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Question for those of you with very little contact/ no contact with their family.

(15 Posts)
SouthernandCross Wed 05-Oct-11 14:46:05

Do you think much about what you will do when someone in your estranged family dies or gets sick?

First a little background:
After yet another argument with my mother in early Jan 2010, I decided to have very limited contact with her from then on.
I had done this once before about 4 years previously but had resumed contact after about 6 months.
I have various issues with my mother. She was/is a toxic parent. She said repeatedly I ruined her life, she wished she'd never had me, told me how bad I was and eventually sent me away to boarding school because I was out of control. She kept my younger sister and half brother home and played 'happy families' with them without me.
I've tried explaining how i feel about these things but she refuses to take responsibility for anything as will only say she tried her best. I was a 'bad' child and made her do it, and that boarding school was the 'making' of me. It wasn't, I hated it but because I did well academically there she takes this as proof it was good for me.
Since our last argument, our contact has been limited to emails about the children. I send her links to my photo albums every month. She has been getting very chatty in her emails, making small talk etc but I've ignored all that and only answered questions about the kids as directly as possible. She has sent birthday and Xmas presents for the kids and I tend to open the cards to check she hasn't written anything rude about me in them. The last one for DD2 had a line about asking her to skype my mother. I don't trust her on Skype as she is likely to start saying awful things about/to me. The kids aren't that fussed about talking to or writing to her, they never ask to and actually have to be forced to email her and say thank you for gifts.
I've emailed my mother asking her not to solicit contact from the children in cards, and threatened her with zero contact if she does again. Since then I have heard nothing from her, even after I've sent the last couple of links of photo albums.
The only other family members I sometimes hear, from are my elderly Grandmother who is very upset about the whole thing and thinks I should stop being so silly and apologise to my mother, and my sister who also lives in London. The rest of the family live back home in NZ. M
My sister doesn't like things to be horrid and can't believe I won't just 'be nice' so, although I have no axe to grind with her, she very rarely comes to see the children. We've seen her twice since Jan 2010 ( she lives half an hour away) and she's called /texted a dozen times.
She sent me a text message yesterday saying that my step father's niece died of cancer on Monday. Yes, sure it's sad that a youngish woman with kids has died but I'm not sure I remember the lady. I met her perhaps twice 20 years ago? I think that my sister thought I was going to realise that life was short and rush to contact my mother in an apologetic reunion. I don't know. I just texted back and said if she was going to text me selected family news I'd like to hear the happy bits as well. I know two of my cousins have had new babies since I argued with my mother.

But it has got me thinking about how I would react if my step father or my grandmother or even my mother died. It's going to happen some day. My feeling is that I will just stay away and continue no contact. Everyone will be horrified I guess that I can be so hard but surely it would be hypocritical if I went back home for a funeral of someone I don't like very much.

Does anyone else think about this kind of stuff? Has this happened to any of you with family rifts? What did you do?
Opps, this is very long- sorry sad

krispykremeaddict Wed 05-Oct-11 15:01:08


Yes I do think of these kinds of things. I'm 31 and have been officially non-contact with my mother for ten years now. The background being; toxic parent, left me when I was a teenager, had a difficult relationship for 6 years, within which time she remarried and had another child, and I decided I wasn't going to telephone or visit her when I was 21. I see her from time to time. Nine times out of ten, we ignore each other, and then when it suits her, she will confront me, in public and in a fashion suitable only for Jeremy Kyle. All that does is confirm my decision. But anyway, onto what I would do.

I think I would stay away in the immediate aftermath. I wouldn't want to be around most of her family anyway. Maybe I would visit privately, to mourn for myself check the evil cow is gone as I do feel a bit cheated that she left when I was young and I never got to say goodbye then. She's missed every big events in my life anyway. (I'm not as bitter as I sound - I promise!) I am in contact, and in fact very close with a member of her extended family (who is also not in contact with her) - I know difficulties would crop up if something happened to them, but it depends on how far down the line that is (literally in relation to who else is living and in contact by then, it is a VERY fragmented family). I'll deal with that when necessary, and because I'm so close to this person and their family, I think I'll have more to worry about than my mother.

