JEN’S TEARFUL (AND BIZARRE) GOODBYE TO HER MOM
Jennifer Aniston mourns her estranged mother, Nancy Dow, in an unusual service
Nancy Dow looked at peace. Two days after Jennifer Aniston’s estranged mother died at 79 “after enduring a long illness,” as Jen announced on May 25, a small group of about a dozen friends and relatives gathered at the former model and actress’ nondescript North Hollywood apartment complex to say goodbye. “Nancy’s body was propped up in her bed. She was dressed nicely and had makeup on,” a family insider exclusively tells In Touch of the scene at the evening funeral. “There was a blanket up to her waist, and her hands were crossed and resting on top of her chest.”
Jen quietly took it all in with husband, Justin Theroux, by her side. Also paying their respects, says the family insider, was Nancy’s second ex-husband and Jen’s father, John Aniston, as well as Jen’s half brother, John Melick, Nancy’s son from her first marriage. And during the unusual service, the 47-year-old star — who’d been estranged from her mother on and off since 1999 but saw her for the first time in nearly five years during a short, strained visit on May 12 — struggled with her emotions. “Justin was comforting her,” a second source who was there tells In Touch, while a third says: “She cried a lot, but she’s OK.”
The funeral was brief and, for some, uncomfortable. “Nancy’s bed had been moved from her bedroom into the living room, so that’s where the service was held,” explains the family insider, noting that a casually dressed female minister led the service. “Although [Nancy’s son] John said a few words, there were no fun stories shared about her, no laughter to temper the sadness. It was odd,” says the family insider, adding that the minister did spend some time describing an unexpected ritual: “She discussed shrouding Nancy’s body — wrapping it,” says the family insider.
Shrouding is normal for this type of service. “It’s what you might call a ‘green funeral’ because the body is usually not embalmed and there’s no casket,” explains Minnesota-based home funeral consultant Dan Hanson, who did not oversee Nancy’s service, adding that it’s completely legal but “far from com- mon.” The family insider explains that plans called for Nancy’s body to be cremated afterward, but notes, “The whole thing was strange.”
And not necessarily what Nancy would have wanted, claims the family insider. “I don’t know whose idea this was,” says the family insider. “A memorial service in her apartment is just plain ghoulish. Nancy wanted a nice service held in her church.”
It’s unlikely Jen had a chance to discuss Nancy’s final wishes with her. “Contrary to what Jen is putting out there, Nancy wasn’t surrounded by family and friends in her last days,” the family insider says of Jen, who first stopped talking to her mother 17 years ago, after Nancy wrote a memoir about their relationship. “Her mom was in the hospital alone, with caregivers.” Still, after not seeing Nancy at all since she had a debilitating stroke in 2011, Jen seemingly made her peace when she visited just 13 days before Nancy’s death. “Jen knew the end was near,” says the family insider. “They had a very rocky relationship, but at the end of the day, she was still her mom.” ◼