It'd be "uncomfortable" to attend the memorial

My wife and I recently suffered a miscarriage. A very kind priest is coming over our house this weekend for a memorial Mass. My wife’s family is coming, my parents are coming, but my sisters are not. I had conversations with both of them last night and am still somewhat in shock by their logic - they’d never heard of anything being held for an unborn baby before, so, while they support me (one sent a card, the other lit a candle), it would be “uncomfortable” for them to be there and I need to respect that. I told them that my child is dead, and this is one of those times they need to suck it up and be uncomfortable for 45 minutes for my sake, but it seems like its falling on deaf ears. Neither are religious, and while they claim they believe life begins at conception, they think only really devout people would do something like this, and so they don’t feel comfortable doing it. One of them is still bitter about being told she would not be a godmother to my children 2 yrs ago, and angrily told me that it seemed unfair she was not “good enough” to be a godmother but was expected to do this. I told her it was apples and oranges, if a Muslim friend lost his baby, I’d attend the ceremony, though I’m certainly not qualified to be a Muslim teacher. She disagreed.

I don’t even know what to say, not sure what is going to happen to us, because I can’t see my relationship with either easily getting over this. I want to be a Christian and show forgiveness, but this really hurts, and I feel like I’m going to feel resentful going forward when they’re at my house playing with their born nephew and smiling and having fun. They are my sisters and I will always love them, but they really feel like fair-weather family. Please, pray for me and, if you can, offer any guidance you have.

I am so sorry for your loss. You are going through an incredibly painful time. I think that now you need to take care of yourself. You don’t need to make any longterm decisions about your relationship with your sisters right now; you can allow yourself to be hurt, and to grieve.

Longterm: After the feelings become a little less acute, try very hard not to be bitter toward your sisters. I saw the fruits of bitterness in my mom, who was angry that my father’s family wouldn’t visit him while he was dying in the hospital. Her bitterness helped cripple her.

May God begin to work in you and give you comfort.

Right now, emotions are running high. I would get through this event and then see what can be done about your relationship with your sisters later. Take care of yourself and your family. PS- It isn’t even remotely uncommon to have some sort of funeral for a child that dies pre-birth. My sister, who is very anti-religion, had a funeral for her little girl when they lost her and every enlightened athiest within 30 miles flocked to the park to support her. THe loss of a child is a universal form of suffering.

I am so sorry for your loss. As others say, don’t make projections about future relationships with sisters.

Focus on honoring your child and mourning this tragic loss.

There are so many possible reasons for other’s reactions, try not to make them your own.

Some people never attend funerals or memorials because of their own inability or discomfort with mortality, fear of what to say to the family, etc etc. They are unable to get past themselves. It truly has nothing to do with you, and may not represent a lack of love or caring.

I know the memorial will be beautiful and offer comfort and support. Focus on those who are able to support you with their presence, and do know that everyone reading this is praying for your child and your family, as well as many people in your circle who know of the loss, even if we are not able to be present.

I’m so sorry for your loss, double since you feel you’ve lost the relationship you had with your sister. A friend of mine told me the prayer she uses in these kinds of situations (difficult relationships) “Lord, bless [her]; change me.” I hope it helps you.

People have said good things.

I’d add that if they aren’t religious, they may not see attending a Mass as being supportive or specially appropriate.

They have chosen to support you in their particular ways, which is not nothing.

I’m very sorry for your loss. Having been through a miscarriage myself, I know how heartbreaking it is.

It sounds like your relationship with your sisters is a separate issue that needs to be handled at another time.

In regard to the service, while many here say it is very common, I have never been to one nor has anyone I know ever held one. We did not have one and would have felt very uncomfortable doing so. In fact, I think it would have made our grieving process worse. For others, it brings healing. If your issue with your sisters is just this mass then I would say to not be too hard on them. I likely would feel very uncomfortable and not attend such a service either.

Sorry you’re hurting. :frowning:

That must be hard to feel that in your moment of greatest need, some of your family won’t be there by your side to be supportive.

It will probably hurt right now, but people also handle death differently. There are times I haven’t gone to funerals, and people have tried to judge me for that.

When my father died, I know I didn´t attend his funeral. We were never close, and I am in a wheelchair. Transportation, especially accessible transportation here in Mexico is almost non-existent. It would have been an international flight, VERY hard.

I also am estranged from my family. We aren´t close. Times I HAVE gone to reunions, often I feel like an outsider. I feel excluded, and then, economically, it’s expensive for me to do all that, and for what?

I feel uncomfortable, to put it mildly, whenever I am with my family. I don´t feel free to express my opinions, and I doubt anybody missed me at the funeral, truth be told.

In my family, I have sent e-mails and such, not be answered. Over the years, it takes a toll. Some Mexicans ask me about my father’s funeral, and they are basically shocked I wouldn´t go, judge me, terribly. Say that we Americans are “cold”.

