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Coping with a funeral. What would you do?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Lilac, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. Lilac

    Lilac Registered User

    Jan 20, 2007
    3
    I'm wondering if there is anybody out there who has been in a similar situation to my family. My gran has been living in a residential home for 3 weeks now. She is the early/mid stages of AD. My grandad passed away suddenly last week and she is absolutely devastated, as we all are. He had been caring for her at home up until 3 weeks ago.

    My mum and uncle are busy planning grandad's funeral. It was never questioned that granny would not come to my grandad's funeral, even though we knew it was going to be a difficult day. However, for the last couple of days, my granny has been saying things like "oh, i've missed the funeral". My mum and uncle have always worried about how she is going to cope with the emotion of the day, seeing lots of people at the wake (she is a very anxious person and this kind of situation is extremely difficult for her on a normal day!) She also finds it very difficult to walk. And as my granny has only been at the residential home for 3 weeks, she is still feeling very unsettled and is always asking to come home. My mum and uncle are scared that she may refuse to go back to the residential home after the funeral.

    Do you think my granny should come to my grandad's funeral? The carers at the residential home asked if it was worth putting her through all the upset, as she believes the funeral has happened already, but I'm not so sure. What if she asks in a few weeks when the funeral is? What will we say? How will she feel? Are we being purely selfish by not letting granny come?

    I'd appreciate other peoples views as this is such a difficult dilemma for my family.

    Many thanks
     
  2. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    Hi Lilac

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your grandad and the difficulties then with your granny. I had something similar when my uncle died last year and had to decide whether to take dad to his funeral. It's different I guess in that although dad cared for his brother and was upset when I told him that he had died, it wasn't such a close relationship as your granny and grandad would have been.

    There's no "right" answer to this one. I think it boils down to a choice between risking upsetting your granny and risking excluding her from an important (though sad) family occasion. Either way, she may not remember what happened in a few weeks or days.

    I was afraid that if I took dad to the funeral he might disrupt proceedings, but talked to my cousins about it and we agreed that he should be included. If you decide to take her it would be worth a) talking to the rest of the family and thinking about how they would feel if the funeral was disrupted in some way and b) talking to the person who is conducting the funeral so that s/he is aware of what could potentially happen. If it's possible to find someone who granny knows and feels safe with, but isn't terribly distressed by the loss of your grandad, who can take care of granny during the funeral that might be useful.

    In the end, dad didn't get to the funeral itself, but did go to the buffet afterwards. I don't know if he understood why he was there, but he enjoyed the company of other family and clearly enjoyed being part of it.

    The carers at dad's nh seemed quite against me even telling him that his brother had died. I felt it was important that he continued to be included so far as possible. Both views are valid I think. Make a choice and don't feel bad about not having chosen differently.

    Let us know how it goes?

    Áine
     
  3. Lynne

    Lynne Registered User

    Jun 3, 2005
    3,433
    Suffolk,England
    Hi Lilac

    I'm so sorry, you and your family are having to cope with so many distressing things all at once, it must be hell.

    I haven't been in your situation, but my opinion/comments are as follows:

    NO, I don't think she should go to the funeral. Her presence there would only add one more painful aspect to the occasion, SHE wouldn't obtain any comfort from it (i.e. prob wouldn't remember it by the next day) and her Anxiety & Mobility problems would just make an already sad occasion so much worse. In this, the Carers at the home are probably right, and speaking from experience of other residents on similar occasions. As she believes the funeral has happened already, she would seem to be having difficulty with placing time & events in context, and will not remember even if she did attend.

    If she asks, tell her the date it was. That way at least everyone will say the same thing.
    I would be inclined to lie through my teeth and tell her she attended and it was a beautiful service etc. etc., but that's me in my situation (Not many relatives, and my Mum never knows what day/date it is.)
    If you have several family members involved & visiting, they may not all appreciate the necessity for 'white lies' to deal with distressing times, and now is not the time for stirring up any family dissent.
    How will she feel? Probably sad, missing her life partner, and disorientated by being in a different residence. In other words, very little different to how she feels already.
    Are we being purely selfish ... ? In my opinion, not at all selfish. BUT, You are trying to work out how to do the best thing for everyone; as the saying goes, 'you can't please all the people all of the time', and especially not in this situation. The one person of your family who will probably remember nothing at all about Grandad's funeral is, sadly, your Granny. So I can't see that being present will bring her any closure or comfort at all.

    Of course (playing devil's advocate to my own opinion) if she DOESN'T attend, you will undoubtedly get puzzled questions as to why from relatives/friends who do not realise how badly she is affected by Alzheimer's Disease. You & Mum etc. (close family) should probably agree in advance what you will say if asked how she is, or why she's not present.

    This is a common trait amongst many dementia sufferers, sometimes said even while they are still living in their own homes. It often refers to a childhood 'home', perhaps because long-ago memories are of a time & place where the person felt safe & secure, whereas now - present day - seems always to be in confusion for them. So your Granny may not necessarily mean the home she shared until recently with your Grandad at all. Don't beat yourselves up about not being able to turn back time for her - you are all doing the very best you can, and that's all anyone can expect of you. There just isn't an ideal solution for all concerned where dementia is present, and that is not your fault.

    My sympathies & best wishes
     
  4. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    10,824
    london
  5. Áine

    Áine Registered User

    thanks maggie. i remembered that thread but couldn't remember enough details to search for it. :)
     
  6. bagrat

    bagrat Registered User

    Nov 22, 2006
    13
    This must be so difficult emotionally for you. Maybe you can try and sort out the various emotional threads a bit in your head. What I mean is - you are concerned for your Gran's emotional response to being there, should you put her through that : then there is the distress her response may cause others: lastly there is what will people think if she doesn't attend.
    I guess her response will be no more or less painful than if she wasn't forgetful and confused. The trouble is none of us can imagine what it is like for our loved ones in their parallel world. If she is remembering her loss then my own feeling is that she should have the opportunity to say goodbye. There is no reason why she then has to go on to the wake - she could attend the service and then go back to the home. Maybe a family member could stay with her until she is settled.

    In the end all we can do is what seems right at the time. When the day comes you and your family will do what you feel is right by your Gran and the fact you have given it so much thought shows how much you care.
     
  7. storm

    storm Registered User

    Aug 10, 2004
    269
    notts
    every situation is differant but i would be inclined to let her go,dementia sufferers often have clear days when they seem to remember more and i think you would feel terrible if this happened and she asked you why she didnt go .No one knows how much sufferers take in and retain , as for unsettling her she may well respond better than you think.Good luck Storm
     
  8. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    1,370
    Newport, Gwent
    Hi Lilac

    I am so sorry for the loss of your Granddad, and that your Grandmother is now in a NH, what an awful few weeks you have had.

    Its only a personal opinion, but I would tell her, and take her to the funeral. Of course she will most probably be upset, she would have been even if she didnt have AD, and yes she may want to 'go home' after, but as previously mentioned, this is common anyway, my mum is always talking about going home, but she is talking about a house she had 50 years ago.

    I would be inclined to settle her in the church, or where ever the Service is, well before most people arrived, maybe sit her to one side, then take her out once most folk have left, explaining to family and friends before hand that it would not help mum for a lot of people to approach her to offer sympathy, this may well confuse her more. With regard any family get together after, play it by ear.

    Best wishes for whatever you decide. Keep in touch.

    Love
    Cate
     

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