What do I say to my dying father, from whom I'm estranged?

79 answers | Last updated: Sep 07, 2017
Lee823 asked...

My father and I have been estranged since I was 17 and he has not been part of my life since then. Now that he is likely to die soon, my stepmother emailed me asking me to call him so he can at least hear my voice. He has ALS and can no longer talk, but can still hear and is coherent. But I still don't know what to say to him that will be genuine.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

You have a long and strained history to overcome when you make this hard call.

But you will never be sorry that you did it -- and would surely regret the opportunity you could miss to get what the shrinks sometimes too glibly call "closure."

 Make the call to your father about him, not about you. Since you and your stepmother have been able to bridge the communication gap, enlist her help. Find out what he might have regretted or lamented the most about your relationship, then find it in your heart to be compassionate and forgive wrongs and imagined wrongs from the past. And resist any temptation to rehash them.

If the "L" word seems too strange and strained, at least you can reassure your father that you care about him, have thought of him often -- and wish him the best.

Community Answers

Rtmesq answered...

I am confronting this issue right now. I have been estranged from my father since I was 16 and I am now 52.

I don't think there is an easy or "one size fits all" answer to this question. I think the biggest variable is the reason for the estrangment and the next most important variables are the length and intensity of the estrangment.

Some estrangments occur for relatively minor reasons with emotions and pride entering the picture and keeping the people at cross purposes. Others, as I believe to be the case with my father, involve a more fundamental flaw in the parent-child relationship.

Even at my age (and with adult children) I have a sense of loss that I missed out on having a good father-son relationship and feel envy for people my age (such as my wife) who still have their father and a good relationship with great memories of him.

I am leaning against seeing my father. It has taken me years and decades to come to terms with our relationship (or lack thereof) After all these years, I think its best to just let the matter go.

Marcosolo answered...

About an hour ago I got a voice mail from my father's third wife who told me he was in for a cardiac catheterization due to severe arterial blockage, "if you give a shit", she ended. He's in his early 80's. This is the second brush he has had with death in the last 5 years. We've been estranged, barely on speaking terms for the last 30 years, yet the first time I was told he was dying I flew from overseas to be with him. The two days I spent with him were cordial but we talked about nothing of significance, resolved nothing from the past, and I left feeling like all the old wounds had reopened. I'm not responding this time. Obviously I still have mixed feelings or I wouldn't be searching for "estranged father dying" threads, but I don't see how anything good could come from dashing off for a death bed reconciliation. All lives are short and sometimes things don't work out the way we'd like. So be it.

3rd-daughter answered...

I could identify with something from everyone's post in the above thread. I don't know how old this conversation is. I stumbled upon this by searching for "estranged father dying" and I have mixed emotions. I guess I just wanted to write this down in an anon forum. It looks like I am not alone in my experience and reaction. My dad just had a triple-bypass and is having additional procedures in addition bc he has taken a turn. But it does stir up mixed emotions.

My thoughts go something like this... well I guess I should feel something bc expectations say I should. Oh the sperm donor had surgery? I should probably go see him in case he dies. But why should I it never mattered before. My sister (younger) was freaking this morning saying "what happens if something happens to him... I am so worried" My response, what? Oh no what if he dies, what!? that means will never get to see him again? As if. I think I've seen my dad aka sperm donor (I always follow up the word dad with sperm donor) 3 times in the last 40 years. We just recently resumed talking on the phone. But with him its always chit chat, hows the weather, hows the job, etc etc... over in 5 minutes until the next time we talk about nothing.

I don't know its quite annoying actually. Like life interrupted for this brief announcement just enough to stir up long since buried, forgotten and made peace with abandonment issues. Just enough to remind me of my father-loss. Just enough to raise questions in my heart again. Just enough to remind me of what I never had. Just enough to piss me off that I never had a father REALLY. Just enough to dust off that illusion and make me think that it ever really existed. Just enough to remind me how envious I am of people that had father's and really mourn their passing. He's sick, I'm sorry, I hope you feel better soon, I don't wish any ill-will your way but that stranger walking down the street is sick too and I wish him well the same.

He could have been in my life and my childrens life all along but he chose not to. That was his loss. I'm so sorry for him.

No words of condolences needed. I've made my peace a long time ago. Nothing you can say will fill the hole in my heart that only my father can fill. Since that will never happen. I've accepted that.

I wish I could put into words how I really feel, I am not that great of a writer. I have more but words escape me and as is the norm I am speechless when it comes to the sperm donor.


A fellow caregiver answered...

I can't believe there are so many others in the same situation. I like those that commented above, have had no contact for 20+ years, only now to find out he is in hospice. Make no mistake, he is reaching out now only because he is fast facing his mortality.

I know I would regret not taking the opportunity to see him, but what I fear is how angry I feel and what I would say to him - just how his incredible dereliction, sustained selfishness and moral decay have done to his sons. I want to tell him he is pathetic and weak, and what a shame he has missed out on knowing all of us, our wives, and children. I feel like whispering in his ear "just go ahead and die already - do us a favor and go".

I will be seeing him next week, and presently I still feel like I will be angry with him. I don't want to even hear what he has to say in response. But all this just sounds too mean or harsh and not in line with whom I am and want to be.

Jonandlisa52 answered...

It doesn't matter what caused the estrangement. It's likely that you regret that it happened about as much as your estranged parent. If you keep looking, you'll find your estrangement was borne of either your ego or your parent's ego. Or both. But your parent is dying now, and one of the things that dies with them is their ego. If you want to find yourself going ego-to-ego with your parent in your mind twenty years after they're dead, go ahead and withhold your forgiveness. Fix them good. See how long it takes you to understand that you are hurting yourself more than you hurt them. Or you can forgive them. Give them a gift they can take with them when they die. Twenty years from now, you probably won't be wishing you could have that decision back. That's my two cents' worth, yours for free. If you're going to ever find peace with all this, you'll find it somewhere near here. Good Luck.

Thedespised answered...

My book, The Despised, is a great resource for individuals who are estranged from their parents. Terry MacKinnon readthedespised.com

A fellow caregiver answered...

My mom left my dad when I was an infant. From what I can piece together he didn't really see me again until I was around five and then it was for six hours every other week. In a newspaper article he was quoted as saying he had two kids. He has three. During high school he gave me the choice to see him or not and of course being a teenager, I usually found something else to do. During college he moved about 6 hours away. I would see him just a couple of times a year and that was because I asked to visit or would go to the relative's homes during holidays and he would be there. During visits when I was young I would mainly hang out with my half siblings. As I got older visits consisted of cordial chit chat--nothing in depth. I did move into his home to work on a graduate degree but rarely saw him. He came home one night drunk and yelled about being tired of helping his kids. He was of the belief that your pretty much on your own the moment you turn 18 (even if your still in high school like one sibling had been). Never in my life had I experienced anything like that. My mom made me feel very loved and never a burden even though I know sometimes things were difficult. About 6 months into living with him I got into an argument with stepmom and was kicked out. I felt unwanted for the first time in my life. The other thing that bugs me is that when I was younger he smoked inside. I have asthma and could never fathom how a parent rationalizes jeopardizing their child's health. For the last few years I saw him about once a year and the conversation was usually if I still worked at so and so and how my mom's family was doing. I have a toddler so I wasn't going to be the reason she didn't know her grandpa so I put forth the effort to take her to visit him a few times. Last fall my siblings informed me he has cancer. We've (my husband, daughter and self) have visited him a few times but its not much of a visit as he usually watches tv. During on of his times at the hospital my daughter and I went to visit and he made the comment of "maybe there's too many people in the room for the nurses to come by." We were the last to arrive so I figured we'd take the hint and left shortly afterwards. He has been placed on hospice. I'm trying to be the "good child" and forgive him so I can get on with life. It's hard because I want to know why he couldn't be the dad I think he should have been. I also don't want to add to his pain. We'll probably visit about once a week until he passes. I've cried a lot the last few days and couldn't understand why but I think its the greiving of knowing he can never be the man I needed him to be and that I'm having to let go of the idea of having a dad versus the father he was.

Jerseygirl4299 answered...

My father and I have been estranged for the last two years. He found out 3 days ago that he has stage IV prostate cancer. He called me at 5:30 am on Saturday from someone else's phone to tell me this...or rather to leave me a message at a time when he knew I wasn't likely to answer. He called me from someone else's phone because he changed his phone number when he disowned me and he doesn't want me to know his current ph #. (rolling my eyes) I haven't called him back and I'm not sure that I will.
He's been so mean and hateful. My grieving process started two years ago when he changed his ph # and filed a lien against my property for $ I owed him. (though, just to clarify, we are not estranged due to $ issues) I'm a little concerned that later on I'll go through that 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' thing. There might be things I wish I had said or done, but it will be too late. However, right now I can't seem to figure out what I'm supposed to say or do.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I decided to comment here, because so many people have expressed doubts about whether they "should or shouldn't" see a dying parent. I say, use caution, and here's why:

Recently, my estranged sociopathic mother got me sucked into an estate lawsuit (I won't even go into it) with other relatives. We ended up discovering that she had scammed her brother, me, my brother, and the other relatives. No surprise to me.

Due to the lawsuit, I had no choice but to interact with her, even though I'd successfully stayed away for about 10 years. She made a big act at her nursing home about how glad she was that I was back in her life etc. and I made a good faith (but nihilistic) effort to legitimately get along and help her. Throughout her nursing home time, she suffered from episodic "near death" occurrences. We would be called and told she was about to die any moment; but then she would recover. This happened repeatedly over the period of many years, and it entered into why I had to be involved as her agent as well as a party in the lawsuit.

Once we were able to discover what really happened in the lawsuit, we settled with the relatives. My mother then became blatant again with her chilly, destructive, murderous behaviors. And, throughout the lawsuit, even while she was pretending to be nice, she succeeded in ruining my credit, causing me to lose my home, destroying my health, and turning several people against me on false pretenses. That was her standard protocol in dealing with me since I was a child; that's what sociopaths do, and they never stop doing it.

I of course ended the relationship again as soon as I was no longer legally entangled in the estate lawsuit. By that point, most people were on to her, and her continuing efforts to ruin my reputation to anyone she could get to listen to her usually fell on deaf ears. Shortly following all of this, she started having those "near-death" episodes more severely, and recently passed away alone, having alienated everyone who knew her.

I shared this because I want to say that, if you have the kind of parent I did, you should NOT get back in touch with them. There are some mental/personality disorders which never go away. If your parent has such a condition or, for whatever reason, has always been abusive to you, then nothing is going to change. As I discovered, someone like this can do incredible harm to you and your life even from a sick bed. It isn't worth having your life ruined to try to be nice to someone who wants to hurt you just because they are dying.

Even if your parent isn't able to do actual physical or real harm to you, they may have a continuing desire to harm you emotionally or psychologically. You will be in a vulnerable state most likely if you are there with your parent dying and having a troubling past; I don't think it would be wise to be exposed to such a risk.

I'm sure that God will understand your decision if you stay away, regardless of what some bleed-heart relatives, friends and associates may think. Please decide fairly for yourself. Of course, if your estrangement is over something nonsensical in the grand scheme of things, then you probably should try to resolve that, since you'll both feel better. But in situations where you parent was truly abusive, I say, don't do it.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My father died in 1988 after I hadn't interacted with him for years. He had divorced my mom, moved to the other coast and made choices that I might not of made.

I haven't lived with him or my mom for decades. My mom hasn't had real life interactions with me since 1999. I don't know why, however, after years of emotional agony and several phone calls, I learned her answer. She told me this last year that when I was 17 years old, I left home and never turned back. THIS WAS/IS NOT TRUE.

