Help me get over being excluded from my father's funeral.
January 24, 2012 1:06 PM Subscribe
My father passed away recently. We were estranged and I feel really strange about how his family handled his passing. I'm looking for advice about contacting them, or just leaving things be. Help!
posted by carmenghia to Human Relations (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My parents divorced when I was 5; per the custody agreement, my father saw me every other weekend until I was 15, where they let me then choose the frequency of my visits. My parents had a messy divorce, involving infidelity on my father's part and a lot of anger and bad blood that carried through most of my childhood and adolescence. This led to me distancing myself from my father as I grew older, because of the emotional toll it was taking on both myself and my mom.
My father married his mistress and had two children shortly after my parents finalized their divorce. As such, I often felt as a child that I didn't belong. My mom handled this wonderfully by giving me tools to articulate my feelings through therapy.
Over the years, I have tried to re-establish or maintain contact with him in some way. I wanted to give him a chance to get to know me as an adult. I left for college and spent most of my adult years away from my home state - so most of our contact was through letters and e-mail. I attempted to keep him up on what I was doing, how I felt, and other things I thought he might be interested to know. Usually, I would receive a short response, and I often felt my efforts were in vain. When I expressed interest in visiting, he would say things like "You're always welcome." but when I would try to pin down a time to visit, I would receive no response.
About 6 years ago, I gave up completely. I decided that for whatever reasons, despite my attempts, he didn't want to put the effort into having a relationship with me as an adult. In speaking with my mom and other who knew him well, they said that this was typical of his communication patterns in the past. I feel like I did my best to make it known that I wanted to have a relationship with him.
My father unexpectedly passed away in late September. His family (wife and children) did not notify me of this until a month after it happened - preventing me from attending the funeral. They did not acknowledge me in any of the obituaries, either. I do not know why this happened, and yet, I cannot stop thinking about it. I have thought that perhaps it was his wish that I not attend or that I not be included in any memorial information.
I mourned privately, and have done my best to accept his passing as a normal course of being alive. However, I wonder if I should try to send his widow a letter, expressing my sympathies and also letting her know that I very much wanted to be in his life, and tried to make that happen. I want to ask her why I was excluded from his memorial and funeral. At this point, it seems fruitless, but I can't help but be human and wonder why I was excluded from the events around his passing.
Has anyone else been in a similar situation? My gut instinct is to let things be - for whatever reason, the family does not care for me, and I have a feeling my letter, no matter how kind or sincere would be looked upon with disdain.
Thanks in advice for any advice.