Family Misunderstanding After a Death

Ahhhh family.

Family, family, family.

Family can be great, but that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about death and grief and all those times you’ve looked at a family member and said – “who are you?” “what are you doing? ” “where were you?” “when did you turn into someone I don’t know?” “why aren’t you there for me?” and “how can I count on you?”

After a death, many people feel isolated and misunderstood.  Dejected by friends, co-workers, and community they may say – well at least I have my family.  And why shouldn’t they?  Family is supposed to be there for each other.  For many, family has always been the weight that keeps them grounded and their beacon in the storm.

Here’s the problem, death and grief can make people act kind of crazy and it can seriously rock a family’s center of balance.  If the death happened within the family, then there is fertile ground for family misunderstanding as family members try and deal with changing roles and dynamics, different  grieving styles, and complicated emotions.

Now, some people are lucky to find their family is exactly as supportive and caring as expected, but it is very common for people to turn to their family and find themselves terribly disappointed and confused. We receive a lot of questions about why this might happen, and due to complicated family dynamics it’s a question we can rarely answer. Still, we have a few general hypotheses about why family misunderstanding might occur after a death, which we’re going to discuss today.  In reality, your situation is likely a combination of factors; our hope for this post is to simply get you thinking.


Changing Family Dynamics:

We just love talking about theories around here, so lets start with one. Family systems theory was introduced by Dr. Murray Bowen in the 1960s.  Very basically, the family systems theory says that families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals. Within the family system, each member has a role to play and members of the system are expected to respond to each other according to their role and relationship. Maintaining the same pattern of behaviors within a system may lead to balance in the family system (but also to dysfunction).

When someone dies, the whole family system is thrown off.  Grieving family members find themselves disinterested and/or incapable of behaving in the ways they used to. Not only do people have to cope with grief, but they also must deal with the fact that a vital piece of of the family is gone. Some of the roles your loved one used to inhabit will have to be filled by family members and, as everyone adjusts, a seismic shift in the way things ‘have always been’ can occur.

Different emotions:

Grief can make you feel like you are going crazy.  Your response to grief will be entirely different than anyone else’s and so will the range of feelings you experience in response to the loss.  Here is a partial list of emotions typically associated with grief:

shock, numbness, sadness, despair, loneliness, isolation, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, irritability, anger, increased or decreased appetite, fatigue or sleeplessness, guilt, regret, depression, anxiety, crying, headaches, weakness, aches, pains, yearning, worry, frustration, detachment, isolation, questioning faith.

Quite often, family members will respond differently to the same death.  When each person is going through their own individual emotional experience, it can be difficult to figure how to connect with and support one another. When someone you love is all of a sudden angry, depressed or anxious, or numb, your immediate reaction might be to wish they would snap out of it.  Conversely, if you are the one feeling these emotions, you might feel more distant and isolated from your family.  In a perfect world, people would have patience and understanding for one another, but sometimes this is easier said than done.

Birth order:

Although research on birth order is often contested, I think we can all agree that position in the family has some impact on who we are as people, how we behave in the family unit, and the expectations we have for other family members.  If you have a smaller family, it’s far more likely that you will have a prototypical ‘oldest’, ‘middle’ or ‘youngest’.

It may be that after a death the oldest child feels they have to step in and take care of grieving parents and younger siblings.  If it is a parent who died, perhaps the oldest child feels compelled to fill some of their roles.  Maybe the youngest child has been babied and so they feel they need a little extra emotional support.  Regardless, some family members may end up feeling unsupported or forced to step into shoes they feel they cannot or do not want to fill.

This whole dynamic becomes a little more complicated in larger families.  But, when there is a large gap in age between the oldest and youngest, I think it’s interesting to consider the idea that the family the oldest child grew up with is often quite different than the family the youngest child grew up with.  This might explain some differences in relationships and in outlook after a death.

Gender (Grieving Style):

To be perfectly honest, this heading is a bit misleading.  It is not a fact that men and women have entirely different and distinct grieving styles.  Rather, prominent grief researchers Kenneth Doka, and Terry Martin believe that there are different grieving styles that are associated with being characteristically “masculine” or “feminine”.  These grieving styles exist on a continuum and gender is merely contributes to the way you grieve. For an in depth discussion on the way gender might affect grieving style, head here.  

Briefly, this theory asserts that there are two types of grievers – instrumental and intuitive.


Intuitive grief is experienced mainly in terms of feelings and emotions – “I felt sad” or “I felt angry” – and the grief response is usually focused on exploring and expressing these emotions – “I cried all night” or “I got so mad I couldn’t think.”


