Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Didn’t Invite Me to His Grandmother’s Funeral!”

My boyfriend and I have been dating for two and a half years, during which time I have been around his family on numerous occasions: graduations, birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. His grandmother passed away Friday evening, and he did not bother to tell me until the following evening–and only then in a passing conversation about his daughter’s soccer game and through text message, as though it wasn’t the big deal to him I know it is.

He and his family had to travel to West Virginia for the funeral. He did not invite me to go and, when I asked why, he said, “It was not necessary for you to take two days off work to go.” Plus, he said it would have been crowded in his car with his parents and daughter, and he said he and his parents were going to share a hotel room. I found out through social media (gotta love that) that his sister’s daughter’s fiancé went to the funeral.

My feelings are very hurt that he did not include me in something that was so important to him. I know I shouldn’t complain and moan and groan, but this is not the first time he has not included me in stuff because he thinks it’s okay to make decisions for me. FYI…I’m a 38-year-old single mother of a teenage boy. I don’t think I need a man to make decisions for me. I am pretty capable.

Anyway, he told me I was inconsiderate because I didn’t ask him how he was feeling. However, I did say to him, “If you need to talk or anything, let me know — I’m here.” Apparently, that was not good enough for him.

I feel like I have been completely excluded from the whole thing and he has made it a point to only tell me what he thinks I need to know. — Over It

Your boyfriend’s grandmother dies — something you acknowledge is a big deal to your boyfriend of two and a half years — and, rather than worry about him and how he’s feeling, you’ve made this all about you. You feel excluded! Your feelings are hurt he didn’t invite you to the funeral! You’re mad that he waited a day to tell you about the death and then only did so over text! Have you considered that all of these things happened because your boyfriend suspected he wouldn’t get the support he needed from you and that you’d make this all about you when he’d prefer processing his grandmother’s death, grieving, and honoring her with as little drama as possible?

It says a lot that you literally did not ask your boyfriend how he was feeling when he told you his grandmother died and that your first impulse was to “complain and moan and groan” about “a man making a decision for you.” Excluding you from the funeral wasn’t a decision your boyfriend made for you. It was a decision he made for himself! And if you spent two minutes thinking about him and what he might be going through right now, you might realize that.

If this isn’t the first time you’ve been excluded from something important to your boyfriend, it’s well past time for you two to have a state of the union address. Find out exactly why your boyfriend excludes you from these things. I suspect the answer will be similar to Tuesday’s column: he doesn’t want to worry about tending to you when his focus should be elsewhere.

It’s lazy of your boyfriend to choose not to deal with you instead of sitting down and communicating his feelings, but I have a hunch he believes that communicating with you will lead nowhere and that you’ll just get defensive while he wants to avoid confrontation. Why he doesn’t simply break up with you, if that’s true, I don’t know. You must be giving him something he enjoys and doesn’t want to lose. But, clearly, whatever the two of you get from each other doesn’t seem to be enough to truly satisfy you both. So, sit down, communicate, resist the urge to be defensive, and really try to hear what he has to say. It’s long past time.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

43 comments… add one
  • avatar

    csp May 19, 2016, 8:23 am

    LW, I did this to my husband. When my grandfather died, my family had to fly to the funeral. My mom was in a tizzy about hotel rooms and flights. I tried to tell her that I wanted my husband there and she just got so overwhelmed. I went to my husband and said, “my mom isn’t thinking rationally right now and I think it is best if we don’t push her.” My husband understood though I think he felt left out. I made a judgement call that day about grieving myself and trying to support my mom even if she was wrong. Later my mom apologized and everyone was fine. Grief is a funny thing and sometimes you have to understand that people tend to be really self involved during dark times.

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    • avatar

      va-in-ny May 19, 2016, 8:55 am

      I agree with this. Grief can alter people’s behavior for no rhyme or reason. Would I be disappointed to not be able to go and support my boyfriend? Sure. But, in this case (and I”m very sensitive to Grandmas), I would let this go and focus on just supporting him in any way I could.

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      • avatar

        csp May 19, 2016, 1:04 pm

        You are right. Looking back, my husband was so great about this. He knew it wasn’t a commentary on him but more not making a very hard situation harder.

