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Christmas or not

(20 Posts)
JSlondon Sat 10-Dec-16 22:49:25

Earlier in the year my mum died suddenly. My dad has recently moved an ex girlfriend into the house. She offered her condolences to my dad a week or so after I lost my mum, spoke to my dad on the phone frequently and they met up in person a few months ago (she lives overseas). My dad told me that they were going on holiday, which they did, sandwiched either side by a stay in my parents house. Basically, first date was in my parent's home, she has the same name as my mum, their holiday was in a place he'd been to with my mum many times - their honeymoon destination.

My dad doesn't want to share memories or grief about my mum and whilst I understand we all grieve differently, it feels like he's just replaced my mum. My dad told me she would be coming over for another visit and would I meet her. I knew it would be hard, but thought I would. Just before she came over, he casually mentioned she was coming over and moving in for good. The speed of this relationship and the cold, flippant manner in which he told me has set me back hugely to the point where I'm no longer ready to meet her. My dad said he would not spring any surprises on me but would give me warning - he didn't and I feel so angry and hurt with him.

Earlier in the year, I said to my brother that we should make sure we had Christmas as a family. I'm now so anxious about it. My brother wants my support, although he has met this woman. I want to bail as I'm not sure I'll be able to hold it together. What do I do? It will kill me to see her with my babies on Christmas when my heart is breaking my mum isn't there to hold them. I can't pretend my mum didn't exist. I don't want to let my brother down but I'm hanging on by a thread. I always thought we had such a close family but that has fallen down the pan since mum died. Do I risk fracturing family further or risk a breakdown?

Tootsiepops Sat 10-Dec-16 22:57:37

I'm sorry for your loss flowers I lost my mum very suddenly this year too. I am still bereft 8 months on.

I'm talking hypothetically here because I also lost my dad a couple of years ago too, but there is no fucking way on earth id be playing happy families. Your first Christmas without your mum will be hard (I am expecting mine to be, too), and your dad's new girlfriend being there when you are still grieving...I can only imagine.

I'd bail.

lauryloo Sat 10-Dec-16 23:00:24

That must be so incredibly hard for you

I think I would bail too. It doesn't sound like you are ready to let this woman into your life and you need to be allowed to grieve for your mum

user1467798821 Sun 11-Dec-16 00:03:10

The hardest things after a loved ones passing, are the firsts, birthday, Christmas etc. I personally think you would have struggled whether your dad had a new partner or not.
When we lost my mum, my dad struggled on for a while and then joined a club for single people aged 40-60 (mum was just 56 when she died). Within a few months he started mentioning a lady's name very regularly, so I asked him outright what was going on and he admitted that they were getting closer. So I asked to meet her, which I did on Christmas Eve, she was lovely and made sure my dad had a bit of a life, which took some pressure from us as he wasn't lonely. Sadly my sister didn't take it well and it caused a massive rift between her and my dad, but it lasted years. I had several conversations with him about it as I was very stuck in the middle. He said losing mum had made him think about how short life was and he wanted to have some happiness for as long as he could. This lady would never take the place of mum, neither did she want to, and although at times the relationship was weird, it made him very happy. He agreed that on some level it was selfish, but we both had our families and lives to lead. Sadly he lost this lady 3 years ago and is now very lonely.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that he is not replacing your mum, just grabbing some happiness while he can.
I think if you can catch him on his own and explain how you feel, he can be honest with you too.
If you really feel,you couldn't tolerate Christmas then don't go, or reduce the visit. You might even want to start a tradition where you spend a part of the day remembering your mum.
My heart goes out to you

IMissGrannyW Sun 11-Dec-16 00:21:57

I agree with Users post: The hardest things after a loved ones passing, are the firsts, birthday, Christmas etc. I personally think you would have struggled whether your dad had a new partner or not and also *I think if you can catch him on his own and explain how you feel, he can be honest with you too.
If you really feel,you couldn't tolerate Christmas then don't go, or reduce the visit. You might even want to start a tradition where you spend a part of the day remembering your mum.
My heart goes out to you*

My dad died and we were all so, so sad. He died quite young (67). My mum had this "friend" who everyone who knew him hated but tolerated out of respect for my mum. They're now together as a couple. I'm not going to go into detail because it would derail this thread, but suffice to say he's 2 years older than me, and that's the least bad thing about him (he's convicted of crimes through the courts - totally horrible). I'm struggling SO MUCH with wanting her to be happy but hating and loathing him. And knowing how upset my dad would have been to have known he was replaced by this tosser. And then my mum tells some happy story about new man and immediately makes a comment about my dad.... like she's reconciled it and it's ok for her (which is fine), but she expects ME to???? NO way.

So like User said - be kind to yourself and do what's right for you. Your first christmas without her will be your hardest, so do surround yourself with people who'll support and love you.
You can do the rest later. flowers

JSlondon Sun 11-Dec-16 11:57:33

Her death was very sudden. My mum and dad played a large part in my day to day life. My dad's way of grieving - wanting her things sorted straight away, turning primarily outside the family to spend his time, not mentioning mum at all, preventing grieving as a family etc has been pretty difficult.