Instrumental grief is experienced in more physical and cognitive ways – “I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened” or “I felt like I couldn’t breathe.” The instrumental grief response is expressed in physical, cognitive or behavioral ways and looks more like ‘doing’ or ‘taking action’.

Now, you can imagine how misunderstanding would arise when intuitive and instrumental grievers exist in the same family.  The instrumental griever, who appears less emotional and more active, might seem cold and uncaring to an intuitive griever who believes that emotions are the expression of grief.

Coping Style:

I’m not going to get too in depth on this topic because we’ve written about it quite a lot. Basically, you should never assume that someone will grieve in the same way as you because we all have different coping styles.  The WYG philosophy on coping is that each of us has predispositions toward the rational, the creative, or the emotional sides of our minds.  Though we all certainly have a bit of each of these within us, we often lean toward one style over another. To hear more about this, listen to our below podcast on the topic.


Age and stage of life obviously has a large impact on behavior and how ones makes sense of their world and experiences.  We’ve written about the influence of age on child and adolescent understanding; special considerations for grieving teens; and grieving as a 20-something.  The most important take away is the idea that a person’s life context has an influence on how they perceive their experiences.  Things like access to support, past experiences, resources, physical health, existential angst all have an impact on grief and also change with age.  So in attempting to understand another person, it is generally helpful to take their stage of life into context.

Secondary Stressors:

Society’s notion that grief is something that can be ‘dealt with’ within months to a year after a loss seems ridiculous to many.  I think this notion assumes that people have all the time, space, and support in the world to deal with their hardship.  When in reality people have to deal with all sorts of extra stressors like work, school, childcare, etc on top of their grief.  Sometimes people have to prioritize and make choices about the things they will give their time and attention to which might mean…

  • Giving less time and attention to the things they used to care about
  • Having less energy to support other people
  • Choosing not to focus on themselves and their grief
  • Opting out of time with family and friends
  • Becoming overwhelmed

It can be easy to lose patience with someone when you think they are letting you down or handling things poorly, but before passing judgment you should consider all the many things they have on their plate.

They’re in a different place:

Although people would have you believe there is a timeline associated with grief, there really isn’t.  So it should almost be expected that people grieving the same loss will be at different places in their grief at different times.  You may be ready to talk openly about your loved ones death, while the rest of your family still prefers to avoid the topic.  Your sibling might feel capable of sorting through your loved one’s belongings, while you still can’t imagine the thought of it. These differences can easily result in misunderstanding and confusion, so communication and patience are key. Although some family members may never want to grieve in the same way you do, many times people just need time to find their own peace and perspective.

Avoidance and negative coping:

Avoidance is one of my favorite topics because I think it explains so much of what we do.  We wrote a very comprehensive post on this topic which I encourage you to read.  When we talk about avoidance in grief we are usually referring to experiential avoidance. Experiential avoidance is an attempt to block out, reduce or change unpleasant thoughts, emotions or bodily sensations.  These are internal experiences that are perceived to be painful or threatening and might include fears of losing control, being embarrassed, or physical harm and thoughts and feelings including shame, guilt, hopelessness, meaninglessness, separation, isolation, etc.  Now please note I say “perceive to be painful or threatening,” these judgements are often subjective and what is perceived as threatening to one may seem totally irrational to another.

One might avoid in grief because they don’t like to experience painful feelings. The onset of a grief wave is sometimes predictable but often not and each new wave brings with it an ocean of unpleasant thoughts, reminders, sensations, and memories.  Many are experiencing emotions of this type and intensity for the first time and in response they may exhibit physical, behavioral and emotional reactions they aren’t comfortable with.  This may be particularly true for those who have yet to develop a reliable set of coping skills.  Although grief is always unpleasant and uncomfortable, for some there are aspects that actually seem threatening and these perceptions can lead to attempts to control or avoid frightening feelings and reactions.

So, when your husband is putting away your deceased son’s belongings way before you’re ready, it might be in an effort to avoid reminders.  When your siblings refuse to talk with you about your deceased father, it might be in an effort to avoid the memories. In grief, avoidance is often perceived as a lack of caring when in actuality it comes from intense caring.

Avoidance is at the heart of most negative coping.  Negative coping consists of things like substance use, staying busy, and isolation; basically anything you can do to numb, forget, and minimize your exposure to grief triggers.  To learn more about negative coping you can listen to our podcast on the continuum of negative coping:

Now that you understand the ‘why’s’, if your family is fighting in the wake of a death go here for some helpful tips on handling the situation.

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March 28, 2017

22 responses on "Family Misunderstanding After a Death"

  1. Mine is the same story as Barbara Silvia – lost all my family and within 5 months of each other, including my younger sister who was so very dear to me and my best friend. I too am alone and isolated.

