Sunday, May 26, 2013

More complicated thoughts on estranged "family" death

I am very sad when people die.   It very much affects me.  I am also compassionate for the families of their relatives who are now gone.  

Strangers die, people I have watched on TV die, acquaintances die, people I have seen around town die, co workers die....and some of those people (not all but some) I have had a closer relationship than my own FOO.   Should I die, I do not want someone showing up at my funeral that I have chosen not to speak to for years---sometimes more than a decade even if we might share a gene or two.   I will be grateful for their mourning, but please do not desecrate me if you were not in my life with your pressence in my death.

In the same way, I have chosen to honor my cousin without pretending our relationship was something that it was not.   People closest to her that chose to keep their relationship real and alive with her should surround her at her funeral (assuming that was her wish). 

If this was myself (which it is notand I know that), I want a cremation and very private perhaps non existent memorial.   I do believe that my cousin who passed was not in spirit itching for me to rush down to be with her body and a bunch of people who have not bothered to reach out to me until a death in the family (typical by the way). Trust me, if she had not talked to me for years (and we had no falling out, I believe it was an organic growth of our dysfunctional family state), at no point would her big concern after death be whether I was there or not at her funeral.

 I guarantee you, my spirit will not be zoning for people I have not talked to for a decade or more when I go (but maybe that is just me, and just because I have dealt with that already).  Just scatter me with my pets around the beach or the yard by someone who truly loved me, and was with me through the happy, the sad, the bad, the good, the sickness, the health, the poor times, the rich times, through work, through play, and on and on.   Do not come to me after I die to say how much you blah blah blah.  You did not even know me.   I did not know my cousin that well, only superficially.  I did like and respect her.   I think I knew something of what she might of felt about our family.   Then again maybe not.   I have not talked to her for a very very very long time.   Before then, we may have talked once to three times a year, even when we were little.   We never corresponded on Facebook or anything like that.   Never shared a really deep thought.

I feel for her, and I feel for her family.   Got a call from my Uncle, which I did not return, after about seven years of him not bothering to contact me even after I reached out long ago.   This is not a punishment to him, he is just not in my life.   I worked very hard to purge myself of the virtual strangers that can take and can demand, but can never give or empathize in return.  And I do empathize with them, but they don't need me.   I don't need them to use me as their proof that I will come running, and after all we are a close family.   We ARE NOT FAMILY EXCEPT IN THE MOST STRICT BIOLOGICAL SENSE.

I know the cashier at the grocery store better, and I like her more.  (A bit harsh but I speak the truth here)   So while I feel sorry for them, they are going to need to turn to the people they have kept in their lives.   I grieve for my cousin on my own terms.  I certainly do not want that poison to surround me in my time of grief---that is really about lost opportunities for her.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Deaths In The Estranged Family

Found out that my Step Monster's sister died this last February.  Her sister was actually a nice and seemed to be real person.  I remember when her fist child came along, how very very happy her and her husband were.   Then their second child came along, and was met with more happiness and love.

She was smart, educated, warm, funny, and was loyal to her family.   I was never in her inner circle, but I appreciated her for the woman that she seemed to be.   She was taken much to early, apparently from breast cancer.   I don't really know, but the family requested donations be sent to a breast cancer research foundation, so that is my guess. I believe she was in her sixties, so she was pretty young actually.

But not as young as my fifty year old cousin that died this month.   Her brother, the one cousin still in touch with me, was good enough to let me know.   I had not talked to my cousin in some years.   We were somewhat close once, and then moved apart.    Actually, although not officially estranging from her family, my cousin lived a distinctly separate life from her family.

There are quite a few sad parts to this tale for me.   One was that she was about to move to Florida to spend more time with her family.  She was just on the brink of putting all that in place when she died.   Or maybe that is a somewhat happy thing is that she probably died in her sleep, while being excited about this.  I only wish she could have full filled that adventure.

