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Wrighty
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Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?

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I haven't finished the book yet but I was wondering some things about the funeral for Bethany. What does everyone think about Leigh and Gary attending the funeral? Was it right or wrong? Should Kara and Justin had attended as well? Should their parents have forced them to go? I'm not talking about any repercussions that may or may not happen in the story, I was just curious to hear what others think about it. While we're at it, do you think Leigh or Kara should write to Bethany's mom?

Message Edited by Wrighty on 10-10-2007 05:33 PM

Message Edited by Wrighty on 10-10-2007 05:34 PM
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vivico1
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?


Wrighty wrote:
I haven't finished the book yet but I was wondering some things about the funeral for Bethany. What does everyone think about Leigh and Gary attending the funeral? Was it right or wrong? Should Kara and Justin had attended as well? Should their parents have forced them to go? I'm not talking about any repercussions that may or may not happen in the story, I was just curious to hear what others think about it. While we're at it, do you think Leigh or Kara should write to Bethany's mom?

Message Edited by Wrighty on 10-10-2007 05:33 PM

Message Edited by Wrighty on 10-10-2007 05:34 PM


You know, I have mixed feelings on the different aspects of your questions. This was a very public funeral, so I don't think any of them would be intruding that way, like if it were just a family and close friends one. This was a town grieving. I do believe that both Leigh and Gary, as not only parents of the girl whose accident brought on this funeral, but just as parents themselves, understanding the grieve of another parent and as part of the community, should go. I think it is an honoring thing to do and empathizing thing to do. You don't know how the grieving parent is going to take it, they could go irate, but they are grieving after all and you still have your child. BUT they may also never even see you there, you don't know their state of mind, but I do believe this, if you don't, they will know it or it will be pointed out to them and they will always have hard feelings inside whether its shown or not because you did not come at least in honor that she lived and died. I think this is about helping the dead child's parents more than yourself because at least they can see you cared enough to show, even if they are unsure of your motives at the time.

As for Kara and her brother. Again this is a very public funeral, but I think this has to be their call, can they handle it, do they need to go, especially Kara. Her emotional state is what's important now in deciding this part and its really bothering me that they are just letting her stay stashed away and has not talked to ANY professional right away after such a thing. I would be scared to death leaving her up there all that time alone in her room. Man even cops have to talk to someone right after they go through something tragic and this girl is not getting help from someone now? I think its fine to let the brother do what he feels he wants to do but someone in the family at least needs to ask him and maybe he needs to ask Kara if its ok with her ,let them talk about what both of them are feeling together.

As for the letters. This is a hard part because of yes, possible legal ramifications that unfortunately can't be ignored. This goes for the whole family. What I would think would be good tho, that I have seen in grief counseling and rape counseling, things like that, is to give Kara something to write on, write if she would like, a letter she would like to send, whether its to the girls mother, or the girl herself or not even a letter, maybe just her own personal thoughts. I think this would help all, but mostly Kara and Leigh. Leigh is doing it somewhat in her attempts to write one, she is getting out feelings. Have them write one as if its everything they would like to say, like Leigh would really like to do but then stops. Write them, but them you don't send them, you keep them. But its out, on paper and you put it away and maybe sometime in the future you may even send them, but you may never or what you want to say, may change from what you are feeling right now. I have done this myself and the letters I first wrote were like novels. They were never sent but something lifted from me enough to allow myself to cry and let go some. I just recently sent a letter to one of these people, 30 years later, since they got in touch with me and its a very different letter but exactly what needed to be said now. The first letter, I was able to see this month and it really was just about my feelings, nothing more and nothing I need to go back to, its long gone past. Writing is hugely cathartic and especially right after a trauma. I think, let them write them, then hold them, till the lawyers say its ok first of all (unfortunately) and until they feel its really what they want to say. Who knows, the letters may never go, they might go instead.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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erinmarks
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?