  2. Eric. I understand your comments. I won’t say I know how you feel because I hate it when someone says that to me. I”m 58 and lost my husband of 32 years 2 years ago after a sudden illness. Sometimes I feel there is nothing left of who I was and want to jump off the nearest brridge because I’m not living I am existing. Will this pain ever end?

  3. My wife of 28 1/2 years Katherine passed away from stage 4 cancer on my birthday, March 24, 2018. She was 55 years old. I am a natural introvert but Katherine, and eventually our (now) 18 year old daughter Laura, were the only people on earth I wanted to be with all the time, or at least all of the time they wanted to be with me. My heart is torn in two and I am a broken man. I continue to work as an architect for an architectural firm, but if not for the emotional harm it would cause my daughter I would jump off a bridge right now and be done with this, because this is not a life. If is a vague ruined shadow of a life. My sister in law (Katherine’s sister) has attempted to jump into the breach and I think assume the mother role for Laura, but while I appreciate her sincerity still it makes me feel left outside on the perimeter of the life which used to be mine and ours. I am lost, empty, aching and sick in my heart. I am 62 years old, and I wish I were dead.

  4. I’m so sorry you were abandoned with many deaths Barbara.. Our only true comforter is God.

  5. My only sibling died in October 2017 after a six-week bout with cancer. She was divorced and left behind a 24 year daughter and a 17 year old son. During the time of her illness and after my sister’s passing, my niece and I became closer. However, after my 88 year old mother (her grandma) died (of a broken heart) almost four months after my sister (my father died 24 years ago). I thought my niece and I would still be close yet, but it turns out now we are not. It bothers me because I think I was trying to hang on to a piece of my sister and I feel hurt because my niece doesn’t say anything to be anymore so that is one more loss. So, I stepped back (I unfriended her on Facebook) because I can’t handle this anymore–I am 54 years old and I am the only one left in my family and I have some fresh grief to process. Was I wrong to distance myself?

  6. My mom passed away this last November…I am the youngest of 4 siblings. It has turned so ugly, not about money because we all get 1/4 of that but her possessions. Somehow my older siblings has chose me to “bully” if you will. They do not want me to take anything of my mom’s. I’m constantly defending myself and my family….I finally just gave in and told them that I will not take anything…but this hurts so bad. I was my mom’ one constant…my brother didn’t help her or come around much, my older two sisters were constantly fighting and they would take turns not talking to my mom…I don’t understand why they feel I don’t deserve anything…I’m hurting so bad….

  7. Four months after my 80 year old father passed away from a major stroke, my mum is breaking my heart and turning against me as she is falling back in with my sister who disappeared for several years after creating much havoc for the entire family. She took my parents for lots of money more than enough to buy a house but has nothing to show for it. My sister actually married my ex son-in-law.. what a nightmare. He spent two months in jail for domestic violence against her and got right back together. She has a history of this with previous six husbands. I told my mum to be careful with her after hearing of them staying out all night at a casino. I mean please don’t keep mum out until 5 a.m. gambling. It was all down hill from there. She said, oh my God and walked out of the room. Then yelled that everybody was alienating my sister and does she have to pay for the rest of her life for her mistakes. Sister has history with all four of her children that now won’t speak to her. I tried to explain that I cannot let her back in my life and even had to get a court ordered restraining order against her for verbal harassment. Trying to move on and have a relationship with mum but am afraid that this is the beginning of the end. My sister’s son (whom won’t speak to her) is coming and hopes to explain to mum why we all can’t go through more of her narcissistic behavior. Feeling so lost to think of how hard I have worked for a good life and family to only be put in the same boat as a self centered irresponsible immature baby sister of 51 years old. At one time she even said that she didn’t think our dad was her father. How hurtful for him to be told that. I miss him so much and grieve for him and grief for my mum losing him after 60 years of marriage. Now going through a nightmare of her hurtful behavior toward me. Is it time to let go, I think it may be the only option.

