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Old 01-01-2012, 10:38 PM
 
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......do all the relatives who come out of the woodwork (ones you've barely seen/talked to in years) telling you how much they love and care for you, etc really mean it? Or is it just the grief talking?

My dad passed away this past fall. His sister has been communicating a great deal with me since that time. Prior to this, our usual communication consisted of her sending out her annual Christmas letter. My dad's family engages in a lot of flaky behavior. A lot of empty promises, occasional lying, a lot of drinking, and not a lot of effort. They're not terrible people but I think the excessive drinking has become part of a family dynamic for them that turns me off.

My aunt now emails me, a lot. Many of these emails are quite emotional. None of which is too surprising given my dad's death. However, most of her emotional stuff is directed at me. How much she loves me, how close we once were (we are separated in age by only 12 years; she's 52, I'm 40). I am also the only child of one of her older brothers who she happened to idolize. So I wonder, how much of this is grief (and/or how much she's had to drink) and how much of this is really about her and I?

I don't trust my dad's family too much.....they've been unreliable for as far back as I can remember. I've always tried to keep my expectations low with them because of things that have happened. I am genuinely very hesitant to get close to these folks. Their level of drinking also concerns me.

Since I've not been through this death and grieving experience with a relative as close as a parent in the past, how does one best sort through all of this and know what's real? For years, a decade or two even, I've barely heard from her and now all these emotional things she's saying to me.....it's hard to take seriously. Also, the last few times I've seen her she's been anywhere from drank a little too much to stumbling after one too many....one of these times at 9am . I drink but not often and rarely ever to excess and I know this part of my family, drinking is pretty much a part of almost everything they do. Anywhere from a pastime to a coping mechanism. Not judging, we just don't have a lot in common that way.

Generally speaking, could what she's saying/doing now just be part of her grieving process.....and therefore this may just come to pass? Do I just see how it plays out over time....meaning, seeing if an ongoing effort is made or not?
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:46 PM
 
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I have personally found that people only mean it in the moment.

When my brother died suddenly a cousin of mine (who I like and wanted to be closer to) said all kinds of things about how we need to talk more, see each other more often, blah, blah, blah. That sentiment lasted as long as it took for her to finish uttering the words. She didn't follow through, even after I did, week after the funeral. All hat, no cattle.

Yes, see how it plays out over time. What else can you do, really?
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lottamoxie View Post
I have personally found that people only mean it in the moment.

When my brother died suddenly a cousin of mine (who I like and wanted to be closer to) said all kinds of things about how we need to talk more, see each other more often, blah, blah, blah. That sentiment lasted as long as it took for her to finish uttering the words. She didn't follow through, even after I did, week after the funeral. All hat, no cattle.

Yes, see how it plays out over time. What else can you do, really?
True, there isn't much to be done otherwise. I'm torn between giving her/them a chance or just letting it go, letting it be what it will. For years my family has been my husband and kids and I was/am truly fine with that. I've always felt like an alien dropped off on the wrong planet when it came to either side of my family. There are more alcoholics/addicts than I can count and everything that goes along with that.

Regardless of everything that's happened, I love my dad very much and miss him terribly. He was close to his sister/my aunt and I know she's a decent person, albeit very flaky and she drinks....a LOT. As does her husband and most the rest of the family. I would just hate to get burned by them, once again.
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:59 PM
 
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It's best not to expect anything. If they surprise you and want to maintain closer contact then it's a nice surprise. And if not, then you're not getting your hopes up. Win/Win.

Grief is a hard enough road without extra pressure and expectations. Unfortunately most people have good intentions for about 10 to 15 min but like a New Year's resolution to exercise every day....it fades quickly.
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:02 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
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It's the drink and the grief talking. I'm sure she means it right now but you will hav e to wait and see how long it continues. I would just be polite but not get too engaged. And really, talking to a drunk is sort of impossible, KWIM?
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthernBelleInUtah View Post
It's the drink and the grief talking. I'm sure she means it right now but you will hav e to wait and see how long it continues. I would just be polite but not get too engaged. And really, talking to a drunk is sort of impossible, KWIM?
Exactly, which is why I've kept my distance over the years. She's never been one of the completely excessive drinkers in that part of my family, not from what I remember. So either it's turned into that over time or she's drinking to cope, who knows and it doesn't really matter. What I do know is it's a turnoff for me.

