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After my Mom died, my sister's family no longer approved of how my Dad lived his life. They stopped communicating with him -- and have now stopped talking to me (since I still have a close relationship with him). I have lost most of my family members because we disagree about how an old man, our Dad/Grandpop, should live his life.

Family estrangement is the new death that I am now grieving, and for 10 people all at the same time, who no longer speak to me.

I read that this is common -- don't know if that is a new thing, or if it always has occurred -- but family ties seem more flexible. I was taught to stick by your family, but apparantly, all don't feel this way -- not even a sibling that grew up in the same household, with the same parents (and in our family, no physical or mental abuse, rape, or murder occurred, Thankfully). Trusting my sister's family didn't work that well for me, but, at least I have some good memories, and know who they are -- and I learned that if you're not with them 100% -- your against them (in their eyes). They have estranged many important people in their lives, so my Dad and I (and my husband) are not the first.

As I have previously written...I work two days a week with my sister (my Dad no longer works with us). I didn't just evaporate when I was dismissed. I don't involve myself - other than to say "goodbye" at the end of the day, but I am not interested in opening myself up to them -- just to feel this loss again. I do love them all, and wish them well in my heart and prayers (as it takes more energy to be angry at them, which, ultimately hurts me). So, I get to see that they are alive -- and that is good enough for now.

There are other people who care, and have a gracious spirit towards me, my husband, and my Dad -- they just aren't my sister and her family.

I sometimes do wonder how they rationalize and communicate their shunning to people who ask them how their Dad and sister are doing?

Sorry -- from my perspective, I see it as disgusting on their part.

I also pray for their Souls, as honoring Mom and Dad was a Commandment -- and I wasn't willing (even though I'm not ultra religious) to test my fate when I meet my Maker.

I hope there are some who will read this and relate to it -- and maybe you'll even write and share what you have experienced -- and, mostly, how you are coping with it.

Thanks for reading...

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Miss Ngu,

I'm sorry you're experiencing this with your family, I can't imagine how hurtful that must be.  My brother hasn't had much to do with us girls since my mom passed away 2 1/2 years ago.  It's not a shunning so much as he just doesn't think a relationship with us is very important.  We had contact with him while she was alive because we had to communicate about things concerning her but now he just doesn't see the need.  We all wish it was different but you can't change people and we can only accept his choice.  We continue to leave the door open.

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Thanks, Kay, for your compassionate response. It means a lot! It also feels good to write, and let this some of this pain out. Sad that family can behave this way. You sure are right about not being able to change people! My door is open, but the trust and respect aren't there - and never really have been - and the honest work it would take isn't something I've seen them do -- but -- you never know what will be.

I think I need to move into the "anticipatory grief" section, as these "behaviors in bereavement" have created new fears - like how to deal with my Dad's death without my family? Or -- with them??

I'm not sure if I should be writing here at all, given that my Dad is still, Thankfully, healthy (at age 86). No one is "dying" -- it's the grief of the death of my family - while they are living, that I am experiencing. But, it's not the same as them no longer being on the planet, which is what this forum may be intended for.

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Grief is not limited to a death, Miss Ngu ~ and there are many different kinds of loss. Grief is the normal response to the loss of something or someone that holds great personal meaning for us, and to which or to whom we feel strongly attached. The grief you feel ~ "the grief of the death of my family - while they are living" ~ is just as real ~ and just as legitimate ~ as any other kind of grief, and you need not worry about bringing it here and sharing it with us.

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Thank you, Marty, for your comforting words and understanding. Since my family situation shifted into estrangement after my Mom died, I thought I would come back to this grief forum, thinking that there must be others who have gone through this as well. I will keep looking through the topics to find more written on this subject. Thank you for letting me know I am welcome to write here, and that, yes, I am grieving. These discussion groups have helped me so much. I am very grateful to you for this safe space to write and share.

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We don't just grieve death of someone, but grieve when a relationship changes or when something alters greatly in our lives.  it's going to be important you take care of yourself and be extra understanding and patient with yourself.

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Thanks, Kay, for your kind words, as always! Coming to terms with my family estrangement has been very complicated and painful for me. Thanks for the reminder to take good care of myself, with understanding and patience.