    • This is such heartbreaking to read. I am by no means a professional in psychology but it sounds as if your mum is finding great relief from her own grief by being with someone (sis) that is on the reckless side..judging by your comments. Perhaps self punishment? If she were to be closer to you instead, would that mean more talk and having to actually feel where your dad is concerned?
      I ask this because I see a pattern here. My mother is exhibiting quite the same behavior pattern. My only child passed unexpectedly December 8th, 2017. She was found in her bed and we will never really know why. With the loss of my child, I am only 2 most in and also grieving the loss of my mom and she is still alive. Mom was very close to my daughter and has always seen herself as my daughters “first ” mom. After she got the news, she became very verbally violent and then turned physical. She told me she never really loved me and even wished for my death. This wasn’t a fleeting has gone on for years but now the scraps of any relationship are destroyed. She is currently out of my home and living with my brother in a hotel room! My brother has many gambling and alchohol addictions. She plays him like a fiddle and puts him on a pedestal. I have 2 younger sisters who have a terrible relationship with her as well and want to cut ties but are having a difficult time letting go..she’s mom! Today, she’s being released from hospital back to hotel room after having bi lateral pneumonia and I can see the recoil in in my sisters. It’s as if we are all 3 hiding so we don’t have to know her demise yet brother…will retrieve her and keep trying to take care of her even if it kills him. The 2 of them are feeding off eachother and it sounds like your sister and mother!
      I don’t know your whole story and I am not qualified to give you advice but here’s my options. I will attend grief meeting bi weekly, maintain relationships with my sisters as much as possible, stop trying to rescue my brother and unfortunately finally acknowledge what I have known for years but took my daughters death to realize…I’m letting her go! It hurts very much but there are no other options for me. I have a very supportive husband who is patient and doing all he can to help me with my child but he can’t take my mom and brothers reckless ways either. Sometimes through grief, a thousand people can be in a room and one will often feel alone. I hope you make a good decision for your life and perhaps with professional advice as to terminate your relationship or not with your mom. I hope you do not allow the reckless ones to steal your time away truly grieving your dad because that time albeit never ending, is also very critical in its freshness. Best wishes for you!

  8. My 33 year old nephew died suddenly last week. He was partially estranged from his mother ( my sister) and had problems with addiction and PTSD from serving in Afghanistan. His wife had refused to have anything to do with my sister and she was not allowed to see her 2 grandchildren. But can you imagine, finding out about your son’s death on Facebook? That is what happened. I was not close to my nephew and do not fully understand all the problems between his wife, himself, and my sister, but I find this heartwrenching and inexcusable. That no one could think beyond themselves and pick up the phone and tell my sister that her son had died. My nephew’s half-sister also appears to have gone ballistic (again, I don’t understand–I am not involved), but the childishness and infighting and anger astounds me. It is also now apparent that there is probably no funeral or memorial service–who knows why– so those of us who are living have no proper opportunity to mourn our loss and celebrate the good in this young man’s life. Tragic, really.

  9. My son died 3 years ago at the age of 27. He had a heart attack. We never knew anything was wrong. I have a daughter who is two years younger than he was. It has been so hard for me to process his loss, my first born, my little man. He was 6’2” and patted me on the head! My grief external has been in waves, crying over seemingly nothing at times. I was a teacher, and had to retire. Every high school boy reminded me of him. During the last year my daughter says I have become distant, snappy and critical. How do I help myself? I’m not the same mom I was.

  10. I am the oldest of 3, the only daughter. My younger brother hardly ever answers my calls or responds to my texts. & I don’t reach out often. In fact, I continually talk myself out of contacting him at all. He chose to work Thanksgiving Day this year, “off duty” work, than to spend it with our mom. Or me. My son didn’t see his cousins, my brother’s children. It’s become the norm; expected. On a more positive note, my mom & I have become closer than we’ve ever been since my dad’s death (June 2016). We are very much alike & hardly agree on any topic in particular, but her more openness to talk about my dad, answer my well thought out questions, share his stories of his past in the Army & Vietnam, his dad I never met, his time in an orphanage with his siblings, etc has strangely enough made me closer to him than I ever was in his waking life, and for that I am forever grateful. Maybe it’s a strange thing to admit, but for me there is a sense of peace in my grief. Happy Holidays 2017.

  11. My mom passed away on January 18th 2017. My dad was her main caregiver for her for a few years until she became very ill and had many hospital visits and passed away at home. Her body was tiny, frail and just could not go on any longer. She was released home from a nursing facility a little over a week before her death, so with her wishes to go home, it was where she really wanted to be. My brother, dad and I were pulled closer than ever before, enduring such deep pain of the sad last days.

    We knew that my mom wanted to be cremated, but did not want an official service, a funeral or a wake. Her siblings and family live in Japan and we knew that one day, we’d return her ashes to Japan to be with her parents and brother.

    At the mortuary office, we discussed the plan to cremate my mom. We had not discussed this before, but my brother elected to for a visitation to see mom. My dad did not want to do this and stated this clearly to my brother. Out of no disrespect at all, he was sure he could not bear to see her again. I, however, was torn with my decision on whether I should or not. I let my brother know that I really did not know what to do, but since the visit to see mom was more than a week or so away, that I would carefully think about it and let him know very soon.

