My mother is old and dying. We’ve never gotten along and everyone knows it. I can’t think of one nice thing to say about her. She was/is [insert all the negative things about her here]. But I feel obligated to say something nice about her at her funeral. Please help me figure out how to handle this when the time comes.
So first – despite it feeling like you don’t have a choice – give yourself the gift of having a choice. You can choose not to go. You can choose to go and not say anything. You can choose to go and read a poem. You can choose to go and tell everyone all the negative things about her. You can choose to go and say “nice” things that aren’t true. All are valid choices.
You can also choose to go and tell the truth.
Which is different than saying something “nice” and different than recounting all the negative things.
It’s also different than trying to “spin” something negative into something positive.
It’s likely you will be judged no matter what you do or don’t do (read more on why, here).
Here’s the thing about “nice” – it’s not the truth. “Nice” is fake sweet. The truth isn’t one-dimensional. The truth isn’t simply that she was/is [insert all the negative things about her here] although that is certainly part of it. What else was she? WHO was she? What do you know about her as a woman, not as your mother?
What is the truth?
“We just had the preacher preach. He called her ‘feisty,’ which was definitely true.”
“We did the best we could in the time we were given together.“
Here’s one of my own:
I say this not because my mother and I now have a Hallmark relationship (we don’t) but because I am able to tell the truth about our relationship, and when the time comes, I can see myself standing up at her funeral, in front of her friends, and sharing the whole of who she was to me.
The truth is powerful. It doesn’t deny, resist, or hide. It doesn’t blame and shame. Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it makes us cry. And it’s always human. It makes room for being whole.
Work on healing yourself and the truth will reveal itself.
And ultimately? Like and respect your reasons for whatever choice you make.
What do you think?
Much, much love,
P.S. Here’s a beautiful example of someone telling the truth about her difficult mother after her death, along with some writing prompts to help you do the same. It could be a nice way to spend this Mother’s Day.