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  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover May 19, 2016, 8:44 am

    Ok, I haven’t read Wendy’s response yet, but the thing that stuck out to me was “I can make my own decisions”. WTF? Yes, I’m sure you can, but so can your boyfriend! And his decision was that he’d prefer to just have his family there. It’s not “your decision” as to whether or not you go. It’s his. You do realize you’re making his grandmother’s death all about you, right? How about some compassion? Jesus.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover May 19, 2016, 8:45 am

      Hahahah alright I should have read Wendy’s response first, lol. It just made me so angry!

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  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties May 19, 2016, 9:00 am

    “Anyway, he told me I was inconsiderate because I didn’t ask him how he was feeling. However, I did say to him, “If you need to talk or anything, let me know — I’m here.” Apparently, that was not good enough for him.”

    This phrase right here LW, is why you’re not going to the funeral. I would expect way more compassion and sympathy from a partner. Who doesn’t ask their partner how they’re feeling?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 19, 2016, 9:24 am

      I think this is the kiss of death for this relationship. He has learned that she is emotionally unavailable, emotionally self-absorbed. Emotionally he is on his own so why not be on his own.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 19, 2016, 9:03 am

    First off, you can’t compare yourself to a fiance. You are a girlfriend. No commitment there to join the family. The fiance has made a commitment to be a part of the family so there is a big difference.

    Depending on the size of the car they took to drive to West Virginia an extra person could have made it very uncomfortable. Not only would somebody have to sit in the middle back seat (would that be you, I’m assuming you would see yourself riding in the front passenger seat while his parents and daughter crammed together in the backseat) there would be an extra piece of luggage to fit in. They would already have luggage for four and the fifth person’s stuff might not fit. Then you get to the hotel room. Four people can share a two bed room but if you add a fifth somebody doesn’t get a bed and I’m assuming you would consider his daughter as the one who should give up the bed rather than you. You would be pushing her out for yourself even though it was her great-grandmother who died and no relative of yours.

    At no point do you mention loving his grandmother. You don’t mention being close to her. You don’t mention any relationship with her at all so you wouldn’t be there as someone who was mourning her loss. The only thing I can see is that you wanted to be there to prove your relationship to his family or ex or some ex-girlfriend of his because you don’t mention wanting to emotionally support him. You wanted to go for yourself. Why is that?

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    • avatar

      keyblade May 19, 2016, 9:13 am

      I think you’re right on. He told the letter that he didn’t think it was necessary to him to have her “take two days off of work”, as only one small part of his decision. It was probably easier to shift the focus on the way he considered the letter writer than for him to acknowledge that he was considering what was easiest for himself. Given that he is grieving and probably trying to also be supportive to his grieving family, the considerate thing to do would have been to let things settle down for him before initiating a conversation about all of this.

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    • avatar

      Ange May 19, 2016, 7:34 pm

      Right on, you’ve touched on a very important aspect here – the LW doesn’t even seem to care about the lady who passed. If my husband’s grandmother passed I would be truly sad as I think she’s a fantastic lady despite not knowing her super well. He would want me at her funeral because he knows I would mourn her too. LW if you can’t say the same, or offer decent support to the person who is actually mourning then no you don’t need to be there.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl May 19, 2016, 9:11 am

    LW – I am going to try to be as kind as possible because it is apparent that you are not feeling secure in your relationship and you have grabbed onto the funeral as a way to gauge the heath of it. My guess is that you view your BF as your partner and SO and feel that the fact that he was not forth coming regarding the death of his grandmother and then did not invite you to the funeral likely feels like he is not as committed to the relationship as you are. I honestly think you are overthinking the situation – and as Wendy said, you are making it about you. You need to step back and support him at a time when his family is grieving. Also try to be empathetic. You do not mention ever meeting this grandmother so it could hardly be expected that you need to say goodbye to her. The car WILL be packed with three adults and a child – add another adult and possibly your kid – and that situation is really impossible. There are likely going to be a bunch of family meetings regarding any property, bills, furniture, sentimental items that need to be dispersed. You need to step back and try to actually be a supportive partner. Perhaps make sure there are meals for your BF and his parents when they get back to town. Perhaps offer to take your BF’s child to a game, the zoo, etc so he and his parents can have a day off to work through the logistics of the estate, maybe you actually try to be ‘be there’ for him rather than just paying lip service while you complained about a perceived slight.