I am torn on my thoughts about the family attending the funeral. My innitial reaction is that it would be wrong. Actually...that is my final one as well. I just thought about a friend of mine who died while we were in high school. She was well liked in the community...straight A student, beautiful blonde girl with the world before her. She was backing her car out of her driveway on her way to go receive a scholarship award, and while she was pulling into the street, another car slammed into her, killing her. She was so mangled that it was a closed casket funeral. There were TONS of people there. It was in the biggest funeral home in town and there wasn't even standing room left once the service started. This accident was mainly, unfortunatly, her fault. Just thinking, though, of the other driver possibly being there at the service pains me now. I don't even think I can properly put into words why, but it just makes me feel ill. While they, the guilty, must also grieve, there should just be a more appropriate action..like sending flowers to the service...something to show remorse, but without coming when your presence might have a very strong negative effect on those closest to the deceased.
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kiakar
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?



erinmarks wrote:
I am torn on my thoughts about the family attending the funeral. My innitial reaction is that it would be wrong. Actually...that is my final one as well. I just thought about a friend of mine who died while we were in high school. She was well liked in the community...straight A student, beautiful blonde girl with the world before her. She was backing her car out of her driveway on her way to go receive a scholarship award, and while she was pulling into the street, another car slammed into her, killing her. She was so mangled that it was a closed casket funeral. There were TONS of people there. It was in the biggest funeral home in town and there wasn't even standing room left once the service started. This accident was mainly, unfortunatly, her fault. Just thinking, though, of the other driver possibly being there at the service pains me now. I don't even think I can properly put into words why, but it just makes me feel ill. While they, the guilty, must also grieve, there should just be a more appropriate action..like sending flowers to the service...something to show remorse, but without coming when your presence might have a very strong negative effect on those closest to the deceased.




This is a toughie! I think I agree with you Erin. I think it would hurt the parents so deeply to see the person responsible for their child's death. In other ways, such as a letter and I also think a gift might make the parents grieve also. But who knows what to do in that situation. Thank God, I havent had to deal with that in my life.
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Stephanie
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?

I'm trying to put myself in the position of the grieving mother... and trying to think about how I would feel. No, I think Kara's family should send a huge flower arrangement and stay home. It would infuriate me for them to think their pain even came close to mine.
Stephanie
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vivico1
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?


Stephanie wrote:
I'm trying to put myself in the position of the grieving mother... and trying to think about how I would feel. No, I think Kara's family should send a huge flower arrangement and stay home. It would infuriate me for them to think their pain even came close to mine.


Yeah but Steph, is it really about comparing pain? Or, if its a big community funeral, would it be about at least showing you care about what has happened. Like I say, this wouldnt be for the benefit of Kara's parents, tho I think it might help them too in the long run, but its about showing you care about the girl, whom your child unfortunately brought to this end. So many kids are dying now in car accidents around here, I have seen it both ways. Some of the family of those who caused it go to the funerals, some dont. But I have heard high school kids say about one funeral I know about that was similar to this one, that when the teen driver didnt go and her parents didnt go, but the whole town did, the high school kids are mad, saying "they didnt even care enough to go to the funeral!" This is one of those damned if you do, damned if you dont things I think, but if its a public one, I think its ok for them to go and maybe they should. I am glad Leigh and Gary did, even with the initial outcome, but those feelings can change later and people remember you did at least come. Now a private funeral, or one just for family and close friends, you would really be intruding on to go.

What do you guys who think they shouldnt go, think about them going to the graveside service part then? Maybe back from a distance? Should they stay away from both? Would you as parents keep Kara from going to either, if she wanted to go? I am curious.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Stephanie
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?

Viv,

Trying to think about your child being killed is terrifying. Putting yourself in the shoes of a mother who has lost her child is nearly impossible, but, since you know that anything is possible, the idea of that kind of pain still makes you feel ill. If I were in those shoes, I know forgiveness would not be high on my list of priorities. Finding a way to get out of the bed would be a priority.

If a "Kara" took my child's life, however much of an accident it was, I would still be enraged by the sight of her. Perhaps those feelings would abate over time, but within a week? And a "public" funeral? There should be no such thing. The whole town turning out? What reason would a person have to attend a funeral of someone they didn't even know?

When high school kids die in accidents, all of a sudden, everyone in the school was the deceased child's best friend. "Oh, we were so close!" In actuality, they never even said hi. Teenagers are melodramatic, they eat that sort of thing up. I would not let my child go to a funeral unless the person was actually a friend.
Stephanie
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Bonnie824
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I think it was wrong for them to go

[ Edited ]
Gary did not go our of respect for Bethany or concern for her mother. He went to help Kara in the eyes of the community. And Leigh went to please him. She was right in her initial feelings that she should not attend. The funeral being so big and public and full of people that didn't even know Bethany was bad enough, adding the parens of the girl who drove the car which killed her was thoughtless and cruel to me.

