My mom passed away on January 18th 2017. My dad was her main caregiver for her for a few years until she became very ill and had many hospital visits and passed away at home. Her body was tiny, frail and just could not go on any longer. She was released home from a nursing facility a little over a week before her death, so with her wishes to go home, it was where she really wanted to be. My brother, dad and I were pulled closer than ever before, enduring such deep pain of the sad last days.
We knew that my mom wanted to be cremated, but did not want an official service, a funeral or a wake. Her siblings and family live in Japan and we knew that one day, we’d return her ashes to Japan to be with her parents and brother.
At the mortuary office, we discussed the plan to cremate my mom. We had not discussed this before, but my brother elected to have a viewing and wanted to see mom. My dad did not want to do this and stated this clearly to my brother. Out of no disrespect at all he explained, he was sure he could not bear to see her again. I, however, was torn with my decision on whether I should or not. I let my brother know that I really did not know what to do, but since the visit to see mom was more than a week or so away, that I would carefully think about it and let him know very soon.
In the extremely upsetting few days, I told my brother that I would go if he wanted, but I said I was very reluctant to see her in a very bad state, as she was so frail and that my last time I saw her, on my birthday, I could not bear to see her this way and she and I had a quiet, lovely last moments that I saw her alive. I had a change of heart the more I thought about this; the fact that mom and I had a very surreal last moment with a very unspoken type of “goodbye,” that I will never, ever forget. I relayed this to my brother. He said he understood and later asked if I’d like to write a few words that he may read aloud to her. I did offer a note for him to read. He, his family, dad, and I were all quite saddened, but respected my brother and family’s wishes. My brother and his family were going to the viewing and seemed accepting of my dad and I not wishing to go.
We all met the evening after the viewing. My brother and family were truly relieved that it was over and that they got to see her and video taped the words spoken to her, laid flowers with her. This was a nice meeting with my family and we all shared our moments of grief along the next few weeks.
I then started getting unanswered emails, texts and phone calls from my brother, and only my brother. My sister-in-law said that he was having a difficult time and needed “time.” Confused, I offered my support over the next few months. He also did not call my dad and since then, my brother and family have even sold their home, moved and not told my dad about this. I also kept this secret, which was so hurtful. My dad is elderly and he and mom were married for 58 years.
Recently, I could not bear the fact that almost 5 months have passed without any acknowledgment on how my brother was doing. Finally, I reached out to my niece. I explained that I was hurt and sad that we were all so “distant” but the fact that our elderly dad was being shunned, this I could not take, it was so sad. I asked her if she knew why.
Well, my niece then proceeded to drop a huge bombshell on me. She said that “Her dad resents my dad and I on how we decided to handle the passing of grandma.” She said that these were his exact words. She further stated that he is very hurt that “you guys did not attend her service and decided not to honor her or say any kind words in front of her.” She said that if she put herself in his shoes, she could not even imagine how sad it would be to stand alone with mom and not have brother or dad there. She said he thinks about this a lot. Also, the fact that I kept changing my mind and telling him that I was going to go and did not, it made him feel even worse. The other family members say that they are not blaming me, but asked that I try to see his perspective.
My answer to her was that it was absolutely the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I explained that I saw her last on my birthday and how my decision was never intended to hurt my family. I lost my best friend, our beautiful mom that day. There was never anything stated to me of how they really wanted dad or I to be there, nothing said as to how hurt he was, etc. In fact, we saw each other weeks after, without any spoken word pertaining to this, and I did not get any feeling of resentment from my brother, nor from anyone else in his family.
I told my niece how I felt, so I let her know that I needed to step back and perhaps one day, we’d talk about everything, but that I was in utter shock that this was how my brother felt (and family felt) as no one has tried to contact my dad or me since then, just an occasional text from my niece or sis-in-law.
I am hurting so much and go back and forth with whether I should have gone. However, since this seemed to come out of "left field," I chalk it up to one of there is more to this; that no communication during the time of what my brother's plans for the entire family to be there, etc. I cannot stop thinking about this and along with my grief, as well as my dad and worrying about his well-being, I am in deep despair. It saddens me and I realize we all grieve differently. I want to write a letter to my brother and let him know that I am not a selfish person and feel confused and saddened, but I am also torn about this too.
Any advice or similar experience from anyone would be greatly appreciated.