I also think about what happens if I die. I've told my dad my mother wouldn't be welcome, and as much as he dislikes her, he says that's unreasonable. So he's just said that if that were to happen, he'll make sure that she hears everything she has missed.

I'm really sorry to read about your experience. I think my view is that life is too short and precious to have her in it incase she gets sick/dies so I'm not going to have a relationship with her based on that. Each to their own, just thought I'd respond to your wondering out loud.

Grimbo1 Wed 05-Oct-11 15:06:33

I can only go on what you've written and I am probably making a lot of assumptions here but you do sound like you are still very bitter and angry (which I can understand, must be hard to be rejected like that as a child) I think you are being like this as a cry for help, to get your family to understand but its just pushing them away further and making them think that your mum was right to do what she did.
But what's done is done and life is too short, your mum knows deep down she was wrong, and can't live with the guilt so blames you, but I dont think you need to be angry anymore

BumptiousandBustly Wed 05-Oct-11 15:16:20

I am also estranged from my mother and step father - its only been a few months, but boy is my life less stressful.

I also think that you can't stay in touch with people in case they die. I think the regret that you have if some one dies, is that you didn't manage to sort things out with them - well I have tried to sort things out with my -D- M and -D- SF and it hasn't worked - yes I regret that, but staying in touch with them is not going to help me work things out with them.

in fact that is why both relationships finished with big rows - I knew if I said how I really felt then there would be a big row, but then at least I don't have to think "well I never told them how i feel!" - I did - it just didn't make any difference. (NB I know this is not how she sees it, but frankly I have no control over that)

With regard to funerals - I just don't know. my mother is very healthy and, unless there is an accident, is likely to live for a long time. my step father on the other hand is not terribly healthy and how knows how long he has left.

My current thinking is that I will probably go to his funeral, and then leave before any kind of reception (or whatever they call them) (They live on the otherside of the country, which complicates it, but that is still the current thinking)

The bigger problem is if my younger sister gets married - really don't know about that one - but I can't solve it at the moment, they may not marry for a few years, and they may do it abroad, in which case we couldn't afford to go anyway!

Its not simple, but I am kind of trying to think - sufficient unto the day - this is the right thing for me, not being in contact with them, and if there are any major life events, I will deal with them when they occur.

I hope that helps, and made some kind of sense.

GodKeepsGiving Wed 05-Oct-11 15:25:53

I have no contact with anyone from my family. I had a terrible childhood which culminated in my having a massive bout of depression for which I was almost hospitalised. Some of them have died since then. You can probably tell from my username that I am religious - I have prayed that they wouldn't suffer and that God would take care of the rest. I believe that my life is as important as theirs and that to stay healthy for my own family I cannot afford to look back. It isn't a particularly easy road but it beats the alternative. Some people prefer to keep an open mind and retain limited contact but for me it wasn't an option. I haven't been to any funerals and don't plan to do so, it will only cause me pain, direct criticism my way and will not help the deceased. Even so, each situation is unique and you have to figure out what's right for you. Good luck.

SouthernandCross Wed 05-Oct-11 15:38:48

Grimbo, I guess part of me is still angry but angry that my mother won't take responsibility for what she did. I'm not angry about what happened, that's in the past now.
My life has been 400% better since I decided to disown my mother and I wish I'd done it years ago, I have no regrets. I don't wish bad things for them, I hope they live long happy lives and a teeny tiny part of me feels guilty for depriving them of meaningful contact with the kids.
But I do get angry when people try to get me to forgive my mother.
This attempt by my sister to engage me yesterday, just set me off thinking again and I wondered how others coped.

TeachMySelfBalance Wed 05-Oct-11 16:43:38

Yep, think about it too.
My folks are already deceased though. I am very low (heading to no) contact with my sister, about 3-1/2 years now. She now has breast cancer, caught very early. My Oldest Sister went to assist her when she had the first surgery (wasn't going to go through it for the second procedure). I stayed away, citing it would've been inappropriate to bring a 3 yo around.

My Oldest Sister went out of a sense of duty to herself as she is a nurse, not duty to the sick one.

I think it is best in these circumstances to do what is right for you. Your comment about seeming hypocritical indicates to me that you are worried about what other people are thinking about "all of this" (my quote). "All of this" is a dismissive term for what is very personal to you.