I do want to support him, but this woman around my kids when my mum should be there instead feels like too much too soon. I also know I won't be able to mention mum at all or slip off for a discreet cry to get myself together if I need to. It's my first Christmas without Mum and my baby's first Christmas. I've been on maternity leave all year - my mum would have adored that. My "old" dad would have done too. I feel like I don't know who my dad is anymore and it's like I've lost him too. I wouldn't ask my dad not to come. I would bail instead. My dad won't care if I bail as I don't think he really cares about me anymore anyway, but my brother won't then have any support.

keepbreathinginandout Sun 11-Dec-16 12:14:25

JS why do you think you and your DB won't be able to talk about your DM? has your Dad specifically asked you not to mention her around the new woman? you and your DB should feel free to talk about past memories of christmas and other times. if new woman doesn't like it, she can get some festive earplugs.

user1467798821 Sun 11-Dec-16 12:46:32

JS, I don't think you've lost your dad, I think you are just seeing him as a person, an individual, as opposed to 'dad'
I agree with Keep, unless you've been asked not to mention your DM, I would raise a toast to her at lunch, maybe reminisce with your brother for a while, have a cry and then make the day about your DC.
Christmas always brings out the worst in people. If you have been asked not to mention your DM, I would. It be within miles of them on Christmas Day

Floralnomad Sun 11-Dec-16 12:51:46

I lost my dad very suddenly 30 years ago and no way would I have been playing happy families with another man a few months later , I'm sorry for your loss , and I'm sorry for your brother but if I were in your position I would be staying away . If your dad wants to delude himself that life is normal then let him but you don't need to play along with it .

JSlondon Sun 11-Dec-16 13:15:58

My dad has blocked or diverted any conversation away from my mum irrespective of this lady- he only spent three weeks with this other lady before she moved in, so there's been plenty of time to talk instead of blocking if he wanted to. It would also feel strange talking about my mum in front of this other woman. That would definitely be blocked and I don't want to cause trouble or indirectly be told that mum doesn't exist (not being able to acknowledge her would feel like I'm being asked to sweep her existence under the carpet, along with all the other shit that's played out this year). A few months ago, I said to my dad how hard I was going to find my daughter's birthday party without my mum - his response was "I know and now I won't be there either". I was beyond hurt. It's now reached the point where I don't care if I see my Dad on Christmas- I'm only concerned about letting my brother down. I've always loved family occasions and never thought I'd feel anxious around my own family. Mum clearly was the glue and I don't know if my dad ever cared about me - another thing I never thought I'd say. All year he has been so insensitive to my grief and at the time in my life when I've never needed support more, my support network as good as vanished. He is only as good as the woman he is with. Family means nothing to him.

Floralnomad Sun 11-Dec-16 13:22:01

Would your brother come to yours for Christmas instead and then your dad can just play happy families with his new woman .

UnbornMortificado Sun 11-Dec-16 13:25:16

I'm sorry for your loss op flowers

My friend lost her mam very young last year. Her dad also moved on quickly. They had been together years and really happy. He loved her very much and her death absolutely devastated him.

My friend was very upset too by it although now she's come to accept it. She still misses her mam dreadfully. I don't know if I'd have the strength to go in your position it must still be very raw for you.

JSlondon Sun 11-Dec-16 13:43:14

That would be too awkward as it puts my brother in position of effectively choosing.. Ironically, my dad is probably not even bothered about going. It's felt like Dad has had obligation written all over him most times when he's seen family members since my mum died. He's hooked up with this woman and is besotted. I get that he's terrified of being alone. I just wish he'd get that his kids and grandkids are grieving, want to be there for him and want him there for us. I don't understand why family seems so unimportant to him or why he had to keep smashing trust and be so hurtful and unfeeling to us. Why couldn't he have this woman without destroying other relationships within the family? He's gone from a man chomping at the bit to see my daughter as much as he could when my mum was around, to occasional visits.

He told me this lady was coming over for a holiday. I'd got my head to a place where I thought I would meet her as that meant a lot to him. I'd have met her without my kids though. He casually mentioned after much prompting when I asked how long she was coming for, that it was for good. After his previous bombshell, he'd promised me that he would give me warning. He must have known for weeks and told me at the last minute. That he could have had this woman whilst still showing some sensitivity seems beyond him. I feel too hurt with him and angry at how much his lack of sensitivity has set me back. I'm still reeling that I couldn't go back to my mums home without this woman there as he gave me no warning. I'm reeling that he was so dismissive of his promise and my feelings. I don't feel like meeting her now and certainly don't want my kids to yet. I get that he can't be two minutes on his own, but all my life thought family was important- so I'm grieving that fallacy too.

Mulberry72 Sun 11-Dec-16 14:01:16

So sorry for your loss OP, I lost my Mum very suddenly last year.

