Respecting Last Wishes

Q: I recently lost my uncle who had battled cancer for many years. When he died, it was clear from members of the family that he didn’t want a memorial service or a funeral. I feel like the family should do something to honor him but the executor says it’s against his wishes. It turns out; his friends had a service for him but never invited his family! Should I honor his wishes or create a memorial for him with our family? -Dean, 47

Dr. Anna: People grieve in different ways. If he didn’t want a big memorial service and his immediate family doesn’t want to hold one, it’s probably better to let that one go. If you need or would like some opportunity for remembrance or memorial, there is nothing stopping you from doing something small by yourself or with other extended family who would want something similar. You could organize a small ceremony or even a lunch where you could invite people to bring pictures or share stories. You should do what you feel would help you, but try to avoid imposing your own needs on his immediate family—they need space to grieve in their own way.

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