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OT - Uncle's Memorial Service felt like a Step Situation

advice.only2's picture

Sadly my Uncle passed in March and we waited to do his memorial on his birthday.  Backstory is my Uncle never had children of his own and treated me and my sibling as his kids.  He was married three times and his first wife was also very much a part of my daily life and I still consider her my Aunt.  He was also a large part of my children's life.

5 years ago he met his third wife and started doing more stuff with her family and when he reitred he married her and moved to her state.  In that time we saw alot less of him and communication dwindled down to a minimum.   I have met his widow a handful of times and she seems very nice, but it's hard to consider her my Aunt, when she really hasn't been in my life all that much.

So we went over for the memorial and she had three trunks full of my Uncle's stuff and told us we could go through and take whatever we wanted.  It was mostly photos and stuff he had saved from when he was a kid, but some of it was nostalgic for me so I took those items.  The whole time we were going through the stuff she kept commenting "Oh I never knew he did that."  or "Oh if I would have known all these photos were in here I could have used those for the photo collages I had made for the memorial, all I had was photos of us with my family."  or "Oh I don't know what those coins are for, you can take them."  I won't lie it sort of hurt knowing she had such a short amount of time with him, but also seeing how little his stuff meant to her because she didn't have that lifetime to build with him.  

So at the memorial she had his urn set on a table and in my opinion a horrible picture blown up of him next to it.  It was a photo from when he was withered down to almost nothing and he's wincing in what I guess you could call a "smile".  I mean heck that was the best photo she could find of him??  Out of a trunk full of photos!!  I know I'm trying not to sound like a horrid step kid right now, but it was just kind of like really?   Her whole family showed up and our family all showed up, and it was weird becaue we have met her sister a few times, but had never met the rest of them.  The one sister kept talking about doing shots of Fireball after the memorial because that was my Uncle's most favorite no it wasn't but okay.  Then she kept calling him this ridiculous nickname and asking us if we called him that, we were all no, we just called him this or that.  So it was weird.  

They played taps and presented his widow with the American flag and then we all just sort of stood there waiting.  She finally stood up after about 5 awkward minutes and said "umm I didn't plan anything else, so we are just going to walk over to where he will be intered."  Okay so we all walk over and they placed his urn in the wall and just sort of stood there and finally her son says "let's all sing a song for Granpa (my Uncle's name)."  Which again felt wrong,  so everybody stood there looking at each other like ummm what song?  So he starts singing happy birthday and we all sort of join in and then we all just sort of stood there again with nobody saying anything and finally me and DH said our good bye's since we had to get on the road.   So that was it.  My uncle's life dwindled down to a few moments with nothing said about him or anything.  As we were driving home I told my DH, it was so hard doing that, knowing it's her right to do whatever she wants because she was his spouse, and that was the best she could do for a man that I have known and loved my whole life!!  It really was a slap in the face in my opinion. 



Petronella's picture

What a painful scene! That's good that you and your DH didn't stick around. Your poor uncle. I hope you have lots of good memories of him.

MommyT's picture

I am sorry for your loss. The funeral is only the closing chapter. You were part of so many chapters and that’s what is important. 

Disneyfan's picture

Wow, why did they even bother???

Have you thought about having a small service with your family?

Exjuliemccoy's picture

It sounds like you have a ton of wonderful memories of your sweet uncle. You definitely got the best of him, while his widow got  the end game. Condolences for your loss.

It's a shame he didn't put more thought into his send off, or give written instructions of his wishes. More people should.

notasm3's picture

Not the same thing at all, but my DH's uncle who literally was his age (only a month apart in age) just died.  The memorial is going to take place where he lived (over a thousand miles away).  I think my DH is going to go - but no one else from our area will be there.

I think we are going to do a separate memorial a month later in our area where his surviving siblings, nieces and nephews can come.   Very informal - probably just a potluck at our home with one of DH's many minister relatives saying a few words. 

somethingwicked's picture

What a painful day. So awkward and uncomfortable .

And his wife sounded like she was also not sure what to say or do and maybe she isn't the sort to make a speech.

Who knows.That was  kind of her to think of his blood family and bring those items.She could have not bothered.

You have your wonderful memories and you know who your uncle was and how he touched your life.

I hope you will think about a way to  celebrate him in your own fashion.

Maybe plant a tree on his behalf or  donate a park bench to  a green way with his name inscribed.

If he enjoyed a particular hobby like painting donate a book about famous painters or watercoloring to the local or  highschool library with his name inscribed. 

I am sure you will decide  with your uncle in mind  how best  to commemorate the life of this  man who indeliby touched yours with his fatherly love and devotion.

And you have my deepest sympathies .

beebeel's picture

Maybe his wife was waiting for someone who knew him longer to eulogize him? When no one spoke up, she probably froze and didn't know what to do. Grief is hard and everyone handles it different. Someone should have said some words, but everyone took a pass. I wouldn't blame her for that.

advice.only2's picture

Thank you everybody for your responses and I agree his widow was grieving too, and I feel horrible for her not getting that lifetime with him, I guess I just felt like we could have helped her out if she had asked.  Again thank your all for your thoughts.