They can be dismissive, but it crosses a line to presume to persuade you to be dismissive of your own life! Calling you silly, or too sensitive, or any other name, are different forms of dismissiveness.

I believe it would be ok to miss the funeral for your stepfather's niece. You did not know her. And you do not feel that you are close enough to the people that may be devastated by the death to give them personal support. Sending a small boquet of flowers and/or a card would be a good response and save you from enduring contact with the toxic ones.

hamishmcbeth Wed 05-Oct-11 19:26:24

Oh OP yes I do! Its something that I really worry about...good or bad things happening actually! Its not my parents that I no longer have contact with but my sister (and therefore my nephews) and now because of this my relationship with my other sister has becaome very difficult too. I've taken so much abuse from my sister over the last few years that finally just over a year ago I decided to say enough was enough. The final straw was the reaction from one of my children when they heard her shouting at me on the phone and got upset seeing me so upset...I suddenly thought what the hell am I doing taking all this crap! I guess I put up with it for so long because she had such a rotten time at home and was in a difficult situation. When I think about what I've lost I get very upset, we will never be able to have family days together...what about Christmas, birthdays, weddings, christenings ect every "family" event will now be I go or do I keep away? Its awful and at the moment I can't come to terms with it because I'm hurting so much.
I also think that missing your stepfather's niece funeral is ok but if it was me I'd probably send a card. That way they know you're thinking about them but you shouldn't feel you need to visit them. Well thats what I'd do anyway. Hope things work out ok for you.

CleopatrasAsp Thu 06-Oct-11 01:56:16

OP, I was forced to think about this last year when my grandmother had a heart attack. We have been no-contact for around six years due to the fact that she just cannot stop trying to persuade me to have contact with my extremely toxic and abusive mother (her daughter). I have tried to have an independent relationship with her but to no avail. I had already forgiven her once for throwing out my mother when she was unmarried and pregnant with me, having nothing to do with me until my mother married my stepfather and was 'respectable' again and then trying her best to squeeze my father's parents out of my life once she was back in it. She is quite toxic herself but less so than my mother.

Despite all this, I am very close to her sister, my great aunt and we write to one another regularly. My great aunt mostly understands my reasons for not being in contact with my grandmother (and she can't stand my mother wink). We have had some good talks about the whole situation but we mainly talk about other things. My grandmother is jealous of my relationship with her sister and often sulks and gets upset with my great aunt because she is in contact with me.

Over the years my aunt has tried a few times to gently talk me into having contact with my grandmother again. I have tried to be as kind as possible but have explained my position and reiterated that I would understand if she wanted to break contact with me because of it. So far that hasn't happened 'cause she is a lovely woman and we are very fond of one another.
However, when my grandmother had a heart attack last year my great aunt put quite a lot of subtle pressure on me to contact her. I was really torn, not only because on a basic human level I did not like to hear that my grandmother (as another human being) had been ill but also because I really did not want to upset my great aunt, who I care for very much. I thought about it for quite a few days and sent general texts asking my aunt how my grandmother was but I soon realised that I was going through the motions and that I really didn't want contact and was prepared to live with that decision whatever the outcome. I did not contact my grandmother or send a card or flowers. I just did not want to open up doorways through which my mother could enter my life again, which is what contact with my grandmother would mean because she cannot have an independent relationship with me - which is her choice.

I did not hear from my aunt for about six weeks after my grandmother recovered and I faced up to the fact that she might have found it hard to come to terms with my decision and prepared myself not to hear from her again. I was sad about it but accepted it as the consequence of my choices. But then I received a completely normal letter and everything is now back to normal. I don't regret what I did and would have lived with the consequences if my grandmother hadn't recovered. If I had contacted her it would have been 'false' and would have been the result of family and social pressure and not genuine feelings on my part. My grandmother is now hale and hearty again and still chooses not to have an independent relationship with me - after all this time it is a relief to be honest.

Bearskinwoolies Thu 06-Oct-11 04:07:58

I've been no contact with all but one cousin from my mothers side of the family for nine years. I was raised mainly by my mothers twin sister (after my mother disappeared) and I had a really shit childhood. My aunt is a narc religious cowbag; and I went through a lot because of her delusions and beliefs. Her side of the family play down her madness, and refuse to understand just how toxic she can be.

