Not once did I think that I’d be out of place attending the funeral of my ex-wife’s father. Nor did I receive anything but love, as I visited with the family after the funeral. In fact, it was a time filled with rich smiles and a lot of catching up on all of our lives.
I was 20-years-old when my dad died and I have few recollections prior to age six, which left me with about 14 years of memories. My ex-wife’s dad was like a surrogate father of sorts and our relationship lasted 25 years prior to the divorce with most of its memories intact.
My dad taught me about integrity, family, creativity, leadership, and how to serve and protect others. My father-in-law taught me integrity, family, business, and how to be second. I honored both men at their funerals and held dear to my heart the impact they each made in my life. Both men had richly blessed me.
While some might think it was odd for me to attend, I wasn’t the only ex who showed up at the funeral. No one denied the honor due my father-in-law regardless of how old the relationships were. He deserved every word of appreciation and the family was thankful for each comment and shared story.
The funeral opened with family participation. My youngest daughter shared a letter she wrote her grandfather, which was read to him before he passed. Her reading brought tears and smiles to many including me. I was very proud of the woman she’s become.
My ex-wife then shared a personal conversation with all in attendance. Her words were well chosen and painted a picture of hope that lifted the heaviness from the room. I was amazed and proud of how well she delivered her talk, which was filled with grace, diplomacy and compassion.
My son and oldest daughter both shared scriptures and a heart-warming song that stirred every soul in the room. They were clear, dynamic and articulate with each reading and their musical prowess obvious to all. I had hoped that they would continue for another hour or two, but their blessing came to an end as the service continued.
During the long ride home, I wondered how many divorces stopped others from saying goodbye to loved ones. As I crossed back into my state, my heart filled with gladness that the divorce hadn’t defined our family. Everyone had viewed the divorce as just one moment in time – one painful event.
It’s been more than ten years since the divorce was finalized and while it changed our circumstances, it didn’t make us bitter.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that after the funeral I shook the hand of my ex-wife’s husband as we exchanged genuine smiles and started to catch up on each other’s life. Nor should anyone be startled when I told my ex-wife that I was proud of her for giving such an excellent talk.
Divorce is not like death, although many say that it is. Sure, to some extent we can talk about the death of the marriage, but the person is still a part of your life afterwards. We share time with the kids, participate in special family events, and spend time with our grandkids. We also both believe in integrity, family, and all the other great things that our family stands for.
The core essence of who we are never changed, so showing up to my ex-father-in-law’s funeral was natural. And, together we all said goodbye to a man that deserved the honor. After all, he made a lasting impact in everyone of us and we were all more than happy to say thank you.
Thanks for sharing a deeply personal event, CJ. Funerals should be a time for goodbyes, sharing memories, and moving forward gracefully, regardless of the past family entanglements. Thank you for sharing what this time should be, we don’t all get to experience it that way.
Thanks for the comment.