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after-divorce  :: parenting

Should I Go to Funeral for Ex?

Should I Go to Funeral for Ex?

Do I Go? Do I Bring The Kids?


Q: I have been divorced from my husband for nearly 10 years. He is very ill and is not expected to live much longer. We have had a distant but amicable relationship for most of the last 10 years. Would it be appropriate for me to attend his funeral?  

There are no clear rules of etiquette regarding attending the funeral of an ex-spouse. But there are some issues you might consider in making your decision:

1. If you had children together, how do your children feel about your attending their father’s funeral?
Your presence may be an important source of support for your children.

2. Have you maintained relationships with your ex-husband’s family and friends?
If so, and if those relationships have been cordial, your presence will likely be welcomed.  If not, your attendance at your ex-husband’s funeral may create an awkward social situation.

3. Does your ex-husband have a new wife or partner? If so, is your relationship with her amicable?
Out of respect and consideration for her, you might consider phoning her after your ex-husband’s death to offer your condolences, and tell her you would like to pay your respects at his funeral and ask if that would be OK with her. If you have young children and want to accompany them to the funeral for support, politely tell her that it is important for your children that you be with them at the funeral.            

The bottom line is that if you feel that your attendance at the funeral would be respectful and supportive and that you would be welcome by family and friends, there is no reason for you not to go. If you have children that need you to be with them at the funeral, you have a compelling reason to attend your ex’s funeral, regardless of how others feel. If your presence is not needed by your children (or if you did not have children with your ex-husband), and/or your attendance would create tension or conflict, you might consider just sending flowers and a sympathy card to the family.   

Caroline Schacht has a master’s degree in home economics and another in sociology. She has been trained as a divorce mediator and a teacher at East Carolina University, specializing in courtship and marriage classes. She is the co-author of several textbooks, including "Choices in Relationships and Understanding Social Problems." She can be reached a cschacht@suddenlink.net.

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