother died, or at least spent her last weeks, thinking that my whole family (and really, everyone except evil relative) was out to get her. Had she been in her right mind she would have known better. What this must be doing to my father I just can't imagine.


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Paige:

Can you plant a tree on your land in memory of your grandmother? Perhaps you can create your own very private service, just you and your DH, and spend an evening looking at pictures, remembering great times together, and reflecting on who your grandmother was to you. Perhaps writing would help as well. This way, you can continue the grieving process on your own terms and create a fitting memorial for your grandmother and that you did what you could to remember her in the way your grandmother deserved. You can even invite those closest to you for an evening together. By the way, where is your mother/father in all of this? I'm sorry that your grandmother died, grandmothers tend to leave a really big hole after there gone.


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I'm sorry for your loss, Paige.
I'm going to be lone voice of decent based on personal experience.
When my Great Aunt died, there was huge rift between my cousins. Family members took sides, literally, the eldest cousin the funeral parlour rope off down the middle. It was bizarre and uncomfortable.


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I'm so sorry this has been such an ordeal for you, it makes it even harder.

Both of my parents were cremated and we had a service for each of them. My dad was very firm on that point, he hated going to funerals where his friend was laid out in an open casket.

We had my mother's service about two weeks after she died, and my father's about a week after he died. They lived in Maryland (we all do), but the "family plot" is in Falmouth, Maine. I had their remains on my hearth for a few months (actually pretty comforting) until we had an internment in Maine in the summer. It worked well for the family, too, a lot of relatives on both sides of family were able to come to the cemetery, and then we all had lunch together after the (very informal) graveside service.

Take a deep breath and plan a nice service of remembrance, it will mean a lot to your father, and to you and your DS.


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Well, it's been a week and no service is in the works. It's not up to me to plan, I can only encourage my dad. He seems to be waiting to hear from his sister, which may never happen. They had originally discussed holding a service the weekend after New Year's weekend, to make it more convenient for everyone, but now that they aren't speaking and she hasn't responded to his latest message, everything is in limbo.

I have to say, putting off the service until it's convenient for everyone seems to be the thing to do these days, but I really don't like it. It leaves all of the feelings left unresolved imo. In the past three years, the people I know who have had relatives pass have put off the service for a few months or even a year so that everyone in the family could attend and it was at a nice time of year, or whatever. In effect, they are scheduling their grieving time.

I think the Jewish way of dealing with death and grieving is commendable. The funeral is held within 24 (or, at most, 48) hours, and then the immediate family sits shivah (sp?) for several days. I think that is a very healthy way of dealing with the grieving process.


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Honey, why can't you plan it? It may be too overwhelming for your dad, especially since he's effectively lost his mother and his sister in one fell swoop. He may be stepping back and needing his (child/ren) to be the adult(s) right now. Ask him if he would like you to plan it with his input- he can say no if he doesn't.

When my dad's sister died, leaving him the last living member of his family, he was paralyzed with inertia. Rather than go through her belongings, sell her home and deal with it all, he signed over any and all interest he had in her estate to my brother and me, and had us do it. It would not have been done at all otherwise, we knew that.

You're right- tradition gives us a guidebook of sorts when we're in unfamiliar territory.


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Oh Paige, I'm so sorry that this just keeps on being awkward and frustrating for you and your dad, along with being sad.

Planning a memorial can be very easy and fairly effortless if the right resourses are available. I had a boss once who unexpectedly passed away, and his wife conducted an informal memorial for him at a small little meeting facility. She had a few light orderves, and since he was a wine collector, she opened up several bottles of his favorite wines to share. I think she had his brother to kind of officiate, and folks were invited to stand and share stories for a short time. Afterwards, we all mingled around, chatting about how we knew him (he was very well liked - there were a lot of great stories), and looking at some photos that his wife had brought and laid out. I was very impressed with it all, as it was the first time I ever left a service for someone with a kind of warm glow, vs. being depressed or sad.