I had reached out to my father for years and years…wrote him letters, and he wouldn´t reciprocate. He never, not once, answered me.

Now, even if it hadn´t been that way, I feel it is my right to attend, or not, a funeral, grieve in whatever manner I please. If I feel more comfortable grieving alone, I wish people would try to understand we don´t all grieve in the same manner. I did grieve my father, alone. I cried by myself.

I realize a lot of folks will probably never understand that, but my father, even to the end, wouldn´t even speak to me.

However, even if it had been wonderful between us, I think I have a right not to go. I once had a dear friend, who has long since passed away, God bless his soul. I think he didn´t go to…believe it was his own mother’s funeral.

However, he was VERY close to his mother, visited her, took care of her, and he just didn´t want to have his last memories of her in a casket with everyone looking at her and saying how wonderful she looked…when, to him, he asked how anyone can look wonderful when dead.

So, his family judged him up and down and sideways, but he said he had already had a good relationship with his mother, that they had already said everything they had needed to. He said he had, in his own way, grieved, had closure in his own way. He was disappointed when people, some of whom wouldn´t even visit his mother while alive, judged him for not going to her funeral.

He said a funeral is a personal thing.

Now, if your relationship with your family is strained, this will only add fuel to the fire. It might go a long way towards healing your relationship if they would go, but apparently there are some deeply held wounds on both sides.

Try to accept your family, and if they don´t feel like coming to a funeral, for whatever reason, I don´t think they should even be expected to elaborate on why they don´t want to go. I think it needs to be accepted, left at that.

Some people also just hate certain places. My ex-husband for a long time refused to go into hospitals, even to visit a sick/dying friend. Some don´t want their last memories to be one of a hospitalization or funeral.

So, in my friend’s case, he carried a lot of emotional baggage with regards to death. A lot of us, most of us, are deathly afraid of it. It can remind us of our own mortality, and some don´t like that reminder.

My ex-husband was saying how, at funerals, they would say the rosary…and he found that prayer, monotonous, repetitive, long, didn´t understand why we would do that.

My ex-husband said he didn´t want a depressing setting when he died, that he wanted to be …forget what…I think cremated…and have people celebrate his life with a beer and hamburger!

So, I´ve noticed people have all kinds of reactions to death, and dying.

One aunt of mine said a lot of people like to go to funerals for people they never even visited in life. She told me, in so many words, she didn´t even want people at her funeral who never bothered to take the time to visit with her during her life. In fact, her attitude was…visit me in life…and don´t even bother visiting me after I die!

One friend of mine saw the body like an empty shell once the spirit had left, thought erecting a monument would be akin to erecting a momument to a beer can after the beer was gone.

I had one friend who was killed here in Mexico…run over…his truck stolen, and they didn´t even have a funeral, per se, because he didn´t want one. They respected his wishes.

So, grief is a personal matter, in a sense. Some people prefer to grieve in private rather than in public. Some carry baggage with regards to death. Some are in conflict with family members, and getting together causes additional stress and tension, for what? Some believe life´s too short already, don´t want to bother with their own funeral arrangements, let alone those of others.

I am, now, trying to prepare, have a casket paid for, for my own funeral one day. I suspect there might be a family member here or there who might attend, but I wonder why. To me, if they won´t be bothered with me during my life, why the sudden rush after I’m gone.

I expect sparse attendance at my funeral, because I don´t think I´m well loved, anyway, but really, I´d rather they visit me during my life rather than at my funeral. I suppose I agree with my aunt on that one.

A friend of mine had also said he didn´t like funerals, in general, and wouldn´t even go to his own, if he could avoid it.

It is fine that you are having a Mass for your child. However, you should avoid being angry at anyone who does not attend, for whatever reason. Such anger is very un-Christian and disrespectful to the memory of your innocent child.

Some say funerals are for the living.

If they don´t want to be there, then I don´t think it’s helping them.

I´d say that, as painful as that might be that they don´t want to be present, to try to accept that, and try to understand.

I know that in my own life, I´ve spent much of my life trying to please others, going to all kinds of events I didn´t really want to be at. Later, I wondered why I wasn´t happy.

It might be preferable to have fewer people there but know they WANTED to be there.

I’m sorry for your loss.

The fact is that we live in a culture that has historically never paid any attention to miscarriages. For some people, the thought of a memorial Mass for an unborn child (younger than a certain gestational age), is so strange that it just doesn’t make sense to them. In fact, I would guess that for most people in our society, a funeral/memorial for a child lost prior to the third trimester, would be considered out of the ordinary, and it would probably make a lot of people uncomfortable. That’s not to say one shouldn’t go ahead with a memorial Mass, or that there aren’t a number of people who would go to support you anyway, even though they might be a little uncomfortable. But perhaps it is helpful to recognize that in our culture, it might also be expecting a lot to assume that people will be able to wrap their minds around grieving in this way. It really is very different from the way most Americans have been raised to think over the last many generations. Even women who have had miscarriages (and with the high rate, that turns out to be many), have varying emotional reactions to their losses - and this might color their expectations of how one ought to memorialize an unborn baby.