Its 2012 now and I've my own child who had none of my relatives to celebrate any of her life events with. My child would use scenes from the show Friends to write how she spent the holiday in her school classes. One time in middle school she came home lol big time. I learned from her that the Friends Thanksgiving episode paper had her teacher gushing how wonderful her family is. She and I laughed and cried at the same time.

I think that having students write about the "holidays" should be a banned topic in schools.

That's another post though.

So, my mom is now dying.

My family is calling me now.


So, do I go to my mom and help?

The agony of wishing for family acceptance and love and the need to be a good mom and show my child the most healthy way to live in life.

So far, I'm not going. I fear my mom will see me, then say, okay, now she killed me, and then freaking die. I can't deal with all of this. I don't care what she says I've done wrong anymore. I would like to know what though.

I'm praying and seriously considering all my actions and how that my effect my child.

Do parents who alienate and cause such pain have any right or social obligation extracted from the children they've chased away?

I wish my child and I peace, love, happiness and a sense of clear direction and purpose in life. Do I jump into the negativity of what my genetic family usually gifts me with?

A fellow caregiver answered...

I think the best answer to this question is to trust yourself to know what is best for you. I'm guessing the reason we even ask the question (yes, I'm in a similiar situation) is because we need permission to feel the way we do - that we don't want to rush to the death bed of someone who was never there for us. It's extremely taboo to not reach out to someone on their death bed. The judgment is brutal. I'm learning to talk to those who support me and don't talk to those who make me feel like I have to defend myself. Ultimately, we must remember - we are not responsible for being in this situation. A parent should show up for their childs life - that's how it's supposed to be, not that an adult child should show up for their estranged fathers death.

Shawneo answered...

I read this thread a couple nights ago when I was trying to decide what I should do. In the end I decided to go and see my father in the hospital who had just suffered a heart attack. When I got into the emergency room I gave him a hug and I ended up breaking down while in his embrace. When I pulled away from his hug I could see that his head went red and he was trying really hard to hold back the tears. It was at that moment that I realized that he too had missed me. This is a man who never shows emotion. so to get a reaction like that was truly a gift. 11 years had passed since I had last seen him. In that time I have had a child, got married, and finished my schooling. He had clearly missed a lot in that time. I didn't invite him to my wedding and I didn't introduce him to my daughter, after all he never called or anything, ever. After last nights meeting I have realized that not including him in those two big life events was wrong. He clearly cared/cares for me but lacks the ability to demonstrate it. After reading the other posts on this thread I can see I am a lucky person. My father will likely pull through and live a while longer. I am happy I went. I will take this opportunity to at the very least pursue a friendship with him during whatever the amount of time he and I have left on this planet. If his condition were to worsen I at least know I made an effort and that it would have let me not live with the anger I had built up inside over a lifetime. I was able to release all those emotions with one visit. Like I mentioned above, some people just are not socially capable to carry any sort of relationship or show love even though they want to and they do love you. I know every situation is different. You will need to decide for yourself what to do. I am at peace this morning and I hope you can be too.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My father is dying, down to a few weeks. My mother is exhausted for him over the years. We haven't spoken in 17 years. I'm not planning to visit or call. A friend of my mothers called, a women I don't even know. She was very nice and realizing that no one in my family talks to me, described the situation and asked me to go visit. I was nice, but I really resented a call from a total stranger who decide she was going to try to do the "right" thing and make it better. Bottom line- Kids do not owe anything to their parents. We didn't ask to be raised by them, they did the best they could and I do the best I can with my kids. My parents made the decision to cut me and my family out of their lives, they didn't feel that it was important enough to reach out and contact us. And they still don't. This call came from a thrid party who wanted to guilt me into something. Fact is I don't really care. Nor should you. You have friends and relationships that bring you joy and make you happy, life is to short to waste on those do not. Even if they happen to be related to you some how.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My dad died a year ago at the age of 63. We had been estranged, because as an adult I remarried and he did not want me to marry a man that was not from his culture. When my only brother his son died he made peace with my brother and at the same time with me, but it all eneded when my daughter married at the age of 18. He died a month before she gave birth to his great granddaughter, but that morning we had made peace once again. I am grateful I had that chance, because regardless of how he was and how he never showed us love he was my father. My daughter now does not talk to me, because of her husband and I do not even know my grandchild who is already 1yr and 5 months old. It hurts to not see them and have thanked God for giving me the opportunity to speak with my father before he passed. I am left now understanding how many times he wished I would have picked up the phone and called him. I have tried with my own daughter and know that she no longer wants to see me and I regret not trying with my dad.

Pretending answered...

I spent the better part of 4 decades trying to convince myself that I didn't "need" my fathers love or attention. Now after a lifetime of zero contact, I discover, by complete surprise, that he, my estranged terminally ill father, has only a few weeks to live. I feel ambushed by the attack of emotions I now face. I am adult, a 50 year old mother with a two teen daughters, a pending divorce, and very complicated set of mixed feelings that I can't even identify let alone process or put into prospective. Do I fly across the country to see him hospice...? Should I go? Will I find some sort of closure? I don't wish him any ill will. I don't expect any sort of loving reunion. I wonder if he'll even care? Am I setting myself up for another landslide of rejection? Or, is this my one and only chance to make sense of a lonely past that I pretend never happened?

A fellow caregiver answered...

I just lost my mother. we had a weird relationship, only at the end did she and i bond truely. I took medical leave from my job to care for her. It was strange, yet satisfying as far as knowing I did what I was supposed to do. There was some closure, but in all honesty it left me with questions. I'm not sure everyone could do what I did given the situation. I was in a cloud of obligation and guilt, and for two weeks I was in shock after her passing. I'm grieving now, but not how a normal person would grieve. Basically I've always grieved for a mother, a normal one. But death isn't easily grasped by the human mind. I still find myself trying to text or call her when I'm having a bad day. I wish she would just yell at me one more time. Its just strange. Even though our relationship was strained, it was better then nothing. Anyone else feeling this way??

Jlfcpa60 answered...

I am not a health-care professional or anything, but wanted to relay how I have done since my father died in late 2005. First of all, please do not miss getting to hospice BEFORE they are admitted! My Dad had cancer but I was unaware of how hospice worked and I worked an extra day (lived about 150 miles away) and when I got there, I did not get a chance to say goodbye or talk to him. They kept him unconscious with pain medicine from there on out and I did not get that last chance. My Dad and I both are hard to crack and I never got to tell him my or hear from him the deep things in his heart.

I will say that after he died, God has blessed me with dreams. I say this because in the book of Job, God actually allowed the enemy to attack Job, and the enemy even hounded him with nightmares. Well, I dream about my Dad almost every single night, now going on 7 plus years. In the beginning it was like we were trying to settle our differences and were always fighting. Now when I dream of him, we are best of friends and have a great time together. I am actually at the point now where he is there in my dreams and I am telling other people that see him too that he is really not there, but in heaven, but we carry on just like he splits his time between places!

Doesn't that sound strange?

Sank answered...

Estrangement is a two way street and after 10 years I can honestly say, I don't care. I've moved on you should too.

A fellow caregiver answered...

it was 20 years for me going it alone with my own family with 2 sisters and a brother i was never contacted once any way last year my sister got cancer so i made the effort to contact them

i have seen my parents and sisters a couple of times it's been a cool reception

Now my father has cancer,i don't know how long hes got but im glad i did make the effort to see him as i can tell he likes my phone calls

You do whats best for you

Bfran answered...

I have read the replies to this posting and would like to add my own comment.

I have been estranged from my father since I was 11 when he couldn't win custody and then declared he no longer wanted access. Thankfully, my traumatised mother raised me in close proximity to my wonderful loving grandparents and minimised the impact of his behaviours on me. He was charming and I loved him to bits. He repeatedly stopped paying maintenance, and stalked me when I was at University. I couldn't reconcile these behaviours with a loving father.

I sent him a card after Uni telling him I had my degree and for him not to worry - I was OK. Then he turned up at my mother's funeral after 38 years of no contact, uninvited and unannounced and with his siblings and their spouses, claiming 'the past is past'. Then the day after my mother's funeral I heard the first of many streams of lies and he repeatedly denied my thoughts, feelings and wishes; behaviours I recognise whilst a child but which I did not dispute as a child, but accepted as the 'norm'. I tried to separate repeatedly and it was not respected. I then received a call from his relatives - he was dying in hospital. Seven months later, after me taking an active and loving role in his care, to the detriment of my own health and life, and being the only person to stay with him whilst he was dying, he has found a way to hurt me from beyond the grave. He left detailed wishes with his funeral director, with instructions they not be shared with anyone other than the presiding priest and that they not be deviated from in any instance. He has specifically allocated the arrangements to the total exclusion of myself in any role or function. His sister and family have been identified as next of kin and they are treating it as if I am not a part of their family - and that I have no loss. I dread how he will hurt me in his will - and I have no wish for anything of his, but it is another vehicle for him to hurt me. All this when I am entirely alone and emotionally spent after caring for him up to his death and being 'strung along' by his relatives - and not even an opportunity to grieve as a daughter or receive any emotional support. I have now concluded that this is finally evidence that he is a sociopath, which brings some respite, as he was never able to love, but I was extremely exploited in his manipulations - and manipulations when health and safety are involved are very demanding.

I would urge anyone estranged from family to consider all options and consequences for trying to engage in an estranged relationship. There may be a pathology in there that could hurt you more than you imagine.

Mjthomas answered...

I think if you are a parent and you don't want to go to your grave estranged from your child the time to act is well before you get sick. If you are a child who is estranged from an abusive parent, and that parent hasn't made an effort to own his or her actions and mend the relationship, you are under no obligation to respond to a death bed request. Guard your heart. I don't think the time to mend a broken relationship is during a crisis, holiday, or major life event.

Rocklobster answered...

I received a call today from my brother to let me know that my step monster left a message about my father. She said he was on his "last legs" and had specifically requested to speak to ME! Ha! I have not spoken to this man in 15 years! Where at this point he admitted he had screwed up and I let him know that I completely agreed. I got my acknowledgement....and I thought I was free! Not the case. Today's phone call slapped me right across my face, brain and heart. I had SOOO many angles of digesting this. I was stuttering in my own head!! WTF?...was repeated over and over.
After all that crazy talk to MYSELF!! (people on the freeway probably I thought I was a crazy lady) I said "f~~~ it.....I'm calling. Literally....it was that feeling of "Pull the band aid off fast" so it might not hurt so much. He answered the phone....and wow....my first thought was you sound really old and weak. Then....to my surprise (but not really) the conversation was nothing deep. Here I was....contemplating the call....maybe he wants to apologize/maybe he is having death bed confessions/maybe he wants to......blah, blah, blah. DO NOT EXPECT!!! Which is a lesson I already know......but I did it anyway. I EXPECTED something different. I guess it goes along with ASSUME. And....yes...I am an ass! Bottom line...the conversation was so surface and "weather" like..I was kinda bugged. Tonight as I am writing this (and looking up some sort of insight on this situation) I can say I AM TOTALLY SATISFIED/CONTENT/RELIEVED that I called. If he dies tonight....I will not have any "residue" of this man or situation upon me. I know I did the right thing. It wasn't super easy. It was totally weird and uncomfortable.....but I am free from any haunting thoughts. My scars will always remain in my heart.....regardless. But it truly gave me peace to be the bigger person.

Suska answered...

I, too, am struggling with what to do about my estrangement with my elderly mother. We have been estranged for about a year and a half, but have had a very strained relationship for the past 10 years, but really, for me, it's been since I was a kid.

My mother is a narcissist. She cannot see outside of herself. When I was 12, several years after my parents divorced, she got involved with someone who moved in with us and wanted absolutely nothing to do with me and my mother soon followed suit. The two of them were always stoned: constantly smoking pot and also taking other drugs on occasion. They made it clear to me that they could care less if I was around or not. So I got away from home as often as possible, which was perfectly fine with them. So, basically, I had to raise myself.