    In the extremely upsetting few days, I told my brother that I would go, but I was very reluctant to see her in a very bad state, as she was so frail and that my last time I saw her, on my birthday, I could not bear to see her this way and she and I had a quiet, lovely last moments that I saw her alive. I had a change of heart the more I thought about this; the fact that mom and I had a very surreal last moment with a very unspoken type of “goodbye,” that I will never, ever forget. I relayed this to my brother. He said he understood and later asked if I’d like to write a few words that he may read aloud to her. I did offer a note for him to read. He, his family, dad, and I were all quite saddened, but respected my brother and family’s wishes.

    We all met after the visitation. My brother and family were truly relieved that it was over and that they got to see her and video taped the words spoken to her, laid flowers with her. This was a nice meeting with my family and we all shared our moments of grief along the next few weeks.
    I then started getting unanswered emails, texts and phone calls from my brother, and only my brother. My sister-in-law said that he was having a difficult time and needed “time.” Confused, I offered my support over the next few months. He also did not call my dad and since then, my brother and family have even sold their home, moved and not told my dad about this. I also kept this secret.

    Recently, I could not bear the fact that almost 5 months have passed without any acknowledgment on how my brother was doing. Finally, I reached out to my niece. I explained that I was hurt and sad that we were so “distant” but the fact that our elderly dad was being shunned, this I could not take, it was so sad.

    My niece then proceeded to drop a huge bombshell on me. She said that “Her dad resents my dad and I on how we decided to handle the passing of grandma.” She said that these were his exact words. She further stated that he is very hurt that “you guys did not attend her service and decided not to honor her or say any kind words in front of her.” She said that if she put herself in his shoes, she could not even imagine how sad it would be to stand alone with mom and not have brother or dad there. She said he thinks about this a lot. Also, the fact that I kept changing my mind and telling him that I was going to go and did not, it made him feel even worse. The other family members say that they are not blaming me, but asked that I try to see his perspective.

    My answer to her was that it was absolutely the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I explained that I saw her last on my birthday and how my decision was never intended to hurt my family. I lost my best friend that day. There was never anything stated to me of how they really wanted me to be there, how hurt he was, etc. In fact, we saw each other weeks after, without any spoken word and I did not get any feeling of resentment from my brother, nor from anyone else in his family.

    I’ve decided to not contact them anymore and let her know that I needed to step back and perhaps one day, we’d talk about everything, but that I was in utter shock that this was how my brother felt (and family felt) as no one has tried to contact my dad or me since then, just an occasional text from my niece or sis-in-law.

    I am hurting so much and wonder if I should have gone. However, I stand by my decision as one of no intent to hurt, but more of a last moment seeing my mom. It saddens me and I realize we all grieve differently. I want to write a letter to my brother and let him know that I am not a selfish person and feel confused and saddened.

    Any advice or similar experience from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

  12. I do not see any current comments but I can relate to the feeling of being alone in grief it will be 2yrs in august that my 28 yr old son passed away his birthday is coming up june 30th he would of been 30. After the first few months people started distancing theirselves from me except for one or 2 people. I tried not ever to be a burden i didn’t call people in the middle of the night i didn’t talk excessively about his death but still my family my sister other relatives i was close too don’t invite me to gatherings anymore or call like they used too it is very hurtful they do seem relieved when we speak that im doing ok. There is one person who calls whenever someone dies to say did you see what happened to that person at least you didn’t have to go through that, i watched my son die a agonizing painful death from a disease that shouldn’t of been fatal. My husband works alot , most weekends & alot of OT he has to because of his job so i sit here while they gather&im never invited when i mentioned once that i was told i have a husband. I lost 3 of my closest friends all in their 50s my bf right before my son died i feel like she would be here for me. Thank god i have one person who invites me over or i would never get out. I do not know what I did to be left out i really tried to work my way through the first year of Jordans death without being a burden. Has anyone else gone through this after losing a child? And for all out there who are mourning the loss of someone they loved dearly im sorry.

