Was estranged from Dad, can't get over his death

(12 Posts)
ILoveAGoodBrusselSprout Fri 13-May-16 19:50:29

This is my first time starting a thread. I hope I've done it right!

Since my teenage years, I had a very difficult relationship with my Dad. Much of it boils down to his alcoholism. We were estranged on and off throughout my adult life because of his unreasonable behaviour, constant lies, drinking, verbal and (rarely) physical abuse and his denial of any poor behaviour on his part.

My mum, who divorced him 20 years ago, lived with an enormous amount of guilt that he ended up pretty much alone, unemployed, drinking, etc with a miserable life, and she passed this onto me by insisting that I keep looking after him, giving him chance after chance, getting back together with him because he loved me and missed me so much, then later because he loved and missed my kids so much. His love wasn't ever strong enough to change his behaviour, though.

Anyway, there's way too much to detail everything here, but you have the gist.

In Feb last year he told me that he didn't want anything more to do with me - I was a pain, basically, trying to control him (to a degree, that was true I suppose). To be honest, this suited me. I knew deep down that he didn't mean it, but I'd taken so much from him over the years that it helped emotionally to blame him entirely.

He called me in April as if nothing had happened but I, rather unkindly, reminded him of what he'd said in Feb and ended the call.

He died in July.

Despite his unhealthy lifestyle, the post mortem revealed no cause of death. He just died and I don't know why. I was called to the hospital while they were 'working on him' and then he was gone, without knowing that I cared.

My mum, husband and friends know about our relationship difficulties so I feel I can't outwardly grieve for seeming like I'm faking it, or being disingenuous.

I think about him constantly. How he was alone at the end (he turned everyone, including his own side of the family, away), how he couldn't cope with life, how miserable he must've been when I turned my back on him.

I think he died, not by actual suicide, but by deciding not to live any more when I ended that phone call in April. I think it's my fault. And I loved him but he didn't know and, actually, I didn't really know either

If you've read up to this point, thank you. I don't know what I expect anyone to say, but I've never had the chance to talk about this before. My husband lost his dad (a 'good' dad) a year before and he isn't nearly as upset as I am, so he just doesn't get it

JustABigBearAlan Fri 13-May-16 19:53:21

I'm so sorry for your loss flowers

It's not your fault. It really isn't.

Ceilinglight Fri 13-May-16 20:28:03

I'm really sorry for your loss.

Your father would have had all the memories of you loving him, even if the last thing was the telephone conversation in April. It might have been a difficult relationship, but the fact that you kept in contact with him up to that point probably made him realise you cared for him deep down.

You're allowed to grieve outwardly, no matter what happened while your dad was alive. It doesn't matter what other people think. He's still your dad.

Sweetandsour93 Sat 14-May-16 00:30:03

Thinking of you flowers
It's very tough with family difficulties, your post truck a chord with me because I'm estranged from my Dad. He has various problems with alcoholism, depression and now emphysema and after a spell in hospital, he decided to stop contacting me and my dm.
I miss him hugely but it is also easier not speaking, I am almost scared of seeing how he is now.

You shouldn't blame yourself or feel guilty. Regardless of problems and let downs, he was still your Dad and no matter what flaws a person had it doesn't take away that relationship. His behavior and problems were his own issues but sometimes no matter how much we love someone we can't help them, they can only help themselves. It might help you to see a grief counsellor to talk about things.

weeonion Sat 14-May-16 00:36:46

That is really tough and so hard that you don't feel you can openly grieve. flowers

I don't want to sound trite but have you spoken to CRUSE, the bereavement charity?

ILoveAGoodBrusselSprout Sat 14-May-16 09:06:49

Thank you so much for your replies. I appreciate them.

Ceilinglight - my mum used to be in touch with him from time to time and she told me a few times that he said about me when he was with me, "I know she doesn't like me. I can tell". Actually, I was just really uncomfortable around him because of our history and, yes, at times I found him irritating (usually it was the smell of drink or inappropriate things he said in front my DCs)

Sweetandsour - we obviously have a lot in common with our fathers. If you can, please try to get in touch with him. I fear you may feel a huge amount of guilt once he's gone (not that you have done anything to feel guilty about, you understand). It is easier not speaking - I agree with that. But, if he'll allow it, my advice would be for you to try to be part of his life. I wish I could have done this, for him and for me.

Weeonion - no, I haven't sought bereavement counselling, although I have thought about it. I suppose I feel like my grief isn't valid and that there are more people with real grief who need their help. After all, I turned my back on my dad when I knew he wanted me back. And I feel that, if I hadn't done that, he'd probably still be here

Ceilinglight Sat 14-May-16 13:04:16

I'm really sorry to hear that.

I'm sorry you feel guilty too. It doesn't seem fair on you to say he'd still be alive if you'd done things differently (how can you know?).

For what it's worth, I believe when someone's time comes to pass away, there isn't anything anyone can do to hasten or delay it.

Hope you come to terms with it and find some peace

iPost Sun 15-May-16 18:49:07

Complicated realtionships make for complicated grief.

I found that out this February. A website was found, with an obit for my father, saying he died in November. And the link was passed to us, his 3 children.

We were estranged for the best part of 30 years. Becuase he left us.

I had assumed with him having been out of my life longer than he was in it, that when the time came I would feel little to nothing. But it hasn't worked out that way. It has felt like being run over by an oversized truck. So I have resorted to denial, which is working out fine, although I'm sure it doesn't qualify as "healthy".

It's probably better if you don't measure your grief against those of people with "normal" realtionships and feel like you shouldn't feel things as strongly as you do. It doesn't work that way. You feel what you feel, telling yourself your own pain is more than your fair ration can be a shortcut to sending yourself slightly insane. Becuase actively squashing it down can make it much worse.

A massive huge hug.

Becuase ... complicated hurts just as much as uncomplicated. But can carry the added burden of feeling as though your pain is unearned and you are undeserving of support, comfort and understanding. You deserve all those things. Perhaps even actively need them. If anybody is able and willing to offer them, don't talk yourself out of letting them.

Nother big fat hug.

Tootsiepops Sun 15-May-16 19:01:59

My younger brother died a few years ago. He was an alcoholic. I don't really remember the last time we spoke...it had been many years. It hit me really, really hard when he died because I think I thought there was more time for us to fix things. I think it's harder when you lose someone you are estranged with because you grieve the relationship you had, but also the one you didn't have - and once they've gone, there are no more chances for a better, future relationship.

iPost Sun 15-May-16 19:12:36

because I think I thought there was more time for us to fix things. I think it's harder when you lose someone you are estranged with because you grieve the relationship you had, but also the one you didn't have - and once they've gone, there are no more chances for a better, future relationship.

^^That.

So many times that.

ILoveAGoodBrusselSprout Sun 15-May-16 21:08:40

Thank you iPost. I really appreciate your response.

Tootsiepops, I agree, I thought that too.

ChocolateChangesEverything Sun 15-May-16 21:29:47

Sorry to hear such sad circumstances flowers

It really wasn't your fault in any way. My father was an alcoholic and I coped by remembering that it was an illness He wasn't choosing to be that way or cause himself or others pain. He couldn't control it.

I hope talking about it has helped a little. Maybe counselling could help you through the next phase of grieving. Be kind to yourself.

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