Message Edited by Bonnie824 on 10-23-2007 09:47 PM
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vivico1
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?


Stephanie wrote:
Viv,

Trying to think about your child being killed is terrifying. Putting yourself in the shoes of a mother who has lost her child is nearly impossible, but, since you know that anything is possible, the idea of that kind of pain still makes you feel ill. If I were in those shoes, I know forgiveness would not be high on my list of priorities. Finding a way to get out of the bed would be a priority.

If a "Kara" took my child's life, however much of an accident it was, I would still be enraged by the sight of her. Perhaps those feelings would abate over time, but within a week? And a "public" funeral? There should be no such thing. The whole town turning out? What reason would a person have to attend a funeral of someone they didn't even know?

When high school kids die in accidents, all of a sudden, everyone in the school was the deceased child's best friend. "Oh, we were so close!" In actuality, they never even said hi. Teenagers are melodramatic, they eat that sort of thing up. I would not let my child go to a funeral unless the person was actually a friend.


Stephanie,
Set the issue of forgiveness aside for a moment, that's something different than attending a funeral for the most part anyway.
I don't think when a teenager (or younger) dies and all the kids from school show up, that they are being melodramatic. True, they may not have even known them personally but gee steph., when its a kid, other kids have their first taste of mortality, and it scares them. Besides that, towns turn out for these funerals because the death of a youth tends to remind us that we are really a community, a family. We all grieve when a young person or child is taken and we need and want to do something to show that. Thats why you see these big "public" funerals when a child dies. Its not melodrama, or a day out of school, or what about the grown ups that come too? Death is the great equalizer, and tho it may separate families, it binds communities. We feel.
If my child died, I would let anyone who wanted to come, come. I would not question their motives. Would I be ok with seeing the family of the ones who caused it there? I dont know, who does till it happens. I know both happens, some families come together, some want to tear the other apart. You don't know. And I am not saying, get in their face while your there, they may never even see you there, but you will know you were there and others will know you were there and I think sometimes the family of the side that hurt someone needs to be there too. The family I told you about, they would not have been offended if that man showed at their baby's funeral, they knew it was an accident and he was in pain too. The Amish have certainly taught us all a lesson too. No such thing as a public funeral? Oh steph, the community family needs it so much and I think the families do too. You can chose to have a private one, this girls mother chose to let in the grieving community. You do teens a disservice to put down their need and desire to be there as just being melodramatic. When teens lose friends, they can become depressed to the point of near suicidal. And even when they dont know them directly but went to the same school with them, they do see their own mortality, maybe for the first time and they hurt. Teens have an immense ability for compassion during something like this that we dont give them enough credit for. And they have needs to feel and DO something too and sometimes the most they can do is go to the funeral, cry together, place flowers where the accident happened (that part bugs me a bit, but I understand it). Funerals are never for the dead but for the living and the death of an innocent child hits everyone in a small community.

When my stepdad died, the one I loved dearly, it was not at the hand of anyone, he was ill. He had been for a long time and really didnt have a lot of friends,none really but us out here and a few people in the church that he had met at the house. We were the last ones to enter the chapel. We had a viewing in one room of the church for those who wanted too and those who didnt could go right to the chapel. Then they closed the casket and took it to the chapel, which I think was a fantastic way to do it, no one HAD to see him, who wanted to come but couldnt handle that part. Anyway, we walked into the chapel and every one stood up as we walked down to the front. Its the first time I cried. I was overwhelmed at the number of people who were there. I didnt know who, I didnt know why, other than it was a show of support and sympathy, maybe some for him, maybe some for my mother, maybe some for me and my brother, maybe some for just our family in general but when they stood, I felt such a rush of love over us that I couldnt help but cry. I have no idea beyond what I just said, as to why they were there but I would never take that from them, and I will never forget that feeling inside me, tho I couldnt tell you today, or even the next day after it the, WHO all was there, my mind was with him. I just saw faces. But I saw lots of them and each one represented some kind of love and I will never forget that as long as I live.

Don't short change teen's capacity for compassion and empathy at such a time, or a town's sense of lose either. There is no disrespect in a public funeral, quite the opposite I think.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Wrighty
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?


Stephanie wrote:
Viv,

Trying to think about your child being killed is terrifying. Putting yourself in the shoes of a mother who has lost her child is nearly impossible, but, since you know that anything is possible, the idea of that kind of pain still makes you feel ill. If I were in those shoes, I know forgiveness would not be high on my list of priorities. Finding a way to get out of the bed would be a priority.

