Absent father death

Hi. I’m not sure where to start or if I’ve even come to the right place.

My dad was never a permanent feature in my 38 years and when he was, it was because I had reached out. At 18 I found out he was remarried with 2 children. My mum he was having a baby with my stepdad and it stirred up feelings for me so mum helped me get contact details and I made contact. Every time I tried to pull away from him, I remembered I had a brother and sister there that I loved and wanted in my life.

There was a lot of mental and emotional abuse from him over the years before my siblings became adults. From him separating from his wife, moving back to where I was, then dating my friends mum and making up vile lies about me.

About 2 years ago my sister called me, completely broken, he had been diagnosed with cancer. I lost the man who played the father figure in my life from cancer when I was 17, I wanted to be there for my siblings so I reached out to him, visited him when he was in hospital, daily contact with his then partner. This upset my mum and my stepdad but they both supported my choice. Once he got the all clear, he went back to not being bothered but I kept trying even though my siblings and their partners could see what he was doing and how he was treating me. I did this up until his wedding 2 years ago and that was when I had nothing left to give.

I helped with wedding planning, went wedding dress shopping with his partner, everything. My sister was asked to be bridesmaid and my brother best man. The other bridesmaid? My brother’s girlfriend, even though they separated before the wedding and there had been zero contact, as far as they were concerned, she was still the other bridesmaid. I was still part of the bridal party, spending the night with the bride, in the 1st bride photos. I even took it upon myself to make sure I was in the same colour as the bridesmaids.

When it came to the speech’s, I realised my effort meant nothing to this man. He thanked his new wife, he thanked my brother and sister, stated he wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for them but me? Not even an acknowledgment, nothing.

Early this year, his cancer returned, this time terminal. He sat my siblings down, even drove past my house to see other family members and let them know, but never reached out to me. I was still in contact with his now wife, thanking for Christmas/birthday cards for my son.

My sons birthday is 6th July, that was the last time I reached out to his wife thanking them for his card and money. On the 10th July my dad died. He never felt to inform me he was going to die and his wife, my sister and other family members never even informed me if his death. My mum found out on Facebook and when I checked, I had had messages from distant family of condolences.

I don’t know how to grieve him dying. He was horrible to me, left me so damaged but I’m still hurting. I’ve struggled to have a relationship with my sister since because she had a different relationship with him to me. Everyone is claiming he was such an amazing man and the same as the last 38 years of my life, I’m not acknowledged.

I don’t know what to do and it’s ripping me apart

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Hello @Confused38, thank you for reaching out and for bravely sharing your story with us. I’m sorry for your loss, and for how much you’re hurting at the moment. I can hear the pain in your words and want you to know that you are not alone.

Although your situations are not exactly the same, you might identify with this thread that @Omi wrote recently. Hopefully someone will also be along to share their support, too - sadly, many of our members have experienced the loss of a parent.

In the meantime, you may find these Sue Ryder resources helpful in coping with your grief.

Take good care and keep reaching out,

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I’m so sorry for the pain that you are in, I’ve recently joined here literally 15 mins ago and my situation isn’t exactly the same as yours but is definitely similar.
I am currently struggling with the loss of my dad he passed away February this year. He was a weekend dad and not every weekend either, whenever I asked him to come down he would and usually when something needed building. It was what worked between us.
My dad had another family for 22 years with his fiancé and her children, he was closer to her childrens children than my own.
We havent got the grearest past but he never ignored us like yours did to you.
The pain since my dad has passed has shocked me as my grandfather was mine and my siblings dad, he was there for us and our children and he passed 4 years ago which hurt like hell.
I havent had one good memory of my dad come to me since he passed and that kills me, I feel guilty for hurting they way I do and its confusing.
I honestly dont know how you are meant to feel just as i dont know how i am meant to feel but im happy to message one another and maybe we just unload to one another and you never know it might help?

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Hello @Confused38

Things sound tough; sorry to read its like this for you right now. I don’t know but can imagine some of the feelings that being ignored illicit and the impact that can have on a person, particularly on worth and esteem

I was not ignored but profoundly neglected and knowingly left to be harmed by this woman. In my own case its left me with a sense of not being worth care or love

It sounds like you do have some good enough relationships around you, do you?

