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I have very few relatives, and feel quite vulnerable

(50 Posts)
Sunnyfeet Mon 12-Sep-16 21:10:35

I'm 48, married, no children (having a baby never felt quite the right thing to do). My wonderful mum died when I was 25, my father died 2 years later. My step dad, whose been in my life since I was 10, is still very much part of my life, although he's understandably busy with his new wife, but I get on very well with her. My younger brother lives miles away, there's no bad blood, but we're not close.

So I don't feel like I have a family network as such, and it makes me feel quite vulnerable at times. DH's relatives are on the other side of the country, and his two children (from his first marriage) are grown up and busy with their own lives. We don't see them very often.

I have some nice friends, but none of them know each other, so it's not like a network of friends. I'd never really analysed my situation, until DH had a health scare earlier this year. It turned out to be something very minor and is now fully fixed, but for the week when we were waiting for the results, I realised that without him, I'm pretty much alone, and it terrified me.

I've never really got over mum's passing, it left a huge hole in my life, and I do wish I'd got some sisters, but I can't do much about that. I know I can't create relatives out of thin air, but how can build the lovely safety net that having relatives brings, and that most people still have in place at my age?

bubs12348658 Mon 12-Sep-16 21:50:50

I'm sure someone will be along with great advise soon. I'm sorry for the loss of your mother and father, you seem to have not gotten "over" it. Would some kind of counselling help you? flowers

Molly333 Mon 12-Sep-16 22:03:56

I have family but we are separated due to conflict ( I'm the only girl and don't agree with make abuse that runs through my family ). Anyway I to hv felt like you especially as I've pretty much raised my two children alone ( yes I married an abuser and got out) . My saviour has been education and working locally as well as throwing myself into local groups and voluntary stuff . It wasn't easy but putting myself out there has made me vet very good friends who I know I could rely in , in fact better than my family .good luck

passportmess Mon 12-Sep-16 22:09:55

I don't have any family support ( they live thousands of miles away and are very authoritarian) and with the exception of his father, neither does dh. We have a child and we just try to build a small network of friends between school, work and uni friends. We try to keep in touch with people and reach out. It's more common than you think not to have family around either through bereavement or emigration or family dynamics. Obviously losing parents in your 20s is just awful and I am very sorry for that this happened to you.

whattodowiththepoo Tue 13-Sep-16 09:14:20

I know EXACTLY how you feel OP, I have stayed connected with family friends who my now dead relatives knew through a church they attended.
Although I don't attend any services and I'm pretty busy I find the support network the church has a huge safety net.
I help out with donations/driving/computer help and whatever else I can do to help and I have a support network through the church.

I'm not sure exactly what to suggest for you but I would guess you will only get back what you are willing to give, make friends and support them when they need it and you might feel more secure.

Sunnyfeet Tue 13-Sep-16 09:40:54

Thank you for the responses. I often feel like I’m the only person without any real family, and losing both parents in my 20s left me feeling very alone in the world. Obviously DH and I are our own little family unit, but having previously experienced loss on such a significant scale, I have heightened awareness of death (lovely topic …), and whilst I know you can’t pad your life out to the point that bereavement won’t hurt (stating the obvious here) I wouldn’t feel so vulnerable if I had a ‘network.’

I have five really nice friends who I see regularly, and I think I could definitely depend on 3 of them in a crisis (apologies to the other 2 if I’m doing the a disservice by doubting them) and I have wondered about doing voluntary work, just to broaden my horizons and you never know who you may meet. A girl at work does voluntary work with Help The Aged and became close to an elderly lady who’s almost her gran now!

Whattodowiththepoo I have often thought about the church, even though I’m not religious. I’m also going to make a real point of reaching out, as a previous poster suggested – and I like the comment that you only get back what you’re prepared to give. So I’m going to try giving a bit more with friends and acquaintances. DH and I both work long-ish hours and don’t have a lot of spare time, the majority of which we like to spend together, so perhaps how I can how we haven’t created a network.