If a "Kara" took my child's life, however much of an accident it was, I would still be enraged by the sight of her. Perhaps those feelings would abate over time, but within a week? And a "public" funeral? There should be no such thing. The whole town turning out? What reason would a person have to attend a funeral of someone they didn't even know?

When high school kids die in accidents, all of a sudden, everyone in the school was the deceased child's best friend. "Oh, we were so close!" In actuality, they never even said hi. Teenagers are melodramatic, they eat that sort of thing up. I would not let my child go to a funeral unless the person was actually a friend.



Every situation is different and it seems impossible to make a blanket judgment over them all. It may make a difference in the size of the town or city you live in as well. I very much agree with Viv that a public funeral isn't disrespectful. Families can choose to have private or public services, or none at all. That seems to be changing more and more so the families can do just about anything they want to honor their loved one. My uncle was recently honored with a memorial service in the auditorium of the school he loved dearly and helped build. It was perfect. I come from a small town where just about everyone knows each other. I have been to huge funerals and people were there to pay there respects and to offer their support and condolences. People here go above and beyond to help each other out. When my 17-year-old nephew and some friends were killed in a car accident a few years ago his funeral was on the first day of school. His parents decided to have visitation hours at the funeral home and a funeral at the church. They had an open coffin and they were very informal about the service. The school administrators allowed any students to attend and almost his whole junior class of about 100 kids came along with students from other grades, most of the teachers, principals, coaches and the school superintendent. By the time we all made it in to the church there was standing room only. After songs and prayers the minister asked if there were any stories that anyone would like to share. After some family members spoke a few of the bravest kids stood up and took a turn. After that more and more kids shared stories that were funny and touching. People were also allowed to place special items in the coffin. Someone left his favorite magazine, a note, a flower, etc. After the service the family and his parents said our final goodbyes. His parents took most of the items out at that time and left only their own but they saved the others. We had a short graveside service and then a luncheon for anyone who wanted to attend. That service may not have worked for everyone but it was what his parents wanted. They were surrounding by loving, caring people who were grieving with them. It was good for the other kids there too. Their feelings were very real and very intense. They had lost friends they grew up with and for most of them this was their first funeral. Even now my nephew's friends continue to call and visit his parents. They've been able to begin to heal together.
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cindersue
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?



Stephanie wrote:
Viv,

Trying to think about your child being killed is terrifying. Putting yourself in the shoes of a mother who has lost her child is nearly impossible, but, since you know that anything is possible, the idea of that kind of pain still makes you feel ill. If I were in those shoes, I know forgiveness would not be high on my list of priorities. Finding a way to get out of the bed would be a priority.

If a "Kara" took my child's life, however much of an accident it was, I would still be enraged by the sight of her. Perhaps those feelings would abate over time, but within a week? And a "public" funeral? There should be no such thing. The whole town turning out? What reason would a person have to attend a funeral of someone they didn't even know?

When high school kids die in accidents, all of a sudden, everyone in the school was the deceased child's best friend. "Oh, we were so close!" In actuality, they never even said hi. Teenagers are melodramatic, they eat that sort of thing up. I would not let my child go to a funeral unless the person was actually a friend.




This is a tough one. If my child was involved in an accident and killed someone, unless I made peace with the other family before the funeral, I don't think we'd go. Legalities, the lawyer would say, don't write a letter or speak to the family. I would send flowers I think.

I have 4 kids between the ages of 17 and 23 and each has known a classmate(s) who has died at a young age. They have felt strongly about attending the funerals. If the families of the deceased didn't want acquaintances to attend, then they should make it a private affair. Kids, as adults, need to say goodbye, or tell the families they care. My heart breaks even more when I hear something about losing someone so young now that I have had kids. I've even had tears just imagining the pain others have felt. People, young and old, need to make peace during these tough times.
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Stephanie
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Re: Midbook - Attending the funeral, right or wrong?

In this story, I thought about the fact that, had another person been the driver in this fatal accident, Leigh, and possibly her family, would have attended, for Leigh had been Bethany's teacher. It is, after all, a small town. The fact that Leigh's daughter was the driver changed all of that. Leigh seemed to have the best handle on how Bethany's mother would react.
And the scene at the funeral was proof that she just wasn't ready to look at Kara as anything but a murderer.
Stephanie
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