I would suggest going ahead and taking the reigns on this one Paige...if your'e OK with doing that. Men aren't typically good planners to begin with bless their hearts, and this being your dad's sister makes it even worse for him. This will take a load off of his mind, and bring things to a close for others.

Is there a Costco nearby? You could walk in there and come out with everything you needed for a memorial buffet. When I planned my Uncle's for my Aunt, that's what I did. It worked out beautifully. We had a ton of food left over, but it didn't matter, what was important was that I didn't have to spend time prepping platters, and could spend it with my Aunt who was grief-stricken.

Do either you or your dad have space in your yard for a small memorial garden? It might be nice to have folks over for a memorial to your or your dad's house, and have a small area for them to plant little flowers that will bloom in the spring?

When you invite people, ask them to bring photos of your grandmother if they have them. It's always nice to be able to look back on someone's life and remember happy days at at time like this.

You can do this Paige - set a date and if folks can make it, fine, if they can't, they can't. You will always feel good that you helped your dad remember his sister and your grandmother.

(((Huggs)))


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Sorry if I was unclear, Paige. If your aunt isn't speaking to her brother (your dad), she's not emotionally available and he's been abandoned by a sibling- that's what I mean about him 'losing' a mother and sister at the same time.

I'm so sorry about your loss and your family's situation.


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Thanks so much for the continued support and suggestions.

I talked to Dad today. He is, predictably, overwhelmed with the details, and also wants to give his sister "more time." It's not my place to interfere with that aspect of things, but I did offer to handle the details if his sister doesn't step in.

My sister called me crying today because she also feels like we need to do something to have some closure. Hopefully this will be decided in the next few days.


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Oh, Paige, I'm not sure how I missed this thread.

I'm so sorry for your loss and everything that has surrounded it. It's so sad when things like this happen in families.

Grieving is difficult enough without having to deal with all the other things you're going through.

You do need closure. I didn't understand that fully until I lost each of my parents (two very different grieving processes).

Hopefully you will hear something in the next few days. Maybe you and a few of your close family members who are also being reasonable can get together for a small gathering just to go through some pictures and remember her in your own way? I think that would help. It doesn't have to be anything formal or an official memorial, just a get together...heck, even order Chinese or her favorite type of food and just be together to remember her.

Just a suggestion for the immediate future.

In the meantime, I'll be thinking of you and hoping She will come to her senses.


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Oh Paige, I have nothing more to add except that I am aching for you. You are so smart and reasonable; just follow your gut and slog through this. Keep us posted.


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Paige, my deepest sympathy to you and yours. I can only imagine the agony you're going through.

Personally, if it were my grandmother, I would call your aunt and say something like, "Aunt B. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I can imagine how you must feel. This has to be so very hard on you. I know the entire family is torn up. We all want to have a memorial service to honor your mother and our grandmother. If you're not up to handling the arrangements, then I will. People are grieving and this will give everyone an opportunity to heal. No one wants to argue, but putting off this agony is not going to help anyone. Dealing with her death head and now is the kindest, most honorable action we can make as a family. Would you please let me handle a memorial service? You won't have to do a thing." If she sayd something like, "I don't need a service. You or anyone else didn't care about her." Well, then, IGNORE HER WORDS, just comment that, "I'm doing this for Dad and the family. I will let you know what we're going to do." THEN, do it.

I would not let her rob you of this oppotunity to grieve and heal. This is NOT about your aunt. This is about an opportunity for EVERYONE that loved and cherished your grandmother to honor her and celebrate her life. Don't settle for anything less or try to reason with someone that has an ax to grind and emotional rot-gut like your aunt.

Keeping your mouth shut at this time is not the right thing to do. Ignoring a wrong, puts you in the wrong, too. Saying the right words, with the right tone, then doing the right thing at the right time, IS the POSITIVE, HEALING ACTION YOUR FAMILY NEEDS. Your family will also see you as the healer and peacemaker. No judge, jury, or spiteful aunt can find you at fault. You give your aunt an opportunity to run with it, or grab the reigns from her hands. I wouldn't even give her an hour to make a decision. If you hear her deny doing anything with your own ears, then you will make a sound choice. Don't wait until the spring. You don't need ashes to honor your grandmother.

