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by Abigail Van Buren

Attendance At Funerals Is Not Mandatory

DEAR ABBY: I hate funerals. My grandfather died when I was 6, and one of my relatives held me over the casket and made me kiss his cold, dead face. It terrified me, and it's all I can remember of my grandfather. I force myself to recall any of the good times we had together, but that event still taints the good memory.

Since then, every funeral I have been to has had the same poisoning effect, no matter what the service was. Funerals are for the living, and I understand that many people feel the need for closure and the sharing of grief to begin healing. But I need to keep my grief and my faith private in order to heal.

I'm sure some people think my not showing up at a service is a sign of disrespect or just not caring. Nothing could be further from the truth. I prefer to remember the good times with the loved one, not the passing. My way of honoring that person is to keep my happy memories untainted.

Am I wrong? Selfish or lazy? Weird or crazy? Please let me know because at my age I'm sure more of these events will happen. -- KEEPING MY DISTANCE IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE: You are none of the above. People grieve in different ways. An appropriate way to express your respect for the deceased and your support for the survivors would be to write a condolence letter expressing those feelings and sharing a happy memory with the grieving widow, widower or child. No rule of etiquette demands that you show up to a funeral -- unless it happens to be your own.

Read more in: Death | Family & Parenting