Thursday, December 14, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Attending a funeral offends girlfriend

Attending a funeral offends girlfriend

Q: This week, a co-worker died in a motorcycle accident. I didn’t know her well but her death directly impacts many people in our office. I wanted to go to the funeral to show my support for the family. The victim’s brother works in our warehouse and I see him frequently.

When I told my girlfriend I was going to attend the funeral, she did not understand why and was even offended that I would even consider attending. She tragically lost her mother five years ago. I lost my aunt three years ago, also very tragically, and a childhood friend this year. My girlfriend compared the death to these and is critical of the fact that I would consider this death tragic in any way when people die all the time. In her opinion, it’s insulting to attend this person’s funeral because I did not have a personal connection with the victim.

My moral compass is telling me I should be there. What do I do?

Torn

A: Attending a funeral does not commit the deceased to your inner circle of intimacy. Therefore, going to the funeral of a colleague you didn’t know well does not devalue your presence at the funerals of the people you love most, or cheapen your (or her) feelings for these people or your (or her) grief at their deaths.

I find it bizarre and surreal that anyone would require you to justify your impulse to be there, and that you’d actually comply. Funerals honor the dead but also comfort the living, so it’s perfectly customary to go to a funeral when you know the survivors better than you know the deceased. Yet she is "highly offended" that you would make this extremely common, utterly unexotic gesture of decency and goodwill?

How often does she use these outsize emotions — or just the threat thereof — to influence your decisions? What other parts of your life does she presume to control in this way?

I think the terrible news of your colleague has exposed your girlfriend as bad news.

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