My mother in law wants a second funeral service for my father in law who died 3 years ago


6 years, 11 months ago

My father-in-law died almost 3 years ago.  He requested specific music and prayers to be said at his funeral.  He had a bit of a “mean” streak and thought it would be funny to ask for music to be played and sung that the choir would have problems with and wanted prayers that even the priest was not familiar with.  The priest was very ill and had a hard time following the service, even with help from the acolytes.  So the church service did not go smoothly.  My 87 year old mother-in-law now wants, 3 years later, a “re-do” of the church funeral service.  It was a very difficult and emotional time for the whole family, now numbering 25 immediate family members, and going through this again to please the mother-in-law will only bring back all the grief we went through 3 years ago.  Is this a fair request that she is making?  Not one of her children or grandchildren would want to re-live this event.  Thoughts?

Jennifer Lane
6 years, 11 months ago

This is a very difficult request to honor and I totally understand why you and none of your family is on board with a “re-do” of the funeral service. I also understand why your mother in law feels unsettled about how the funeral service went three years ago.

I don’t believe it is in anyone’s best interest, emotionally or otherwise, to recreate a funeral service this long after your father in law died. It sounds to me like his unusual requests were him wanting his personality to be part of the funeral. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and while it didn’t go as expected for several reasons, I would not recommend a “re-do” at this point.

Instead, I am going to suggest something else that I think would be more palatable to you and your family as well as please your mother in law. Instead of a second funeral, have a Celebration of Life.

A Celebration of Life is not a typical funeral service so it is not a somber affair. Instead, we find lots of laughter and storytelling. The focus is not on the death of the person, but on the joy that the person brought to others. You can have an informal family gathering for this (maybe invite a few friends), and perhaps you have the songs your father in law liked playing as background music. Maybe you serve his favorite foods. You tell stories and reminisce about the good and memorable times. If he had a love of golf, maybe you all go golfing together. Think of things like that. Let your mother in law share her grief at this gathering that she is clearly still dealing with 3 years later.

I think this type of event, a gathering to celebrate his life, is a much better alternative for all involved than attempting to relive the funeral service. I think it will also help your mother in law find a little peace and help her with her grieving process.

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