  13. My Mom just died unexpectedly after a surgery. She had heart problems, but we weren’t told she had so little of a chance to survive… This happened 5 days ago. She was only 60. Now I’m left to plan a memorial while autopsy is performed… The hospital doesn’t even know why she died.. I only have my brother and obscur Aunts and Uncles offering to take my Moms place.. But now they’re the ones wanting family heirlooms, China sets, diamonds… Green eyed monsters every time someone dies. To make matters worse, my mother in law has been trying to convince my husband I’m no good for him for years, and he’s my only support. She says we’ll support you, then I ask for what I need, and she always has an appointment, or treats me like her dr appt is more important than my mothers funeral. I told my family if you want a funeral, go for it. I’d want to scream at my MIL for kicking me when I’m so hurt. My son was just in the hospital a week before my Mom died. My MIL said this wouldn’t happen if she cared for my son. I told her she must be a mind reader to make such know it all statements. She’s just so pompously rude.. I’m sorry, but I’ve prayed for her for years, and she keeps trying to drag everyone down into a pit. She hates her life, hated her parents, hates me.. My husband gets his butt kissed by this faker, so he’s oblivious to her abuse of me. I wish she died instead of my Mom. But then I realized, the good die young, no wonder my MIL is 74 and keeps getting healthier. I believe you choose your heaven. 100 years of heaven on earth, or an eternity of heaven with Jesus. My Mom chose eternity, my MIL is vain and worldly, she’s chosen the 100 years on earth for her heaven.. Bad choice, but it’s one we all have to make. Live for God, or self.. My Mom Chose God. My MIL doesn’t understand faith, and she’s the Pastors wife. It’s flabbergasting… I hope my MIL lives a long time since she thinks it’s ok to hurt others, Because such won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven, the bible says. I told her she treats everyone different based on looks and riches. She tried to profess sainthood, and never says sorry without being sarcastic, or blaming you for being sensitive. She calls me pathetic.. She has no repentance, and my Mom always repented. God bless her soul, and please help my MIL to wake up out of the darkness and treat others as she would be treated.. My dad died 13 years ago in a hospital. I heard him screaming. They amputated his leg, and he was having blood transfusions that removed his pain medicine.. It was like seeing a civil war scene.. Seeing my Mom peaceful at her death was comforting, but I miss her, even though I know Jesus said she’s mine now. He told me the morning she died that He ( God) would be in front of her, and behind her. I thought he meant to keep her safe in the surgery, but now I think it was to escort her to heaven. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. Believe, and we’ll be where Jesus is. In Paradise. Our only hope. Don’t forget what the devil did to Job, and his miserable comforters he had, but the end of the story is Job was restored. And he even said, If a tree is cut down, the stump still seeks water and will once again shoot forth a branch. Jesus is the water we seek in death to make us grow again. He’s going to wake the death and say, death where is your sting? No more death, sickness, or crying when the Son of God returns. Have this hope, because there is no hope in this futile world. God said he’s going to make a new heaven and earth, and the former things will pass away. If this makes you sad, then your hope is in the world. Look up for hope. And faith is not real unless we work it out like a muscle. God bless those who mourn.

  14. My story is too long to post but i will say i was abandoned too with many deaths and now i am alone and grieving everyday

  15. It’s also a lot more jumbled and messy when the death was a stillborn child. My family were there, flew across the country, called etc… But within months it dwindled to nothing. They all never called and supported after the first anniversary of our son’s death. Like people move on and grow tired of you still hurting and being different and ‘stuck’

  16. My parents abandoned me long before my husband passed. Last February, he was admitted to ICU in a cancer center. They came down to “help me” because I had 3 dogs at the time, and it was 45 minutes to the hospital. They got in late Thursday evening and went with me to the hospital Friday a.m. John was having a bone marrow biopsy. My parents stayed long enough to hear “it was complete and John was resting”. My father had to eat lunch, so we went to the cafeteria. As soon as he finished eating, he and my mother left. I stayed with John all day and didn’t leave until nurse shift change around 7:30 p.m. I got home after 8:30, took care of the dogs, checked phone messages. Around 9:30 p.m., my father told my mother “I’m tired of her sh**, let’s go.” It took them about 15 minutes to pack up their stuff. I, of course, was crying and asking “what did you mean by that?” My mother told me to “get hold of yourself. what is wrong with you?” I told her “my husband is fighting for his life, and you’re asking what is wrong with me?” They walked out the door, and I was left alone for the next six months to take care of John, three dogs and our house.
    Unfortunately, John took a turn for the worse last July. I renewed our wedding vows with him on his last night. My parents drove down again, but it was much the same. My father had the nerve to tell my sister “don’t bother coming down because she isn’t having a funeral”. My sister, thankfully, didn’t listen to him and flew in the next day. It was around lunch time, and my father told my mother to fix lunch. My mother said “she can fix her own lunch”. So, I tolerated them one more day, and thank God they left the next day.
    Three weeks later, I planned John’s memorial service. I really thought my parents wouldn’t show, but unfortunately they did. My sister and her son were at my house along with my parents. I snapped at my parent’s dog who peed and pooped on my rug which I had to clean up. They packed up their stuff. The next morning was John’s memorial. My parents showed up late, managed to suffer through the service, ate lunch and had my brother-in-law take them back to my house. They drove back home and never said a word to me. My father wouldn’t even look at me at the service. My sister, her husband and nephew were appalled, but I told them “this happens every time”. Needless to say, I don’t have a relationship with my parents at this time. They refuse to acknowledge what they did, won’t talk about John . . . I’m supposed to forgive and forget anything happened. I ask God to help me forgive them every day, but the trust has been broken once again, like I’ve let happen for over 40 years.
    I’m now totally alone. All three of our dogs passed within one month of each other after John passed. I just try to get by one minute, hour, day at a time. Thank you for letting me vent.

