Author Topic: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?  (Read 3780 times)

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Roodabega

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What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« on: June 14, 2013, 01:00:57 PM »
<bg>My birth mother and I were never really close, but still a lot closer when I was young.  She didn't raise me but I knew who she was and there were family things we did together when I was young.  She had more children after me which she raised.  Her husband and I never got along, and almost came to blows one time regarding something my child was doing. 

I haven't seen or talked to them in almost 20 years.  One of my half-siblings contacted me recently through FB, but she never comments on my posts.  After a few replies to things she posted without a response of any kind, I stopped posting on hers.  Needless to say we're not close either. </bg>

My question is regarding health crises or a death in the family.   They are both long retired, so I'm sure that something will occur some day.   I have no desire after all these years to rekindle anything.  I could be coolly polite if I were in the same room, but since they live somewhere on the other side of the country to me (not really sure where), I don't see that happening.   I don't expect that I would receive any notification if my birth mother or her husband has a health crises.  If I did, is it acceptable to just pretend I never saw it?

I would not travel for a health crises/death.  At the VERY MOST, I would send a card but I am not really inclined to do that.  I don't want to reopen things so that they can revisit what my perceived faults might be.  I liked my half-sibling(s) growing up, but we're so different now and it's been so long, they are strangers to me.   Is it strange to feel this way?

*inviteseller

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2013, 01:11:43 PM »
It doesn't sound like they want a relationship any more than you do.  If they do tell you about an illness or death, a card would be nice (to the siblings) but you have no obligation to be all family-like and go running to them.

Tea Drinker

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2013, 01:17:51 PM »
I don't think it's strange to feel that way--sometimes people don't really have/feel that connection, even with relatives they grew up with.

More to the point, even if it was strange, the fact is, you do feel that way. Continuing to be distant isn't rude. Etiquette may call for a condolence card. It doesn't require you to travel long distances for people you don't normally spend time with, or want to.
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MrTango

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2013, 01:18:44 PM »
It doesn't sound like they want a relationship any more than you do.  If they do tell you about an illness or death, a card would be nice (to the siblings) but you have no obligation to be all family-like and go running to them.

Agreed.

camlan

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2013, 01:20:07 PM »
If I were one of your half-siblings, and the birth parent we share had a health crisis or passed away, I would notify you. Because I think that is a common courtesy that you are owed. You have a right to know that your parent died.

I would not necessarily expect that you would come to visit or attend the funeral--that would be your choice. But I would want you to have that choice.

So I wouldn't take such a communication from your half-siblings as a desire to reconnect, but more as "This Major Life Event has happened to your parent. We thought you should know."

So, no, I don't think the way you feel is strange--it sounds like a logical outcome based on how you were treated. And if you do get some notification from the siblings, the polite thing to do would be to acknowledge it and thank them for taking the time to let you know. And then you can let the matter drop.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Roodabega

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2013, 01:28:53 PM »
If I were one of your half-siblings, and the birth parent we share had a health crisis or passed away, I would notify you. Because I think that is a common courtesy that you are owed. You have a right to know that your parent died.

I would not necessarily expect that you would come to visit or attend the funeral--that would be your choice. But I would want you to have that choice.

So I wouldn't take such a communication from your half-siblings as a desire to reconnect, but more as "This Major Life Event has happened to your parent. We thought you should know."

So, no, I don't think the way you feel is strange--it sounds like a logical outcome based on how you were treated. And if you do get some notification from the siblings, the polite thing to do would be to acknowledge it and thank them for taking the time to let you know. And then you can let the matter drop.

You are correct of course.  I go for months sometimes when I don't even think of them, but every once in a while they invade my headspace.  Lately I've been dreading that I'll get a notification and I'll be expected to jump through hoops when I really don't want to.  The whole background on how we got to this point would fill a novella, but I tried for a long time and 20 or so years ago I dropped the rope.

AngelicGamer

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2013, 09:40:42 PM »
As someone who got a cut off with no warning (father and stepmother), I understand the worry and invasion of headspace.  I do worry if I'm going to be notified if/when something happens, especially with my paternal grandparents.  It's why I, usually around my birthday and their birthdays and Christmas, I do Google checks of death records.

