how do you grieve for the loss of the living?

carolssisSeptember 26, 2009

I don't know where to post this problem. My sil has been doing me dirty for years before I found out. she lives here in the same city, my brothers, sils, neices, nephews all live in another state. So,,,when sil started telling them really bad stuff about me, all of which is untrue, they didn't ask me about any of it, just believed her. Her last trick was to tell everyone I robbed my sister blind when I was at her house while she was sick, and then she died. I was there to be with my sister while she was sick, docs never said she wasn't going to live. Her house was a total mess when I arrived, she had been sick a long time and since i was there, everyone expected me to clean it up. I did. But I did it for my sister, she was going to need a clean home to come home to for recovery. I used up all my paid leave from work for this. Then I find out that none of my family members wants to even speak civilly to me, because they think I stole things from my sister. Since I didn't know my sister was going to die, why would I steal stuff, she would have discovered my thefts when she came home to recover. So, the whole upshot is, my whole family hates me, won't speak to me, all because of lies told to them by my sil. Now what? How do I grieve for the loss of my entire family, 4 brothers, 3 sil's, 2 nephews, 2 neices, and 6 grand neices/nephews. I don't think there is anything I can say or do at this point to convince them I'm not a thief, and my sil is a liar. Just write them all off? How?!

This has broken my heart so badly. I feel as bad as I did when my sister died, she was my only sister. all I keep thinking is, "oh my God, what am I going to do?"

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Hi Carolssis,

Welcome to the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished club!

I'm in awe and admiration that you've arrived so early in the game at the clarity that freedom is in letting go and detachment. I don't feel like I'm there yet! I know it in my head, but my heart wants a faaaaaaamily! That sees, accepts, appreciates me for who I aaaaaam! NGH (=not gonna happen)

One thing that helped me - when I was doing better than I feel like I'm doing now - was hardcore AlAnon. I don't mean the whiny problem-focused groups that abound; there are some which stick to the literature and concentrate on detachment and solutions. There are also telephone meetings.

Alcohol wasn't an issue in my immediate family, so I used wite-out tape in my copy of the main book _How AlAnon Works_. Once the references to alcohol, drink, bottle were gone, my own flawed thinking sprang out at me. I didn't cause my family's harmful patterns, I couldn't cure them, I can't control their effects on me. Bummer! The very worst mistakes of my life, I have made when I bucked this reality.

Our ways of dealing with grief and loss may be different. Some AlAnon people view my cerebral approach as "obsessive" or controlling. Eh, anyway, what works for me is a framework for understanding. Learning about family systems helped me understand that my family members were carrying burdens as well. Now, I don't have to enable them! But seeing bigger constellations makes it easier to let go.

At the moment, I'm not at peace around any of this. You definitely don't want what I have. But maybe I want what I used to have a bit more of, and I'm just talking to myself here ....

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 7:00PM
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Idon't accept the loss, I'm still grieving for them. One thing strikes me about your post, how the family dynamics work against me, and that is what the sis in law used against me also. But is is helping me understand why no body called me to ask for me take on what they had been told. They just took her at her word, and they have no idea of what kind of relationship we have with each other, they are 2000 miles away. the sil is very controlling and I personally think she didn't like my mom, my sis and me because she recognized right off that we weren't going to be controlled or manipulated. But, me being this far away doesn't help, I don't see them on a regular basis, they have no idea who I am. Funny how the sil was able to convince them she knows all about me, I usually only saw her for holiday dinners. Well, at least it's nice to know I now belong to a club, no good deed goes unpunished, I like that, it's so concise. It occured to me that maybe it's better that I know for real how they feel about me, how they are all so ready to believe the worst. Makes it a little smidge easier to realize they will never be a part of my life again. They don't even know me, will never take an oppertunity to know me, and it's their loss. Even when I tried to point out that there was no way the sil could have known what I did or didn't do while I was at my sister's home, because the sil wasn't there, they still were really hesitant to tell me exactly what she said. Best I can do for myself now is to take comfort in the obvious fact that they don't do any anylitical thinking, and just are accepting of what they hear.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 10:29PM
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Oh, I didn't mean to imply you've accepted the loss. I'm impressed you've acknowledged it rather than running harder into that brick wall, as I did for so many years. My h went to his grave being dutiful to a family that used and disdained him; they were in such high spirits at his funeral, the minister asked me about it.

Sounds like you got stuck in the must-be-useful-and-cost-nothing slot. It rots, and there's no way out of that place in their framework. In trying to reel me back in once I began setting limits, my so-called family reminisced about how useful and generous I'd once been, how they missed that. My mother even wrote a letter about a "languages of love" book and said my language was giving presents. Her "subtle" way of whimpering for more stuff. They alternate this with accusations that I've abandoned them, am doing nothing for the family. If they were truly interested in me as a person, they'd ASK what my "love language" is, perhaps do something kind for me. An absurd thought!