Until our estrangement, every time I would talk to her, she did nothing but talk about herself, sometimes for over an hour, and would never ask about me or my husband. We finally had a confrontation about something to do with my sister, and it opened up the floodgates and I finally let her know how much she had hurt me and how abandoned I felt by her since I was a kid.

Her reaction was to attack my character, act like she was the victim, and then stop communication with me for over a year. Then she wrote me a note when my father died, so I reached out to her, and the same thing happened again. This time she told me that she doesn't want me in her life any more. I told her that she can't be a fair weather mother and that if she reaches out to me again, don't expect any response.

So, she sent me an eCard on my birthday and I ignored it. She never wished me a birthday the year before, when I turned 50. Then I got a call that my mother was in the hospital after a fall. I found out her condition was not that serious, and she will be OK, but it did give me pause and make me wonder what I should do.

She refuses to discuss anything with me that I am hurt about and insists that I am "living in the past" (even though she still is completely self-centered and narcissistic) and "living in anger" (even though it's just at her and not at the world) and blah blah blah. I told her I need to know that she empathizes with and validates my feelings, and that she feels some sense of responsibility for the pain she caused me, and that she is willing to make some changes in our relationship so that we both feel fulfilled. For her, this is not an option. She views this as a vicious attack on her.

She is not so healthy, she's in her 70's, and I do fear getting that phone call that she died. At the same time, I know that if I "reconcile" with her that it must be on her terms and that relating to her will cause me depression and anger.

So, it is a very complicated decision and there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer.

Imsad answered...

For 10 yaers I have only spoken to my Dad when we happen to run into eachother at a holiday. But this is no fault of our own. My mother and I had a fallung out and since he has to live with her Its just been easier for everyone to not upset her. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor some years ago and we never thought he would have as long as he did. However with the end only a few days away my heart is breaking. He can no longer speak and Ill never know how he truly feels. I know that he loves me and when i see him i see it in his eyes. But I feel like such a stranger in his house with my mom there watching me. How do i say i forgive you and i understand why its been this way for so long when shes right there? He loves her and i dont want him to hurt because of me but if i never say these things i dont think i will ever be happy again.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I can't speak to the estrangement with parents, but I was estranged from my grandparents when they died. They were abusive people. I resolved long before their deaths that they were already dead to me. I did not attend their funerals, and I have no regrets. Each person has to make the call concerning whether to reach out to a dying, estranged relative, solidify the decision, then move on without looking back.

Amethyst41 answered...

My father died three weeks ago. I had not spoken to him in 27 years, other than for him to ask me if I was reading the bible and going to meetings. He was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and I made the supreme mistake of marrying someone not of that faith. He did not come to my wedding. He did not come to the birth of my child. He did not come to graduations, celebrations, or even send a card or acknowledgment. Long ago, I accepted this as his way of doing what is right for him. However, the unexpected effect was that my siblings believe that I rejected him, and they will not talk to me or believe that it was a two-way street. As a result, I've lost my relationship with my four siblings and their children as well. I'm truly on the outside of my family. I went to my father's funeral, and was cordially told by my stepmother that I was welcome to come by the house for the food afterward. How gracious of her. At the house, two of my sisters basically ignored me, and the third yelled at me. I thought I had settled these feelings in my heart, but now, after three weeks, I'm feeling angry about the lost relationships. It will be a long time healing from this. I know I need to move forward and focus on my own husband and children, but it's going to be difficult, because I'm a loving and giving person. It's hard for me to imagine someone acting this way, let alone be on the receiving end of such behavior. I do feel for all of you who have posted before me, and I do hope that time will help us all come to peace with our emotions.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Estrangement. What an interesting word. I believe it's too simple a word to describe having no relationship with one's father. Just like so many things in my father's life, he gets off easy by saying, "I'm estranged from my kids." Like he had absolutely nothing to do with it. Like it was my brother's and my decision, not his. He made the poor choices in his life. He chose drugs, alcohol and other women over us. He chose to live two miles away while we were teenagers and never get in touch. He chose the estrangement. And in so doing, he missed high school and college graduations, marriages, grandsons, military deployments to war, returns from war, and ultimately getting to know two surprisingly grounded individuals. Now he is in ill health from other bad choices he made along the way. How do we get him to see that he's where he is because he CHOSE it himself? We're collectively holding our breath knowing we will soon be getting THAT call - either to come to his deathbed, or to a funeral. I think then, my brother and I will finally get to choose. At this very moment in my life, I believe I will choose to stay away.

Auntyflo answered...

I have been estranged from my parents for roughly 40 years. My father was a terrible person, not to just me but my two brothers and my mother. My mother adored my father, it made me sick. I use to pray that a car accident would end his life but he hung on till this weekend.
I have little remorse, but I fell that my mother has always blamed it all on me and never ever cared about me. In other words she was never a mother to me, but she did everything for the boys. It's a long story, I had the benefit of my aunt who became my pseudo mother figure. She was a great persons and my cousins are like sisters to me.

I married a wonderful man, really wonderful. When he went to talk to my parents about our marriage, they told him I was a horrible person and he really should reconsidered.

I chose to leave my mother and father out of my life, but went to see them for an afternoon after not seeing them for 15 years. It went much better than expected, but and there was always a but the next day my father called and told me how fat I had become. I was wearing a size 6 at the time. He knew how to push those buttons and I told him never to call again.

Today I must call my mother and ask her how she is doing . He died two days ago. I am so fearful of the phone call.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My mother's just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, more than 7 years after I've tried to go no-contact, which she always ignored, blamed me for putting my career over her well-being. Now, after the diagnosis, but only after, she sort-of-tries to "reach out" to me again, by having all her friends and family call me, email me, ask me to come and see me. From her came another mail a few days ago, listing who's come to see her, and adding the phrase how she was "full of pain and fear, and full of love and pride of our daughter". No reponse to my previous mail, where I said I wouldn't see her, and gave the reasons why. Just more manipulation and guilt, and she can't even address me directly, just remind me of my position in her family "our daughter". That's what I've always been to her, never a person, never another human being with the right to be seen for what she is, her hopes, her fears, her own emotions. People don't change just because they're close to death, and as they are getting weaker and weaker physically, they get a moral/guilt strength they've never had in their good days. She had years and years to want to listen, and never cared to even know who I really was. I don't need to wait until she's dead to grieve, I already do, day by day, for the true, loving, caring mother I've never had. Not giving in to her this time is also about standing up for myself this time, not being fooled by her little games again, not letting her steer my behavior through guilt just once more. The idea of forgiveness is so beautiful, but in my mind, forgiveness can only be given if asked for, and that she never will. Therefore, I do have the right to care for myself in the way that is best for me. And this means, keep away.

Thickasthieves answered...

As I was sitting here feeling like I must be the only person in the world going through this, I see so many people and so many feelings. As stated above, it is such an individual choice. My Father called me when I was 12 (parents divorced) and announced that he had remarried and now had a new family, there was no need for me to make the one hour train trip to visit him. No one can know what that does to a child. The years of feeling inadequate, trying to compensate through a series of bad relationship choices in my twenties. I had a very colorful childhood full of my Father's eccentricities of which I will leave out the details. It was not until I was in my upper 20's that my mother managed up the truth, that my Father was severely mentally ill. Since that time when I was 12, I have also never heard a word from his family, which is large. Last week I started getting various messages via facebook from his family stating that he had fallen ill and I was listed as the only living descendant. The hospital and state appointed attorney needed to speak with me. A couple of Aunts and an Uncles have said how much they have missed me and wondered if I was well. As I understand that my Father was mentally unable to know what he was doing back then, I do not understand how Grandparents and numerous Aunts and Uncles could completely disappear and then years later make as if they had been concerned. None the less, I have decided that I could not live with myself if I did not make the trip to visit him, whether he knows I am there or not. I will not tell my Mother or any family, but will go on my own. I will make his arrangements when I am there (as I am obligated to) and will not attend services with the family that I don't know. I will then return to my family here where I have learned that blood is, in fact, not always thicker than water. It isn't about forgiving, it is about knowing that people make bad decisions that effect lives forever, and that's it. I feel blessed that I have been successful in my life, that I can drop at a moment and hop on a plane to do this. I don't know what came of his life, only of this one moment. I may never really know what his battle with severe mental illness was like or how tortured his life may have been, but I have one chance to make sure that he passes with dignity and not alone.

A fellow caregiver answered...

my biological father was an abuser and hated my mom, myself, and my brother.

when i turned 18 he never contacted me, nor i him. all i remember is hating him from the time i could understand every time he beat my sweet mother and us for no reason.

my mom finally divorced him and my brother and i never forgave him, and he could care less. he told other relatives he hated us and was glad there was no communication.

i learned recently he was dying but he never asked about any of us at all so we stayed away.

none of us feel any guilt because he kept everything he and my mother owned jointly when she finally divorced him. he never returned anything to any of us and the house, businesses, cars, vacation homes, and magnificent residential home, along with bank accounts meant more to him that his own family.....so we feel no remorse now that he died. only pity that he lost out having a loving family and really knowing us as he should have.

it is easy to become a father and husband as far as having intimate relations, but that is not the only thing which makes a man a good father and husband. a good father and husband loves and shields his family from harm, and is not the abuser, wife and child beater.

how my mom could stay married to him for 18 years i can understand since he always threatened her with more violence if she were to ever leave him, but it was filing for divorce or her committing suicide.

i am glad her common sense prevailed, because no one deserved what she and what we the children received from my father who was the most despicable poor excuse for a man.

i hope he was judged on judgement day and is enjoying his hot seat for eternity. Lord knows he certainly deserved it.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have not spoken properly to my dad nor seen him since 2008. He has had been to hospitals with strokes and there was a lot of financial problems. My dad supported me financially a lot. The life was not ideal - it was total dependancy which was not allowing me to build my own life for two decades. He was great but he also was terrible. It was a long distance daughter - father relationship as he lived on a different part of a planet with 9 hour difference. Throughout my twenties and thirties I was visiting him a lot, for few months every year. He was paying for everything. Before he had emigrated there 30 years ago we were kind of close - he used to visit me and grandma on Sundays, but that my granny said that was just to have free dinners. My mother was the bread winner until I got into a prestigious University abroad this is when we decided to ask him for the first time to contribute to anything , it was to the university fees. He paid half, he said to everyone he paid everything - this tendency to lie was not surprise. This was when he already emigrated and was earning good money. After I finished my studies he continued to support me financially. This was because "we" decided that I should have a flat and mortgage. I could not afford it. He was paying for my mortgage and giving me abuse on the phone a lot. When I visited him he used to call me 5 times per day to check where I was. It was difficult to get to know people with him being around. When I was a student there was an episode when I went to visit him for a vacation and he said he could not find me a place to stay and that I had to live with his best friends' friends. They turned out to be in porn business and it was too shocking for me. The way I was brought up was hardly liberal and he knew it. I was a virgin and I was engaged to be married. I was made to watch porn with him and those dubious friends. I had a trauma. It had than been made into a taboo subject. My engagement fell apart. I was devastated. When the recession started it all came crumbling down. He had a new wife who disliked me ( he had 5 wives in total ) and there was a lot of slanderous behaviour on her part towards me which I was in denial of. He was very good to me, paying for absolutely everything but there was an unhealthy boundary. I always knew if I let it happen or even relaxed he would have taken advantage of me , sexually, I never felt safe. It was a hard work. The fact that dad used to be engaged with my mum's sister before they got married is hardly helping either. My aunt despises him and every xmas is a nightmare for me having to listen to what a horrible person he was from her view point. I know he was horrible but I know that he was not negligible towards me either. The moment which was a turning point though was during his birthday, I cooked and set the table for his guests, he was abusive towards me during the preparations, when the guests arrived I said jokingly that it has been hard for me to take his calls from work 5 times a day. In retaliation he said that he demanded a grandson and that I am getting old and he is going to pay someone to rape me. At that point one of his guests told an anecdote about how he used to steal embryos from the medical department at a university and put them into hands of sleeping girls after the parties... This was supposed to be funny... When dad lost his job he had to sell his house the joker, was an estate agent, cheated him on the profit. I also had to sell the flat and became homeless. He did not care. Turned hypochondriac. Than indeed was hospitalized. His brother took him home back to his country. We spoke once on the phone and it turned into a huge raw , which included my grandma, and I just turned off the phone because I worried grandmother would have a stoke she was shouting so much at them, which was very out of character and unusual. The way he and his brother spoke to my granny was awful and disrespectful. His brother takes all his retirement money. He is deliberately obnoxious towards me and blames me for dad's health problems. He sent me a photo via email from his journey to Asia with a naked child. I reported him to the police. I am very happy to not have to put up with it all, but I do miss dad sometimes. My mother has been cheated on by him and mistreated by him when she was young and she still has psychological problems because of it. For this reason alone I do not get in touch - I have learned about it just before all these troubles started and stopped talking to him after a year from hearing that, it took me the whole year to take it on board. He helps his brother with his business and his brother, who btw is my god father, protects his access to dad's money like viscous dog with a bone. So, even if I could have a sincere moment with my dad now, and I know that he loves me, it would cost me a lot of nerves anyway. There, I convinced myself it is not worth it. Thank you for letting me speak on this forum.