My Dad met a woman 11 months after my Mum passed away, and within a week of meeting her he was staying over at her house and booking holidays with her. He's absolutely insistent that there is "nothing going on" but we've told him that's none of our business.

He brought her along to his birthday lunch which we (my siblings & I) found extremely difficult and we feel as if he's trying to slot her into our family, which we are not comfortable with (2 of us are having bereavement counselling as we're struggling without Mum and with what happened). We're fine with him having a friend, they've got lots in common and are clearly fond of each other, and we'd rather have the upbeat cheerful Dad that we've had the past couple of months than the broken Dad we had for nearly 12 months, but we're not ready to see someone where our Mum should be and probably never will be.

My Mum was Mrs Christmas and loved having us and all the grandchildren round on Christmas Day, we've managed to swerve having her around on Christmas Day as she's going away and then they plan to be away next Christmas too, but I would struggle massively if he wanted her to be around us at Christmas. Don't get me wrong, she's pleasant enough, she's just not my Mum or part of our family. He needs to keep us apart for the foreseeable future.

I absolutely know where you are coming from flowers

ShowMePotatoSalad Sun 11-Dec-16 14:11:03

I'm so sorry for your loss, OP. And what you're going through now is so terribly hard. flowers

My best advice is to have Christmas in your own home, with your own immediate family. After everything you've been through you deserve more than ever to do Christmas your way and not in any way feel anxious.

Your dad sounds like he is perhaps still in shock after what happened. I don't think he has forgotten your mum, I think he is perhaps afraid of being alone, and of dealing with those feelings of grief and loneliness. It's obvious he has a supportive family but people still bottle up their feelings and carry on regardless, pretending that everything is fine in their lives. I'm not trying to condone his behaviour towards you, nor minimise your feelings about it. I just think that people's reactions to grief can be very shocking, and unexpected on all sides.

Take care of yourself. x

JSlondon Sun 11-Dec-16 20:53:16

Thanks everyone. I'm sorry for your losses. It's awful isn't it.

I don't know what to do. My dad has been so incredibly thoughtless and insensitive and has lied, but nothing has stopped him following his own agenda and forcing the effects on others. He then wants to act like nothing has happened and it's no big deal. The way he has handled it makes me feel disgusted and I've lost so much trust in him for being so dismissive and hurtful of his family's feelings. If he'd have acknowledged our feelings, spoken to us like adults, given a shit rather than running away when he'd been hurtful, I'd be in a much better place rather than dealing with all the grenades he keeps throwing.

Maybe it's time to do what's right for me and stay away. Just knowing he could come out with another insensitive comment, knowing I'm not allowed to mention mum, knowing alongside the first Christmas, I've got to play happy families with a man who doesn't give a shit about his family anymore is too much. I just feel awful for my brother, although I've tied myself up in knots about my dad so much, I'm totally screwed up now, so if I break down on Christmas, that's hardly going to help him. Dad has thrown so many grenades and prevented me from grieving my mum, that I'm not going to allow anymore. I need to grieve her and instead I've been grieving the loss of my dad as I knew him. Even acknowledging certain actions are painful for others is less important to him than pretending it doesn't matter, or saying just forget it. He doesn't care enough to listen and resolve - he would rather pain was intensified, left unresolved and we can all pretend nothing happened. It disgusts me.

JSlondon Tue 13-Dec-16 00:27:21

I've softened towards my dad and feel disloyal now. I do feel resentful for some of his behaviour but suspect that is also caught up in grief. The lack of empathy is difficult and I really don't want to be in a position where I'm indirectly told I can't grieve/life goes on - because then what starts out as a need for ten minutes away descends into much more grief. It's probably safer for my health and more likely everyone will have an overall better Christmas if we do something quiet at home. I just hope the family can understand and respect that.

haveacupoftea Tue 13-Dec-16 00:44:13

You need to stop taking your hurt out on your dad. People act in very strange ways when they have lost a loved one and it takes lots of time and sometimes 'acting out' to come through it. That doesnt change just because you're a parent.

Christmas is compounding the pain and my strong suggestion is that you keep yourself to yourself over Christmas, keep away from alcohol, take very good care of yourself.

1horatio Tue 13-Dec-16 00:49:37

He has to do what he needs to cope (which happens to be the old/new gf) but you have to do the same.

You have a right to not be ok with this. You do not have to grief or celebrate Christmas the way that would be most convenient to his grieving.
Just like him having a new gf may be the only way he can cope.


JSlondon Sun 18-Dec-16 20:00:08

My brother will feel really let down if I don't go. I feel so caught between a rock and a hard place. When these plans were made we had no idea that this woman would be there. Feel awful doing this to my brother, but have actually felt so much better in myself all week re sleeping and anxiety when I thought I could have a gentler Christmas- damned if I do and damned if I don't. My brother was pretty upset with me. Nobody else going on Christmas Day will really get it. It just feels like we are putting the feelings of this new woman above my mum. It's too much of a headfuck.

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