    • I’m so sorry for your losses. I can certainly relate. My father died unexpectedly in 2008. Since then, our family has completely fell apart. Personally, I have been at death’s door 3 times, not even a phone call to see if I made it. Months and months of recovery. No offer to even bring a pizza by, or anything. I have come to realize that just because people share the same DNA does not mean they are obligated to associate with each other. My family has a toxic relationship. There is no love loss…love doesn’t treat others that way. I refuse to walk back into that atmosphere ever again…just like I wouldn’t expose myself to some horrid incurable disease. God knows my heart. I have given it ALL to Him. He knows them better than I ever did. I understand the “guilt” feelings of “but that’s my parents”….After the way you were treated, and apparently your Mom stood by and allowed your Dad to be so cruel, she’s as guilty as he is. I would not welcome them in my home ever again. They don’t even deserve an explanation. It’s obvious he didn’t want to come in the first place, he made that clear. Again, your Mom said nothing. Respect yourself enough to refuse to allow people to be in your life and treat you worse than an animal….because there is NO respect coming from them. Ask God to help you with your feelings of hurt, abandonment, resentment, anger, and all others…ask Him to remove those painful memories to where they bother you no more than some kid who you were in the first grade with…they’re just a memory without emotions connected. My Mom said in a conversation she started and had asked my opinion on something, and I gently told her what I thought. She didn’t like it and responded, “Hahahha…Do you think I need “somebody like YOU” to advise me on anything?…Hahaha……..That did it, that was the last straw. No, somebody like her does NOT need somebody like me for anything anymore. I don’t even answer the phone if she’s on my caller ID. It’ll just be more drama.I’m in control of my life and who is welcomed or not. Respect and love are ALWAYS together in a relationship of any meaning. If one or both aren’t there, then you are just a pawn they use to their advantage and then tossed aside until the next time they want to use you.

      • P.S.
        Even Jesus Christ knew when to knock the dust off his shoes, and leave people to their own devices. It’s time to clean your shoes off……….

      • “I have come to realize that just because people share the same DNA does not mean they are obligated to associate with each other.” This has been a hard pill to swallow for me as well. It took me 3 years of hard work and letting go to get to this point…family was always so important to me and now that they have shown their true colors, I no longer feel obligated to include them in my life. They don’t include me in theirs and haven’t since my husband unexpectedly died in our home. And I tried and tried, gave and gave, and finally gave up. One way relationships are just that: one way. So I took the road away from them. I’m feeling “freer” now that I’ve done this, however, I miss knowing I have family. POOF! Husband dead. POOF! Family gone (well, gone after they got what they were bequeathed) and not one ounce of checking in on me or helping me. Just unsolicited advice and give me this and that and silence. I hope you reach a place where you are at some sort of peace with letting go of this toxic familial relationship. I send you love.

  17. Wow, so much loss, I am so sorry and my heart hurts along with yours. Please know that you are cared for and loved by people you have never met, such as myself. I know it’s hard to do daily things and stuff you believed in once upon a time are not comforting anymore.

    Day by day just do the best you can and I hope new situations and people will appear in your life to give you comfort. After my sweetheart passed, it took me two years till I laughed, what a weird feeling that was, didn’t know what to do at that.

    Hang in there, you have come to the right place to express yourself and we all love and help each other as best we can.

    Best wishes to you.