I broke off all contact at xmas 2002, when she sent my dcs cards, with a nice little message telling them they are 'bastards' as my dh and I aren't married in her religion.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer not long after this, and rang me to order me to abandon my family and return home to care for her. Needless to say I refused...and changed my phone number. She went on to recover fully, but still sends cards at my birthday & xmas full of nastiness. I open them to verify they are from her, then they are binned. I had to threaten her with a restraining order at one stage, as she was giving out my address to all her religious cult friends, so they could write to me, and maintain contact that way.

I won't have contact ever again with her; I'm here to ensure my dcs safety, and that definitely includes protecting them from her.

OP - you have to do what is best for you, and for your family.

ReindeerBollocks Thu 06-Oct-11 11:47:31

I have this problem at the moment and I don't know what to do about it either.

I have been estranged from one of my parents for nearly ten years. No contact barring one or two emails from said parent to tell me that I'm a rubbish mum to my own child (who has never met this grandparent).

Anyway, the mother of this parent is dying. Apparently I am requested to attend her deathbed and no-one from this family will argue/start a fight with me if I do go to see her.

But this family aren't my family anymore. They haven't been since they all cut me out ten years ago and I really don't know what I should do.

I have taken comfort from the other experiences here though.

AltMama85 Thu 06-Oct-11 11:58:33

yeah i think about it, my mother is a toxic, broken person who used me as a tool to get money/drank too much/beat seven shades of plop out of me and made me feel like a worthless incapable person for years, i cut her out. and to be honest i think it was the best thing i ever did. when she dies i wont go to the funeral. i wont accept any money that she may have left me and i wont shed a tear. i let go of her control over me and it felt great. i wont take any joy in her death, and i wont feel sad. it will just be like watching something on the news for me.

yeah ok i sound evil, but seriously if you knew the full extent of her doings, you'd understand.

if your kids dont want access with her/dont like talking with her/dont care for the presents then i would stop sending her pictures and have zero contact. it sounds as if you could possibly still crave her love and attention (which is understandable) or you wouldnt have any contact with her at all, you're leaving the lines of communication open for her and seem hurt that she hasnt responded to you for a while. have a real think whether or not you really want zero contact

either way be gentle with yourself x

ChitChattingWithKids Thu 06-Oct-11 12:00:20

I'm not in that situation (I have a difficult mother, and upbringing was difficult at times but can understand why and don't let her whitewash it at all - but she's generally ok with that), but from an outsiders perspective I wouldn't think you were being unreasonable to feel this way. It would be nice if you could work things out with your mother, but why should you? She treated you appallingly, and won't hold her hand up and say 'yes, I was at fault, I'm sorry'. So meh to her.

Do what you need to to be happy - whether that is getting in contact with her or whether it is keeping her well away from your family. Death doesn't suddenly make things all better - in fact it annoys the hell out of me when people say 'don't speak ill of the dead'. Why the hell not? Does death suddenly confer sainthood on them???!!!!

TimeForMeIsFree Thu 06-Oct-11 12:07:31

Sorry, I've not read all the thread but in reply to your initial question I have not seen or heard from my mother in over 10 years. I have gone through all the thoughts of what I would do if she died, if I would attend the funeral and have decided that no, I won't. She made my life a misery, a very toxic woman, seriously toxic and it's taken me a long time to recover from the relationship with her. I have no respect for her in life so have no desire to pay my respects to her in death. I shall save my sympathies for those who deserve it.

DutchGirly Thu 06-Oct-11 12:25:50

I have had no contact with my parents for over 20 years. I don't regret it for a second, there was violence and abuse and to be honest I don't see them as 'parents'. I left home at 15 and I have taken care of myself ever since. When I look at DD, I honestly cannot comprehend how a human being could inflict pain on any child, let alone their own flesh and blood.

I do think what I would do when one of them dies, I don't think I would be at the funeral but what about the aftermath ie finances.

I would inherit quite a bit of money (in my birth country you cannot disinherit your children) and I am in two minds of giving it all to charity or put it in trust for my DD. I am still in contact with my sister who unfortunately is battling severe mental illness as a result of being so damaged in childhood and she definately could not handle all the legalities but I would feel it to be my duty to handle her finances too (she has actually asked me to do this for her)

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