Anxiety about funeral

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Mrs Ignored

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Anxiety about funeral
« on: July 09, 2018, 07:08:56 PM »
Hello everybody. I have posted on the welcome section, but this is my first proper post on the forum. Posting this, I think, in the hope that you can help me ground myself for my father-in-laws funeral on Friday.

I have an uNarcissistic mom and elder brother, and another older brother who can turn nasty very quickly. Since I was in my early 20s I've kept Low Contact (before I even really knew that was a thing. I just knew I was never made welcome by my family so I mostly stayed away). I tried to make us all a big happy family when me and my husband adopted two children ten years ago, bc I wanted my kids to have an extended family. It was THEN I realised that something was very wrong with them.

My mother in particular was so passive-aggressive, saying little hurtful things about my kids and me, wrapped up in a pretend tone of concern, making sure me and my new family were excluded from family events bc "people wanted to keep the numbers down", having tantrums at Christmas bc she had "too many presents to buy" and so on and so on. Playing her little games. Trying to make me feel uncomfortable and my family second-rate and unimportant.  My brothers treated the addition of their niece and nephew as a non-event. My dad was the only one who went out of his way to make the kids feel welcome.

My dad is now 80 with advanced Parkinsons. Long story, but last year he became too unwell for my mom to continue caring for him, and she dealt with that by abusing my dad, being nasty towards me and my brothers, threatening to kill herself, or faking heart attacks/tumours etc Dad was in and out of hospital, with mom creating as much drama as she could, making it all about HER. A month ago I finally got dad settled in an excellent nursing home, where he is at least free from her abuse. He is barely talking to mom bc of how she treated him, and mom tries to take that out on me bc I got him a the place in the home. Even though that is what she said she wanted. Hey ho.

So since dad has been in his Nursing Home I have been free to visit him, without having to encounter my mom and my two brothers. They are all such difficult people, still trying to treat me like the little girl they could bully, rather than the grown woman I have become. I find them quite pathetic, but this attitude of mine is not welcome and according to my oldest brother is a sign that I am "mentally unwell". I would have been quite happy leaving it at that, visiting my dad, not seeing mom or my brothers, but then...

My FiL got sick. Three months on from being diagnosed with terminal cancer he died, and his funeral is this Friday. I never even considered that my family would come. My in-laws don't live locally and my family don't care about anyone but themselves. But horror! My Mother-in-Law assumed my mother was coming, and my mother did too, and my mother has no way of getting to the funeral without a lift from at least one of my brothers, and so both of them are coming as well as mom.

It's going to be a small funeral, family only, I don't know my husband's extended family that well as they live far away. But me, husband and kids live close by and we are all very emotional here bc my FiL was a truly lovely and funny man, and we are all in shock that a robust, healthy man who had never had a sick day in his life, was taken from us so quickly.

That would be enough to cope with, but now I am having really invasive thoughts about how MY family will act at the funeral. It's like when I used to get ready to go and visit them and I used to imagine all the horrible things they would say, all the criticism I would get, all the eye rolls and sarcastic comments. Only this is going to be my beloved FiLs FUNERAL and I just don't trust they won't be nasty to me. Lovely to everyone one else, but critical towards me.

I intend to be polite, but not spend much time with them, but even as I imagine that, I know I will get criticised for it. I know my mom will expect to be the centre of my attention and that she won't like me grieving with my husband and kids. I can see her now, doing all her stuff, hobbling with her walking stick, acting faint, sitting in a chair like a Queen expecting everyone to come and talk to her. I can see me getting drawn into her self-absorbtion, having to listen to her long-winded complaints, and if I don't, I know I will be punished, either at the funeral or afterwards. My Narc brother will be stressed (mom really stresses him out and he bends over backwards to try and please her, not yet figuring out that you can never please that woman) and will somehow make that my fault. My other brother will deliberately act uncouth bc my husband's family is quite posh. And yet, at the same time, I don't really expect anyone to notice all this but me!

I guess it's just that I am going to be very vulnerable at this funeral, and I hate the idea of those nasty people, who give every impression of hating me, being there. Obviously I don't want to create a scene, but I know I'm going to be emotional.

Help, folks!


 


« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 08:49:30 AM by xredshoesx »

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practical

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Re: Anxiety about funeral
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2018, 08:53:09 PM »
I'm so sorry for your loss.

I intend to be polite, but not spend much time with them, but even as I imagine that, I know I will get criticised for it. I know my mom will expect to be the centre of my attention and that she won't like me grieving with my husband and kids. I can see her now, doing all her stuff, hobbling with her walking stick, acting faint, sitting in a chair like a Queen expecting everyone to come and talk to her. I can see me getting drawn into her self-absorbtion, having to listen to her long-winded complaints, and if I don't, I know I will be punished, either at the funeral or afterwards. My Narc brother will be stressed (mom really stresses him out and he bends over backwards to try and please her, not yet figuring out that you can never please that woman) and will somehow make that my fault. My other brother will deliberately act uncouth bc my husband's family is quite posh. And yet, at the same time, I don't really expect anyone to notice all this but me!
I know these invasive thoughts are unpleasant and upsetting you, why don't you flip the script around and see them as a "gift", because you know what to expect and can prepare accordingly. You know your M is going to act as a drama queen, your B's might go off, and you have no way of pleasing her or them. So, why don't you focus on yourself, your DH and kids, MIL, which is where your focus belongs? You'll never spend enough time with your M, so whether it is a minute or an hour doesn't matter. She will criticize you whatever you do, so better do what you want to do. I would do the absolute minimum as far as interacting with your FOO goes, a polite "Hello, thank you for coming" might be all and then go back to your FOC. This isn't about them, even if they will try to make it though, and ignoring them or setting clear boundaries is what I would do. And if they do make an actual scene, politely ask them to leave and walk away.