A fellow caregiver answered...

The problem is, people feel guilty about not attending a funeral of a parent or visit their death bed. Society frowns upon such things. My point is, who cares what "society" thinks? Most people here lived through abusive, distant or emotionally unavailable parents. I haven't seen my father in 23 years. He was not a good parent and never much saw me after I left home at 20. I have received no phone calls, no birthday wishes, no nothing. He lives 5 miles away from me and is dying. Will I visit? No. Will I attend his funeral? No. Will I feel guilty? Hell no!

A fellow caregiver answered...

My dad was physically and mentally abusive during my young age. His alcohol intake did play a part. I was beaten so bad with a leather strap that my underwear would stick to my skin from the blood. It happened continually from age 8 to about 13. Then it was just constant mental abuse. My mom was also an alcoholic you put the two of them together with a bottle of J&B and the sparks flew. My mom passed 25 years ago and his contact with me was maybe thee times since she passed. I have three kids that he does not even know their names. I myself have three beautiful grandkids. My dad does not know they exist not by my doing. I wrote him a letter 7 years ago telling him about the past and no response. I was just looking for acknowledgment I should have known better. Now my brother calls and says dad is dying. My brother tells me he does not even acknowledge me on his deathbed. As you can see the mental abuse continues. I never did anything to this man that would warrant such abuse and isolation from the family. I kept my promise to myself that I would never beat my kids the way he beat me. I BROKE THE CYCLE! Good did come from bad. I will not see him it is in the hands of our gracious God because God carried me through his abuse. Keith

Annonymous xxxx answered...

I face the same dilemma today my father mentally and physically tortured his children 4 of us, me his eldest and only daughter and 3 younger sons we didn't have a childhood. When I was 11 two nights before Christmas he came into my room after a fight with my mom and tried to have sexual intercourse with me luckily for me I was quick enough to get out and run to my mom who unfortunately was no use but thankfully he never tried it again, I was lucky. We used to sleep with our clothes on sometimes for fear we would have to get out of the house if he got too violent. Due to how my life was I didn't think I would live to be 20! The extreme anxiety we suffered will probably make us ill later in life. My father I've been told has about 3 weeks left to live. I don't feel hatred toward him and I don't wish him any ill for what he has done, I have not included him in my life since my parents divorced when I was 19 I am 43 now. He wants to see his children he said. Should I go?

A fellow caregiver answered...

I feel badly that I don't feel bad at all. I don't wish him badly, I'm just over it. My dad has always made very vindictive, self centered choices, at the cost of my mother's hard work. He has bullied and been aggressive to most people around him, he has financially ruined my mother, leaving her as his father started to fail to avoid sharing inheritance, tho my mother has paid for him his whole Life. He has decimated her retirement fund, causing her to remortgage everything she owns, and work till she is 70. He has reappraised our family home 3 times to get $5000 more dollars to line his pockets, and taken away any sense of security we had as young adults, the threat of not being able to afford our home always looming. Finding out I wasn't his first child, but rather that he fathered a child before me and abandoned her. He has falsified tax returns, to get even more alimony, and left two weeks before I wrote my nursing exam, just cause it was how he felt, not considering his child, and served my mother at her workplace with legal papers. I have forgiven, but obviously can't forget. Yet people say "but he's your dad, you wouldn't regret not going?!". No because this is were you reap what you sow, I don't forget your vindictive miserable behaviour now that you are sick, I wish you a painless as happy as can be managed end of your Life, but I have grieved for the father I thought I had as a child. This is where your choices catch up with you, I will not rush to your side. I feel bad I don't feel bad at all

Falling leaves answered...

If your father really is sorry and you feel he truly wants to see you.. I would see him. If he didn't care at all, he wouldn't bother reaching out to you. Be the bigger person. You can't change the past and you can't change what he did. All you can do is be there for him now and have no regrets. When he is gone, that's it.. no more chances.. this is it.

Frodof answered...

I heard that my father had cancer a couple of months ago. I hadn't seen him in 10 years and found out about the cancer through the grape vine.

He and my mum divorced when I was 2, it was hard work and once I turned a teen I'm afraid I'd rather spend time having fun with friends than listen to his bitterness.

When I found out I wasn't sure how I felt or what I should do... after convincing myself that if he wanted me to know he would have contacted me, he has always known where I am, I tried to block it out. But I couldn't, whatever has happened in the past he is still my dad and I don't want him to die. After overhearing a lady badmouthing me at a bus stop I decided to bite the bullet and contact him. Fearful of a door being slammed in my face I wrote a letter. After 3 weeks I had no reply. I felt sick, but at least I had tried.

Two weeks ago I found out that he had lost his hair due to Chemo and it really shook me up. I'm not daft, I know this happens, but it really made me think... again!

I called my Grandmother, his mother, and she invited me round. I went straight away. We cried, we hugged... hadn't done that for years. She acknowledged that she hadn't contacted me, but said she didn't know what to do.

I asked her to tell my Dad that I had been in touch and to pass on my phone number. I explained that we didn't need to talk about the past, the weather would be good enough! I just needed to tall to him, hear his voice.

She promised to tell him, later that evening. He calls her every day.

After a week I had heard nothing... again. I call my Grandmother, see how things are.... I'm told he doesn't want contact with me.

I feel like I've been kicked in the stomach. Like my heart has been ripped out and stamped on.

Half of me wishes I hadn't tried, it's playing on my mind constantly and there's nothing I can do.

I didn't expect things to fall back into place, for the hurt and pain to disappear. But now there's nothing I can do.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My dad always chose bars over his family. One evening in 1977 I watched as my drunken dad stabbed a knife into a door around my mothers head and later being dragged through the snow by arresting police officers. That night my mother woke me in the middle of the night telling me to pack what I could into a bag and shovel the snow from our el camino. That night me, my mother and sister left. I only saw him a handful of times since. The last when I was 30 after 10 years without talking. We almost fought. My sister is a nurse and has been involved in his life. She is finding hospice for him tomorrow morning. I am torn between faded memories of a man who wasn't threre for me and the fact he is my Dad. Honestly I don't think I will pick up the phone if I see my sisters number.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I found out that the woman who kicked me out of my father's home because she wanted her own biological child had cancer. So what? She wants to see you when she makes her farewell tour. So what? No. I won't see her. She wants to play nice-nice now after decades?

Even a dog will stop coming to you if you beat it enough. Cats are smarter. Humans are somewhere in the middle. So, no, I wasn't good enough for her then, have come to realize she was never good enough for me, and do not at all regret not giving her the opportunity to say whatever she wanted to. She lost the right to communicate with me long ago.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My estranged father died two years ago. I was told of his terminal cancer three months before his passing. Through a third party. I immediately decided I would not renew contact. My brother went to see him the next day, always prone to running after his father. What a waste of time. I have no regrets. My brother has plenty. Go figure. Paradoxically, since Father's passing I think about him all the time. It seems we have a better relationship in spirit than we ever did in life. No point being sentimental about bad relationships. look after your self.

David. answered...

I have been estranged from my parents and family for 30 plus years (I'm now 52 yrs old). and over the past few years both parents have died.
My Mother died suddenly several years ago and I found out through a distance family member. I called the funeral home and had a private viewing where there were pictures of my mother's life everywhere but none of me and a guest book of names of people I had once known...I was hurt but not surprised. I signed the guest book and left. My father died a few years ago...I found out 3 months after his death by the same family member What happened after was interesting...I went into mourning after my mother died and realized that I had secretly held out hope that if my father died first, there maybe a chance for reconciliation or at least on my part...I suppose the loss of this possibility was what I cried over. I felt an enormous sense of relief when I heard of my fathers death.

I am still surprised that I felt free and in time started to catch the quiet thoughts I was holding on to about them and how that shaped my behaviour.

I have a better relationship with them in memory then I ever could have had with them when they were alive...I have even started to forgive them (this is a very slow process) and I'm beginning to see them differently...as a friend once said...healing is a life long process.

Be well

A fellow caregiver answered...

Every person's situation is different, so only you can make the judgment call on that one. Having experienced a similar situation, I would say that it depends on how you feel about it and whether or not you want contact. I don't feel that I owe the parent who abandoned me a deathbed phone call. Honestly I don't even think my dad would want one,and any request for one would be solely to make a meddling relative feel better. I feel like it would be adding insult to injury to pay that kind of respect to someone who has spent most of my life ignoring me, especially because I made several attempts at reconciliation while he was still alive. Every day that I don't hear from him is a day that I grieve his absence. Death would just relieve him of his lame excuses. I've made peace with the fact that he will never be a part of my life and I will never regret loving him enough to let him go instead of trying to manipulate him into a relationship that he never wanted. My advice- Unless you're planning on singing 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone' at the funeral, leave that can of worms unopened. That call that will make your stepmother feel better isn't really fair to you because you deserved a father.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have experience in this area, sadly enough. There is no right answer here.

But If I didn't know what to say here, here is what I would say in this situation: "I don't really know what to say here, dad, but I do want you to hear my voice. Your wife asked me to make this call. This is a hard call to make. You're fortunate that you have found someone like her to take care of you. I'm glad that you found her. I can't imagine what you are going through right now. Since you can't really speak - how about I just tell you a little bit about my life right now? I can ramble, and maybe you can learn a little bit about your boy."

I would then talk a little bit about my life. I'd keep it bouyant. Honest. Just the greatest hits of whatever he missed in my life. College. Kids. Work. That sorta thing. Three to five minutes at most. And then I would wrap it up graciously:

"You are in my thoughts, dad. I'm praying for you. I'm truly glad so & so reached out to me - I'm really grateful I had a chance to make this call. Goodbye, dad."

Ten to fifteen minutes at most. The key tone to strike in these situations, I've found, is gracious humility. Just be kind. Approach it with love in your heart with no axe to grind. If you don't have the strength to simply be kind - don't make the call. That is the one thing I would suggest.