I figured it was the grief talking on her part but dealing with a healthy amount of grief myself, I haven't been sure of my own judgment of late. A lot of weird family garbage has happened since my dad died, along with administering his estate...all of it is pretty exhausting.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:42 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
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Take time responding to her emails. Let a few days go by and then keep them not necessarily TOO short but only addressing the emotional parts briefly. When she goes off on long meandering spells, just regard them as her way of venting and say something along the lines of, "Yes, it's hard", and change the subject to something a little more cheerful.

I'm sorry for your loss and know how difficult such things can be. I'm guessing your aunt doesn't have anyone else much to talk through her grief with. Be there as an ear for her as much as you can but just keep it all in perspective and don't get sucked in. Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:06 AM
 
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
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I just lost my mom in November and I have been getting calls from family members just to check on me, and I appreciate it. My family is close, all of us - my sibling/cousins pretty much grew up together w/my aunts and uncles in the picture a lot when we were younger. Of course over the years, we haven't hung out together nearly as much b/c we all have families of our own and we're working hard to take care of them. We would occasionally get together at reunions, and of course weddings, and other family members funerals.

Unfortunately, we grow up and we can't be as close physically to each other once we have responsibilities. But i think the closeness that grew over the years as we were growing up remains, and if anything, i feel even closer now that i have people reaching out to me to make sure i'm ok, and just to talk thru this hard time. Over time, i'm sure it will dissipate, b/c supposedly time heals all wounds (for me, i don't feel as if i will ever truly heal from this), but it's expected. I just feel good that my family wants to be there for me now, and that i can be there for them. I know for a fact that if i need them later, when time has passed, i can call them and it wouldn't be a problem.

Believe me, there are some issues in my family, including alcoholism, so i didn't grow up in a perfect environment. It just seems like for now, those issues pale in comparison to losing our mom.
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:29 AM
 
663 posts, read 907,205 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NativeNYCer;
I just lost my mom in November and I have been getting calls from family members just to check on me, and I appreciate it. My family is close, all of us - my sibling/cousins pretty much grew up together w/my aunts and uncles in the picture a lot when we were younger. Of course over the years, we haven't hung out together nearly as much b/c we all have families of our own and we're working hard to take care of them. We would occasionally get together at reunions, and of course weddings, and other family members funerals.

Unfortunately, we grow up and we can't be as close physically to each other once we have responsibilities. But i think the closeness that grew over the years as we were growing up remains, and if anything, i feel even closer now that i have people reaching out to me to make sure i'm ok, and just to talk thru this hard time. Over time, i'm sure it will dissipate, b/c supposedly time heals all wounds (for me, i don't feel as if i will ever truly heal from this), but it's expected. I just feel good that my family wants to be there for me now, and that i can be there for them. I know for a fact that if i need them later, when time has passed, i can call them and it wouldn't be a problem.


Believe me, there are some issues in my family, including alcoholism, so i didn't grow up in a perfect environment. It just seems like for now, those issues pale in comparison to losing our mom.
Sorry to hear of your loss, losing a parent is tough.

I did not see much of my aunt/uncles after the age of eight (now 40); I'm also an only child. There are things that
happened, mostly when I was older, that caused me to question the entire family relationship between them and me. Those things aren't worth getting into but suffice to say, they have not been reliable people to me or even with each other. So the closeness has not been there, regardless of geographics . All of these things are in stark contrast to what my aunt is doing now, which is why I question all of it. I'd like to consider giving the relationship a chance but I'm very wary at this point. My uncles and grandparents have not been there for me or even each other. There's a very strange family dynamic there, and it existed long before my dad died. I don't take it personally but I know to proceed with caution.

Losing my dad is not something I think I will ever get over but I'm left with his relatives and I'd like to handle it in a way that doesn't end up hurting me, as they have done in the past. Even my dad did not trust some of them and I take that on board as well.....I believe he had good and valid reasons for feeling the way he did.

Last edited by PurePugx3; 01-02-2012 at 09:39 AM..
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:33 AM
 
943 posts, read 1,499,757 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lottamoxie View Post
It's best not to expect anything. If they surprise you and want to maintain closer contact then it's a nice surprise. And if not, then you're not getting your hopes up. Win/Win.

Grief is a hard enough road without extra pressure and expectations. Unfortunately most people have good intentions for about 10 to 15 min but like a New Year's resolution to exercise every day....it fades quickly.
YES, YES, YES!!!! take this advice
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