Wedding Woes

I feel for you, but this is way harsh, Tai.

Dear Prudence,

While I had a stable childhood, as a teen, my parents weren’t emotionally available to me, and I started spending a large amount of my time at my best friend’s house, where her parents treated me with dignity and kindness. They were also friends with my parents—not super-close, but they vacationed together for a weekend once, and never had fights or broke contact. This last year, my dad was in the final stage of a terminal illness, and asked them to come see him again (they had been over to visit in an earlier stage of the illness). They didn’t, and their explanation (in the funeral receiving line) was that doing so “made them too aware of their mortality.” My family had and has no use for this or them, now. I feel the same—I don’t need to maintain a friendship with them, as this disloyalty and lack of love and kindness toward my dad is extremely painful.

Except I still am dear friends with my childhood best friend, and I haven’t told her any of this. And I can’t easily avoid her parents without her eventually knowing why, since there are friend-family events we all get invited to, like birthday parties. I don’t want to put the burden of my boundary toward her parents on her. I hate that it’s there at all. Is it wrong for me to avoid talking to her about it? Should I wait for more time to pass and revisit my decision? I’m not a person who cuts ties with lifelong friendships lightly, but I feel betrayed by the people I once considered family.

—No Excuses in the Receiving Line

Re: I feel for you, but this is way harsh, Tai.

  • I think it’s wrong to punish this family at all for this. Grief is hard for people in different ways. 
  • downtondivadowntondiva member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited November 16
    Truthfully, I think it was kind of insensitive and awkward for them to bring it up at all during the funeral why they hadn't been to see your father, and if you were the ones who asked, it wasn't really appropriate for you to do so. 

    That said, some people really struggle with dying and grief, so I don't know that you should be jumping to harsh conclusions about these people. It's not like they refused to acknowledge his death or be supportive at all - they did come to the funeral, however awkward they may have been. And you said yourself that they'd been very kind to you in the past. 

    Try to forgive them for this, even if it takes a little time or you need to be a little more distant with them at some of these events for a while. 
  • This is a "be cordial when you see them" situation.
  • I also think the LW is being too harsh.  These were parental-type figures for the LW growing up.  But the letter even says that, while the parents were friends, they weren't close friends.  I assume the friendship waned even more when their children became adults.

    It was nice they visited the father once while he was dying.  But I don't feel that was their obligation to visit him multiple times.

    It's okay and not totally off-base that the LW is hurt.  But they need to back-off from going scorched earth.  Their emotions are raw and grief counseling can help.  They should try going LC instead of NC.  Treat the parents politely when they see them, but keep interactions brief.

    I think as time goes on, they will be glad they didn't cut these folks out of their life.  But if they still fell that way 6-12 months from now, they should tell their friend and the parents how they are feeling and that they will not be in contact (with the parents) anymore.
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  • I think there’s probably dynamics missing in the letter. I do think it’s interesting that LW specifically mentions that their parents were “emotionally unavailable” in comparison to bff’s parents. What a strange and insensitive response from people who supposedly are “emotionally available.” 

    I maintain a close relationship with bff and her family, even if they drive me nuts sometimes. I don’t know that they would come to visit my parents multiple times during an illness however, and we all spent a pretty significant amount of time together growing up. I wouldn’t hold it against them though. 

  • The friends parents had their own relationship with your parents and while you may not like how they handled things with your fathers illness this reaction seems a bit much. You also don’t know everything about the dynamic they had with your parents and seeing him in the final stages of illness may have been too much for them. That sucks, but you don’t get to tell them how to grieve or manage that relationship. 

    Give it time, do some grief counseling, and recognize that not everyone does or says the right thing when faced with mortality. 
  • mrsconn23 said:
    LW is being way too harsh.  Also, were they close or not?  LW is very wishy-washy in the description of the relationship between their parents and this family.  Furthermore, LW is all, "I had a stable childhood, but my parents were emotionally distant."  What?  

    LW is currently in the throes of grief and this is skewing everything for them.  My recommendation is time and maybe some grief therapy.   

    I also wonder if they asked these people when they were in the receiving line why they didn't show up, which is the worst time to do so.  So I can't tell if LW was borrowing trouble or if the information was volunteered. 

    And lastly, people sometimes literally don't know what to do or say in these situations to the point where it paralyzes them because they're so afraid of being 'wrong'.  

    Plus, while a parent being gravely, terminally ill is your whole world, it's not everyone else's experience.  It is nice when people show up, but unfortunately, the world still turns and people still have other shit going on. It's not that they don't care, but they may not have capacity. 

    Point here is, don't weaponize your grief LW.  
    This and the boundary language strikes me that LW read a couple of psych articles and is trying to rewrite everything in their life as a trauma. 
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