A fellow caregiver answered...

i came across this thread when my mom was back in hospital for cancer. relatives were pushing me to fly over or at least make a happy call.

in short, we were never close. i didn't have a voice; the answer would be a "no" or she would just walk away. i learnt to not communicate.

when she found out about the cancer, i went back for 3 weeks. i wanted to be there in the first 1 1/2 weeks. then she started treating me like a slave.

on the plane flying back, i realized that i had fallen back into depression. i had been seeing a psychologist for 2 1/2 years for relationship and childhood issues. i told her once before. then i told her again about 6 months after. the last time i mentioned that it'd started since i was little, she got defensive and stopped talking to me. i decided that i still can't depend on her and chose to move on.

i didn't want to go back to see her on her deathbed. i was considering it, but i felt angry. angry because she wasn't there for me when i needed her, angry because she expected me to do something i don't want to do, angry because she still wanted me to move back to take care of her because it was my duty and obligation as a child; instead of letting me be happy where i am, being myself.

i sent her a text message; wishing her some peace and ease from the pain, which was from the heart. but it didn't get a response. i got another "are you coming back?" instead. so.. yea.. it was rather pointless.

i didn't go back. i told my dad's family that i don't want to and gave them the reasons (my dad passed away 2 years ago, i'm an only child). they seemed to understand.

my mom's family, however, is now all angry at me. but they have all original documents that my parents left. and they're now making it difficult for me to process paperwork. so, maybe this is something for the next person to consider.

i do not regret not flying over.

Elder son answered...

Im 55 . My father lived 8 houses away from me . We rarely talked and even more rarely got along when we did speak . We sometimes went years without contact . At times I hated him . Other times I just ignored him . In my mind , he felt the same towards me . My father passed 4 nights ago . I heard he was in the hospital and not expected to live . I made the decision to get dressed , and go to work . He died before I got home . Im left with an overwhelming feeling of the complete stupidity of it all . He was a jackass , but why couldnt I accept that and just let him be who he was ? There is much regret . He died in great pain and was not even recognizable . He didnt deserve that . He didnt deserve me not letting him know me . We couldnt stand each other . And what great irony now that its over , that all I want . Is to tell him I loved him .

Notinterestedanymore answered...

My father has less than 6 weeks to live I am told. He and my mother divorced when I was 4 and he hasn't been in my life since. I am 50. I am not going to feel any regret for not seeing him. He has told my cousin that he wants to talk to me, but frankly, I find this awkward, random and weird. I don't want to appear mean, but I find it even hard to think about a telephone conversation. There is nothing I want to hear from him and nothing I want to say. I don't feel anything..it took me a long time to get here, but this is where I am. Your responses have made me feel less guilty about my decision...not that I felt too bad anyway, but thanks.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I googled this because I am feeling very strange and numb and I dont feel like sharing with people I know and those few that I have shared my feelings with dont understand. But I need to get this out. My basic story: When I was a young child, my father was both sexually and physically abusive to me and my siblings until he forced to leave my home by Child protection services after I told on him. His departure from my home and life when I was 10 was my happiest moment ever. I would finally be free constantly running and hiding from him. I grew up with a single mother who made sure to give me my share of emotional and physical abuse. She was upset at me for telling on my father. I had nothing to do with my father for years. He made no effort at reconsilliation or apologizing and I dont even know if I would have forgiven him if he had, but perhaps it may have shown me that he had regrets. I have not one positive memory of him and I do not even consider him a father. I left home at 18, because I could no longer tolerate my mother's treatment towards me. When I was 19, my father got a brain tumor and of course my family blamed it on me for causing them all,especially him, a great deal of stress. My mom kept me updated on his treatments and progress and made sure to insert alot of blame on me for causing his illness. Eventually he was in remission. I was happy for him, as I do not wish bad on anybody, but I did not visit or speak to him throughout his stay in the hospital as I had nothing to say to him. I was angry with him for having hurt me and for his lack of parenting. I dont even consider him my father. I just feel like he was nothing more than merely a name on my birth certificate. Its sad and pathetic and maybe selfish, but I felt more sorry for myself that I do not have normal father to be able to be there for. Years past and recently his cancer has returned and not looking good. He has been in the hospital for a while now and as I know he is not doing well, I pray for him as I would pray for anyone to get better. During his stay in the hospital, his mother died (about 2 weeks ago). She lives in a different country and I have not been in contact with her either (basically, since the divorce of my parents) I remember feeling numb when I heard via text from my mother. Like its sad, I lost my grandmother, but I dont really feel sad because I have nothing to do with her. Like what am I sad about? I have no memories of her. So, I felt numb. I didnt know how to feel. I felt guilty for not feeling sad. I felt abnormal for not feeling "how one is supposed to feel" when they lose a grandparent. I felt like I couldnt even tell anyone that I had lost my grandmother because I did not deserve to be given condolenced. I also felt awkward because I did not feel I could explain my lack of relationship with her, without talking about my history. But no one knows about my history. I keep it private and everyone that knows me just thinks I am normal and that I grew up in a regular family. When I learnt about my grandmother I was in a quandry. I did not feel like going to comfort my father on his loss, but I felt that I may eventually regret not going. And I am a person that always tries to do what I think is the right thing even if it may be hard for me, so I braved it and I went to the hospital. My father was laying helplessly in a bed having his diaper changed when I arrived. His face was dirty wih food. I felt sick. I hadnt seen him in years and now he was a helpless and ill man. I felt sad. Sad that he had nothing. It was his fault that I hate him. I went in and sat there for a few minutes while wemade some polite exchanges. I acknowledged the difficulties of his loss and illness. I wished he would say something about all he had done to me as a child. I wished I could bring it up. The night before, I had dreamed about confronting him. and how good that would feel because we had never talked about it. But then seeing him there in bed lying there so pathetically, I bit my tongue. It was hard though. I left and as soon as I entered the hospital elevator I burst into tears. I dont even understand why. I still hate him. But I guess it just brought up alot of emotion for me. I may have been half hoping that he would apologize, but I guess knowing him I should never expect anything. Now, 2 weeks later my mother has just told me that the doctor said his prognosis is very bad. They have taken him off chemo because it was not helping and they moved him to palliative care. They gave him 3 months to live, tops. I feel sick. I feel bad that I am not sad. I wish I would be sad for a father that is a real father to me. I wish I had a father that I felt close to and loved. But I dont. I still hate him for hurting me. I wish I knew how to feel. I wish this wasnt on my head all day bothering me so that I could actually focus on what I am supposed to be doing instead of letting him take up any more of my emotions. I wish I didnt feel guilty and I wish I knew what the right thing to do was.

Notinterestedanymore answered...

I wish you didn't feel guilty about anything..abuse does that to you. I am so sorry that you are feeling this way and I urge you to find a doctor with whom you can have this discussion. I have been to therapy off and on over the past 30 years and it really helped me at times.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My parents live overseas since retiring to my Mothers homeland. They have withheld support, both financial and emotional, since I finished high school. What's worse, they have refused to acknowledge my son's achievements which would be a source Of great pride in a normal family. Although I left home soon after graduating HS, put myself thru college and law school, and raised a son who has excelled since early childhood, and had little interaction with them over the years, now they are old and failing. I have started to make regular trips abroad to visit them and attempt to assist them as they age in a country with limited health care options. Their response has been to let me know over and over that all their property ( did I mention they are well to do) is going to my brother because he forced them to give it to him and they had no choice. There are families where the situation is so toxic towards a particular individual that it is suicidal to interact with parents at the end. Unfortunately, for some sick parents, the desire to destroy the child is the overriding emotion in the parent child relationship. I am going ton deprive my dying parents of the final opportunity to attempt to finish me off. This really is the moral thing to do!

A fellow caregiver answered...

I found this thread looking for an answer to a question that I have. My father and I have a love/hate relationship. He was abusive to my mother, sisters and myself when we were growing up. I spent my life hearing him belittle my mother one minute and praise her the next. I watched him humiliate her. Some horrible things. He was an alcoholic and rageaholic. Though she fought back it would only make it worse. She let things go a lot "for the kids". They stayed married all these years and did manage to have some good years. Though he is still an ass he stopped physically hurting her. She died a few years ago and I miss her more than I can say. She was a wonderful mother and I adored her. She was loved by so many people. The pillar of our family. Now I try to be a good daughter to my father even though I can't stand him. I keep my invisable shield up so that I don't let him hurt me as much as he used to. It's easier now that he can't hurt my mother anymore. He's 85 and I expect he'll die in the next few years. I have been wondering if I will miss him. I was so taken off guard when my mother died. I knew I would miss her. I knew it would be hard. But I had no idea how much it would physically hurt not to see her and talk to her anymore. Will I feel anything like this when my father dies?

A fellow caregiver answered...

I don't know my dad either. Mom and Dad divorced when I was maybe 7 and he remarried twice afterwords. I probably have seen him 6 times in 45 years. He called me when my mom passed 2.5 years ago and I talked to him for a while. He had cancer and I didn't think much of it until a few weeks ago, my step mom got in touch with me and told me he was going on hospice. I fly in to see him last weekend, stayed Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. I am so glad that I went. Forgiveness is not about the one who hurt you; it's about you and letting go and to stop being angry, or whatever. I had a very pleasant time with my father who was barely able to talk. But he had the biggest smile on his face when I came to his chair when I first arrived and he held my hand tight for over 5 minutes. And when I left the next day, I hugged him and told him I loved him. He said he loved me to and please come see him again. l told him I would though I knew he would be gone soon. He just passed this morning, 4 days after I left. I am so very thankful that I let any past feelings towards him go and say goodbye with love. I will never regret it. I would have regretted not going to say goodbye.'

A fellow caregiver answered...

After not having contact with my father for nearly 16 years, I've recently learned that he had a brain tumor removed and now has cancer. From what I was told he still has his wits about him but has been very ill. It took me very little to decide I want to see him. My father was a part of my life when I was young. We continued a kind of "patch-work" relationship throughout my high school and early college years. Eventually, things just drifted apart. Really, I withdrew when I got tired of chasing him and afterwards he never pursued me. My father's absence in my life is my greatest heartbreak. Perhaps I should hate or be angry with him but I'm not, I love him. I know life is unfair and fathers are not always what we want them to be. My father was/is a recovering alcoholic who could only maintain a relationship with one of his children. I may never know or understand why but that's how it is. To have peace in my life I have to forgive him; I have let him know I love him despite his flaws and wish him well. Seeing my father before he dies will help me heal some. Letting him know I never stopped loving him is important to me. I do not wish to place blame on him. He knows what he did. I just want him to know that I forgive him for it. Maybe after I tell him all this I will find the peace in my heart I so desperately need to move on. I don't not want to tell him & carry the burden of regret for the rest of my life. He was a crappy father, true, but he is the only father I will ever have and I will forgive him... for me.

Snoopydancequeen answered...

It's pretty sickening to how many of us are out there in the same situation. My father/sperm donor abandoned 2 out of 3 of us at a very young age after having an affair that lead to their divorce. He did survive prostate cancer , but has has some health issues (updated by my older sister who he has always maintained a relationship with). She asks me if I would be there for her and him when he is on his deathbed. It was difficult to answer at first because me saying no would make me the 'insensitive a-hole ' for not being there for her since she was significantly older than my brother and I and had an established relationship with him. It was easier for him to forget about us other two. After thinking long and hard I came to the conclusion that after getting over all the anger, heartache, feeling discarded, and therapy, I had already said my good-bye to him in a long letter at the age of 18 . My sister will have to understand that. I chose to forgive back then and to express all that I had felt regarding his bad choices, but I need to do it in order to heal myself and move on. My heart goes out to those of you who are at this cross road now.

Leanie answered...

