Ex-wives at funerals. How is this usually handled?

McCain’s funeral has been all over the news and it made me wonder about his first wife and whether she was invited.

I remember there was a lot of talk about Cher attending Sonny Bono’s funeral as his Ex, but kind of stealing the show from his “current” wife.

Generally, how are Ex’s handled at funerals?

There are too many factors. How long ago was the divorce? Were there kids? Were things ugly or was it a mutual? How does the second spouse feel about the first? How does the family of the second spouse feel? What if the ex just shows up?

I don’t think you can come up with a general rule.

My Brother’s ex-wife did not attend his wake, given in lieu of funeral.

It often ends badly. If I were a ex-wife I don’t think I would intrude. If there are kids, they should attend of course.

With McCain from what I understand they were on pretty good terms and the older children grew to be close with Cindy. One of the sons (both were adopted by John from her first marriage) works for Cindy’s family business. There is no rule, the family works it out. It would not surprise me if his first wife bowed out gracefully and gave her condolences in private.

Well, when my Stepfather passed suddenly, my Mom was absolutely devastated. It was completely unexpected.

His ex did show up at the service. This is not an issue as they had children (adults now) together BUT she did stand in line to say to my Mom “From his first wife to his second, I am sorry for your loss.” (Or something like that)

My mom answered “And I want to thank you for not appreciating him and losing him, because we really loved each other, and the last 15 years were incredible” (or something like that)

Or something like that. His Ex is a bitch.

In a normal situation, if neither are evil and both have remarried, it should not be an issue, should it?

Every situation is going to be different. That’s also true if someone wonders about whether an ex-husband should attend a funeral.

As long as the ex doesn’t show up for the express purpose of making a scene, it’s OK as far as I’m concerned.

McCain’s ex-wife is 80 years old and severely disabled.

My parents divorced almost 40 years ago, but they have me and my kids between them, and there’s no hard feelings at this point. One parent (and step) lives about 10 minutes from me, and the other (and step) lives about a 12-hour drive away. Their divorce was amicable, and my hope is that they would attend the other’s funeral. They don’t hate each other, it’s been a lot of years, and they have a handful of mutual descendants walking the earth right now. If either of them died, I would have no problem asking the other to be there for me and their grand kids, even though it would require a 12-hour drive/three-hour flight to get there.

TL,DR: It depends on the family.

When my ex died, his first wife was the one who called me. She attended because of their sons. I stayed away because I really couldn’t think of anything I could say that wouldn’t cause his sisters to start wwiii or else make me the world’s biggest hypocrite.

A woman I knew in Japan had the problem of how to deal with the mistress if you’ve ever seen a Japanese movie with a recently deceased person then you may have seen where they offer incense at an alter in the home.

She was kind (?) gratuitous (?) forgiving (?) enough to allow the other woman into their home for that.


I don’t know about public figures funerals.

But ordinarily funerals are not public events. People aren’t “invited” to them and if someone not wanted shows up they can be barred from attending. Whomever is paying for the venue usually has that right.

And yes, I have been dispatched to such occurrences and have had to escort people off property and have issued trespass citations to those that put up a fuss over it. Off the top of my head there was only 2 instances I had to make an actual custody arrest. It does happen.

Where it can get sticky is at a cemetery that is open to the public.

Hmmm, the way you’ve described it here makes your mum sound like the bitch. Unless there’s some nuanced sub-text I’m missing out on.

Anyway, yeah, depends on the levels of animosity and all sorts of other personal family stuff. When my ex died, even though he was in another relationship, I attended the funeral because I paid for the whole bloody thing.

In viewing the service, there was a very elderly lady sitting just behind the lecturn. Was that the first Missus McCain, or someone else? I remarked at the time that the lady looked unwell/disabled and just assumed it was the original Mrs McCain.


That was his mother.

Evidently his first wife will be attending the final service in Annapolis.

Thanks Lord Feldon for the clarification. Appreciated.

How old is his MOTHER then?


OK, I was going to say that you never want your kid/s to die before you, but in this case, living to 106, it’s gonna happen.

Just wow.

I do not generally attend funerals. Having not attended either of my parent’s funerals, and knowing my attitude toward funerals, my kids will not be surprised that I no-show for their mother’s should she predecease me.

Should I die first, I think my desire to not have a funeral will be respected. If my wishes are ignored, well, I’ll be dead so it won’t bother me a bit. :slight_smile: