It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “No Forgiveness for Father,” whose father left the family when she was four and tried to reconnect with her and her siblings after the sudden death of her mother two years ago. “I was so angry,” she wrote, “20 years later and he only contacts us because our mother died and he’s sorry for ‘our’ loss. I didn’t want anything to do with him. It’s been two years since then and all my siblings have had some contact with him and my half-sister has attempted to contact me. Everyone keeps telling me I should try to give him a chance, that he’s trying, but I just can’t.” After the jump, find out whether she had a change of heart and how she’s doing today.
Yes, I have a lot of resentment at the moment. I can’t help but question how drastically my life — and the lives of my whole family — would be if he had stepped up and took the responsibility of being our father. Before losing my mother, I had dealt with it, had accepted that for whatever reason he didn’t want us and I was okay with that; my mother was more than enough of a parent. But a commenter really hit the nail on the head: when my father tried to contact us the day my mother died, it felt like an intrusion. It felt like he was trying to use our grief to claim a position of support and was intruding on such a private and personal family matter – a family he never wanted to be a part of.
I planned my mother’s funeral, dealt with insurance and bills, wrote thank you cards, paid the church, the funeral home, the pastor; I did all of that by myself, without him, and I wanted to grieve without him. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive him enough to establish a relationship with him. My siblings have all contacted him and now have somewhat of a relationship with him and he has tried to be there for them. I won’t try to take away the efforts he has made with them; he’s trying, and he’s respected my boundaries.
As for my aunt, she and her husband — my mom’s brother — were very involved in my childhood. I spent summers in her pool with my cousins and she helped my mom as much a possible. My mom’s family all contributed and helped us out, but none of us are well-off so we all did the best we could. My aunt has always taken a second parent role for us and she feels that it’s her job to push us to do what’s “best” for us. To her, that means letting my father try to be in our lives now. I explained to her that I wasn’t ready and asked her to just leave it. She understands; she just didn’t realize how much pressure she was putting on me.
I’m still trying to deal with losing my mom and that’s hard enough without the added worry of establishing contact with my father. Someday I might want to pursue a relationship but right now I need to concentrate on myself. I’m recovering from a severe depression and some days are still a struggle. I don’t feel guilty for rejecting him, for now, and hearing from others that it was okay cemented my feelings. So, thank you for the great advice!
Thank you for the update. I wish you continued healing in the wake of your mother’s death. I’m happy you have the support of your siblings and your aunt during this sad time. Best of luck to you.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.