Parents....and their children. Each having their own needs and rarely are both met. I resolved my parental neglect and abandonment after 58 years of anger and sadness. I had fallen into a thought pattern that somehow my value was tied to their valuing me. Obviously a child's convoluted thought. I wasted many years trying to "earn" their love. Then put it in a place of "acceptance". It was never going to be...not my problem....theirs. And the estrangement began. I mean if you can't fix something why waste effort on it. Continuing to be around them made me sad and angry. Then finally for me a miracle happened. Something got triggered in one of our few and far between conversational 'chit chat' about nothing sessions. I simply asked them why they could never accept me, why they said unkind things to me....and calmly I listened to their answers. My Mom & Dad both 86 at the time. I deserve to understand I told them. "Haven't really loved you for a long time", was what they said. I was surprised by my feeling....I smiled almost giggled as I said, "thank you for saying it, thanks for admitting it, I always knew it was there but now it is on the table....thank you." I finished our conversation by thanking them for living long enough for me to resolve these issues. I thanked them for not loving me and supporting my strength, independence, and making me the Mother & grandmother I am today. Some people teach by doing and some by being. My parents taught by demonstrating what I never wanted to be. Oddly enough both have survived their health issues and a year after that conversation we are talking regularly....life is strange.

I am convinced you can not let go of issues you do not resolve and part of resolving is standing up for yourself.

Peace is but a thought away.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I'm 47 and my mother is dying. She has cancer and has been given 3 months to live. I haven't seen my parents for over 25 years. They're not evil or abusive, they were just remote and as a child I always felt like I was in the way and to cut a long story short, I felt I was never good enough, a theme I managed to drag into adulthood. I ate to comfort myself and 3 years ago I had a gastric bypass. I've had the obligatory 'best wishes' birthday and Xmas cards over the years (I send a card back each Xmas) but it all felt very forced and unnatural. My 17 year old daughter is my best friend and I feel cheated that the 2 people who should have loved me unconditionally when I was a child were indifferent to me. I was no angel, and I grew up resentful and angry - I always felt fiercely jealous of people who had parents who really loved them, and showed it. Anyway, to cut a pathetic story short I sent a brief letter to my mum when I found out that her time was running out to say that I was sorry that she was sick and I had been thinking about her over the years and then almost 2 weeks later I got her reply. It summed up our whole relationship, She wasn't nasty at all, but it was awkward and a little cold. It was along the lines of 'I don't know what to say to you after we've missed so much time' and 'you don't need to ask to see me, you've always known where I am'. All I wanted was a 'yes, I missed you too' but no. And it broke my heart, again. So I'm a wreck, pretending that I don't care, but I do. In a way I feel like I'm mourning her life (and mine) more than her impending death. I don't know if anyone will understand that. I read once that if your parents don't love you, you'll spend the rest of your life chasing that love to try to find it from wherever you can. Very true.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I'm surprised by how many people say you should speak to an estranged relative just because they're dying. If you ended your relationship - or they did - there's a reason for it. Why lie to yourself and to others or put up a front just because? Unless the rift was a minor one (Which reading this thread, it doesn't seem like any of these are minor) then your relationship is over - regardless. All any of this 'speaking to them' will do is cause more pain and you don't owe anyone anything. Having a conversation with someone in the end for some closure is pretending to be speaking to a person who doesn't exist - because if that closure could exist, that estrangement never would have. Don't feel guilty for not wanting to speak to someone on their death bed.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Whatever happened to cause the estrangement, try to find it in yourself to forgive him, and tell him you forgive him. That doesn't excuse what ever he did, and it doesn't make it ok, but forgiving him will likely help you let go of your anger. Once he dies, it's too late, and if you wish you had told him you had forgiven him, you can't. Death is so final.

Frazyslew answered...

If your father made your life a living hell, and that is the reason for the estrangement, then you are under no obligation. I am a son of an abusive mother, & a father to two children whom I love dearly and take very good care of. I know when I am on my deathbed, my children will be there, because I have given them the love and joy they deserve. I guess the Beatles summed it up. The love you take is equal to the love you make. When your father passes away, he will have no memory of this conversation, should it occur or not occur. So the question that you should really ask yourself, is do I have anything to say to this man? And I think you've answered it in your query. You don't know what to say to him. So I say go have a sundae. Take your kids or your loved ones or whomever you care about go to the movies. Forget about it. That relationship died long ago. Give yourself a break now. In fact, if there is a hereafter and he's looking down, he will be glad that you didn't bother yourself with that formality after he put you through the trauma that led to your estrangement. God bless.

Rudedude answered...

Bye Bye

A fellow caregiver answered...

I have not talked to my mother and step father in near 20 years because of their calling the police on me.You can point the finger at me with "well you must have been doing something wrong" Yeah...panic attacks I hide for 8 years and addressing them with a beer or two (not millions of beers) on bad days. And aftrr driving 12 years she calls the police on me at about age 30 unbeknownst to me. After that my whole world fell apart....bad! She did it again in 1997 after stating " I will never do that again...ive ruined your life" But she did anyhow. My driving record was only about 1/3 a page of stupid kid stuff prior to her calling the police on me in 1989. It is now about 10 pages long. You have non idea the circumstances and no one has the room to call the kettle black. Since her doing that I have had nothing but lies in police reports, spent 6 years in jail for traffic (not even a fender bender) never on probation in my life until 30 when she called the police on me. And they just place so many hardships on you it isn't funny and it just serves as a stumbling block to take it to the next level. I have not drank and addressed the panic attacks (my biggest set back) but even now 27 years later I am still suffering because of what she did back then. In 2012 without even reoffending at all in 10+ years Mass decided to slap a lifetime suspension on me after they offered my license to me 6times and I watched 2 lawyers blow it on two occasions with their stupidity. I was again just thrown in jail (sober for 17-18 years) for 60 days because one of the lawyers who blew it at the R.M.V. called the police on me after he found out he was fired because of his screw ups through a new attorney. Just like my family. Okay to drive and work on this lawyers house for a month and drive while paying him. Fire him.....and like my family building them all sorts of 100s of thousands of dollars in stuff for them....call the police. Every bit of this was not out of pubic safety...but her being, or having a nasty rotten disposition. After I found out she had again called the police onnme in 1997. I called her, and severed all ties with her and about all the rest of them. Built m uhh business back up, only to watch her tear it all down again for what she had done back 20+ years ago. I have tried to envision rekindling my relationship with her. But I cannot visualize my wrapping my arms around someone like her that has costs me $100,000's of dollars if not millions,..friends, lost years of my life in jail and the list goes on...to wrap my arms around this woman I literally hate. I dont think I could bring myself to doing that. Tough love! Huh! Been suffering for 27 years because of her first phone call to police. I dont see my rekindling nothing with that woman.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I lost my father two days ago. He was a life long alcoholic. I was his only child. He left my mother and I when I was 12 after having an affair. His lady had a daughter my age and he commented to me how he spent time doing things with her. This was very wounding as he was barely present with me. Over time he made other excuses that he could not be a proper father to me until he met a special woman in his life. It was hard to grasp why we couldn't be close. I remember at about 21 years old wanting to kill him. I was furious. This rejection of a normal father daughter relationship. By normal, I just mean being present. Thankfully, I met a wonderful man, have been together for almost 30 years. In some ways he was a father to me as he gave me inner confidence and backbone. He also always encouraged me to do the right thing by my father and maintain contact. Well, through the months before his passing, I cleaned my fathers dirty house, brought him food, (which he complained about and didn't eat) waited the long wait time in emergency with him and finally held his hand as he passed. Now I have to deal with his funeral, estate, etc. I called his sister overseas to advise her of his passing and she asks why I was never there for her brother. He had told her I did nothing for him. I feel that every day will be a stab in the heart as I uncover who he was. yes, I am glad I took the high road with his death but now I want to be free and not dealing with all the mess he left behind from his poorly lived life.

Neverdaddy'sgirl answered...

I received a phone call from my father's wife yesterday telling me my father died the day before with reoccurring cancer. She said it happened so fast over the past two weeks....but she called me after he died not while he was in hospice for one week. Sad but I'm not surprised. My father was a batterer and I grew up watching him beat my mother when he got drunk until my mom finally divorced him when I turned 17. My dad was charming when he was sober and he would give up drinking for lent only to drink again and become a raging violent abuser to my mother. It took her 17 years to leave him because she was from Germany and had no supports in this country. She wanted to raise her children and not have them struggle in poverty. So when my dad was sober he was ....my dad.... But it never failed to end and he became a monster. I eventually told myself he can't hurt me and would often get in between him and my mother when he was attacking her. One time I scratched his back to try to get him off her as he had his hands around her neck....I was. 13. That was our family secret. My parents' and my friends never knew how my father changed after a social event where alcohol was served. About five years After my mom divorced him he fell 17 feet out of a window on a construction sight and he lived with me and my husband and two year old for eight months while recuperating. He still had difficulty controlling his temper and threw a hand of cards in my husbands face during a game of crazy rights because he was losing. My dad finally became a born again Christian and stopped drinking. All he talked about was how he knew God forgave him. He never apologized to me, my brother or my mom but he did visit often and spent time with my sons taking them fishing. Fishing was also something me and my father did together while I was a kid. My dad did remarry a woman ( my step mother lol) two years older than me and they sold my family home and moved to the area where my father grew up which was four hours away and communication became very rare. My dad let it be known that he was leaving everything to his wife when he died. I suppose he loved her and was greatful that she loved him back. I lost any admiration and love for my father that was present as a little girl during my teen years. I know now that my father was a very insecure man during the years he was married to my mother. He didn't know how to love...he typically would ask me as a little girl "how much do you love your daddy" he never ever said "daddy loves you this much" it wasn't until I was in my twenties and had my own family that he would say "I love you" and unfortunately I didn't know what he meant because I felt nothing when he said those words. So today I sit here mourning the loss of a father I should have had. My father was never emotionally capable of developing a strong parent child attachment. It happens .......but my brother said it the best when I told him our father died... As my voice broke he said "don't cry...we were robbed.... But we did better for ourselves in spite of it" So I am going to choose to remember the daddy who at age five I believed was the most handsome daddy of all daddies and let all the pain go... God Bless every child.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I don't know how old this post is but I am 31 and found out 3 months ago that my father has cancer. He's been in prison since I was 9. My parents divorced when I was 8 but prior to them divorcing my dad was always there for me. Picking me up from school, sports, breakfast lunch and dinner- I was his "princess" and he loved me. But 2 years before my parents divorced he got into drugs bad. He was still there for me but it was a downward spiral. He was in and out of jail until one day, he broke into our home and tried to kill my mothers boyfriend. Thankfully I wasn't there. He went to prison and during this time I communicated with him through mail. As a child I knew what he did but loved him. As I got older and life became more important to me, I stopped writing to him as much. I didn't see his family, because they didn't want to deal with my mom and from my point of view they blamed her for what he did. When I was 20 I found my now husband, 6 years ago we had our first child and were married. After having my 1st born I saw the world with a new pair of eyes. I was still in contact with my dad. He would write weekly but when I got his letters, I felt different. I noticed I was afraid something would happen to my baby and worried someone would break into my house and I would throw the letter in a drawer. I stopped reading them, responding to them. I developed severe anxiety and fear of Being alone because I was worried someone (not my father) would break in and hurt my family. I started seeing a therapist and we found that my fears were stemmed from my childhood. At that point I realized I was angry because I felt like he chose drugs over me. Having a child and the love I felt for my child who I would do anything for, why couldn't he just stop the drugs and do that for me? I wrote him a letter telling him I loved him and I didn't blame him but needed him to understand why i was so distant. That was almost 4 years ago. During this time my anxiety got better, but I feared that he would die before being released from prison and what if I never got this chance to tell him I loved him again? I got that call. He's terminally ill in hospice and his days are numbered. I guess I hoped he would get out and we would start a relationship then, now it might be too late. I want to see him, but he's medicated. Will he even know I'm there? I am left with so much regret. Time lost, but it's my fault. I pray I get to see him Before he goes and that he knows I'm there.

