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how to accept this, my father's death - my aunt's reaction

(20 Posts)
wantanewname Sun 26-May-13 23:37:58

My father passed away last week, we are having his funeral next week. My father suffered from a terrible illness and was ill for many years. We are all devastated by his death as are my children.

My aunt however, my mother's sister never liked my Dad. In fact she said as much to me once. Despite this she stayed at my parent's house every few months for weeks on end. She is devoted to my mother and felt that my father ruined her life. My mother was devoted to my father but loves her sister too.

My aunt is now staying with my mother for possibly a few weeks. She hasn't offered me or my children one word of sympathy. She even wrote my daughter a letter a few weeks ago when our cat died but nothing when my father did. She is a very formal person who always usually would do things like write but today I went to my Mum's for lunch and saw my aunt for the first time since my Dad died and she said nothing.

I am so upset for both myself and my children I don't know how to deal with this.

wantanewname Sun 26-May-13 23:41:53

I will have to be there for 3 days and I am so hurt I don't know how to be with her. Today I could barely talk to her.

wantanewname Sun 26-May-13 23:49:36

can anyone give me any advice?

LayMeDown Sun 26-May-13 23:54:11

You don't need to talk to her. You don't need her to validate your grief. Get on with consoling your kids and supporting your mother. Her issues are her own to deal with. Don't give them headspace right now. Look a after yourself.
I am sorry for your loss.

wantanewname Sun 26-May-13 23:57:53

thank you but it's very hard to ignore her when I'm just with her and my mum and my children at my mum's house and when she'll also be staying there while I am. I was supposed to be staying there tonight but couldn't face it because of her.

LayMeDown Mon 27-May-13 00:06:52

You don't need to ignore her, just don't engage with her. Answer her if she speaks but tune her out as much as possible. Focus on the important people and let her look after herself.
You are grieving, you want your aunt to recognise this. She is not going to. This says a lot about her as a person. You can't change this but you can change you reaction to it. Don't let her behaviour influence you. You have more important things to worry about.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 27-May-13 00:12:47

Want I am sorry that your father died.

There much be so much going on in your head right now and you don't need this. Can you ask your mum why your aunt is being so cold to you and your family regarding the loss of your father? Or maybe your DP could speak to her and tell her how upset you are by her apparent lack of concern.sad

wantanewname Mon 27-May-13 00:18:39

I have mentioned it to my mum but she doesn't want any friction. I have only been with my partner for a year so he wouldn't say anything.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 27-May-13 00:29:40

I can understand your mother's need for calm right now. Did she say anything other than she wanted no friction?sad

wantanewname Mon 27-May-13 00:37:16

She said that maybe she thinks she has (offered condolences) but we both know that this isn't true. My Mum isn't at all well and hasn't been for years either so the last thing I want to do is upset her but I am really upset by this.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 27-May-13 00:44:54

Do you think you could have a calm, adult conversation with your aunt about this? Where it wouldn't kick off?

hellocatty Mon 27-May-13 13:11:38

very sorry about your Dad.
Could you say something to her like "I know you didn't like my Dad but I want you to know that by being so cold about it to me and the children you have made this terrible time even worse for us".
Maybe she doesn't realise how her behaviour is affecting you? If she did I am sure she would try to comfort you or stop it.
Even if she doesn't at least you get it off your chest.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 27-May-13 13:37:25

I am sorry OP my condolences. This added sting must must feel awful - I wonder how does your mother cope? She will be unable to mourn your dad in her sister's presence. By you visiting she can have an outlet for grief. Don't let your aunt stifle you or stop you from visiting. She may think it's hypocritical to feign sorrow but that's a poor reason to ignore your feelings.

A person can have very fixed ideas and opinions and congratulate herself on rigid principles yet if she chooses can see her way to extending compassion to others.

DeckSwabber Mon 27-May-13 13:52:40

My condolences on your father's death.

My aunt goes into super-protective mode when my mum is going through a crisis. She bowled up when my father died (I was 14) and when my stepfather died (when my own children were teenagers), and made herself a kind of gatekeeper.

The first time I was too young to understand what she was doing. The second time was much more traumatic because her attitude was so odd to me - no compassion for my dying stepfather, absolute possessiveness over my mum (told me not to phone, didn't call me when he actually died, discouraged me from visiting). Never gave me or my brother a hug, or expressed any condolences to us on either occasion.

She actually told me that my children wouldn't be upset when their grandfather (my stepfather) died because he was 'just an old man' to them.

I think some people think they are doing the right thing - being 'practical', avoiding embarrassing shows of grief, getting on with it.

Go and support your mum. If your aunt upsets you or your children, giver yourself permission to tell her.

cozietoesie Mon 27-May-13 13:53:25

Have you considered that if she disliked your father for many, many years that she may not actually know what to do now - or what to say to people about him. You might find it breaks the impasse if you could say something to her along the lines of 'Aunty X - the children are really upset by Dad's death do you think you could.............. ?' (and think of a useful task for her.)

My condolences for your loss.

SolidGoldBrass Mon 27-May-13 14:04:40

SOrry for your loss. I lost my dad a couple of years ago and it's an awful shock. It's also not uncommon to get fixated on something or someone that isn't actually all that relevant or important, and I think that might be what's happening to you.
You might find it easier to cope if you accept two things.
First, that your aunt is not acting out of a wish to hurt your feelings, or your children's feelings; whatever is going on inside her head it won't involve malice towards you.

Second, trying to get a person to give you something (in terms of behaviour rather than eg money they owe you) that the person doesn't want to give is generally not good for you; it ends up in either a row or a battle of wills that's exhausting and unnecessary. Your aunt doesn't want to give you comfort, or express any kind of grief, so stop trying to make her do so. You have other people to grieve with and you and your mum and your DC can comfort each other.

ChippingInWiredOnCoffee Mon 27-May-13 14:12:11

I'm very sorry to hear about your Dad, not only that he has died, but also that he suffered with an illness for so long sad

When my Dad died I would have taken the head off of anyone acting like your Aunt angry but your Mum isn't well either and I guess you have to put her first.

I think what hellocatty said was pretty good though (I know you didn't like my Dad but I want you to know that by being so cold about it to me and the children you have made this terrible time even worse for us).

a definite improvement on telling her to fuck off home, which might would have been what I'd have said!!

GingerJulep Mon 27-May-13 14:53:54

I'm sorry for your loss. But not quite sure I understand what the issue with your aunt is.

She cares for your mother and, presumably, will be useful for your mum to have around at this time.

If she never liked your Dad it would be a bit hypocritical for her to start saying lovely things about him now and she may not have the smarts to think of something neutral, "I'm sorry to see you all so upset" or whatever, to express condolences appropriately whilst still remaining true to herself.

Plenty of people will be there to support you in your emotional journey through grief. I'd suggest appreciating the support your aunt gives your mum and ignoring what you see as the missing things she doesn't give you.

Not everyone can be all things to all people and plenty of people find dealing with grief difficult.

springymater Mon 27-May-13 18:01:53

She doesn't have to say lovely things, but she does 'have' to offer condolences to those who are bereaved, regardless what she may have thought of the person who has died.

I don't know what you can do OP. Like you, I would find it very hard to be with her. Is it possible you can postpone the visit until your aunt has gone? Or is this another weeks on end stay? sad

I'm so sorry you have lost your beloved dad.

ImperialBlether Mon 27-May-13 18:18:43

I'm so sorry you lost your dad. Did your aunt just dislike him for no particular reason or did she think he treated your mum badly? I just wonder why she's being so cold now.

I think hellocatty's recommendation was great - let her know she is making things worse for you.

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