Loss in a Not-So-Close Family, Walking Away

Since my 84-year-old father’s passing nearly five months ago, the relationship with my emotionally disturbed mother and mentally ill brother has crumbled. It was hanging by a thread anyway, as we did what we had to do to take care of Daddy as a family. Mom and Brother are alcoholics and both have abused me in the past. It’s been a complicated bereavement for me because I’ve very recently had to walk away from them. They live together, drink together and I can’t watch it anymore. The extended family is very critical of me not “taking care” of my mother. In many ways, I’m more a peace and I definately sleep better at night, not having listened to all the verbally abusive words from them daily. In other ways, I am grieving the loss of the three people I grew up with, my Daddy (we were very close), my mother and my brother. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband and four supportive sons and daughter. Today has been rough since I drove past the hospital this morning where I spent so many days by Daddy’s side. I want to be able to share the grief with my mother, but I just can’t. Even with my own household by my side, I feel very, very much alone in my grief. I must stay away from the toxic relationships, though. Thank you for listening.

Dear WRay,

I’m really sorry to read that you’ve lost your father, it seems that you had a very loving relationship, and I cannot even imagine how hard it must be.

It sounds as though your mother and brother are really struggling and making things harder for you. Unfortunately, it does seem to be fairly common to have family problems after a bereavement, as people react in different ways, and tensions can come to the forefront in times of high emotion.

I’m glad to hear that you have the support of your husband and children. The important thing now is that you take care of yourself and give yourself the time and space to grieve, even if that means distancing yourself from your abusive mother and brother.

There’s an excellent charity called NAPAC who provide support for adult survivors of childhood abuse: https://napac.org.uk/.They have a free helpline (0808 801 0331), if you feel like talking this through in confidence with a supportive person.

I’m glad that you’ve found this Online Community, and I hope it helps a little to have this space to get things off your chest and talk to others who understand what it’s like to lose a loved one.

Best wishes,


Hi WRay

I can relate to what you are going through. My wonderful dad passed away on the 6th December 2017 and my mother who was jealous of my relationship with dad and my brother who lives 250 miles away both cut me off the day dad died. They refused any communication and banned me from the family home so I lost all my family in one go. It really hurt even though I have never got on with my mother and hardly saw or spoke to my brother. I live 2 mins away and I cared for both dad and mum for over 15 years. They organised my dad’s funeral behind my back but I managed to find out all the details and had my eulogy read at the funeral. My mother never even bothered to attend. I still cannot comprehend why they did this to me as all I have ever done is look after all of them. There are givers and takers in life and the more you give the more people take. I struggled with it on top of grieving for my dad but I now see them having nothing to do with me as a blessing in disguise.

You cannot change their behaviour but you can choose not to be a part of it. It is your time to grieve for your dad and for you to look after yourself and thankfully you have the loving support of your husband, daughter and sons.

Let them get on with their lives and you take care of yourself


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