Your sil delivered exactly what the others wanted to hear. Analytical thinking (ha! you sound like me, expecting reason to play a role in normal behavior) is the very last thing they'd want. It would mean, oh, being fair to you, saying thank you for your care of your sister. No, they'd rather believe you sold bundles of old newspapers from your sister's house, kept deposit money from returned bottles, and generally cheated them of their share of loot.

Generally, these patterns began with the parents. I'm not sure what went wrong with mine, but sibs followed their rules about me. It's been horrible this year to discover that a sister I'd long imagined neutral is at least as hostile to me as the others are. Looking back, I kick myself for not seeng the signs. Oh, well. These are not people I need to see again; their longterm behavior exempts me from further duty. I've decided not to return even for funerals.

What was your early family dynamic, before the brothers married?

There are threads in the parenting section about estrangement. A recent one has some tips on dealing with it. Frankly, I've not done well since Ps dad's death at filling my life with wonderful relationships. I've made the mistake of begging the bio-fam to leave me alone (rather than returning letters to them unopened), and their antics have been soul-crushing. All they want is the feeling they're caring people; true caring would involve respecting my wishes.

I'm not religious any more but go to a unitarian church to give P some grandparent-like figures. Got a dog (retired show dog so was already trained) which I recommend, as it forces me to get out and brings me into light pleasant contact with lots of people, some of whom demonstrate more genuine giving-a-hoot than I ever experienced from the bio-donors and siblings.

If you lived nearby, I'd have you over and cook something you like; you could sit in my comfortable chair and lecture me for letting P crawl into the crate with the dog. (He "reads" to him since seeing this at the library's story hour.) What I darkly call Franken-Family moments can be precious relief.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 4:02AM
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I guess the thing that bothers me the most is, what ever the sil said about me behind my back, they won't tell me. One of my brothers was here in town, and at my house he said."sil never has anything good to say about you" I asked him to tell me what exactly she does say and he responded"it's not worth repeating" how do I defend myself when I don't know what it's all about? It offends my sense of fairness, they listened to her but don't give me the slightest chance. How nice. Makes me wonder why I'd even want these people in my life anyway, even 2000 miles away. The entire family is separated by all this. It's like a bomb went off and blew our relationships all over creation.
And I feel like such a fool. I feel like I should have known something was up, they acted so strange when they came to town. And I went back there to visit, and one of my brothers told me not to bring it up! How stupid of me to waste my money going to visit people not even willing to give me a chance. Hurts so deeply. I suppose I'm accused of all kinds of stuff, I cleared out my gramma's apartment, she was in a nursing home, and Mom wasn't well enough to do it. So, I took off work, flew across country, took care of everything, and nobody said a word. Then my Mom dies, and I helped my sister who was executor, to make sure everything was done at Mom's home before it was sold. My sis lived in another state. So, I took care of cleaning, mopping floors, toilets, last minute checks of closets, cabinets. all the fun stuff. Then sis gets sick. I don't think I'll ever waste my time and money calling any of them again. They'll probably think I feel too guilty to call!! I don't feel guilty because I have no reason to. I went to gramma's and did what needed to be done, I went to Mom's and took care of what needed to be taken care of, I went to my sis's and cleaned her entire house,paid her bills, washed her clothes, did whatever needed to be done. I cried alot at all three of these places, but I did what had to be done and I am PROUD of how well I did it all, no, I have no guilt at all. I guess I'll just let them think what they want, they will anyway. Thanks for reading my ramblings, it helps me to get it out. :)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 11:53PM
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psmum, I read carolsis' post and was set to ask if she'd thought about going to Alanon .. but you did it for me and so, I'm just seconding your good thinking.

carolsis, Alanon has saved my life, taught me a new way to live .. actually has taught me how to love. I now live one day .. one moment .. at a time. I have an indestructible spiritual foundation. I am not a victim; I can choose my attitudes and actions.

My beloved 32 year old son died very suddenly this summer, June 28th. The initial pain was indescribable. I am developing a new relationship to the pain now .. learning to accept my son's death. Losing Ben has been catastrophic - never have I been called to accept anything so profound as this. I am devastated, as is my family; his wife is completely heartbroken. Every time I see their (now 10 month old baby)even though she is my true joy, my eyes fill with tears knowing she will never know her father except through stories. I have never experienced a loss as deeply as losing my son.

My younger brother died 9 months before my son. He was my first friend on this planet. I have lost both of my parents and 2 other siblings, both sisters. I have lost friends. These losses have been continual since 2000.

I am here to say that although my pain is great, my life is good. My life is good.

I hope you find your way to Alanon. Stay there and listen. When you want to run, stay and listen some more. Try a few different meetings. Get a sponsor. Keep coming back. You do not have to keep living the way you are living.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 9:38PM
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