Losing an estranged parent - any advice please

(8 Posts)
mumzuki Fri 11-Mar-16 11:40:58

My aunt is in hospital, she has had a serious bleed to the brain and doctors believe she is unlikely to survive.

I don't know my aunt, she is my mum's sister. My mum and I are close, she and my aunt for a range of complicated reasons I don't really understand are not, although they had been meeting for occasional coffees at my aunt's instigation over the past decade or so. My mum finds these meetings difficult, she believes that my aunt treated their parents and also her own daughter very badly, but agrees out of a sense of duty towards my aunt who is now very elderly - she is seven years older than my mum, so nearly 80.

My cousin lives a long way away (although in the UK). She and my aunt are estranged; she does have contact with my mum, and their relationship is positive although distant. I don't know my cousin, she is much older than me and our mothers were not involved at all when we were growing up so I only occasionally saw her at my grandparents, when I was very young.

So, the question is from my mum really. She has told her niece about her mother's illness and is keeping in touch with her with updates about her condition. She isn't however encouraging my niece to come to see her. She wants my niece to be free to make her own choices, and doesn't want to create any sense of obligation, but is worried that it may be harder for her niece to come to terms with her mother's death if she doesn't have a chance to see her before she dies. Does anybody have any relevant experience they'd be able to share?

Sorry - this is long and sounds very clinical. I'm trying to explain but I'm not directly involved, but I would like to help my mum if possible and also if there is a way to help my cousin I'd like to do so.

ppeatfruit Fri 11-Mar-16 12:40:33

It sounds like your mum is being sensitive with your cousin and has to leave the contact up to her doesn't she?

Is she in touch on email with your cousin? Maybe just say what you just said to her. It is up to her.

mumzuki Sat 12-Mar-16 09:27:12

Thanks ppeatfruit for replying. My mum and her niece are in email contact and also speaking most evenings; my mum has promised to keep her up to date on my aunt's condition. From what my mum has said, it's clear that my niece has been through some extremely difficult times, and her mother has never made any attempt to support her in any way. My mum doesn't know the details of her niece's childhood, beyond what her niece has told her, but it does sound as if it was emotionally abusive at the very least. I think it's one of those family situations where everybody feels a huge amount of guilt. But yes, it has to be my cousin's choice I feel. My mum is struggling I think to describe my aunt's condition without making my cousin feel that she ought to be with her.

ppeatfruit Sat 12-Mar-16 10:49:32

If her mum has never made any attempt to support her in any way That's very sad and your cousin will grieve for the mum she never had but IIWM I wouldn't go .

My father wasn't abusive but he was never there. After dm left him he cut us all off completely. So I never bothered with him and didn't ask him to my wedding. I cried when he died but it was for a dad (who could've been) but who wasn't there. I wouldn't have gone to see him at the end, if I'd had the opportunity either.

mumzuki Sun 13-Mar-16 19:51:11

I'm sorry - that sounds like a horrible experience and I'm grateful to you for sharing it. I think on balance I'll just reassure my mum that she's doing the right thing by not encouraging my cousin to go.

Thanks again.

ppeatfruit Mon 14-Mar-16 09:22:13

You're very welcome, yes but thinking about it, it's probably best if your mum is just neutral though because everyone is different, your cousin may feel guilty if she doesn't go.

I'm a bit hard is some ways grin

allowlsthinkalot Sat 19-Mar-16 11:08:15

In my experience your mum is doing the right thing. My dad, who I haven't seen in over a year and wasn't close to before that, is dying.

If you'd asked me before, I would have said I wouldn't go. However, I felt differently when it came to it and went to see him the other night. I felt nothing for him, he was just another dying old man. He had no emotion about my visit either. No deathbed reconciliation. But I'm glad I went and he knew I'd been. I felt sad that things turned out as they have and what a waste, how did things go so wrong, etc but no grief for the loss of my dad because I've already grieved for that.

I feel now that had it been my mum I wouldn't have gone. Too much water under the bridge and no point. But if it came to it I could change my mind again.

So if your cousin wants to be kept informed, the option is there for her.

Rafflesway Sat 26-Mar-16 23:04:58

Sorry Op only just spotted your post.

I don't know if this will help at all but I have been estranged from my mother and subsequently virtually the whole of her family for almost 30 years now.

Although I don't wish either her or her family - or half siblings - any harm, if I was informed she was dying I would have no desire at all to make any final visits. I wouldn't even wish to kept informed as I don't feel any connection at all nowadays.

It may sound harsh but I am just being pragmatic! We are strangers nowadays and know nothing of each other's lives. I certainly have massively moved on and would find any "Final visits" very insincere. To be brutally frank, I have no idea if she is still alive or not, (same with my father who walked out before I was born.)
They would both be in their 80's now.

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