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Hi Marty, I found some links you included in a post from 2015 regarding Susan Anderson's work with abandonment, and have been learning a lot about how estrangement is linked to this issue. Just the fact that I am working so hard at finding out information regarding this matter, reminds me that I am a caring and conscientious person. I know that I am at fault in my family's eyes, but I also have never seen them take responsibility for anything -- go to counseling -- ask for help -- or do anything but see their side of the situation to justify their attitudes and behaviors.

I always find comfort and resources here. I have also learned not to take the lack of responses personally. Such a big lesson, that is serving me well in my "real" life as well!!

 

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Well...off I go to see a Hospice bereavement counselor tomorrow. I am hoping that I can glean more information into how - and why - my family broke apart after Mom died. If sadness is the root of anger, then I guess I am really sad. I feel sad for my Dad, me, and for my whole family. So much grief has been unleashed since my Mom's passing: my Dad changing, my Mother-in-Law passing from complications of Alzheimer's, my fertility, my family's estrangement, my friend breaking-off our friendship, friend's parents dying. I know that some of this comes along with the aging process. And it all seems to be wrapped up in abandonment (like the Susan Anderson information you turned me onto, Marty). I don't know how much of this falls into the right category for Hospice bereavement, but am looking forward to finding out more.

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Good luck with your quest, Miss Ngu.  I hope you find your answers, but if you do not, can accept what is.  My own brother has had nothing to do with us since my mom died.  It's not that we're "estranged" so much as our mom was our link together and now that she's gone, he doesn't see a point in continuing a relationship with us.  Can't argue that logic!  He doesn't find us worth knowing!  It is what it is.  He's never had a desire to be close to us.

In your case it sounds more like everything changed at this point and it is good not to personalize.

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Thank you, Kay, for your response. You are right that I need not personalize others' behavior, and that acceptance is key. The choices I made regarding my Dad were correct for me, and I wouldn't do anything differently. It would have been nice for my family to just acknowledge and allow it in their minds, and let it be - but that's not what happened. I do need to make sure I don't "take on" what isn't mine. I appreciate your response.

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You'll be okay...it does take concerted effort, and sometimes it's harder than others...it's an ongoing effort, not one that's just over and done with.  Not unlike forgiveness.  I'm learning/practicing that.

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I have just found this group - it was like a perfect destination for my wandering lost soul to find.  I appologize in advance for invading your thread but I feel like I am going to explode if I don't get my feelings out. A little history first - I had a severe car accident in September 2016, requiring surgery for multiple breaks in my leg. My dear sweet disabled mother - in - law was fine at the time. With in 2 months of my car accident she suddenly passed away. My husband is her youngest child out of 4, and he was a mama's boy, but if you ever met this woman you would completely understand. We live the closest to her, so we were the first to know. I made all the phone calls, and all the arrangements on crutches. We had a memorial service for her, and I heard alot of unkind things at the service. no one in the family knew about my car accident - they all wanted to slam me by saying you should have called, we would have been here for you. I was even told at the service that I do clean up nice.  I have tried hard to bury all this behind me, and I have stood by my husband's side through it all. I am the one who for the past 15 years told him how important family was. After the service, we haven't heard from ANYONE in his family! No one - not a soul! They have driven right by our house to get to the beach, and posted pictures online. My husband is hurting still, and I know the anniversary of her death is going to be really hard. I personally am hurting, full of rage, and feel like a fool for telling him all these years how important family was. I don't know how to deal with it anymore. I want to scream at everyone of them. My husband says that it is ok, because one of these days they will all loose their mother, and personally i hope they are each subjected to the same pain that they have put us through! 

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I am sorry for you and your husband's loss, and for all you have gone through because of your car accident.  I know how much effort (and pain) it is to try and heal, it is a lot to go through in one year.

I hope that your wanting them to go through the same is not because you wish bad for them but because you want them to have some understanding...it never does good to wish bad on others, but we can hope they grow more empathetic.