Sometimes, you only get one chance in life to do the right thing. Now is that time. Don't look for your Dad's approval right now. Just do it.

And remember: One day, EVERY knee will bow. Even your aunt's.

Blessed are the peacemakers.


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So sorry for your loss. I agree that there needs to be some kind of ceremony to mark it.

Just do it.


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Paige, My deepest sympathy to you and your family. I can only say that you have gotten some very good advice from the posters here. Stay strong!

(((Paige)))


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Lori, I'm so sorry about the loss of both of your parents. I can't even begin to contemplate what that must be like.

Sharon G, thanks for the compliment. It's nice to hear someone say that I'm being reasonable when I'm being accused by *others* of having unseemly motives!

Sheri, I decided to let my dad take the lead, because it's his role to play. He's the oldest of his siblings and the one that "gets things done", and if I usurp that role too much (even though it's mine in my generation of siblings), it will bruise his ego. He's had enough of that lately. But I did light a fire under him in my own way, and thankfully, it did get done.

Thanks Ellene. I know you are going through a difficult time of your own. My thoughts continue to be with you and your family.

And riverrat, you're back on kitchens! Thanks for your sympathies, it really does mean a lot.

I have a whole new philosophy about sympathy cards now. I admit, I haven't been so good about that in the past, but the ones I got IRL and the people who chimed in here really do mean a lot.

My dad did finally get in touch with his sister and they settled on a date for the memorial, so I feel much better. I am helping with some discreet details and the rest is up to them. I'm just so glad we will be able to do this, as I know it is what my grandmother would have wanted (should she have been in her right mind). When the memorial is over, the lawyers can duke it out.

Big sigh of relief! Now let's hope this goes off without a scene . . .


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Paige, I am so glad that your Dad is able/capable/willing to talk and deal with his sister. I couldn't tell if that was so when I read all of this last night.

My brother committed suicide when I was living abroad almost 7 years ago now. We were in the middle of adopting a 6 year old in a foreign country and I could not return for the funeral. Had I left Korea, she couldn't have come with me and would have had to go back to the orphanage. There is no way she would have understood. So, I had to grieve alone.

As it turned out, there was no funeral! My parents were too embarrassed and had my brother cremated. Finally, they decided to do a memorial service and the woman pastor told my parents that if someone commits suicide they went to hell. My brother was a Spirit filled, full Gospel believing Christian that was very depressed and sick. It was a good thing I wasn't state side or I could have slapped a pastor silly. It was just horrible to know what that ninny did to my parents psychologically and emotionally all because she was a 'pastor.' I called this pastor and had it out spiritually with her. She went back to my parents and asked to see his Bible. After viewing his Bible, she 'declared him righteous' because only someone seeking God would have highlighted certain passages; so now she tried to back peddle my brother out of hell to my parents.

I heard the memorial service was very different. I requested that it be audio taped, but ala, the tape machine 'broke'.

I'm still irritated when I think about it all. I can sincerely empathize at your struggles with family. I have just had to be very careful of not engaging in commenting one way or another. I've had very little to say to my parents or siblings about the matter. He's gone.

I have the best end of the deal. I am the adoptive mother to my brother's son. My brother chose us to be his child's parents at birth, 14 years ago. I just keep focus on the gift I've been given. It's the only peace I have though life.

I hope you have some personal peace over this whole situation and am praying that right is done concerning your grandmother's estate. It's shameful what a crafy manipulator can accomplish when a loved one's health is on the decline and they're scared and emotionally dependent.

I'm hoping that all manipulations are exposed and expunged. What goes around, comes around.

Here is a link that might be useful: My kiddos now


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RE: Separate memorial services?

Paige, I hope you, your dad, your son and other family members can find comfort in finally having closure. I just know your grandmother would be pleased.


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