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How To Deal With The Loss Of Family


I am a 30 year old pregnant mother of a 2 year old. I have spent the past ten years of my life helping my elderly parents out in everyway I could. I have been very close to my father my entire life but have found my mother to be extremely destructive. She has had much trouble keeping relationships..example, stopped talking to her sister completly, her mother for ten years, my sister for 4 years. I am the youngest and geographically the closest so up until recently she relied on me for everything so she had to talk to me.

Almost a year ago my father passed. I was the only family member that was there for her during this time and I witnessed her change while grieving. About six months after my Dad died she became angry at me for not also supporting her other children ( my half siblings). Within three days she had completely disowned me – returning photos of me and all, and while doing so also rejecting my 2 year old who I believe she truly loved.

It has been almost six months since the blow out and I thought she would have cooled off by now. She has turned my only siblings against me….even though she still hasnt told me why she is really mad ( she shouldnt expect me to subsidize some middle agers because I work hard for the middle class lifestyle i lead) I have spent a birthday. Christmas and soon a birth without any natural family members.

For the most part I think that life is better without the stress and the anxiety involved with her. She has always been emotionally abusive yet I am still having troubles going from a small but complete family to absolutely no family. I don’t wish to reconcile because I feel that it is healthier but I do need help mourning the loss of my family. What do you suggest?

PLease help.

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Your E. Mail is very poignant and emotional and the pain you feel is palpable. Your mother appears to be a woman who is extremely vengeful and unforgiving. This is unfortunate for her because she is attempting to punish you by depriving herself of the grandchild she loves. I gather, from what you write that she has always been an angry and abusive type of woman. It also appears that, even before this recent rupture of your relationship with her, you (among others) were the target of her abuse. Yet, even though you were the only child available to your elderly parents for the past ten years, she treats you harshly and mercilessly. It seems to give support to the old saying that “no good deed shall go unpunished.” However, this is more pessimistic than I believe is actual reality. It is just that with some people, like your mother, there is no way to please them.

You have taken the first step of relieving yourself of the pain of coping with your mother by reminding yourself that it is healthier to keep your distance from her. You are not the first person to have maintained a breach once it occurs with a parent with a life long history of have been abusive. I have treated a number of people who learned that there was no way they could protect themselves from abusive parents except by no longer maintaining contact with them. This is never an easy thing to do because of the nature of the parent child relationship and the way it should be. However, there are these cases where there is no choice. Protecting your self, your husband and your children should come first.

What do I suggest?

First, I see no reason why you should not be able to maintain contact with your aunt and with your older sister. They have both been alienated from her and, I am fairly certain, would appreciate having your friendship. This could be true of your half siblings as well. Also, you may need the chance to talk things over with them so that they get your side of the story instead of only what your mother has told them. The more you talk to them the better the chance you will have of healing the rift between you and them and of reducing your mother’s influence over them. At least, this should work with some of them.

If your family stubbornly refuses to talk with you or if you believe it is hopeless to even try to reason with them then keep in mind another old saying: “We pick our friends but we do not pick our relatives.” Think about it: you can and should establish friendships for your self and your immediately family. In the end, we all must do this anyway. Parents do not live forever, siblings, in today’s world, move to distant places and families no longer have the cohesiveness they did fifty years or more ago. As a result, most of us look to the community to form lasting friendships that serve a kind of familial purpose. This is why families, once they get to know one another, visit one another’s houses for dinner, engage in recreational activities with each other and share in the in a way that is similar to a family.

Yes, you need to mourn the loss of your family if none of them can come around to your side of the story or at least remain neutral. In addition to the mourning process, form those community links with neighbors, through your local religious institution, with other mothers of young children and etc.

Thank you for your E. Mail and best of luck to you.

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