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Thread: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

  1. #1
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    Default (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    https://wapo.st/3VQNZ0c

    I've posted the link as a "gift" article; anyone should be able to click on it and read. A long essay in the WAPO's "magazine" in which the author talks about that other feeling one sometimes feels when someone dies - relief.

    Her father had various mental illness issues, and it had shaped his relationships all his life. Their relationship took on a much more grinding character as he aged, and she ultimately convinced him to move closer to her and her family. Because she didn't want him to die alone amidst his hoarder collections, with food rotting in the fridge.

    Many of us will have quite difficult relationships with people at different times of our (and their) lives, and will find ourselves suddenly freed from the responsibilities. Whether by the person's death, or perhaps some other thing (divorce, incarceration, hospitalization, etc.). What do we do with our feelings of relief, and survivor's guilt, when that happens?

    An acquaintance of my son's took her life a week ago. She'd left the Army perhaps 8 months past, had fought with PTSD and various addictions. She'd recently relapsed, and couldn't face putting her family through living with her if it turned out she couldn't reliably stay clean and mentally stable. During her relapse, she'd ripped her kitchen apart, throwing the broken cabinets around the room.

    It seems that when she came to herself, she thought of her husband, her two preschoolers, and the baby she would give birth to a few months hence. And apparently decided that she couldn't depend on herself to be who they needed, who she needed to be. Couldn't put them, or herself, through it.

    I don't know the husband, but I suspect that among his many feelings, there's relief. And guilt that he feels relief mixed with grief, anger, numbness.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

  2. #2
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    Many of us will have quite difficult relationships with people at different times of our (and their) lives, and will find ourselves suddenly freed from the responsibilities. Whether by the person's death, or perhaps some other thing (divorce, incarceration, hospitalization, etc.). What do we do with our feelings of relief, and survivor's guilt, when that happens?

    I had huge relief and absolutely zero guilt when I divorced my ex-wife. To say she was 'difficult' is a hilarious understatement.

    Her three kids ( two by some guy, one by me ) felt the same, as they have all abolished her from their lives.
    Gerard>
    Albuquerque, NM

    Next election, vote against EVERY Republican, for EVERY office, at EVERY level. Be patriotic, save the country.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    That's a good read. That part about the "5 stages of grief" having been developed in terminally-ill patients (not in those who're grieving the loss of others) was news to me. That's pretty big.

    Relief was part of the mix when my dad died, and quite prominent when mom died a few months later, I have no trouble relating to that at all.
    "Visionary" is he who in every egg sees a carbonara.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    Grieving support groups are helpful.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    Dad died of Alzheimer's about 15 years ago now. His period of significant dementia was mercifully brief, and the way in which his dementia expressed itself was pretty benign. For all that, I'm certain my mom felt (and feels) relief, mixed with all the other stuff.

    I suspect that she'll feel relief as her own end approaches; though she's independent and well, refusing invitations both from me and from my brother to relocate closer to either of us ... it's a long time to be widowed. A hard stretch even for an introvert to live a solitary life.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

  6. #6
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    BTDT
    Father deceased from Huntington's Disease, mother from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
    Shock, but not real surprise in both cases.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    Thank-you for sharing the article.

    I think my father-in-law has gone through something like this after the sudden death of my mother-in-law a year ago. He's emerged from his initial shock and grief as a much more relaxed and engaged person.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    The way we experience loss is deeply scripted by societal expectations.

    In so many cases we are expected to feel something, like grief, guilt, or distress, and worry that we will lose "face" if we don't.

    Best to not make assumptions.
    A society predicated on the assumption that everyone in it should want to get rich is not well situated to become either ethical or imaginative.

    Photographer of sailing and sailboats
    And other things, too.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: (free) WAPO article: complex feelings when a difficult parent dies.

    I shared an old farmhouse with a little feller who had moved from the city to get away from bad people and a messed up life. I cut semi loads of firewood on the adjoining farm and he did farm work on the place where the house stood. He was a really likeable bloke but as ugly physically as anyone I'd ever met. His nose was smashed completely flat from top to bottom and he couldn't breathe through it, so his voice was awful as well. To top it off he shared a name with a famous and handsome American actor that all the girls liked. One night we were sitting around yarning after a hard day and I said Michael I have to ask- what the hell happened to your nose? He said we had a birthday party for my sister. Everyone at the party got a little bag of sweets. I finished mine and then took one of hers. She told on me and my dad punched me in the face. I asked how old he was when it happened. He replied Eight. He said his father was a violent drunk and life was hell most of the time. He said his dad would make the family line up in the loungeroom as they had driven him to suicide and as punishment they had to watch him kill himself. He would turn the rifle on himself, rant and rave for a while and then shoot just past his head and through the wall behind him. I found his stories difficult to comprehend as my Dad was as good a father as any kid could ever dream of. Michael said the funny thing was he was sitting at his fathers bedside when he died, and when the old man finally stopped breathing he said he sobbed and shook his father by the shoulders and said Please dad don't die! We are strange creatures. JayInOz

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