I'm glad these people are not your husband's siblings...I think if they're cousins it's safe to let them go.  Yes family is important, but it's not healthy to be around toxic people.  Of course that's assuming they intend malice and aren't just ignorant.  Still, that doesn't sound like someone I'd want to surround myself with.  What does your husband feel or say about all this?  You say he's hurting and the deathiversary is coming up.  Just be there for him and show him you care.  Sometimes we can't take away someone's pain, we can only sit with them in it.

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/05/coping-with-anniversary-reactions-in.html 

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2014/06/in-grief-dreading-anniversary-date-of.html 

http://www.griefhealing.com/column-helping-another-in-grief.htm 

http://griefhelp.webs.com/know-someone-grieving 

You're in my thoughts and prayers as you face this approaching time.

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thank you Kayc for your reply.  Unfortunately these are my husband's siblings - not cousins. That is what makes this sooo hard! I do not mean that I wish them any harm, but i honestly feel that if just for a few minutes someone treated them as badly as we have been treated that they may actually understand. I still pray for each and everyone of them every night. At times I feel like a fool for even allowing them a minute of my thoughts. 

My husband has withdrawn so much since his mom has passed. He is no longer the same person I met or married. He has become hardened due to all of this unfortunately. He constantly questions what he did to deserve any of this. I am lost and don't know what else I can do to help him. He isn't ready to open up and talk to a therapist - and may never.  Right now our son and I are his sounding board, which we are completely fine with, but we don' t have all the answers. This is his first major loss, and with it being his mom, it is even harder. 

Thank you for taking the time to respond, and for your thoughts and prayers, it really means alot.

 

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I'm sorry too, my dear, to learn that your husband's siblings are being so unkind to both of you. You say your hubby was the youngest of four, and a mama's boy ~ so it may be that his siblings have been jealous and resentful, if not completely misunderstanding, of his relationship with their mom for a good long time. In any event, their behavior is totally out of your control and I hope the two of you can find a way to ignore it.

You also say that your husband has withdrawn and isn't ready to open up and talk to a therapist and that right now you and your son are serving as his sounding board ~ but you don't have all the answers. I can tell you that as a grief counselor myself, I don't have all the answers, either. A wonderful colleague of mine often says that "Grief is not a problem to be solved. It's an experience to be supported, witnessed, and held." If you can do that for your husband, without trying to "fix" him, you're already giving him a priceless gift, and much of what he needs to support him through this loss.

It may help you to become more informed about what is normal (and therefore to be expected) in grief. While it's true that grief is unique to each and every one of us, there are some things about it that are pretty universal and even predictable, and knowing what to expect can help you to better understand and accept your husband's reactions. You will find links to dozens of articles about grief on the Grief Healing Blog that accompanies these Discussion Groups, but I especially encourage you to read these two articles, in hopes that they might help:

Grief: Understanding the Process

How We Mourn: Understanding Our Differences

 

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Hi -- I am always happy someone writes on this thread. Well, happy isn't really what I feel, because I know how painful this subject has been for me -- but at least someone else is willing to share their story -- and I don't feel so alone. First, let me say I am so sorry you are going through all of this, and I hope you are recovering well from your accident. You also lost a good support in your mother-in-law. She sounds like she was a good woman to help you, and to love your husband so much, and him being a "mama's boy" shows just how much he loved her. I see that your husband is her youngest child, and am a bit confused about your statement that his siblings have not lost THEIR mother yet, so please forgive me if my response assumes anything incorrectly. I also don't have many good answers for this situation, as I am still estranged from my sister and her family, and my brother is deceased. Thankfully, I still have a good relationship with our 86-year-old dad. I can say that I was extremely close with both of my parents growing up, and considered my dearly departed mom to be my very best friend. What I have learned, in my situation, is that since my birth, my siblings have harbored a great resentment and jealousy towards me. They were 8 and 10 years old when I was born, and I got LOTS of attention -- so I don't really blame them, but I always wished they could've really loved and accepted me. Maybe his siblings also harbor some resentment towards their youngest brother, given the closeness he had with her -- that both of you had with her. Unfortunately, I do feel that withholding their communication and love is a kind of punishment from them -- like -- you've had enough attention already -- in their eyes. Maybe I'm wrong, but these original childhood grudges seem to extend into adulthood, and no matter what is said or done, "redemption" for me hasn't been possible, to overcome their deep-seated feeling towards me. I also held the belief that blood was thicker than water, and that family was everything. It is difficult to speak about this to most people, as they don't share this experience with their family. Still, there are PLENTY of people who also suffer this situation. When I went to hospice counseling (which by the way is free), the counselor said that she sees this type of behavior from families all the time, and I felt very understood by her. If your husband isn't ready to go to a counselor, maybe you will try it out. It's very helpful, and I recommend it highly, to gain more insight and to relieve some more of this pain. Lately, and mind you it has taken me many years, I have been feeling better in my own skin, and choose to share my life with people that actually want me in it, rather than chasing those in my family who I feel "less than" in their presence. It's been empowering to focus on, not what I have lost, but what I have gained from this situation, and that is a greater sense of self worth. This first anniversary will be very difficult, and I wish strength for you, your husband and son.