Also wondered if you have people around who have witnessed this and get why and how you are feeling?

I find this stuff hard because there seems to be a dominant narrative that we’re meant to feel sad that the person is gone and mourn them but more often than not its complicated, there is anger, there’s confusion etc and the realisation of other losses, in my instance, the realisation that I did not have the parent I thought I had. The person that was the most ‘caring’ to me in my family was someone who done the deepest harm. These are things to grieve too; I tell people I don’t miss my (grand)mother, I miss not having a mother who really loved me and cared for me, right now that’s my truth

The treatment you’ve had sounds deeply hurtful and I hope that you’ll be able to ride the waves and find the right people, places and strategies to see you through


He was the dad that claimed my mum stopped him seeing me, even when I was an adult, never took accountability, lied about EVERYTHING. I’m normally a very direct person, sometimes to my own detriment but for some reason I was never able to be like that with him. I can’t talk to my mum/stepdad about it because they just don’t care, they’ve seen me at my lowest about this man, don’t understand why I’m feeling how I am. Then I’ve got my sister how I’ve become close to over the last 8 years, he’s treated her terribly as soon as he got with his new wife, hadn’t seen her or her 2 boys for 18 months, even though there was 2 roads between them but she is singing his praises, how much she’s going to miss him, what a wonderful dad he was …. All of which I know is lies because she’s told me. I wasn’t invited to the funeral, his wife blocked me from his Facebook page, his side of the family are constantly posting and I know they’re hurting, they’re grieving but so am I, probably more then them but I don’t exist. The same as the last 38 years of my life. I wanna scream and shout, tell them what I think of them but I know my sister will get the backlash and I don’t wanna strain our relationship any more then it currently is

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I’m sorry you are going through this

I’m not sure that there is any particular way to feel. There are the stereotypical feelings but I just think these are typical because most people who have more complex feelings either choose to focus on the ‘nicer’ ones or don’t feel there is space for them in the grieving narrative in our culture

I can relate to the sense of shock, I was not expecting the unravelling and shit storm that ensued after her passing because I had done so much processing looking at things over the years, I’m thinking sometimes their definite absence gives a permission to feel, the anger, confusion, hurt, rage etc

I have found it useful to offload when I can. Helplines can be okay depending on who you get. I also found bereavement counselling helpful as a start. Have you done any?

My mum had become really bitter over it, holding on top so much anger for how he treated me the last few years of his life. I was a carer with my mum at 17 for my uncle who died of cancer, I still haven’t dealt with that grief so when I decided to step in when he was first diagnosed my mum knew I wouldn’t handle what she already knew was gonna happen. She never once told me what to do, she always said that she brought me up right and only I know what the right decision to do would be.

I was close with my sister and the last few years he had started doing the same to her but when he died, he was father of the year so that’s not a safe place for me to talk about how I’m feeling

yeh my (grand)mother was a passive aggressive person and could never be held accountable because she was never responsible for anything. For me the worst thing is covert abuse and not being able to outrightly name it, because being neglectful is abusive

sorry you don’t have support from your family. I’m in a similar boat although I have been estranged from my family for many many years, there as been a little contact but no space for communal grieving or no support so I have just been carrying it on my own and there has been a lot of chaos

are you able to take care of yourself, resume most of the activities you were doing before he passed?

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I had convinced myself that once he died, the chapter would be closed, I couldn’t keep having that stupid glimmer of hope.

When my sister told me his cancer was terminal I refused to reach out. One because it showed he absolutely didn’t give a crap about me but also because I was hoping he WOULD reach out and tell me.

