Wednesday 18 September 2019

Dear Mary: My children are so upset over being sidelined at their dad's funeral

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Mary O’Conor

My ex-husband died a few months back. He had been ill, but it was devastating for all involved as he was only 42.

We had children, now teenagers, together. They were his only children.

There were no affairs or anything really damaging involved in our split. He had been in a new relationship for four years.

My mother died during the same week. My children and I lived with her at the time of her death. My kids were absolutely devastated to lose two people so close to them that week.

I felt my children were minimised in the funeral service of their dad. His partner had requested no flowers at the funeral in the death notice. But the children had wanted a 'Dad' wreath. When I made that request, it was refused.

At the service, my children were barely mentioned and there was not even a 'for the children's families' in the Prayers of the Faithful, despite my mother's recent death. Me and my family were whitewashed out and my children just got a cursory mention in the eulogy. Their only 'job' was to bring up the gifts - no prayer or reading.

There was no open invitation from the pulpit for the pub meal afterwards. People were individually invited in the church courtyard. I don't recall being invited but I went anyway with the children. We were not informed of the occurrence of the Month's Mind and so did not attend.

Am I being totally unreasonable to be upset by this? Is my best course of action just to leave it in the past and move on? It's eating me up, but I fear saying anything will make things worse, especially if I'm totally in the wrong.

I know it was the new partner - rather than the ex's family - who engineered the entire funeral, as some of his relations told me. I felt they offered this information as an explanation/apology as to why we were glossed over.

Mary replies: I don't feel you are being unreasonable and as I read your email I found myself getting angry on behalf of your children. They should have been more involved in the funeral, despite the fact that their father and you were no longer together, and it was particularly heartless not to allow them to have a wreath to show their love for their dad. You were no longer married to him but you were the mother of his children and they will always be his children and as such deserved to be much more involved than they were.

There is nothing to be gained by saying something to his partner. I feel it is much more dignified to maintain a silence. Nothing you say will bring back that day when they were almost ignored, and if you keep talking about it to them it will only make them bitter which will serve no purpose.

Concentrate instead on helping each other get through your grief - you will all have bad days and good days but hopefully not at the same time which is how you will be able to help each other get through the whole process.

How sad your children's father died so young and that they lost their grandmother in the same week.

Life can sometimes be very cruel.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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