LuckyBitches Tue 13-Sep-16 10:10:29

Hi OP - what you've said resonates with me a bit, but my situation is different in that I have quite a large immediate family. However, my brother died recently, which felt like a hole appearing in my safety net. My Dad is on how way out too now, so another hole will soon be there. I suppose my point is that safety of a family is inevitably going to change, and that we all have the potential to end up isolated, so you're really not alone in your fear (no pun intended). I would echo other comments on getting involved in your local community, you're likely to meet people also hoping to create new support networks (my mother is very active in something similar).

Anicechocolatecake Tue 13-Sep-16 10:20:17

I'm in a similar position. It's a very vulnerable feeling. I have health problems so that makes me even more aware of how on my own I am. I'be made some good friendships and all I can say is I'm pretty self sufficient. It is scary but there's not much I can do about it. I think more people are in this situation than people realise

Sunnyfeet Tue 13-Sep-16 11:10:44

Anicechocolatecake (and anyone else who’s thin on the ground with relatives) if you don’t mind me asking, what do you do at Christmas? It’s generally just me and DH – sometimes my step dad and his wife will join us for a few hours, or possibly one of DH’s children. I listen to everyone at work, they all seem to struggle to juggle all their relatives over the festive season, but we never get invited anywhere (because there’s hardly anyone to invite us) and obviously we never have problems fitting everyone in! If anything happened to either me or DH, the surviving party could easily find themselves alone at Christmas, and that scares me too.

singleandfabulous Tue 13-Sep-16 11:45:42

Another one here OP. It's very hard and gets harder the older you get.

I don't have a DH / DP either.

I think, as others have said, that you have to start reaching out to others in your area who are like minded and try to build a network that way.

I'm trying to do it now by joining classes and doing more 'outside' than 'inside' but it's hard as most people have partners and friends already and don't really like 'randoms' or simply haven't got the time.

I lost my mother and father young too so flowers know how devastating that is.

singleandfabulous Tue 13-Sep-16 11:50:26

Sunnyfeet I've spent several Christmases alone over the last 15 years and it's not so bad. I just treat it as any other day. Cook a lovely lunch, go for a long walk, ring people I care about, watch TV etc.. Sometimes I invite friends over and sometimes friends invite me over. I do have relatives but they are religeious so like to have thier Christmas alone for 'reflection.' confused

80sWaistcoat Tue 13-Sep-16 12:04:27

I'm in this position, mum and dad died a long time ago and siblings are scattered all over the globe. We like each other but don't meet up v often!

My DH does have a huge extended family living near us - which can actually be a bit overwhelming at times. Before I met him, my friends were really my family. Built up a strong network over the years, but I'm not brilliant at it and need to work harder at it I think. A good friend was on her own last year for Christmas and invited some other people on their own (2 of whom had lost their last parent that year) - and had a lovely day. She's doing it again this year - 3 of them having Christmas together.

I think having interests outside the home really helps. Stuff you can do on your own or with your partner. Another friend who has a v small family volunteers a lot and seems to get a lot out of that.

Sunnyfeet Tue 13-Sep-16 14:41:39

I wish I could have a mind-set like DH, who is generally more pragmatic about this sort of thing than I am – I’ve often asked him what he’d do if I got run over by a bus, and he always says he’d cross that bridge if he comes to it !!!

PattyPenguin Tue 13-Sep-16 16:11:00

I have a friend who lives alone and has no close family. She has an active social life but loves having Christmas day to herself. She stocks up on food and drink she likes and spends most of the day binge-watching box-sets and DVDs that she's saved up over the weeks before.

Tearsneverdry Tue 13-Sep-16 16:15:43

I understand totally what you mean.
I'm an only child and 30 now.
My mum died when I was 14 and my dad is now 74.
My Aunty lives in Australia and I have 2 good friends and that's it.
It can be really lonely especially at Christmas time

whattodowiththepoo Wed 14-Sep-16 09:32:50

RE Christmas- I have always spent a huge amount of money time and effort to make Christmas interesting so people will want to be invited. It's very sad now I think about it.
Does anyone else worry about how they will deal with someone's potential future illness if you are the only support they have?
I had massive fears over DP getting Alzheimer's and what I could do to help or even manage at all.
I found being proactive and looking for local Alzheimer's charities helped, I went to a meeting they had at a hospice to ask if I could help, couldn't donate any time but I drop off food once a month for a support group they have which helps me feel connected and at the least I'm helping them as well as ensuring they will remember my name in the future.

