After learning about an unexpected death yesterday, I had a decision to make: do I make the several hour trip to my hometown for the calling hours and funeral or do I just send a card and some flowers?
When I initially found out, I was torn right down the middle. All of my instincts were telling me to stay away. Although this particular person and her family have never been hurtful towards me, they are very tied in with my family of origin. My biological mother, father, and siblings would definitely all be there. Plus extended and peripheral family members as well. And many, many people from my past who simply adore my parents and have no idea what kind of psychopaths they are. I knew that even if I had absolutely no interaction with anyone who hurt me, I would still be very triggered simply by being there.
Yet still, I wanted to be there. I wanted to support her family, especially her daughters, and I wanted to say goodbye. There’s a reason why we hold the very ritualized funerals we do – it helps us process the loss and begin the long road of grieving. When another close family member died several years ago, I missed the funeral due to being in the hospital and I can still feel the effects of losing out on the chance for proper closure.
Plus I will admit I am pissed that my bio family has ANY influence over my decisions. I hate that I have to consider them at all. It infuriates me that I can’t just simply go to this funeral like a normal person would do because my family is a literal poison that destroys me whenever I go near them. Actually, I don’t even have to be near them to feel the effects of their bullshit. In fact, the way that I found out about this death is a perfect example of my family’s nonsense:
My brother texted my cousin because she is the only person they have access to that knows my phone number. He asked for my phone number and said it was “urgent” that he speak with me. She refused to give out the number, but said she’d be happy to pass along any news. He insisted that the family be the ones to tell me, but did say the news involved this person who died. He wouldn’t say WHAT the news was, just that it was ABOUT her. At this point, I will admit that I was already assuming she had died, but I obviously wasn’t sure. My cousin held strong and still would not give out my number. My brother asked her to ask me to call him. Then I got a Facebook message from someone else saying to call my family as well.
Basically, they found out she died, wanted to tell me, but then held that information hostage unless they were able to make some sort of contact with me. So if I wanted to know what the “urgent” news was about someone I loved dearly, I’d have to break my two year estrangement from them and either give out my phone number or call one of them. How absolutely ridiculous and manipulative is that?
After calming down from the initial shock and distress of learning she had died, I was able to gain a little perspective. And ultimately, just by examining that single interaction between my brother and my cousin, I had all the information I needed. Although it admittedly drew me back into their world for a few hours, and for a moment I even longed for contact with my brother, I was also reminded of who these people truly are. Even in a moment of devastation, they chose to use some cloak-and-dagger manipulation game to control the situation and to make it as dramatic and distressing as possible.
I don’t need anymore of that in my life, not even for the sake of saying a proper farewell.
So I will not be making the trip. I will send my condolences through a card and possibly flowers. And the next time I am in the area, I will possibly make plans to see her daughters and visit her grave. Either way, I am doing this my way and on my terms. It might feel kinda yucky to allow my bio family to influence my decision to miss the funeral, but you know what? It’s just not worth getting dragged back into that crap. I deserve better.