Miss Manners: It was cathartic to go to my abusive mother’s funeral


Dear Miss Manners: My mother was emotionally, physically and mentally abusive. Also, she knew about the sexual abuse at home as my siblings and I were growing up, and she allowed it to continue.

She most likely suffered from borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, although she consistently refused therapy. All of her children ran away from home when they were 16, and most of us have made it in life.

I tried to have limited contact with her as an adult, but it was like banging my head against a wall. In my forties, I “divorced” her and did not see her again until she was in a coffin.

All of the remaining siblings attended the funeral. We sat front and center. As people unrelated to the family began to praise her profusely, my sister laughed lightly. As the praise got more absurd, we all started laughing out loud (including his brother, my uncle).

We were in tears, laughing, at the end of the service, and it was the most cathartic feeling I have ever had.

Rude? Enough. Real? Very. The best way to send him to his grave? Absolutely.

Then we popped champagne and rejoiced that we had survived his abuse, and that despite it, we had grown into kind, empathetic, educated and successful adults.

My advice to others in this situation would be: go to your mother’s funeral, if you wish — you might find peace because you outlived her and outlived her. But the other option is just as valid: don’t go there, if you want. No one will judge you, because the people who REALLY knew her also knew her true character.

It will not be I doubt it comforts you that your mother seemed to approve of your behavior.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a close friend who lives nearby, and for the past few years she has asked me to water her over 25 houseplants when she and her husband travel.

Initially it was twice a week on a two week trip, so about once a year. This year they have been away for more than a month and are planning a longer trip next winter.

How can I graciously decline this request next winter? Would it be presumptuous to suggest hiring a neighborhood teenager? That’s what I do when I travel.

To say that, unfortunately, you won’t be available at that time and you’d hate for her to go back to dead plants.

Since your friend will be away, it doesn’t matter if the reason you’re unavailable is because you’re going on vacation or you just don’t expect to want to get out of bed.

Miss Manners advises against suggesting a different solution, teenager or not, as she could be seen as taking responsibility for solving the problem.

Dear Miss Manners: How do I send late notification to my loved ones of the death of my elderly parents more than a year later?

In a manuscript letter including an apology for the delay. The formality will help friends and family understand that the delay is related to your grief, not your forgetfulness.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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