Grieving my estranged father!

My father died last week. I didn’t think it would bother me as I hadn’t seen him for 10 years. How wrong I was. I’m trying to fathom out whether it’s the loss of him I am grieving, or the loss what we missed out on because of our estrangement.
I had a great relationship with my dad. He wasn’t always the best dad. My parents were divorced and many times he didn’t turn up to see me or my sister and at one point he disappeared entirely. 6 months later, we received a letter to say he was living up North. For many nights, I had cried thinking he was dead. When he returned after 18 months, I was around 9 years old, we saw each other regularly. Alternate weekends, holidays etc. He met someone new and they had my 3 half brothers. I continued being a big part of their lives and I had a good relationship with my " step mom" and her family.
When I got married, he gave me away and when I had my 3 children, we saw him regularly. All was fine, until my husband and I split up! The marriage breakdown was my decision after years of unhappiness. No one else involved just a pure and simple falling out of love. It was a very tough time!
To start with, I remained in regular contact with my dad, albeit being questioned as to why I had broken up my marriage. The reason for this was that my now estranged, and soon to be ex, husband was also regularly seeing my dad. As time went on, I would contact dad and say I was planning to visit that weekend, to be told the ex husband would be there. Could I rearrange or come another time. After a few attempts and some tears, I decided to pull back. It wasn’t worth my mental health. I thought that at some point my dad or step mom would pick up the phone, realising they hadn’t heard from me and all would be good with the world. How wrong I was. My ex continued to visit my dad like it was his own, while making my life quite emotionally difficult, while I became more distant.
A few years later, I wrote them both a letter, telling them how this had made me feel and if they wanted to get in touch, it would be lovely to hear from them and sort this out. They didn’t bother with my olive branch. I bumped into my step mom a couple of years after the letter. She tried to talk with me, but as far as I was concerned, they had made themselves very clear on their position by their silence. I was then accused of being drunk when I wrote the letter to them. I may well have had a couple of wines, but my feelings are still my feelings. So, the estrangement continued and the ex continued to visit with the children, a girlfriend at one point and recently his wife.
Then he goes and dies. I had an I don’t care attitude at first. It was my mum who told me. Step mom had called my sister, my sister called my mum, my mum called me. I called my children and we all convened at my house, for me really to support them. He was still their grandad! My ex decided that this would be a wonderful time to drop a bereavement card round for the children to write in so he could send it my step mom. I was fuming and still am! While my children were with me that afternoon, he also called them to ask when they were going to his.
The next day, I completely broke down! I was angry at my ex for causing a rift between my dad and me. I was angry at my now dead dad and step mom who couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone and I was angry at the lack of thought from two of my children who thought their dads feelings were more important than mine. I have since shared a lot with my two eldest, they are adults now after all and we shared some old photos of when me and my sister were young with our very young looking dad. It was really lovely. He was MY dad after all.
I’m having such an array of feelings. My main one is anger directed at my ex for causing this to happen , I put the blame purely at his feet. He should have backed off a bit and allowed me to spend time with my dad, although my dad and step mom aren’t blameless. I have people saying I should go to the funeral, go and see him in the Chapel of rest to have closure. The thought of seeing my ex at the funeral fills me with so much anger, I think I may fly at him. My eldest has told me he has said he won’t go if I choose to go. How magnanimous of him.
I am so confused and emotional. Am I likely to resume relationships with my step mom and my half brothers?I doubt it. It would be interesting to hear how others may have coped with this and how they dealt with all these messy feelings!

Hello VJL,

I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. It sounds as though things are very tough at the moment and you are feeling overwhelmed.

I’m glad that you’ve been able to share how you are feeling here, and I hope that you find the community a good source of support. Everyone here has experienced the loss of a loved one and will understand some of what you are going through.

Take care,
Hazel
Online Community team

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