View Poll Results: Should FIL's ex-wife attend the funeral?
Yes. She was his wife and had 3 of his kids. 37 57.81%
No. The last thing he wants is drama at his funeral. 9 14.06%
Stay out of it. MIL will do what she wants, don't get involved in the debate. 17 26.56%
Other 1 1.56%
Voters: 64. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-26-2010, 07:01 PM   #1
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Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife? (update: post #24)

Background:

37 years ago my FIL left his wife and two sons to move in with his mistress. Six months later he's living with his girlfriend, but has a one-night stand with his ex-wife...and creates my future husband. About the time DH is born, FIL marries his girlfriend and they have two kids right away.

So, in a span of 4 years FIL goes from married with two kids, to re-married with 5 kids. For reference, the kids ages at that point are 16, 13, 3 with his first wife, and 2 and 1 with his second wife.

He's a great husband/dad to his second family, but barely sees his other three kids for the next two decades. Eventually he tells them he's sorry for not being around more and they establish a tenuous relationship.

2 years ago, FIL is diagnosed with prostate cancer. We're told it's really common and is rarely deadly. He continues to see the doctor, but we're told it's not a big deal. 2 weeks ago we get an email. Apparently, the cancer has been spreading and he's down to his last options. There's a photo attached of FIL with his most recent grandchild...when DH opens it he is visibly startled and says "he looks like death!". FIL is gaunt, white, and weak and we begin to wonder if he'll be around for DD2's first birthday this fall.

Then, tonight DH gets a call from his mom. She wants to go to the funeral. They were married for 15 years....37 years ago. FIL's second family really dislikes his first wife. It's almost like they see her as a "third wheel" in the family....as if there's room for more siblings, but the role of mom is already filled.

There are no hard feelings among the kids and they call each other brother/sister (no step- or half-), so when FIL dies they'll all be there together with step-MIL. I honestly think this is the problem. MIL is super into her "rights" and "position" and I think she loathes the idea of her 3 kids there with step-MIL. I seriously think she'd love to see herself and her three boys at one end of the coffin and "the second family" at the other end of the coffin.

Oh, MIL was remarried once for 2 years, 20 years ago, but has really never moved on from FIL. She attends divorce care at church (37 years after the fact) and last year she started wearing the necklace FIL gave her for their wedding. She's also said a few things that have made me think that she has spent the past 37 years resenting the second wife and feeling like she "stole" the life MIL was supposed to have.

So...do you think she should go to the funeral, or stay home?

ETA: I think "yes, she was his wife and had 3 of his kids" and DH thinks "no, the last thing he wants is drama at his funeral"

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Last edited by ChocolateMoose; 05-27-2010 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:04 PM   #2
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

I think that if she can go and not cause a scene then she should go.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:05 PM   #3
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

I think she should do whatever she wants. I don't know why anyone else would have the right to tell her how to grieve. The only exception would be if the family was having a private service and choose not to invite her.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:06 PM   #4
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

I think she has every right to feel cheated out of the life she was supposed to have. Wouldn't you? 37 years is a little long to have not moved on, but I would feel that way if I were in her situation. As for the funeral I have no idea what to tell you, but just wanted to say that I would feel cheated too.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:07 PM   #5
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

If she's going to have closure (which she clearly needs IMO), then I think she should be able to go. If she's going to stir up trouble, which maybe(?) she is... then its best she stays at home. That's a tough one. And I'm sorry for your loss to be. But, miracles can happen, hang in there! Since he's still here, would it be totally weird to ask him if he'd want her there? .... yeah I guess that'd be weird, huh? Sorry mama.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:11 PM   #6
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

I think it should be HER choice to attend the funeral of the father of her children as long as She is civil..... However it sounds like the 2nd wife is bound and determined to start some trouble?(Please correct me if Im wrong on that one?) I don't know why it should cause an Issue?
I know that if the Father of My first Child Died I would be there Even though He is married to another for OUR child and to have my own piece of mind.... I am Almost Positive her family would throw the biggest tantrum you've ever seen but I wouldn't be there for HER I would be there to say Good bye in my own way....
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:12 PM   #7
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmae00 View Post
I think she has every right to feel cheated out of the life she was supposed to have. Wouldn't you? 37 years is a little long to have not moved on, but I would feel that way if I were in her situation. As for the funeral I have no idea what to tell you, but just wanted to say that I would feel cheated too.
No kidding! I would feel just like she does! Sounds like she's being villified when it's your FIL who was the one at fault!
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:20 PM   #8
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

I'm a little torn on this issue. I think on one hand, she was, at one point, important in his life (even if it was eons ago), so based on that, she would be justified in attending the funeral. On the other hand, though, I would pitch a HUGE fit if my husband's first wife thought she'd show up to ANYTHING pertaining to my husband (to include his funeral if I'm still alive at that point.) Of course, they had no kids together, so it's a bit of a different situation, but even so, I can totally see where the 2nd family is coming from. There are just places and functions that the first wife doesn't belong, especially if her last involvement with this man was several decades ago. Simply put, if it were me, I wouldn't invite her to my wedding, and I wouldn't want her at a funeral any more.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:27 PM   #9
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeste View Post
No kidding! I would feel just like she does! Sounds like she's being villified when it's your FIL who was the one at fault!
See, this is where I'm torn.

I absolutely agree that FIL was wrong. But I also think that MIL should have moved on sometime in the past 37 years. After all, the best revenge is a life well-lived!

My own parents have a similar story and I see my Dad and FIL perfectly happy in their "new" lives....and my mom and MIL miserable because they are still so obsessed with what "could have been" that they never moved on. It's so frustrating to see these women wasting their lives on the past when they should be creating a present and future!

If MIL was living a happy, fufilled life then no one would question her attending the funeral. But, she's not, and the concern is that she would make some kind of grand "final" scene that would just make the funeral even harder for everyone!
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:32 PM   #10
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Re: Funeral Etiquette: The Ex-Wife?

My dad was married before he got married to my mom. When him and my mom got married they were still close with his exwife and did things together. Years went on and they never spoke anymore but not because they hated each other. My dad's exwife never remarried. Anyways when she died a few years ago my dad went to the funeral. I think my mom might have to. This situation is a little differant though.

I think if she isn't going to cause drama and just wants closure then she should go.
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