TheLastRoseOfSummer Wed 14-Sep-16 18:39:22

Same boat here, OP.

My parents were only children (so no aunts/uncles/cousins) and my father died 4 years ago. My mother is not allowed to have contact with my children and I am NC with her too. I have a brother but we are not very close.

It's now just me and the children.

I have friends, but I'm not really close to any of them. So no one phones, none of us get birthday cards or Christmas cards from anyone but each other (the chn get one from their dad's parents), we spend Christmas alone.

It breaks my heart. Literally. I feel the weight of grief and sadness, not of losing my parents, but of being alone and unloved, heavily.

Sunnyfeet Thu 15-Sep-16 15:56:47

It’s amazing how many of us are in the same boat, ie very small, or non-existent families. And it’s interesting that such different factors make us feel alone/vulnerable. For me, it was the cold realisation that I may have no one to spend Christmas with if anything happened to DH, a previous poster wondered how she’d cope without relatives if her DH became ill, and another poster feels very unhappy about her lack of relatives, despite having children.

Quite a few of the ‘solo’ travel companies offer short UK breaks over Christmas (so there’s clearly a market for that sort of thing).

I sometimes wish I lived on Coronation Street (!), where there’s always company, and always somewhere to go (even if you’re not keen on The Rovers) !!

BoxofSnails Thu 15-Sep-16 16:05:18

I too lost both parents in my 20s and my sister doesn't speak to me. I have an aunt local and DH has his mum.
But - and it's a big but - we have church family. I invite those who are isolated to us - we can easily have or be part of a houseful at Christmas. If you don't have a real faith, it's fine to just have a curiosity. The community is wonderful. I have close friends in and out of the church and though I have occasional pangs, especially for my mum, I am glad that my friends are my family.

AnthonyPandy Thu 15-Sep-16 16:17:41

I have been watching this thread because I too have a very small family (of 3) and feel the same as you. But I would add that I know quite a few large families and once you scratch below the surface there is a lot of loneliness there too, not keeping in touch, attending weddings because you're told to and leaving straight away at the end, not informing siblings of parent's funeral date (yes, really), keeping one's spouse and children well away from the rest of the family, the list is endless. And all of these people keep up an exterior image of happy families and you just know that the support is not there for lots of them either. They're happy to ignore each other for whatever reason as long as no-one really knows about it. They just are blinkered to how their family actually is and think because there are lots of them then that equals closeness and support. Well it doesn't.

Which doesn't help you at all but at least you can maybe stop thinking everyone else has a loving family!

And I would echo the others who say religion is their salvation, it is for me too, I would be a lost and lonely soul without it.

Sunnyfeet Thu 15-Sep-16 18:12:05

I'm beginning to think that church might be the way forward. I'm not particularly religious, I have fairly mainstream C of E beliefs, and my only reservation would be the likelihood of finding a medium-sized (large would be a bonus) congregation of people who aren't all in their 80s ..... whilst recognising that beggars can't be choosers!

I used to belong to a sports club (during my first marriage) and that was a good network too. I might investigate something similar again.

Would it be wrong though, to join a church group when I'm seeking "family" rather than for religious reasons? It feels a bit fraudulent?

sadallthetimexx Thu 15-Sep-16 18:14:04

I also feel the same I'm 30.
I only have my dad and nan.
My dad is 70 and nan 95.
2 friends ..both have kids and families.
When something happens to dad and nan il be all on my own
It's scary for me

Sunnyfeet Thu 15-Sep-16 18:36:24

sadallthetime would you consider joining a church group?

sadallthetimexx Thu 15-Sep-16 18:42:32

I'm not really a church going person ..not sure if they would be very accepting.
I'm trying to find things to do to meet more people

Sunnyfeet Thu 15-Sep-16 18:45:51

If I could find a 'light touch' church group then I'd be interested, anything overtly religious wouldn't really be me.

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