I understand it is hurtful when people we care about don’t understand our pain. Perhaps it sounds like this family member is saying that your pain is not legitimate, or that they are judging your choices. I don’t know how to get around that, other than to just try to accept that their view doesn’t have to be an indictment of your experience. For whatever reason, they have a limit to the way they will support you - hopefully you will be able to accept what they can give, and let go of the sting. Personally, I’d rather be surrounded only by those who truly did support my way of grieving anyway - it would make for a less stressful experience.

God bless, and may your little one rest in peace.

Dear Struggling,
So sorry for your loss, but I have to say that I think your grief is causing you to make a poor choice here.
Your sisters are not religious.
You invited them to the mass.
They choose not to come.
That is their choice.
Do not try to force them

Let it go and concentrate on what you need to do right now. Hold your wife, grieve the loss and move on. Resentment and Anger will do no one any good.

Peace
James

Invite. Do not demand.

When someone says no, do not fixate on your expectations or your disappointment with their behavior. Graciously accept whatever expression of sympathy they make. Do not drag other family conflicts into your child’s memorial. Most importantly, do not let the memory of your child be the cause of family conflict.

I pray for your child, for you and your wife, and for your family.
Lord, God of all creation,
we bless and thank you for your tender care.
Receive this life you created in love
and comfort your faithful people in their time of loss
with the assurance of your unfailing mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
(from the Book of Blessings, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, usccb.org)

I’m very sorry for your loss. Try to be present to those who are helping you to grieve, and try to let go of anything that anyone does to deepen or prolong your grief. You will only be giving away bits of your relationships without gaining anything in return. Better to give attention to those who are there to comfort you, and to distract your thoughts away from those who are not, rather than the other way around!!

At the very least, release the ones you have honestly deemed as not up to the task of being a godmother. Incapacity is not always chosen. Sometimes it is a handicap one has without asking for it or realizing it. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” is a pleasing way to deal with those who act in ways that hurt us when we could have rather used a return on our love for them. Try to return to a connection to Our Lord’s attitude towards those who betrayed Him, whenever you are tempted towards bitterness.

Another thought is this: Sometimes people have grieved losses secretly and silently, losses that we know nothing about, and this makes dealing with the losses we are grieving openly very difficult. That could be happening here, too. That thought might make it easier to let go of this slight.

I am so sorry for your profound loss. I have experienced that same loss more than once and the pain is beyond measure. How beautiful you are able to have a Mass. I am sorry that your sisters are not supporting you in the way that you wish, that is extremely painful.

You don’t need to make any immediate decisions about your sisters. Right now the pain for you is very raw and emotions are running high. I would give yourself a break and simply focus on yourself and your wife and your own grief right now that is enough.

I can share though that people are sometimes limited in what they are able to give us. I know in my own family I have struggled with my own expectations in relationships. I deeply desire to have a deep and meaningful relationship with certain family members, but have had to accept that right now we are limited in talking about the weather. That is okay, because for now, that is the limit on what that family member is capable of giving me at this point in time so with God’s grace I have been able to accept that. At least we are speaking so that is a good thing.

For whatever reason (lack of spirituality, selfishness) your sisters seem to not be capable of giving you the support that you desire. For now it would be best to let this go. Jesus knows what you are feeling. Jesus was also abandoned by his loved ones when He was in need of support. Jesus was in need of love at his darkest hour and people that loved Him turned their backs on Him, He knows what you are feeling, turn to Jesus Christ He will help you carry this cross. I will pray for you.

So sorry for your loss. I know how much it hurts having gone through a miscarriage and also losing twin newborn daughters. That being said you are wrong to insist that your sisters show up. Your feelings are very raw right now and of course you would like all family members to care about you and your wife. It would be nice if your sisters were more supportive but they aren’t. Family is often very disappointing. Please just have a lovely ceremony without them because they are not important. Just be there for your wife and move on. Forgive your sisters and don’t blow this out of proportion.

It is important to let go of this and to attend to those who are reaching out to assist at this memorial, instead, so that their needed and present good will is not lost on the family. Having said that, it is a corporal work of mercy to bury the dead. Whether we learn to like it is not as important as appreciating that the practice of Christian mercy bids us to do it. I don’t think anyone here is implying otherwise; I just mean to clarify that the good it will do the OP to let go of this does not mean there is no reason to feel hurt. No one is saying that.

I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t think you are wrong about expecting your sisters to be there to support you in your time of grief. Part of being an empathetic adult is sucking it up even if its “uncomfortable”. It’s not about them and their feelings, its about you and yours. I do think it is selfish on their part. That being said I would ask God to give you the grace to forgive them. Your heart is already so broken holding onto the resentment will only harm you. I will keep your family in my prayers.

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