When Divorced Parents Die — Questions

Ten years ago my mother passed. Five years ago my first stepmother passed. Weeks ago my father passed. Due to Covid logistic complications, his memorial service is still two weeks hence. Grief has poured in like a flood, but so have the questions. Some are expected. Many are not. But many of these questions are unique to adults with divorced parents.

Mom questions

With my mom, should my father have even attended her memorial service? She likely wouldn’t have wanted him there. My siblings and I had a good relationship with him, so it was a no brainer. However, I remember having him sit in the row behind myself, wife, kids, and sisters—the row reserved for close family.

Was that planned? No. The awkwardness of guiding him to the second row was spontaneous. While having him at the service was essential, having him with us in that row felt…somehow…inappropriate …almost disrespectful…just…not right. Love him. Love Mom. Second row.

Dad’s turn…more questions

As I did for my mom and others, I’m creating a short memorial video that will play during the service. Wading through thousands of pictures produced questions:

  • Is it appropriate to leave out pictures of my mom and first stepmother or is it inappropriate to do so? Who decides? Me? My siblings? My second stepmother who took care of him until his final breath?
  • How do you (or do you) deal with the nearly 50-year gap between my father’s single years and my second stepmother?
  • Do the stepbrothers and sisters get equal time in the video since our father’s marriage to their mother (who we love dearly) lasted almost 25 years?

Reconciling the irreconcilable

  • How can someone say “till death do we part” three times?
  • How do I feel about stepmother number-two being absent from the video and slideshow? Even though that marriage lasted almost 25 years.
  • Why is there a twinge when I see pictures of my mom and first stepmother?
  • Is it proper to mention them while speaking with people after the service is done?

Grieving is natural. Divorce grief is not.

Most deceased enter the grave with a deeds-mix of good, bad, beautiful, and ugly. It’s part of the human condition. The Bible says “there is none righteous. No not one” (Romans 3:10). But divorce can add layers of unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, unresolved situations, unanswered questions, and what ifs.

If this applies to you, pray to God. Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Also, share your questions with a friend, call a sibling, speak with a counselor, or spiritual leader. You may not get your questions answered, but talking and praying it through can be very healing.

Do you have questions from a funeral/memorial service past or future? Do you have a story about your funeral or memorial experience you’d like to share? Email me at Kent@Hope4acd.com. I’d love to hear from you and there are NO silly questions in this area.

May God bless you with His comfort and peace—even if the loss was years ago.

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