Jenniemoo answered...

I have been scrolling through this feed looking for a scenario that mirrors mine, but haven't found one yet, so I am just going to put this out here. I am 48 years old and have not had contact with my father in 27 years. He was not abusive. I felt I should make that clear, since most of the other stories I am reading here state that one or both parents were abusive. My parents separated and divorced when I was in the first grade. I might mention here, that he is an alcoholic. He never had troubles holding down a job, never abused us, but he drank EVERY day.
My Dad had Saturday visitation and throughout my early child hood years I spent every Saturday with him. A typical visit included him picking up my younger brother and I and going to my Aunt's house. He would drink beer and visit with my Aunt, while my brother and I played withour cousins. In my teen years, I stopped going on the visits as I wanted to hang out with friends. As a young adult, I lived with him and my step mother briefly, for about 2 months. There was tension, but nothing major happened.

I will say, I never felt he was a big part of my life. I observed friends and other family members relationships with their fathers and always knew that something was missing. It never felt like a parent/child relationship with him. I will also mention here, that I maintained no relationships with any part of my father's family...Seems like I just drifted apart from the entire part of my family over the years, with no effort to make contact.

He has not ever seen three of my four children (his grandchildren), my two grandchildren (his great grandchildren) or my husband (his son in law). I won't blame it all on him, as I take full accountability for my part of the lack of relationship. My younger brother is in the same situation. There's not really a bad relationship, there's just nothing.....

An estranged cousin found me on facebook and told me that my Dad had cancer 5 years ago and beat it, but now the cancer is back. I don't like to hear this bad news but also upset that I am not feeling really sad about this. Not feeling, I don't liek that. I am super confused.

My initial thoughts are to continue on the same way I have been going. We are strangers and not really a part of each others lives. He hasn't been a good father....but, I also have not been a good daughter. I am not bitter and have no resentments, the only feeling I truly have over this is fear. Not sure what to do but I am praying about this.

A fellow caregiver answered...

This is directed to those individuals on this post who have children of their own, and who have no desire to see or try to forgive their parents. Some of these stories are really horrible, and yes, your parent or parents were really, really bad. Others of you seem like pathetic, whiny, spoiled brats – who will never be satisfied with anyone or anything in life. But, the one thing I can promise all of you. IF you have children, and you don’t really and truly forgive your own parents, then your children will never forgive you. Now, some of you realize this – great. Even if your parent was absolutely horrible (and some of your parents were), you can’t spend the rest of your life blaming everything on your parent. If you do, you will teach or have already taught your own children never to accept any responsibility for anything they will ever do or have done wrong. Because, you see, they will copy you. If they steal – it’s your fault. If their relationship goes badly – it’s your fault. If they fail in school – it’s your fault. If they go out with their friends, get drunk and get a DUI – it’s your fault. EVERY SINGLE MISTAKE they make in their lives will be your fault because you taught them to think that. Of course, you didn’t intend to teach them that. In fact, you probably verbally taught them the opposite. But, guess what – kids see through imposters. They do what you DO not what you SAY. So, when you’ll old and sick – you can read your children’s post about what a pathetic parent you are, and how they are not going to waste their precious time seeing you before you die – and reason will be all your fault (according to them). What goes around comes around.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My mother is dying and we are estranged too. She has had her teminal illness diagnosis for nearly ten years. She has been abusive towards me my entire life. Every time we have had a falling out, I have been the one to reach out to her. We have never been able to resolve anything. One incident carries into the next. She always refused to take responsibility even when I did and when I begged for her to love me. She just can't. Now, she has weeks to live and my family is angry that I won't go see her. She hasn't asked for me. She has asked for and about others. She has had weeks and months to reach out since our most recent falling out. She did not. I have decided not to visit her on her deathbed. No only has she not shown any desire to say anything that may make a difference, but there is a strong chance she may make things worse. She willl soon be gone and I will be left with unfinished memories of a painful relationship that shouldn't have been. My wife and my kids are going to visit. They have had a different relationship with her. They respect my wishes and I respect theirs. I wish my brother could do the same. We are all we have left and it's looking like that relationship will be estranged as well. I have had a lot of counseling and I am quite at peace with my choice. I will forever be haunted by what could have been and what really should have been. But, I will not be haunted by my choice to stay away at this time. I will not take the very real risk that she cause me more pain and anquish. It's what's right for me. I have had the last decade to come to terms with this. If only she had taken her diagnosis more seriously and as an opportunity to bring her family together. She did not. My heart goes out to other families who are in this situation. My advice would be to not judge. Have respect, love and compassion for all involved.

Jdd913 answered...

12/23/2016----I can relate to almost everyone's comments, my only exception is I have not had any contact with my father in 35 years, and in that time I have learned to let it go. I don't look at it as missing out on anything. You can't miss what you never had. I don't really know anything about him, where he lives, works or even if he is alive. He's probably 79 or 80 years old now and I doubt I would even recognize him. The memories of my first 17 years have pretty much faded and don't even think much about it anymore. I have 2 kids of my own who are in their early thirties and 4 grand kids. I have a good relationship with them both. My kids have never seen him and they never have asked about him. My point is, once you decide to let someone go and you made a thought out decision to cut ties then you should not go back. I think that would be a bad decision to re-awaken a past that is best forgotten. If my father were on his death bed I wouldn't know about it and if I did (I know this may sound strange) I don't have any emotions about him. I don't even know him. He is just another person you don't know and read about in the obituaries. Not being insensitive, I just don't know him. For those that have had some contact over the years and never seem to get closer then why do you continue to pick the scab off the wound when you know it will bleed?

A fellow caregiver answered...

Search your memory for any positive qualities about him - something positive that he gave you - even if it was only (through abuse) pushing you toward the sense of yourself, and an inner strength, a resolve and emotional awareness you may not have discovered without him. Could be - "You are my father, my blood, and thanks for the inner strength you gave me in my life". (& let it be there) Death is a silence, an ending of itself-a finality. Do it for YOU and your future. Your own sense of peace. No regrets then and look toward the sunshine left for you in your days left living.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Unfortunately, I think the answer, like the estrangement, is never easy, and always with bumps. I strongly disagree with some posters who have said estrangement occurs because of ego, or something similar. For the past 20 years (since the age of 18), I've had a father who has chosen to reach out to his children and his siblings only when he needed something. When my husband finally sat down with me after several years of marriage and said it was time to stop providing him with money, he stopped calling completely.
It was not until a heart attack at age 50 that he called from the hospital begging for forgiveness. I visited, forgave, and proceeded to pay all his back utilities so that he could come home safely, and provided care for several weeks until the verbal and emotional abuse started again. The same pattern when he had another heart attack a couple years later, and another a couple after that. I kept forgiving, and kept providing - whether it was care, financial assistance, or otherwise. Two years ago he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and 6 months ago was told they were ending treatment and that he should begin hospice. I spent what seemed like every waking minute trying to take care of his estate, deal with 20+ collection agencies and impending creditor lawsuits, filing for Medicaid, finding a nursing facility, and every other minute detail that sucked every moment I had. I missed countless soccer games, bedtime stories, and so many other things with children I love, in order to "be a good daughter" to a father that beat his wife and children and couldn't be bothered by them unless it suited him. He is in his final days, and I frankly feel like a terrible person for admitting it, but there were numerous times I thought he was carrying the length of this out to torture us as usual. In the end, I think we need to be able to live with ourselves long after the person is gone. Before going in to visit, I sometimes say to myself that I am visiting a fellow human being that is near death, and that I'm treating them with kindness more for the good of humanity, than for that person's good. It helps me to disassociate a little, and not take the insults and rudeness as personally as I may have. If you do visit or get involved, my strongest suggestion would be to not have any expectations at all, and do it more for the many other "good" reasons out there - to show your children that you treat family with respect, that family should be there for one another, and that kindness begets kindess. Sadly, all the things the estranged parent likely never demonstrated. The one thing I would discourage against is getting too involved; in that I mean visit and do what needs to be done legally and otherwise, but don't feel pressured to dote on and attend to a parent that never was there for you. That can be reserved for those that have truly cared about you.

Larkspurs answered...

I saw a comment above that said "use caution" I strongly agree. Please use caution, for the sake of your sanity. IT IS BEST NOT TO GO, especially if you come from a very dysfunctional family, with mental and emotional problems etc...

My estranged mother and I, we were trying to rebuild our relationship. Since I still lived in the same area as her, but my siblings did not like that. A lot of really crazy sibling rivalry that is just downright shocking. As we're all adults. I am married, have a family of my own, and was always the most stable one out of my crazy, dysfunctional family.

Growing up. I was always the quiet one and would prefer to be on my own. While, the civil wars raged all around me. I was relieved to be finally free of them, Although, my doors were always opened to them. I just somehow, as a child built up an immunity to their poisons. And I welcomed my mom, when she asked to be a part of my life and my children's life. We made beautiful memories together and took lots of pictures.

Of course, it didn't last. My siblings made sure of that. (long story) Mom and I, parted ways. As the stress was just too great. Especially, for her and she didn't want her grands (my kids to be exposed to that) To be fair: A lot of my siblings mental and emotional problems are due to our (narcissistic and abusive father, neglect; and abandonment issues with mom)

A year later I get a call that mom is in the hospital. Of course, I went. When she died. I did everything I could to protect my mind. But I was surrounded by my dysfunctional siblings...again...constantly listening to their shouting matches (about who was mom or dad's favorite..etc) it was so embarrassing for me, that my children were witnessing that. And I let them know. And it shut them up for a while.

The crazy thing is: they all gathered and some stayed at my house, while we were planning for the funeral preparations. I...I don't know why..hindsight, they could have just stayed at mom's house. I guess they just wanted to drive me crazy. And they needed me, to be the mediator/referee of the family. (Since I was the only stable and neutral one.

After everything was said and done...

The funeral was a disaster. Everything was a disaster. I had a major breakdown. My husband was so worried, he even thought I was being possessed. This man, I love him dearly, is not the "church going" type. Started taking our kids and I, to mass.

Took several months for me to get my mind right again...I had to get better for the sake of my husband, my babies. Thank god that I didn't completely lose myself and get institutionalized.

Anyway, if I could do it all over again. I would have Never went. I would acknowledge the call. Then book a flight...maybe, take my family on vacation. And grieved my mom's dying/death in peace.

Right now, my dad's in the hospital. Received the phone call. I let them know, I will pray for him and keep him in my thoughts. But I am done. And I will not be going.

I don't even want a funeral or any type of memorial service for myself. I don't even want to be on life support. I put everything in legal writing. So my kids don't have to worry. I also want to be cremated, do what ever with my ashes. All I ask is not to be flushed down the toilet.

Cbeigle54 answered...

My particular experience recently came to a "head" when I just found out that I was written out of the family will...by my mother, the latter surviving spouse. We had always had a tumultuous relationship, starting at MY age of 16 (I'm 63 now). It ultimately culminated in her (and so the entire family) siding with me ex when I left my wife, at the time. This, to me, was the ultimate betrayal and thus started the estrangement between us. When I was told that"we have our own problems" by my mother (after she had taken the time to hear my ex)....well that was the last time I ever saw my parents. Dad passed of ALZ, and mom passed recently after suffering a mental decline. But I have to believe there were a number of cognizant years that she could have reached out, and never did. After dad passed, everything went to mom, where she could do as she pleased with the estate. She chose to exclude me from receiving anything. No reason was given for the exclusion. The law says that no reason is needed. But personally? I think it's a coward's way out. I think my mother displayed the worst form of cowardice.

Deathanddyingchronicles answered...

