Processing the loss after years of detachment.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by gcvmom, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    A week has passed since my difficult child-dad died and I'm doing better, tapering down the tears from every fifteen minutes to every fifteen hours, give or take. As many of you have said and/or experienced for yourselves, the loss of someone we both love and dislike brings out a multitude of mixed feelings. Even if we've managed to detach from the destructiveness that surrounds that person, there is always a hole in us created by the missing relationship we've always longed and hoped for. And in death, the realization that the hole can never be filled hits you hard.

    Remembering the "bad" stuff is easy, remembering the "good" stuff is painful because there just wasn't enough of it.

    My mom and I agreed that there would be no "public" memorial, and the very brief obituary printed in the local paper, stating only his name, age, city of residence and date of death was sufficient for a man who had no real friends and only a handful of acquaintences. The day after the obit ran, my mom got a phone call from one of my dad's co-workers who'd seen the notice in the paper and was in a state of shock over the news. No one realized how sick he'd been even several years ago when he was still contracting at that facility. When my mom shared the specifics of his lung problems, the caller remembered times when he'd see my dad just sitting on a hallway bench for no apparent reason (he couldn't breathe and was trying to catch his breath). Dad did not want anyone to know he had anything wrong with him and would devise all sorts of pretenses and covers so that no one would know he was struggling. Just another example of the fear he lived with daily.

    My mom is doing pretty well, all things considered. She seems relieved that his suffering has ended, and her spirits seem lighter with the responsibility for his care now gone. There is some bitterness, though. Especially when she discovered some secret funds he had hidden from her that would have allowed her to stop working years ago. But all this time she had scrimped and saved and worked to cover "her" expenses because my difficult child-dad would not help her pay for things like her car, or clothing or any incidentals. He begrudgingly gave her money each month to cover groceries, the mortgage payment and utilities, but that was about it. She worried about getting called in to work as a substitute aide for disabled kids so she could get enough hours in. I am relieved for my mom and happy that she can spend the remainder of her days living a fuller and hopefully more joyful life.

    We have started the process of sorting through the junk my dad has hoarded over the years. First to go are the boxes and boxes of unworn clothing that still has tags. I'll be helping her sell whatever we can on eBay first, then her neighborhood garage sale, then whatever's left will go to charity. Then there is all the unused office supplies he's amassed. The computer equipment my brother will have to sort through. Boxes and boxes of magazines he had saved so that he could scan them all into his computer (including the ones he'd already scanned and never discarded!), thousands of dvd's and cd's he created, hours and hours of audio tapes of his doctor appointments he recorded (in secret), dozens of daily medical and "life" journals and files he kept (tracking everything from his bowel habits and urine output to the time of day my mom left the house and returned and dollar amounts he gave her each week), tools, jewelry making equipment and supplies, photography equipment, books, guns, hardware and miscellaneous building materials, boxes of stockpiled medications that have expired, and who knows how many other surprise caches of "stuff." It's going to take a long time, but we'll help her chip away at it whenever she's ready.

    Once she gets all the financial affairs settled I think she's going to travel a bit this fall: go visit some of her extended family in Iowa who are getting on in years, hit some fall dog shows in the east, maybe visit my dad's niece in Oklahoma. She spent more than 2/3 of her life so far catering to my dad because of her own codependent issues. It's finally her time to live the way she wants.
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    My dad made life hard on my mom. He wasn't a full blown difficult child, but he was raised strict Mennonite, and was very strong willed and inflexible. I loved him, but we had our differences.

    My mom had reached a similar place with him, and she is truly enjoying her life now. I hope the same for you and your mom.

    And in time, I've learned, the good times are easier to recall, cause the bad times have stopped happening...
  3. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    I'm sorry to say that I didn't realize you lost your dad recently. My heartfelt condolences.
    It's hard to lose a beloved parent but it is confusing to lose a difficult difficult child parent. I hated my dad most of my life. He was harsh, unloving, unappreciative and unnurturing.
    After I left home, I had to sort of come to terms in order for the hole to not swallow my future as well as my past. I did make peace with the fact that most parents want something
    better for their own children than what they had. I had more than my dad had. I didn't go hungry, had bill collectors at the door, had a pair of shoes to wear, a house to live in. He didn't drink, run around or was too physically abusive(harsh yes). I had it better than he had it as a kid.
    Eventually, I could look at him with different eyes. Doesn't make the events that are painful go away but I grew up and understood better. I hope that you and your mom can reconcile and move on. She should enjoy everything she can and know she did a good job taking care of him. My mom divorced after 40 yrs of marriage and never spoke to him. I got the job, with my sibs of taking care of him for 3 yrs. Mom moved on.

