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Grieving A Parent As A Child Of Divorce/separation


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Hi all,

My brain has been on grief overload since my one-year mark went by on Tuesday, November 17th.

I grew up living with with my mother. My father was "the other parent," not that I thought of him like that in my mind, but since I didn't live with him, it was different. I think if I had lived with him, our relationship would have been different. Closer, perhaps. Or less close. I'm having issues of guilt and regret right now, because of not having spent more time with him. I feel like I had a choice. There were times I could have gone on a hike with him, or visited him, but instead I was busy with schoolwork, or I was doing something with friends.

But my father didn't get to see me as much as my mom did. My mom got to see me every day. I feel like I could have helped my father be less lonely (he lived all alone until 7 years ago when my grandmother moved to live with him). Instead of thinking of my dad, I thought of mself. I put myself as my priority.

I let my mother control my life a lot, even now. I could have asserted myself more and been more independent earlier in my life, but I chose not to. When I turned 18, I could have gone to live with my father for a while, but instead I went to college. As for school, the only reason I got into school was because when I moved at age 12, I became an Honor student. Before that, I didn't much care about school. Once I was an Honor student, it seems my life became school. I spent hours on homework. I got As a lot in highschool.

My mother encouraged me a lot and seemed extra proud of me in regards to things I did in school. I kept doing good at sschool to make her happy. My father was more proud of me, I feel, for certain personal qualities such as kindness, openess, creativity. He encouraged me at school too, but not as much as my mother. He knew it wasn't as important, and I...I just kept doing what pleased my mother.

I feel like I paid more attention, for the entire 20 years I knew my father, to my mother (and not just because I lived with her). Recently I recovered from his old email inbox, old emails and pictures. Most I am so happy to have, but some remind of the arguments my mother and father had. He would return with me from a trip late at night, and she would be furious and ban him from seeing me for a month. He and I would email each other about how angry we were about it. In one email, he asked me to take some time to call him, and I was so busy with school and he sounded so desperate!

It breaks my heart to remember/think of all the opportunities to spend with him that I threw away for school - for pleasing my mother. My schooling is almost over now, and I feel like - what did all this obsession over grades get me? It prepared me somewhat for an already difficult, salary-low career - admittedly my passion, writing. It made my mother proud, but it also made me focus on something is ultimately not extremely important. My father was more important, and I was so selfish and small-minded that I didn't realized the bigger picture until I got older. I realize it especially now.

Now my father is gone. I miss him so much, and it makes me so angry and sad with my past self, with how I've USED my TIME in life, that I didn't CHOOSE to spend more time with my dear father. It makes me feel this self-loathing and despair, that I could have done more and made him happier and myself happier. Instead, I chose the shallow, easy route, complying with rules, routine, and my mother.

I feel that this same complying with my mother's wishes/suggestions on-automatic is what made me visit my father less when he was ill. By then,years of "I can't leave school I have to do good in school" had already been ingrained in my head. So I kept doing school and only visited him once. Now I wish I could go back in time and say "SCREW THIS MIDTERM MY DAD HAS CANCER" and go visit him and spend weeks and weeks at his bedside. But now it's too late. I couldn't get my priorities straight and see the BIG PICTURE, that my father was dying and needed me, the person he loved most in the world...I knew all this subconsciously in my heart, but I ignored it for the easy way out and denial.

And now I'm all alone and miserable, and I just don't know what to do or think.

Has anyone else had issues with grieving and having had divorced/separated parents, or grieving a loved one who was estranged from the rest of the family? I would like to hear people's stories and how they have dealt with this kind of issue (and possibly guilt over it) in grief.

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Hi Chai,

I am so sorry for your loss. I, too, am grieving for my Dad who divorced my Mom almost 25 years ago. I let myself be very controlled by my mother. I now realize that I have issues with abandonment, and I clung to my mother because I knew she would not leave me. I realized later on that my father did not end his relationship with me, it just changed. I also stayed in school because my father asked me to. It is difficult when I tell people this because some just do not understand. What I don't tell them is that my stepmother and I don't get along, and I would have definitely been a third wheel. And I'm pretty glad that I left that situation be as it was. And even though I visited him often, and we finally had a moment I will treasure for a life time, I still feel like I did not do enough. I think that this is probably a common feeling with adult children of divorced and deceased parents. And maybe of any parent who has passed away.

Your Dad still loves you, and I choose to think that my Dad is not just in my past but also in my future. I also choose to believe that whatever I did wrong, it will be forgiven. I think my Dad probably forgave me before he died, but, like you, I find it more difficult to forgive myself.

It sounds like your dad loved you alot, and I doubt that he would have wanted you to drop school altogether and be with him. I couldn't be there for him in the last weeks. And, truth be known, I didn't want to. I wanted to be able to remember my Dad in happier times. I am so grateful to hospice. It is a wonderful thing.

I think that forgiveness is the final link in the chain of grieving. I think I have alot of work to do. This probably didn't help much, I'm still kind of raw. My Dad died almost two weeks ago, and I am still just raw and angry.

Thanks for listening,


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I do not think that you did anything wrong. Of course if you had someone to share this with before all this transpired while you matured to handle things by yourself, it just had to be. But do not grieve. You still have your father in your heart and his love for you and your love will always keep you together. I believe that my love for my best friend is so strong that I do not need feel grief.

You are a strong person Chai, and so is your love for your dad. I would suggest to keep it strong through this journey and ahead till you can feel that nobody and no one can ever come in between the two of you.

Your dad wanted you to find your own path and I greatly admire him for that. I am sure he knows that you will take care and find your path yourself, that is the ultimate truth for life and he wanted to give you that gift to find your own way.

Be strong, be as you are, We all believe in you,



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