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    • avatar

      suzyinthesky May 19, 2016, 9:26 am

      Oh, you were much kinder than I was. Shame on me.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 19, 2016, 9:27 am

      I’m guessing that his daughter is at least a teen and maybe as old as a young adult if he is at a comparable age to the lw.

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      • avatar

        artsygirl May 19, 2016, 9:57 am

        Sky you could be right, my mother was 34 when she had me and 35 when she had my sister which is why I thought the daughter was younger. She could still take the girl to some event like dinner and a movie, shopping, etc – basically I think she should spend her energy trying to be helpful and supportive rather than complaining.

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  • avatar

    suzyinthesky May 19, 2016, 9:26 am

    The LW sounds pretty insecure in her relationship. Especially as she compares herself to other SOs: “his sister’s daughter’s fiancé went to the funeral”. His sister’s daughter’s relationship to her fiancé and how she deals with her grief has exactly NOTHING to do with the LW’s relationship to her BF and how he chooses to deal with his grief. Good grief!

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    • avatar

      L.G.J May 19, 2016, 10:02 am

      the “sister’s daughter’s fiance” bit got me too, that person is basically 3 steps removed from the LW’s partner and has nothing to do with LW, what are the odds LW even knows this person’s name? and yet she fits them into this bizarre hierarchy of who should/should not attend family events and its not even LW’s family (she may think it is but it is definitely not from the sounds of things)
      the mind boggles

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  • avatar

    girltuesday May 19, 2016, 9:52 am

    OK, LW, you seem very self absorbed and making this all about you. You’re focusing your attention on his sister’s daughter’s fiance and are oddly jealous about this. People handle grief in many different ways. Be there for your fiance however he needs you to be, but for goodness sakes, stop focusing on yourself.

    Now I’m going to read Wendy’s response. Agree with it all. If this bothers you, you definitely need to have a chat. Good luck!

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  • Amanda

    Amanda May 19, 2016, 9:59 am

    I’ll admit, this is a little close to home for me. I lost my dad suddenly (and very unexpectedly) this past December. In February, I lost my grandfather. Grief is very powerful. It’s foggy and dark. Maybe he made decisions differently than normal because of it. I can promise you, he isn’t seeing as clearly as you think he is. Which is all the more reason NOT to make this about you. This issue is all about him. Show up and be there.

    And, no, the “if you need to talk, I’m here” is not enough. That’s enough if you’re a casual acquaintance. Come on.

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  • avatar

    L.G.J May 19, 2016, 10:16 am

    the course of action seems pretty simple here:
    Send a nice card expressing your condolences, bring some food over to your SO’s house, maybe something frozen in case they don’t want to eat right now, casseroles are nice, or sweets. and consider yourself lucky you don’t have to deal with an entire family in mourning and the inevitable conflicts that creates and instead sit at home and carefully read over Wendy’s advice.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros May 19, 2016, 10:52 am

    It’s really tacky to make his grandmother’s death about you and your relationship. Every reason he gave made sense to me. You imply that he’s pretending it’s not as important to him as it is, but you don’t really have the right to determine the appropriate way for him to act based on the perceived level of importance. Some people can be really affected by a loss, but still have the capability of understanding practicalities. The importance of his grandmother to him has nothing to do with his decisions regarding the actual logistics of you going to the funeral. You talk about how YOU can make decisions for yourself, but this isn’t just about you. Coordinating your travel affects him and his family and everyone who would be crammed in a car with you. It’s not your decision to make.

    It’s really odd that you’re obsessed with being at the funeral, but gave a glib “I’m here,” which as stated above, is what you say to an acquaintance. This makes me think that you care less about his well-being and more about using this funeral as a relationship milestone. Also, the decision that another couple in the family makes has NOTHING to do with your relationship.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 May 19, 2016, 11:03 am

    In defense of the LW, it sounds like she was very confused. He texts her and says “I’m at the soccer game btw my gran died”. Does he want to talk about it or not? I’d have no idea. I’d be afraid to bring it up in case he didn’t want to talk about it.