You'll be okay!
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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spring13

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Re: Anxiety about funeral
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 04:14:21 PM »
I'm so sorry you lost your beloved FIL.

I think practical is right. I know it's very difficult to separate ourselves from our PD parents/families' expectations, but you really don't owe her anything. You are there to support your husband, your kids, and your in-laws. You can briefly greet your family, but then say you need to go help your husband. If they decide to get upset or act horrible, that is on them. You are doing nothing wrong.

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Mrs Ignored

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Re: Anxiety about funeral
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 05:09:30 PM »
Thank you both for your kind replies, which I've read a few times just to try and balance out my thoughts. These flash-forwards (as opposed to flashbacks) have actually made me feel ill today. I am more at peace with my FiLs passing then I am with being in the company of my own family. What does that tell you?

Thanks again both xx

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practical

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Re: Anxiety about funeral
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 05:29:19 PM »
Do you practice any form of mindfulness by any chance? Have you ever done breathing exercises to relax, calm down, regain your center? These might help you. Not sure I get this right, I think it was WomanInterrupted who said if you count backwards from 10 (or any number of your choosing) while focusing on your breath these thoughts will at least get interrupted as our mind cannot do both at the same time.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Mrs Ignored

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Re: Anxiety about funeral
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2018, 09:25:52 PM »
Thank you Practical, I used to practice mindfullnes, for many years in fact, but it fell by the way in the chaos of life. So much tragedy has befallen my family in the last year that I feel totally off-kilter. I've been so busy seeing to others needs that I forgot all about self-care. I will try the breathing and the counting, thank you, and hope it helps me sleep better tonight.

I have had a text from my brother tonight, the one who said I was "mentally ill" when I stood up for myself and told me to stop contacting him. He's asking how me and my family are doing. My nature is to rush in, forgive and forget, and write a welcoming reply. But instinct is telling me that his text is more about HIS guilt at his treatment of me, rather than any genuine concern.

He knows full-well what I have been through this past twelve months and his nastiness towards me when I reached out for help has somewhat spoilt the 'nice boy' persona he is so fond of putting on. I fear he's just trying to soothe his own ego and it feels a little like a trap. I don't know yet if and how I will respond.

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daughter

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Re: Anxiety about funeral
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2018, 11:33:04 AM »
Is your MIL aware of your relative estrangement from your FOO Family?  Does she know that they are difficult people who have been unkind to you?  If so, if it were me (and I've done this relative to my own MIL), I'd preemptively alert her, meaning caution and apologize in advance, for my FOO Family's anticipated inappropriate behavior and expectations at said funeral-related events.  And if MIL isn't aware of their bad behavior (and showboating) tendencies, then DH and/or you should warn her and DH's siblings, in a "we've no control over them, but we're concerned that they may behave inappropriately here" notice.  And then, if they do in fact attend, I'd NOT pay much attention to them, beyond a polite greeting and farewell, and bluntly state that you're "devoting your time to DH and family's grieving".  And then do so, perhaps setting for yourself a new standard of IGNORING their baiting, backbiting, and hoovering of FOO SG you.

Accept that they will criticize you anyways, no matter what you or others do.  Accept it, redirect your anxious thoughts regarding this by reminding yourself that their opinions can no longer hurt you nor affect you, because you're consciously rejecting them.  You already understand them, seem to be OOTF, and now need to practice the gentle art of minimizing their negative impact upon you.  Ignore your mother's antics.  Even if she "faints", even as she otherwise showboats to draw attention to herself.  It seems she has little to no genuine relationship with your in-laws, and her presence is likely odd, given those circumstances.  But most folks have their own Queen Bee relatives, and can recognize it as an individual behaving badly. Your FOO's bad behavior really won't be a poor reflection upon you, but it often feels that way, because we're especially sensitive to it.

What I'm recommending is what I've had to do myself, for my own FIL's funeral, for my maternal aunt's funeral too.  Even though my NBM "banished" my wonderful SG aunt and her family many years ago, even though rigidly enforcing Silent Treatment upon entire family, even though my parents always spoke hatefully about my aunt and her family, my parents nonetheless chose to attend my aunt's funeral.  Yes, "queen bee" NBM showboating, again, supposedly mourning loss of her hated sister.  How hypocritical.  How unkind for my cousins, also banished, to see them there, acting bereaved for their few remaining mutual friends.  And yes, I apologized of my parents' attendance, both before, in anticipation, and after, having witnessed it myself.  And I avoided any face-to-face contact whatsoever with my estranged parents at funeral.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 11:46:25 AM by daughter »

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practical

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Re: Anxiety about funeral
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2018, 12:59:48 PM »
As for your B, the only danger there really is, is in letting your guard down. Handle him with Medium Chill, polite but non-committal and don't expect any real kindness, support from him or an apology. If he asks how you are doing: "thank you for asking, I'm feeling according to circumstances", if he wants to talk to you "Let's catch up another time, I want get back to my MIL/DH/..." and so on. It isn't your job to make him feel better or comfortable or whatever it is he is looking for, so keep it calm and steady and solid MC.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)