  18. MONTHS? They expect it to take months?
    Right after someone in my family was murdered in a terrorist act and I was having trouble handling it compared to how “easy” it was to process other losses in my life, so I asked for help, someone told me that if I “wasn’t better in two weeks” they’d think something’s wrong with me.
    Two weeks later I still felt like I’d been hit in the side of the head with a shovel, was walking through my days feeling so dazed and confused I could barely work out simple directions much less process the whole thing and move on within weeks.
    They give you less than a month to work through a homicide, then start in with the conspiracy-theory crap not much longer after that. A month ago I ran afoul of a person who was going around telling everyone September 11 never happened and that all the people who died on the planes “went right on living their lives.”
    So I guess we’re all hiding our loved ones in the broom closet or something just to annoy the person who believes in these government conspiracies? Online such people come a dime a dozen. No matter how hard I try to avoid most of them I still end up running across some of them.
    I’ve never had to deal with certain things in death by sickness or accident that I’ve had shoved down my throat bc it was a homicide. With accidents people blame the dead person sometimes, but they almost always do with a death by intentional violence. Knowing they’re probably doing so to make themselves feel better on a subconscious level does little to console me some days.
    Then you have people who feel sorry for the suspects at Guantanamo, the ones who had evidence against them beFORE they were tortured by CIA “officials,” so even if the behavior was totally stupid on the government’s part the people incarcerated had enough evidence against them to keep them there. They’re not innocent lambs like some people want you to say of them. And we won’t even discuss why it’s still in Pre-trial hearings 14 years later. I have a friend whose daughter was killed at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado by a madman with a semi-automatic weapon. The trial’s been and done less than 3 years later.
    When the victim advocate in New York City told me that almost everyone who goes through a homicide feels RE-victimized by the court system I thought she was exaggerating, or I didn’t assume it would be much more traumatic than the actual death. I thought I’d seen the worst that could happen. Well what they’ve done since it occurred has been almost as terrible as the main event, no thanks to Cheney/Bush, who I voted for but not bc I thought they were going to torture prisoners. That’s NOT what I envisioned when President Bush said he’d “make the people who did it pay for their crimes.” I thought he meant the normal punishment of prison and/or death sentence.

    This loss changed things in me that I wasn’t willing to give but felt forced into it. I never thought I’d have trouble reading murder mysteries or fiction in general, I never considered that some writers glamorize homicide in fiction until it happened in my family or that I wouldn’t be able to read certain books if the information is handled insensitively.
    I remember reading a Stephen King book, Bag of Bones it was called, where he said writers need to be more sensitive to the way they handle fictional homicides. It was 1994 and I hadn’t had any personal experience to relate to what he meant; I wondered what he was talking about but disagreed with his statement.
    I agree now. Slasher movies for the sake of violence is an example of what he meant; there are novels equivalent to slasher movies that show violence for gratuitous reasons. I can’t watch or read about things I used to view or read with impunity. The Halloween movies for instance. I can still watch Friday the 13th though, at least halfway; Jason was bullied before he died. Not the greatest reason to become a murderer but at least there’s an impetus.
    Other things changed in me too. I wouldn’t mind so much but it happened against my will; I DO mind that and I also care that people assume I have 100% control of how I feel about it. That I can turn it on or off at will. If I could I’d already have done so.
    The only thing I can control is what I talk about and never discuss it – or hardly ever do. I’ve never talked about this part of it, but the question of ‘how has the loss changed your identity’ persuaded me to talk.

    My favorite sister-in-law lost a live baby and one to stillbirth. They were twins, one never had a name bc it was dead at birth and she hadn’t named it. She named the other Katelyn Patricia Barnes and the baby lived 5 1/2 months, then died a few days before Christmas. She got really upset at my stupid brother, whose first comment was that he was glad the baby died bc “she’s not suffering anymore.” She suffered the whole time bc she had no surfactant in her lungs and they didn’t know how to manufacture it then, but all Kim could see was that the baby was gone and had no chance to improve, which she thought would occur even though she was a nurse and her rational mind knew it wouldn’t happen. It was emotional and anyway it was her first baby. My mom didn’t help by taking my brother’s side, being glad the baby was no longer suffering in neonatal intensive care.
    Kim stopped believing in God’s love and stopped going to church. She may have started believing in his love again but still doesn’t attend church.
    I stopped believing in His love after September 11 but went to church anyway and hoped the mind would follow the body. That’s another thing that changed against my will. Love IMO is either there or it isn’t, you feel it or you don’t, and it wasn’t there afterward. I went to church until someone accused me of being “too tolerant.” I left and haven’t returned.
    It didn’t help that my mom forgot to mention the living baby was part of a twin set in which one was dead at delivery. I was an EMT-D then; I would have known how truly much of a miracle it would have taken for the other baby to live in that case and never would have gotten my hopes up in the first place. But my mom waits until 10 years later to casually mention Katelyn was part of a twin. I would have recalled if she’d said something earlier bc I would have known not to have high expectations for the other baby. Expectations mattered in this case.
    I don’t think I’ll ever understand that loss even though it was more Kim’s than mine. I’ve never prayed a rosary again. I’ve never believed in the magic of touching beads to make something happen. I also don’t believe in Holy Water anymore.

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