I just don’t know, I’m so angry, the way this man has treated me my whole life has gone on to effect EVERY relationship I’ve ever had, then I’m heartbroken over a relationship I never got and now never will

Wow my dad never accepted anything he ever did to my mum or me because he was drunk and couldn’t remember it never happened.
I can’t believe you weren’t invited to the funeral, for shame on those who didn’t invite you to your own dad’s funeral you had a right to be there, I am shocked and appalled. I didn’t get on with my step mother back then and my dad’s funeral could have gone either way, I thought the worst but I’m glad to say it was the best way.
Your sister maybe she’s dealing with her grief differently remembering all the good times? If there were any for her and your dad. Is she younger?
I am the eldest of my siblings and I was the one that saw and lived the worst end of my dad during my childhood and I believe that’s why I can’t remember any good times with him.
I often wonder if my dad can see me now a mess with guilt and regret and I also wonder if he was still here and I was the one to have passed would he have the same feelings?
I’m angry at him for leaving and not being able to say sorry ever for the crap that he put us through over the years but I also miss him knowing he is no longer here and I’m lost because a part of me has gone.
He was the fun loving bubbly dad/bampi to his other family to my kids he was their mothers dad and to me despite absolutely everything the daddy’s girl in me always came out when he was around, I just loved him unconditionally because he was my dad.

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Me and my sister have had so many open conversations about our dad. She’s told me he was only interested in playing family when I was visiting, he had multiple affairs, some of the women coming to the house, confronting her mum while out. He said they always knew about me but both my brother and sister have told me they knew nothing until I first visited when I was 18, they were told I was a daughter of an old friend of his and that photos of me were only brought out when I was visiting. I feel like I wanna scream at my sister to get her head out of her arse! I’m not overly close with my brother but he always tells me to remember that others don’t know the relationship between me and our dad, they have no place to comment

No I haven’t done any counselling, I’m not ready to speak on the phone. I spoke to the doctor today and they mentioned cruse bereavement but that’s via phone call and as soon as I’m ready I will call but for now I’m managing chats here, see how this goes. I don’t want to ruin Christmas for my children and I know with one on one counselling I would be a mess so I’m waiting until the new year. It’s going to be hard my first Christmas without my dad but I will be strong for my children, I’m always strong for them or at least try to be.

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As for his current wife, I just lost it when she blocked me from my dads Facebook page and to be completely honest, I know if/when I have to see her, I’m going to put hands on her. Yes she’s been vile and I’m angry with her but she will end up also receiving that anger I have for him which isn’t right so I’ve blocked her and won’t be anywhere she is

I’ve decided to start writing, writing down my memories that my mum either won’t talk about or tells me didn’t happen. Try and just unload from the start

You are suffering, you are grieving and you have every right and you shouldn’t give a damn if people don’t know about you and the situation etc.
Do you talk to anyone from your dad’s side at all? Other than your sister.
You need to concentrate on you, you are priority here. Your dad may not of put you at the forefront or made you a priority in his life but you can help you.
I’m assuming as you weren’t invited to his funeral you didn’t go? So there’s been no closure for you at all, not that being at my dads funeral gave me closure maybe that’s what it is there’s so many questions that we will never get answered now, why? How? What did we do wrong? Although I know I didn’t do anything wrong to go through what I went through and neither did you.
I’m so sorry that you are going through all of this and feeling the way you do.
Do you have anyone to talk too? A partner? Best friend? Or are you keeping it all in?

Were there any good memories for you? I have a journal too, I won’t ever read it back as I’m reading these messages back and they sound warped in a sense I love him, I hate him, I’m angry, I’m sad it’s an emotional rollercoaster and everyone has told me it’s all part of grief it’s exhausting.

You know its not nice to be ignored

I’ve replied to you somewhere haven’t ignored you at all.

19 mins ago scroll up!

I asked to go to the chapel of rest but his wife wouldn’t let me, I didn’t even know what chapel of rest he was at. I wasn’t sure if I would have gone to the funeral because I can not fake it, I can’t put on a face and as much as I was feeling one way, there was going to be people there that did have a ‘good’ relationship with him.

The tipping point was when my brother sent me a copy of the speech they make at the start. Just as I was worried about, it was full of lies, lies and more lies!! How he brought my grandads business, built his house from scratch …… just complete lies!! Someone even called him a inspiration