Wow, I think this subject touches everyone in some way....coming from a hospice nurse perspective I would say make the contact. It doesn't have to be in person, and a phone can be held up to a dying person's ear even if they are unresponsive as hearing is the last sense to go. Making contact doesn't have to be only to forgive. This is your last chance to ever say 'what you did was wrong, and I feel ..... about you right now..' This is your last chance to forgive if that is what is in your heart, but more importantly this is the last time you may hear the words ' I'm sorry' from them. Sometimes people stay estranged because it is simply easier, but it doesn't necessarily mean the parties don't care. Not having the chance to speak your heart is forever lost when someone dies and that fact will haunt you as you go on with your life. My father was an alcoholic in my childhood and luckily we were able to move on from that. My sister however, never did, and was the only one not there when he was dying because of the grudge she had long held. What pains her now ten years past is that she never told him how hurt she was by him and even now can't let go of it....If only for your own peace of mind, I'd say make the contact, but be honest with your communication.

A fellow caregiver answered...

What I get from all of these posts is that I am not alone. My own father is nearing eighty years old, and has had two strokes, one very recently. Despite the fact that he has been extremely verbally and emotionally abusive to my mom and me my entire life, I was, until recently, still in touch with him. (My brother has been spared this agony, so doesn't understand our situation at all.) After his first stroke, he became even more verbally abusive, and defamatory of us around the entire community. I've not felt like there was much I could do or say to respond to his defamation, but it has damaged my reputation among people I thought were friends. My mom feels the same way about her. He is a pathological liar, and is unwilling and unable to admit this. I don't think it's simply a coping mechanism - I think it's deliberate. His world revolves around blame, mistrust, and ego. When the abuse got too bad about a year ago, I decided I'd had enough. I tried to resolve it with him in person and he acted as though I wasn't even in the room, or had said nothing. I have done all I can to resolve the situation. He goes around telling other people that I'm to blame, that I'm a bitch, that I'm angry, and that I'm a bad daughter. I've had calls from his friends, who didn't care to listen to the other side of the coin. At this point, I'm feeling guilty because I feel like his anger is his own problem, his health problems are a result of his anger, and, yes. He's probably "circling the drain" of death. But, that's not of my making. When I feel guilty, I must remember what Gabor Mate's book 'When the body says no' says... (I'm paraphrasing), which is that when you feel guilty, turn it around. It's a good emotion, because it means that you're making a choice to do something good for yourself. I can't do anything about how my dad chooses to behave. But I can choose to no longer let his behaviour affect me - regardless of the fact that he's dying. He was going to die anyway, and, I think his anger, vitriol, and blame has hastened his demise. I hope that those who judge me will consider that I'm simply the latest in a long line of people who will no longer have anything to do with him. The fact that I'm his only daughter is beside the point.

It simply feels good and healthy to get this off my chest. Thank you for listening.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My mother is days from passing. I have spent much time and energy over the years with professionals and on my own trying to make sense of a difficult childhood. Even my adult life was messed up, when their behaviour was continuing around my children, we all started to spend less and less time with my parents/their grandparents. About 5 years ago I finally decided to stay away completly after an attempt to meet and talk about my feelings were met with denial and mocking. A few weeks ago I answered the phone to hear a weak and frightened man (my dad) tell me my mom was not well and that if i wanted to see her I should come. I did and I have been going over since to take meals, to sit with and to help with appointments. There have been no changes in my mom and dad's view of the world and their purpose in it to suggest that they have decided to make amends . The only thing I'm thankful for is that I took the time I needed to heal even without their participation. My mom as I said is days from death but my dad, yesterday, with tears in his eyes said he had a question to ask me-I said" please ask." He said-"when this is all over, will you come with me to the casino like your mom and me did?" I'm writing this on this forum because I thought his question was going to be something about his behaviour, but it wasn't. I'm the only one in our family that does not like casinos but he also told my mom that he was going to ask me. She will want to know that he will be taken care of after she is gone. I'm a 55 year old wife and mother of 2 adult children and I've recently been downsized-I'm including this because I feel like the timing is right that I should have the time to give them. I have no expectations of any apologies because of their past behaviour but I do know that death and lonliness-the 2 things my mom and dad respectively are facing right now are very terrifying things. It has not been easy to keep my heart open to them-truthfully yesterday's question about the casino really did my head in but today is a new day and there are things that still need to be done. It broke my heart reading the dozens and dozens of people on this forum that have had their hearts broken and it's easy to see that there is not just one answer for all of the pain and scars and emotions that we all have to get through somehow. For me personally, I'm glad that I didn't get a call saying that my mom was gone already. I feel like she needs more from me right now than I need from her-and the same with my dad. Thank you for this opportunity to express these thoughts.

Alzayon answered...

I am in the same situation right now. My mother and I have been estranged for almost 20 years. She has always been an abusive and violent mother to me when I was growing up. Now she has been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and she has not a lot of time left. She tried reaching out to me but she never really gave me an honest apology. It is like she says sorry but does not really acknowledge any fault on her part. It is a fake apology with no real accountability for her transgressions. Now, I really don't want to see her again. I don't even want to be on her funeral. One thing bothers me though, I feel like she will disinherit me and give all her properties to my sister. Does anybody share the same situation as mine?

Xtubx answered...

I am still overcome by so much anger and disappointment I don't know where to began. Honestly, I never recall being loved or shown any compassion growing up by my mother. Men seemed to be her only priority. She would beat us for anything that normal children would do, such as being too loud while playing with cousins when they visit, Me and my sister told her we were hungry at the tender age of 11 and 12 years old. She said ,"If you are hungry go trick for a hamburger." (not realizing at that age what "trick" meant) We didn't even have a key to get in the house when she was at work (she would come home at 9:00pm some nights) I was 15yrs old. After school I would have to wonder the streets trying to figure out where to go because I was locked out. She came home with bags from restaurants that her and her scumbag husband ate from:Didn't bother to bring me a crumb from the left overs. I left exactly when I turned 16yrs old.

Needless, to say I forgave her in my early 20's I began to go around trying to mend old wounds. Luckily I had a great father to make up for her hideous parenting skills; He taught me how be the woman I am today. I obtained a 4 years degree at 26yrs old without any support from my Mother. The final straw was at 21yrs old when I thought things were going smooth. I asked my baby sister, which was living with her at the time, where they were moving, and my mother said, "If you tell her where we are moving, I will beat you." I had it up to my eyeballs at that point,so communication was cut again immediately.

Fast forwarding to the future, I am now 37 years old and received a text from my mom stating," I am not sure how much longer I have I just want to clear my conscience before I go to my grave." I began to cry because she is my mother. I began to go around her again thinking she is sick but no signs of sickness or dying . I am not sure what tricks she has up her sleeves at this point. I began to get mad because now she is calling everyday saying she would never treat a child wrong. I get so upset thinking lady your living in a façade, she apparently has blocked out the way she treated me. I just can't do this anymore . She is a fraud. I am tired of hearing she is your Mom. That is simply a title to me, I had to come here through somebody, therefore title means nothing to me. Is she sick and dying? I don't know. I thought I forgave her but honestly I haven't. I don't trust a soul. I guess I need help. Should I just leave the past in the past (my mom)? I am sorry but forgiveness is not that easy. Now that I am established and don't need her financially or spiritually she wants to be a mother. The hard part is over but she wants want to reap the benefits of my hard earned success that she did not contribute to. I am too angry at this stranger called "Mother". God, Lord Jesus help me. If she is dying what can I do anyway?, but pray for her.

Foosball answered...

My father passed away yesterday at 6:34pm in the ICU. He had a failing heart after years of dialysis with kidneys that no longer functioned. We had an incredibly strained relationship and I left home during university at one point in the middle of a fight because of it. He was someone who was enormously secretive about his private life and did not share it at all with myself or my younger brother. He had had a very difficult childhood himself growing up, with suicide and mental health being a part of his experiences during a time where they weren't discussed at all. As a young son growing up, I was desperate for his love, attention and affection and I received very, very little of all three. My 20s was a period filled with incredible resentment for his consistent criticisms, lack of love, along with his utter lack of contributions to the family. From what I gathered, he spent his lifetime eking out a life as a writer while my mother worked to support the family. His obsession in putting pressure on my studies was borne out a desire for me to not fail like he thought he had, whereas all I cared for was to be treated as a son. He could have worked as a garbage man for all I could have cared. I bore a tremendous amount of anger and resentment toward him for a decade until I managed to settle into my career and reflect and undergo counselling. For me to carry on with my own life and to make something of myself, I had to let go of that albatross of anger that I carried which meant forgiveness. Forgiveness for me was an ongoing battle given my years spent angry. His dysfunction, lack of engagement and very, very negative and dismissive attitudes let to a climate of hostility in my family and my mother traditionally and dutifully cared for him increasingly as his condition worsened. She shouldered the enormity of his condition with a quiet acceptance and nobility that you do not find anymore among spouses. I left in my 20s and did not speak to him for nearly a decade. I saw him again, on my own terms, later as I was working and we maintained if anything a cordial relationship that was superficial at best. The birth of my son in my late 30s, along with my career, helped me focus and somehow deal with the pain and anger I felt towards him. There was nothing in it for me personally and selfishly to gain from remaining in contact with him. He remained, up until his death, vocally at least unappreciative of the people around him and whatever appreciation and gratitude he did feel he kept to himself and communicated privately to my mom. As the inevitable approached with his kidneys failing and dialysis becoming a daily routine, it was clear to me that he was dying. My wife asked me how I felt about him dying and I could not answer given I had no feelings towards him. If you asked me if I loved my father, my answer would have been no. For me, becoming my own person and gaining independence meant leaving and cutting myself off decades ago, Revisiting and attempting to repair or resuscitate the relationship would have been impossible because emotionally he was bereft of affection and caring despite my mother telling me otherwise. I distanced myself from my family when his needs become more and more demanding because I had my own family to take care of, over the years. Then yesterday my mother, with whom I have always remained close over the years, called me to tell me that my father was in the hospital near death. I chose to see him in his final hours with my son and my wife. It was awkward at best and saying, "how are you", seemed superficial and glib. He was happy to see his grandson and after my son left, his condition worsened. Over the course of the next hour, my mother remained with him as he slowly neared death. I said to myself earlier that I did not wish to be present when he died but I remained nonetheless because I wanted to benefit from the experience. How I might have felt in remaining home, or outside of the ICU room, I cannot say, yet I chose to be present when he died with my mother. When he passed and everyone had said their goodbyes, I went alone to his side as he lay there. I said to him, "I don't know what happened when you were young because you chose not to share that with me. You have to live with that decision as do I but I hope you can find peace in having passed." I chose to remain, and I chose to see him die because my understanding was that there was a circle of dysfunction in my family that emanated from him. My parents' marriage, with my mom, somehow magnified this dysfunction and it spread to everyone. My mom's life was relegated to tending to him, providing to him at the expense of her own life and at the expense of her children. By being present, I think I wanted to take away for myself what his passing meant. It was not a question of benefits or advantages for me. Merely one of experience. My dealing to move on years ago enabled me to confront him without any real difficulty. I cannot say I am glad that I attended. But what I can say is that I am grateful in some sense that he did not suffer and died comfortably, given that his life was one of constant internal struggle. I am grateful that in having gone, I was able to reflect on my own life and to feel tremendously grateful for what I have in my own life: a career, an incredible wife and a healthy, cheerful son. My visit allowed me to reflect further regarding what is important for me in life: my family. My life as a child and young adult was marked by tremendous sadness, anger, depression, helplessness and resentment but through counselling and confronting the past I am able to process and move on in some fashion. Being present with a parent dies, for me, made me realize that to be in a bed, surrounded by family, in comfort and pass in this fashion is a luxury, a privilege. It was afforded my father and I am happy for him in this sense. I am unsure if my story bears any semblance or weight or relevance, yet I thought I would chip in. God bless.