I’ve been low-contact with my abusive dad for several years now, and my mental health has drastically improved as a result. I’m a queer trans person (they/them) and would be happiest never speaking to him again. I am in contact with my mother, who occasionally gives me updates on his life. I know my mother was victimized by him in her own right, but she also enabled and justified his abuse of me and my siblings. Now my mother is currently dying of a chronic illness, and her prognosis is only another year or two. I live across the country, although I plan to move to be closer to her this fall. But I’m already thinking about her funeral: I don’t want to go when it finally happens.
Growing up, I was mercilessly mocked for being too “sensitive” by my relatives. The environment was incredibly homophobic and transphobic. I don’t like showing emotion in front of them. I haven’t seen any members of my extended family in years and don’t want to. I have one sibling I sometimes commiserate with about how messed up our childhood was, but we’re not otherwise close. I realize not attending would likely destroy my relationship with my remaining relatives, but I don’t want to maintain that relationship anyways. I do feel guilty about not wanting to stay close sometimes, but I’d rather grieve with my partner and my friends, who accept me and love me for who I am. Based on previous interactions, I worry that attending might trigger a mental health crisis. But I also know these people think I’m overdramatic, selfish, and attention-seeking. The last time I tried to bring up my panic attacks to my mom, she told me to “just close my eyes if I get scared,” so I dropped the subject. What are my obligations here? How do I take care of myself when skipping your mother’s funeral is pretty universally seen as an awful thing to do?
—Can’t Grieve Together