Wedding Woes

Dead dad and my estranged family.

Dear Prudence,

My father died on January 1. I’d not seen him for some 25 years but his wife and brother called and wanted to keep in touch, claiming he loved me and thought about me all the time. I’m not sad or mad, but I just don’t believe it and I’m torn between wanting to be honest about that and not wanting to hurt them. (Also I fear them blaming my mom for the estrangement; I couldn’t hear that without blowing up because it isn’t true.) I long ago accepted my father’s absence, but I don’t like hearing people try to apologize for him. That was HIS job if he’d ever wanted to do it. I have little family and would like to reconnect, but I’m unsure. I especially want to tread carefully for the sake of his other kids. I could try just nodding through these second-hand apologies, but I think they’re looking for some positive response.

—New Year, New Start

Re: Dead dad and my estranged family.

  • I'm not sure I see the value in connecting with these people. Did you have a relationship with them before your father passed, or they want to start one now that he's gone? This just seems like opening up a can of worms for no real reason. 
  • LW says they want to reconnect, great. But that doesn’t have to be on the estranged family’s terms. You can set boundaries for how you engage with them, one of which can be that you want to get to know them and their families but you’re not interested in any explanations or justifications of the estrangement. If they really want to connect with you they’ll respect that, if they’re just looking to make themselves feel better they won’t and then you’ll know. 
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