    LW, please understand that the stuff he said with the car and the hotel etc. were all excuses. What he meant was “I’m really sad and worn down and socially tapped out. I need time to process this alone.” So for now, please respect that.

    However I would recommend the BF work on communicating directly, and learn to say simply and clearly, “I’m feeling sad and want to talk” or “I need alone time”. It sounds like he expected LW to understand his feelings from short text, and then resented her. That’s setting her up to fail.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 19, 2016, 11:23 am

      I doubt they were all excuses. In many cars five people is cramped and we don’t know how far they had to drive but it appears to have been to another state. The same for the hotel room. I assume they were sharing a room to save money so getting two rooms would mean they weren’t saving money. All so that someone who appears to have no relationship with his grandmother could go to the funeral. To take her along would have been to prioritize her above his parents and his daughter who were relatives and who should attend the funeral. One of his parents was the child of the grandmother who died. The other parent was a long time family member and the daughter lost her great-grandmother. The lw is a girlfriend. A girlfriend who wasn’t being emotionally supportive. Why should he make his family uncomfortable to accommodate a girlfriend who isn’t emotional there for any of them? I think he made the best decision he could.

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    • avatar

      artsygirl May 19, 2016, 11:54 am

      I think the LW’s BF has been communicative. He informed her about his grandmother’s passing within 24 hours of it happening (likely after taking a day to absorb the information and tell his daughter). He explained all the reasons why it was not possible for the LW to attend the funeral due to travel and sleeping arrangements. He then pointed out that she was not supporting him because she was too busy wigging out over the lack of invitation. Many people are not comfortable expressing the need for emotional support. The LW should not need to be prompted to offer sympathy and a shoulder for her partner and his daughter.

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    • avatar

      ele4phant May 19, 2016, 12:05 pm

      “However I would recommend the BF work on communicating directly, and learn to say simply and clearly, “I’m feeling sad and want to talk” or “I need alone time”. It sounds like he expected LW to understand his feelings from short text, and then resented her. That’s setting her up to fail.”

      That’s kind of a big burden to put on the person grieving, particularly if they are not already not the type to share their emotions openly (don’t know if he is or not, but given he’s a middle aged guy, I think it’s a reasonable guess).

      I think the onus really should be on the partner to ask, how are you feeling? And rather than ask, what can I do, just do things. Give hugs. Cook meals. Handle errands. If you’re told to back off, then of course back-off, but you shouldn’t make the person dealing with their grief clearly articulate what they need from you. They may not even know…

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    • avatar

      saneinca May 19, 2016, 12:34 pm

      I think wobster is right. It is true that LW should not be too involved about BF’s gran’s death. On the other hand, the BF should have told the LW immediately if he was really feeling sad and wanted support. The fact that he is so offhand tells me that 1) he is not really that saddened by his granny’s death, 2) he does not really look to the LW for emotional support if he is. He did not even ask her if she wanted to come and what is feasible in terms of transportation. They could have at least discussed it.

      That does not bode well for the relationship. And she says it happens time and again.
      So LW, (not based entirely on this one incident) you guys need to have a frank discussion soon. But don’t harp on this one incident too much. Discuss every incident he made you feel unimportant through your relationship and ask for his reasons and what you guys need to do to fix it in future. Or just nix the relationship altogether.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 19, 2016, 2:09 pm

        Oh, please. It’s on the burden of somebody grieving to fucking state the obvious? What was he supposed to say… “Hey, gee, I kinda really need support — so can we please NOT make this funeral ALL about you…?” Sorry, but this bullshit about him not making her feel important enough makes me gag… She already makes EVERYTHING about her. So it seems she already feels too damn important already. NEWSFLASH: the problem with this relationship isn’t him — it’s HER. And if some of you truly fail to see that, well, good luck with your own relationships as — trust me –they are all about implode.