    Hopefully, you will find your own particular bit of peace. Again, my condolences.
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Hugs gvc. Going through all his belongings sounds like a monumental task, one that may be emotionally painful for you and mom at times. Please remember to take breaks when it becomes overwhelming.

    I hope your mom enjoys the next chapter in her life.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Many, many hugs. If there's anything I can do, just call.
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    {{{Hugs}}} Going through stuff is very difficult. My advice is to clear a room and then organize stuff into it that's worth saving. You may want to investigate the best way to dispose of the unwanted magazines... curb them? recycling center? local dump? And call the local pharmacy for advice on getting rid of the old medications. I remember being very angry with my father when my brother and I had to clear out dad's apartment after he went into a nursing home. I really felt dumped on.
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I've been so wrapped up in my own koi I missed that your Dad passed. I'm glad your Mom will be able to live a good life, though. Lots of hugs, 'cause no matter what, I can tell you loved him and I know it hurts.
  8. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Gentle hugs for your hurting heart. I'm glad your mom will be able to start living the way she wants.
  9. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Sending encouragement, sympathy, empathy, anything else I can drum up for you at this time.
  10. ML

    ML Guest

    I'm adding my hugs and prayers as you work through this difficult time of grief (and perhaps a bit of relief).
  11. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    GVC - there is NO way your dad has more stuff than mine did. Plus he told us there was money hidden within the house. Told us we had to go through every magazine page by page. Oh and he collected Playboy - nice, huh?! At least would could sell those!
    It was his last difficult child move on his two daughters. Not one magazine had a thing in it. The safe? Held fake jewelry and paper clips. There were a few jars of silver dollars that were in plain site in the linen closet. No money found other than that.

    We filled the biggest dumpster we could rent - 3 times!

    I am so happy that your mom no longer has to worry about working. What a relief. She gets to start a new chapter of her life now.

    Good to hear you are starting to heal. HUGS!
  12. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Just wanted to add my sympathies, as well...

    I'm so sorry.
  13. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    You sound good and strong despite the loss.
    I was traveling when this happened so I am late with the hugs as well.

    You will find a way to process this in your own time. No matter how you feel doesn't really matter to anyone else but you, it is your right to feel. The good and the bad.
    Do not feel guilty for any of your emotions...
    Hang in there and give yourself time
  14. Mom2oddson

    Mom2oddson Active Member

    Do be careful when you go through things. My cousins work in a land fill and you'd be surprised at all the stuff (mainly money) that is hidden in books, magazines and any cubby-hole. If your Dad had a secret account, he might of stashed stuff in other places.

    Sorry that you have to deal with all of that. I'm glad that your Mom is doing better and I hope that your healing continues.
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I hope that you and your mother will be well. I dread the day that I have to go through this.
  16. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I am so glad that your mom has money now and can travel and do as she wishes. Silver linings and all that. It's going to take her a long time to recover her life. It will be strange to her. She will have mixed feelings of guilt, anger, resentment and elation.

    You are doing amazingly well. Wow, he really did hoard. Sounded relatively organized, though.

    I can really identify with-your note. I bought a cpl bks on parenting your own parents, and one really good one was TAKING CARE OF PARENTS WHO DIDN'T TAKE CARE OF YOU, by Eleanor Cade.

    This really resonates with-me: Even if we've managed to detach from the destructiveness that surrounds that person, there is always a hole in us created by the missing relationship we've always longed and hoped for. And in death, the realization that the hole can never be filled hits you hard.
  17. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Many many prayers for strength & healing as you go through this process. Take your time ~ I still haven't gotten through all of husband's things. I take things one day, heck sometimes 15 minutes at a time.

    I'm glad that you mom gets some relief from working - to have time for herself.

    (((hugs))) chicken lady.
  18. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Hugs, girl. Fran said it good. As time passes you start to remember the good times. It's sad they are squished between the hard times, but they are there. I sat yesterday going through a DVD that my dad made of literally hundreds of photos. Keep in mind he didn't live with the family until I was 13 (military) but he'd come back once a year from Korea with beautiful trinkets and small trips to various places. So, I'm watching this video and thinking...YEAH!!! I remember going to Florida and swimming on the beach. Oh, and the Georgia peaches we gorged on during the trip.

    Fortunately I still have my parents. Dad was an angry man but as I aged I came to realize why and he's softened up over the years. I wish my sibs would see the same. People of that generation lived hell more than we know.

    I'm sure your mom is very grateful for your help and her release.

  19. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hey Kid.....

    I'm so sorry for your loss and grief. You know if there is anything you need, want to talk, need a chuckle, laugh whatever - I'm a call away. My deepest condolences for you sweetie.

    All my hugs & Love