The other sad thing is, and I can only guess this from coming from the same family, is that I don't think she ever felt comfortable being her authentic self around her family.   My family tends to converse in criticism.   My grandmother used to converse this way, and I finally figured out this was her way of saying she loved you.   So I would just tease her about that (after I figured that out) and call her out on this.

It is my opinion that my aunt uses this same technique, but I am not ever sure that if she does feel genuine affection for all of her kids, that they have felt that.   There is something about a constant chipping away of saying "your too fat", "when will you settle down", and on and on that if you accept that and let that poison seep into your system, you internalize it and it owns you.   No amount of jawing the words "I love you" will undo that, without the opposite actions of showing actual love.   When someone makes it seem at least that they love your successful career, but not this other part of you, it makes you hide and cover things that are perhaps not that grim or worth covering up.

I have come to a place where if a relative is doing something self destructive, you should perhaps let them know of your CONCERN (different than criticism) one time (maybe two times).   You know after that, they are going to do what they are going to do.   You can either have a good and loving relationship until the end, or you can have an adversarial relationship or the appearance at a relationship at the end.   As long as that relative is not hurting you, and you have let them know you are there to help them, there is no point in heaping criticisms upon them or upon loved ones of theirs.   Especially if they are not hearing any positive things from you to counter balance that.   I still believe that harping on a criticism that is not relevant to you presonally, can only be harmful to the other person.

I don't know that this is what happened with my cousin, but if it did, I wish she had an opportunity to fully deal with that, and have authentic relationships in her life.   She was a bit self destructive perhaps, but I think this was born of the ability to ignore a nagging voice that she let inside her head, which may have insisted that these criticisms were all there was to her.

When we used to get together, there was fun in my cousin and she could be very funny.   I think she was very lonely and felt alone however.   I know that feeling, and when you do not perhaps have a partner to share that with, and you can't share yourself with your family (or you feel that way) it erodes at you if you let it.

I think while my step monster's sister died too early, that she did have a happy and fulfilled life.   I don't know that for sure of course, and everything in my family is about appearances....but she seemed too real to be masking a real unhappiness.   Lynn on the other hand, I think was maybe just about to blossom at 50.   Perhaps establish real connections in her life that might have been less than she wished for before.    Course I had not seen her for many years, so I will never know.   We had grown apart when I was having my own struggles coming to terms with what my family meant to me.

I was more on the outskirts at any of my step monster's functions even when I was "in" the family.  My cousin and I spent time together growing up, and seeing each other at the minimum at family holidays that my grandparents used to host.   My cousin lived on a lake, so my aunt and uncle would also have events that they would host as well.   When we grew up, I pretty much counted on her to hide with me in the corner from the rest of my family LOL.   I didn't really realize at the time that we may be doing this, but we would both grab a glass of wine and head for a quiet part of the room and converse most of the time there.

Anyway, two beings have left the earth at too early an age.   I grieve them.  I remember the good times, and the great things about each of them.  My step monster's sister will live on in her children.   My cousin will live on her her nieces and nephews, who she adored and who adored her:)

I wanted to capture my feelings about my cousin and my step aunt here.   Later I will post some more complicated feelings and situations this brings about.  I hope I have honored them both in some way.   One way is to be sure that I take care of myself, and spend time with those that I love and who love me.   To try and break out of my inner shell on occaision and have as authentic relationships as I can have with those people.   I miss that they are not in the world anymore have the lives that I imagined for them.   I wish them peace and happiness where they are now.

I wonder if this is such a hard task for most everyone in the world, or is it just me and my family.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

More Voices from The Web

Delusions of the estranged parent

Letter from estranged father

Letter to a daughter

Should I write an amends letter if I have nothing to apologize for

Estranged father dies, what to do with bills

How to deal with estrangement

When peace is a burned bridge

Don't tell me how to parent

Found all these great blog posts (or on other forums) over the last month.   I try to give a smattering of all the different situations that I find.  I think these are important issues to think about from all angles and perspectives.