Hax: How to eulogize an angry mother

The Washington PostJune 8, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: I’m a middle-aged gay man, one of two sons raised by a widow with physical (and mental, I suspect) health issues that filled her with rage, which persists to this day, though she does function better. Or maybe I’m more inured to it, I’m not sure.

Anyway, two close friends of mine lost incredibly loving parents recently, and that has gotten me to thinking about what I could possibly say about mine in a eulogy. I’m not sure my brother would even attend the funeral, and her current husband is almost certain to go first.

Somehow I’ve turned out semi-sane, and I’m sure I could cobble together a few vague sentences about how she did her best for me and I will always be grateful. That’s actually true as far as it goes, but I feel a lot of other emotions that would not be appropriate to express. This is a comparatively low-intensity problem, but I’d welcome any insights.

WHAT TO SAY?

A mother with rage issues is about as serious as it gets, no? But I get what you’re saying — it’s mostly behind you, you “turned out semi-sane,” and all that’s left is the period at the end of the sentence. (That image works on two levels, doesn’t it?)

Surely what you’re after is a way to reconcile your conflicted feelings about her, especially as you watch your close friends grieve in a pure way that you know you never can. So why don’t you really try writing a eulogy for her? Write it not for an audience but as an exercise in exorcising — though, who knows, you might find enough beauty in it to say it out loud.

That is, if you want to; you certainly have every right to decline to eulogize her.

Re: Eulogy: “I’m not sure my brother would even attend the funeral …”: Problem solved. Don’t hold a funeral. Seriously. We’ve all seen the “services were private” notice in the newspaper. You can do it.

ANONYMOUS

The non-funeral can be for the living, too. Thanks.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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