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This statement left me thinking they weren't his siblings...

On 9/27/2017 at 12:43 PM, clj21849 said:

My husband says that it is ok, because one of these days they will all loose their mother, and personally i hope they are each subjected to the same pain that they have put us through! 

I'm sorry to hear it is his siblings, it doesn't sound as if they're very close if they weren't even aware of your accident.  If they seem toxic, it's not necessary for your husband to remain in close contact, and might be healthier for the both of you to have a little space.  Not to cut them out completely, but not to spend a lot of time together either.  My own brother has chosen to maintain distance from the rest of us all his adult life...not estranged, just not interacting.  

Losing someone you love is never easy, it's a sensitive emotional time and we need all the supportiveness we can get.  I hope you and your husband can be that to each other and that it draws you all the closer going through this.  You say you don't have all the answers, we don't either, but we'll try to search for them if you voice questions here, I know Marty has a wide array of resources.

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Thank you all for all your help, thoughts, and prayers. I like you Miss NGU was "happy" to find this group, just to understand that I am not the only one out there that is going through this pain.  Please allow me to clarify my husband's quote. My mother-in-law had 2 of her biological children "stolen" from her by her sister-in-law when they were little. They had a relationship with my mother-in-law as well as their adopted mom. They were still treated as brothers and sisters by my husband and his other brother. So when he said they would loose their mom one day he actually means his aunt who adopted them. His family tree is extremelly strange, lol. 

I personally have recovered from my accident, and thank you all for your concern. I have to admit at times I was ready to just give up, but I found the strength to carry on.  kayc I begged my husband not to call anyone when i had my accident. I did not want us to have to deal with the attention, questions, or gossip that would come with everyone finding out.  The only people we told we his mom, and my parents. They lived the closest to us, and were a huge help, without any hassle. 

I honestly do believe that his siblings are very jealous of our relationship with his Mom. She was a wonderful, loving, caring person, even though she struggled every day of her life from her disabilities. My husband was the only one who stuck by his mom, and helped her out all throughout his life. But at the same time I know that his siblings had the same opportunities to do that, but chose not to, so maybe their own guilt is keeping them away? People are the most complex beings in the world full of constant changing emotions - no wonder we can't understand why people do what they do. 

Marty - I completely understand your statement, and I understand that I can't "fix" it, but the Mom part of me wants to take away the pain, even if I have to absorb it into myself. I do completely agree that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and I understand that there are multiple levels/layers of grief,  so I have been able to "run the gammet of emotions with him," without thinking he is loosing his mind.

 

 

16 hours ago, MartyT said:

A wonderful colleague of mine often says that "Grief is not a problem to be solved. It's an experience to be supported, witnessed, and held." If you can do that for your husband, without trying to "fix" him, you're already giving him a priceless gift, and much of what he needs to support him through this loss.

 

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You're sure right about people being complex!  Wouldn't it be great if we could spare our husband or children what they have to go through!  But alas they have their own path to go through, sometimes it's hard watching them make their way through it.  Then again, we show our faith in them by being supportive as they make their way through it.  I'm going through this now with my adult daughter.

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