Two-Faced Mother

3 Apr

Dear LetterBalm: I’m writing you about something that still gives me pain, so I’ll just say it: My mother is a hypocrite who acts one way in public and quite another in private. In public, she’s the epitome of the kind, loving and selfless human being. Our whole family knows the truth because we have experienced her vicious wrath first-hand. She’s a terrible wife and mother, spiteful and physically and emotionally abusive, and many of us have had years of therapy to counteract her hatefulness. She’s in hospice now and expected not to live out the month. All of us (even the grandkids) just want to get her into the ground as fast as we can. We’re having a private family service, and no one will speak on her behalf. What can we say to the world expecting some sort of big memorial?

–Son of a Fraud

Ms. L.B. can only imagine the depth and breadth of damage your mother has done to so many souls. You owe no one an explanation as to why there will not be a state funeral. A social lie is recommended in this case: Put the onus on your mother. If she was as modest and charitable as everyone thinks, they won’t doubt you when you say her longtime request has been a private service with only family present. If her various charities and boards want to honor her on their own after her death, they can. Of course, it will be the family’s decision to participate or not. Try this:

Thank you for your concern during this difficult time. Mother has always been explicit in her final wishes. She wants a small private service with only family in attendance, and we’re proceeding along these lines. I hope you understand.

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