Is it weird?  Yep.  But considering them, I don't want to take the chance of not knowing and not being able to pay the proper respects to the dead in my own way.  It doesn't mean I'll go to the graves (mostly because it'll be in El Paso and I'm up in Chicago) but I have my own rituals.

So that might be a way of helping with the headspace and wondering if you'll know.  It helps me a great deal and I hope it can help you.




"Life's tough, huh?  And then you die." ~ Buck, the Magnificent Seven.

FoxPaws

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2013, 10:10:49 AM »
Not strange at all. Since neither party is interested in a relationship, it would be a waste of time and energy to force one. Who needs that?

Maybe the reason your half-sibling friended you was so that there would be a point of contact in case you needed to be informed of a major event. In the case of a private message, I would acknowledge it with a reply - along the lines of, "thank you for letting me know" - but if the news were simply posted on her page, I don't think there's anything wrong with just ignoring it.
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Sharnita

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2013, 01:22:07 PM »
If a neighbor or coworker mentioned their parent died I would send or give a card at the very least. It sounds like your relationship with these people is at least as cordial as a neighbor/coworker relationship. Send a card, maybe message them and let them know ypu are thinking of them during their time of loss.

You don't have to travel and you don't have to pretend to feel personal loss.

Roodabega

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2013, 07:56:36 PM »
It may very well be that my half-sibling friended me just for the purpose of being able to contact, just in case.  The temptation is to try to figure out the purpose of things, but I think the general consensus is a good one.   Nothing good will come from trying to analyze.   If something comes up, I'll respond similarly as if a distant friend had a loss.

There's no way of knowing how I'll actually feel when the time comes, but right now I don't really feel anything.  I wish it wasn't this way.

EveLGenius

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2013, 04:29:06 PM »
My husband had the opposite happen- one day his mother, who does genealogy as a hobby, called him up.  On a whim, she had looked up his father (they'd been divorced for over 30 years at that point), and discovered that he had died more than two years previously.  Neither DH nor his sister had ever been notified.  Obviously the family is estranged, but DH does wish that he knew how his dad died.  The cause of death is listed as "heart failure" on the death certificate, and DH had no knowledge of any heart disease on that side of the family.

OP, what would make you happy?  Would you like your relatives to contact you in case of a medical emergency?  A death?  Never contact you again?  Once you decide what you'd like, then you can work on a way to request it.  If you're happy knowing that they have the ability to contact you, but you're willing to leave it up to them what kind of emergency would require contact, then you're there already. 

And whatever happens, don't let anyone tell you how to feel.  Your feelings are your own, and although society would like us to believe that no matter what, anyone related by blood is faaaamily, and requires special treatment, there's plenty of evidence on this forum that family is the people who love you, and blood relatives may or may not be part of that group.

cwm

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Re: What to do about estranged relatives during crises times?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2013, 02:54:49 PM »
My dad spends altogether too much time in my headspace for being cut off. But here's the thing, I do worry. He was a good person and I have a lot of good memories of him, and he has a degenerative disease that will end up killing him. Even before he left my mom, we had a few close calls and it does scare me.

To me, there's a trade-off. I know my sister would tell me if something serious were to happen, but I'm not willing to deal with his new wife. That may change if he does pass away, since it would be one encounter with her, but past that I'm not interested. The more information I get, the closer it imples I'm willing to be to him. So I tend to take the attitude that I'll be told if something happens and not let it get past that.

If you're not close to your birth mother or your half siblings, then I'm guessing they're not trying to be very close to you. I don't think they'd be horribly offended if you only sent a card at your birth mother's passing, if that. If you don't want to be close to them (worried that they'll reopen wounds best left closed) then don't be close to them. Use them as a source of information in case something happens and thank them for passing the information along, but don't react past that. And if they can't accept your way of handling whatever crisis is occuring, then don't rely on them for information and ignore them. It's not worth all the stress on you just to make other people feel better.