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      • avatar

        saneinca May 19, 2016, 5:18 pm

        Every time someone complains that their spouse ( read mostly husband) forgot birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas gifts, the repeated advice given is that he cannot read the spouse’s mind and women should express their preferences.
        I am filing this case under the same category. Unless the BF expresses his need for support, she cannot read his mind. And he cannot complain about it.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous May 19, 2016, 7:22 pm

        Seriously? You expect someone grieving to express that they need support? I’m sorry – that’s insensitive at best.

        You can expect your partner to be there emotionally. That should not be anything you have to ask for. As far as expecting gifts? Those two shouldn’t even be compared. Two completely separate issues.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant May 19, 2016, 7:54 pm

        Generally agree people have a responsibility to express their needs. But in the wake of a loved one’s death the rules change a bit. Even the most emotionally mature and assertive person may temporarily lose their ability to recognize and communicate their needs if they’re grieving the loss of someone they love.

        And after a major lose – the assumption shouldn’t be “my partner didn’t say they need anything, therefore they’re good”. When your partner loses a family member it’s reasonable to assume they’re hurting whether they volunteer it or not. You may not understand what to do but you should understand you need to do something.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark May 19, 2016, 10:20 pm

        EXACTLY!!!

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      • avatar

        saneinca May 20, 2016, 1:41 am

        How is that true for this LW ? He called her from a soccer match and said in passing that his gran died the previous day. From that she is supposed to figure out he is overwhelmed with grief ?

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      • avatar

        Anonymous May 20, 2016, 7:27 am

        Because it is someone she cared about she should have asked “Are you okay?” or “How are you?” not just that she was there to talk if he needed. If it’s someone you love you don’t act passively when it comes to their emotional needs. Period.

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      • avatar

        Ele4phant May 20, 2016, 9:29 am

        Because someone died she should assume at minimum she needs to ask how are you feeling. And that he has to leave for a few days to go to a funeral, she can at least assume there are things she could do to make his life easier while he’s gone. Even if it’s just cleaning the house so it’s clean when he gets home.

        And how he told her means nothing (maybe he felt too emotional to say it aloud and needed to process it a bit before he could even bring it up – hence a delayed text message).

        Good grief, someone died. There shouldn’t be a question if he needs support or not.

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    • avatar

      csp May 19, 2016, 1:06 pm

      great answer

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  • avatar

    Ele4phant May 19, 2016, 11:15 am

    When my now husbands father was dying, he didn’t really want me around. He didn’t want me to go with him on the last visits, he didn’t want me there after his father he passed away.

    It was hard for me, I felt like what I should be doing is be right in there – because that’s what other couples would do. But it’s not what he wanted or needed. So instead I cooked meals to send along with him. I took care of chores and errands at home so he didn’t have to think about them. I tried to listen and comfort whenever he would let me.

    I certainly didn’t take this experience as a reflection of our relationship. This well and truly didn’t have anything to do with me.

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    • avatar

      csp May 20, 2016, 5:18 am

      this is really great.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 19, 2016, 11:16 am

    “Anyway, he told me I was inconsiderate because I didn’t ask him how he was feeling. However, I did say to him, “If you need to talk or anything, let me know — I’m here.” Apparently, that was not good enough for him.”

    You’re right, that wasn’t good enough for him. He was telling you that you weren’t meeting his emotional needs. You could have told him that you thought telling him that you were there if he needed to talk did that but you see that it didn’t and you are sorry. Then ask what he needs from you. Each person is very different so their emotional needs are different. He might need you to hold him and ask how he feels. He might have felt supported if you had run errands for him while he was getting ready to go on the trip. If he wanted you to you could have made sure he had a shirt and tie ready for the funeral, or whatever he was choosing to wear. You could have washed his car and vacuumed the inside to make it ready for the trip. You could have filled his car with gas so it was ready to go. You could have purchased snacks for their trip. If he has a pet you could volunteer to take care of it.

