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Dysfunctional family #1

Dear Prudence,
My grandparents had three biological children and adopted two. One of their adopted sons, “John,” was 9 when they took him in, and had been seriously abused before being sent to a series of foster homes. As he got older, he suffered from depression and schizophrenia and tried to self-medicate with drugs. He eventually ended up in a care facility where he remains to this day. My grandmother speaks to him once a month or so and says he is doing well. I have never met John because my father and his other siblings do not understand mental health problems. They have written him off as if he doesn’t exist. My grandmother has been very sick lately and I brought up the question with the rest of my family: Who will tell John when she dies, and will anyone help him attend the funeral? According to my father, aunts, and uncles: no one. This seems cruel to me. I do not know his mental capacity, but I’ve worked with adults in long-term care like him, and I know he will at the very least, notice when his mother no longer calls him. Should I try to get more information on his whereabouts so I can contact him myself? I am so angry at my family for not giving him the opportunity to say goodbye. It seems incredibly cruel.

—Family Secret

Re: Dysfunctional family #1

  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    Since LW has experience with adults like her uncle, maybe she can also step up after grandmom passes and keep the monthly phone calls to uncle.

    I also wonder if its not so much that LW's dad and his other siblings don't understand or care about mental health issues, but more a symptom of how the remaining family members were treated during the throws of his mental illness.  If John created a hostile environment for the remaining siblings to live in or was very bad to their parents growing up, the siblings may be holding a grudge against brother because of it.  They only know the pain that was caused by John, so they protect themselves by staying away from him. 

  • This seems like a no-brainer...  Especially since she's got experience to "read" the situation properly. 

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