    If he is at the funeral now you could have some meals ready to go for when he gets home. Ask if there is anything you could do for him, his daughter or his parents while he is away that would help him or them when they get back. Ask if any of them need anything. Let them know you will be happy to go and get it while they are away. Do his parents need someone to pick up a newspaper for them or his daughter need paper to print a report for school when she gets back or he needs things for lunches for work and won’t have time to shop when he gets home. There are so many little routine needs that you could help fill. Don’t try to monopolize his time while he is away because his focus will be on the visitations, the funeral and the splitting up of things. He will also be emotionally supporting his daughter and maybe his parents. If he has a yard could you mow it for him while he is away? Help them in any way that you can and let the helping be your reward. They are grieving so don’t expect a huge thank you when they get home.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 19, 2016, 11:30 am

    Wow. yet another person who somehow makes everything ALL about them. Yet another 30-something mother who sounds all about 12 years age… Talk about emotionally stunted. This letter gave me a fucking headache. But simply expecting to be the FIFTH person crammed into a car on a dreary funeral road trip is simply beyond the pale, sweetie.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph May 19, 2016, 1:25 pm

    Here’s a peek at the story from your boyfriend’s side…
    My husband and I were engaged when my great grandmother died. She was old, obviously, but not unhealthy, so it was still somewhat of a surprise. I was working the evening shift that weekend and so my dad woke me up with the call Sunday morning. I still had to go to work that night and then couldn’t get a flight out until the next day. Got up, packed, went to work, went to bed, left for flight. My fiance offered to come to the funeral but with the short notice and the $500 plane ticket, and the multiple days off work it just seemed like it’s be easier not to. It really didn’t have anything to do with our relationship or how I felt about it, it had to do with how much I could handle dealing with and I just needed to get on a plane and go. Luckily he understood that.

    It takes an awful lot of self obsession to make the death of someone else’s grandma all about you. I hope he dumps you.

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  • avatar

    Bcamber May 19, 2016, 7:28 pm

    LW, I do not think you are insensitive, I think you are insecure about your relationship and are trying to frame your insecurity using the death of the grandfather.

    What are these other instances where he shut you out?

    It sounds like you two are not on the same page.

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  • avatar

    Adrienne May 19, 2016, 8:31 pm

    LW- I’m sorry for you and your boyfriend’s loss. Like a lot of different people on here have stated, everyone deals with grief differently.

    What struck me about done of your boyfriend’s behavior: relaying the information by text; you don’t need to take 2 days of work; the car ride stinks. How often and easily does your bf display emotion?

    Some people try and go about their business as if everything is normal, because that is what they can control. Maybe be felt like his life was a little bit of emotional mess and didn’t want it to spill over into yours.

    I might also be assuming, and I’m sorry of I am, but after dating for 2.5 years what kind of a relationship commitment are you looking for? If I’m understanding what you’re writing, you’re upset because he was treating you like a part of his family. But then for what might be a much more intimate situation, you were not included. If I were you that would hurt my feelings.

    While I think it’s important to get on the same page relationship-wise, I don’t think I’d use this example right off the bat. Give him some time, but let him know how you feel about him and where you want to see your relationship go.

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    • avatar

      virginia hina December 29, 2016, 1:39 am

      Adriennes answer was the most honest. I know how you feel. You are not at fault and i dont know why some on here growl. the most important thing is communication and be straight up. your boyfriend wasnt open honest and straight up and yu probably felt he was hiding something or had another agenda. Just tell him how yu felt about the situation then at least yu know he knows how yu feel for a change. it should hv bern a natural process for yr partner to share this moment with yu. Your boyfriend had another agenda and didnt want to include yu find out why otherwise yu next option say nothing and one day what comes round goes around.

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  • avatar

    carolann December 29, 2016, 12:57 pm

    My husband’s Grandmother passed away. I didn’t go to the funeral because our kids were little and we thought it would be best they didn’t have to experience it and the other people attending didn’t have to experience their restlessness.
    His Mom was beyond griefstruck (Grandmother’s death was sudden and unexpected) and everyone was too upset to worry about every little thing going on. They were not worrying about the kids and I and I didn’t expect them to! I think LW is just pissed that no one was concerned with her.
    They survived without me there and I have been with him for 11+ years. I WAS close to his Grandmother. I sent my love/sympathies with my husband who went on to be a pallbearer and support his Mom, Grandfather, Brother, etc.
    “Dating for two and a half years” gimme a break!
    LW is being petty and immature.

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