Jump to content

Residual anger towards surviving parent


Recommended Posts

My warm, funny, generous mother (age 67) died in January, and I'm having a difficult time feeling much sympathy for my father because of the way he treated her as she neared death.

He's never been the most considerate man, but her illness really seemed to bring out the worst in him.

What follows is a laundry list of my grievances, so I apologize in advance - I just have to get them off my chest!:

When she was first starting to go downhill, and it looked like we were going to have to take her to the hospital, he refused to go with us because he wanted to run an errand and he said to leave a note for him if we did end up taking her to the hospital.

He practically ignored her as she lay dying in the living room (except to offer her a cigarette (!)), preferring instead to spend his time outside on the porch, gazing at her picture and crying.

Because the cancer had metastasized to her brain, at the end she could no longer speak coherently though her mind was clearly intact. When she indicated she wanted her bed to be moved nearer to the window so she could look at the garden she had planted and cared for, he said it was too much trouble and that, "Hell, she's seen it a thousand times already - she knows what it looks like". (Of course we moved it anyway, but sheesh!)

Another time my brother was reading aloud to my mother some letters she had received from her own (dear) deceased father, and my father said to my brother (within full earshot of my mother, to whom those letters were precious) "Do you want any of those letters? I'm going to throw that s$#& out anyway".

When he would give her her pills, he would put them all into her mouth at once and clap his cupped hand against her open mouth hard, saying "she doesn't mind - this is the way I always do it".

Nearly every day he would take my siblings aside and say "I wish she would die tonight - I can't take this anymore".

As she got closer to death he would read and re-read the booklet the hospice people had given him, poring over the sections that described what people looked like near death, then examining my mother's body for the tell-tale signs. He even went so far as to lift up her shirt for us to examine her (non-swelling) abdomen, saying, "I think it's becoming distended" with more than a bit of excitement in his voice while my poor wide-awake mother could only listen mutely. It was as if she was a piece of meat!

Now we hear through the grapevine that he told a family friend he guesses "we [his children] just didn't love her as much as he did because we don't seem very broken up about her death"! Sorry, Dad, but how would you even know since you have never once asked us how we're doing, having lost our mother and all.

The icing on the cake is that he has diabetes but for the last two years has refused to take any of his medications, but once she died he started taking care of himself. I'm glad he's started to do that, but why wouldn't he do it when my mother was alive, when she needed him?

My first question is, what kind of a person acts like that when their [supposedly beloved] wife of almost 50 years is dying and needs him the most???? Is he just a garden-variety narcissist or is he just plain evil?

My second question is, how do I stop feeling resentment towards him? I love him because he's my father, but I no longer like him, and I sure as heck don't respect him.

Thanks for listening,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my God, I am just stunned Julie. How absolutely horrible. I cannot imagine treating anyone so badly. Have you and your siblings talked about this? Somehow you have to get past this resentment and anger before it eats you up. You definately need to talk this out with someone. Sorry I'm not more helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I have an evil rotten terrible father. He is so bad I have instructed my family that if he should contact them, they are not allowed to tell him of my dx or that I am considered terminal.

Maybe this is new behavior on your fathers part, but I am guessing it's not. You have every right to be angry, you have every right to stop seeing him for a while while you cool down. The Lord did not say Love thy parents, The Lord said honor thy parents, you can do that by treating him with respect once a week talking to him politely on the phone.

It would probably be a good idea to see someone for some talk therapy and work your (justified) anger out. It is not good to hold onto it, it just makes you miserable. It would help to talk about your grief for your Mothers loss as well.

I am sorry your father made your Mom's last days miserable, I am sure you did your best to shield her from it, I am sorry for your loss, (((Julie))) and I pray that you find solace and comfort.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


I am so sorry for the loss of your wonderful mother. I lost my mom years ago to lung cancer and I know how that hurts. Now I am going to say something just a little different than the others have.

If your dad always treated your mom like that then I go along with what everyone has said. Now I can see another side if this was NEW behavior for him. His behavior was deplorable I agree with that one hundred percent. There are people in this world who just do not know how to handle a crisis. Lung cancer as you surely know is a crisis. If this is unusual behavior for you dad try to determine if he was not really in denial. It could be that he was using any means to make himself believe that she was not going to die. People can do crazy unpridictable things when faced with something they have no control over.

Your dad may have thought in some twisted way that if he treated your mom like he was waiting for her to die and that he didn't care if she did that she would not die. Cruel yes :!: Uncalled for obviously yes to all of us but we were not the ones faced with loosing someone that we had depended on to be there for us for nearly 50 years. Sometimes a persons mind just stops working with normal reasoning. Maybe that is what happened to your dad. A lot of what he is feeling now could well be quilt for his earlier behavior. He wants you to see how much he is greiving now because of the way he treated her. If he was in denial just imagine what he must be feeling now. Not only the shock of her death but guilt because his denial made him treat her the way he did. Maybe it is not your greif that he is seeking to see but his grief he wants you to see so he won't feel so guilty.

Now it could be that he is just a mean heartless s** but sometimes you have to at least think of the posibility of other things. Maybe I am way off base here but thought another perspective might not hurt. Either way it has to be hard on all of you children. I pray that you find a way to work through this. It is so hard to lose someone you love then have to deal with our feelings for the rest of the family. Believe me I know that because I am pretty much in that position myself right now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Julie I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved mother. I'm also really sorry about what you and your mother had to go through at the inconsiderate hands of your father.

I think we could go on and on wondering whether his intention was cruelty or ignorance. The most sensitive of us could argue that we can not understand his feelings dealing with the potential and eventual loss of his life partner, and that people often deal with their pain in strange and often unexpected ways. The more realistic of us would say that regardless, this time was not about your father's pain and grief but about your mom, and your mother deserved support and love during her struggles.

like Lily, I probably have a much different view than most people would have.

The thing is, this is all past now. What you need to concentrate on now are those things you can change and those things that you have control over... primarily your emotions and your life.

What is that saying... God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

The accepting the things you can not control is one of the hardest things to do in life.

I don't think you need to condone your father's behavior DEFINITELY NOT!!! But you need to find a way to get beyond it for your own emotional health and for the sake of your family and love. You say you love your father... you have recently lost your mother, and I would hate to think of you losing both parents at the same time.

You can't change his heart and his actions. But in my opinion, your mother triumphed over him in the end regardless. She is in God's kingdom now, free of pain, free of humiliation and grief. She is bound to you eternally by your love and she now knows all that was kept deep in your heart, and the heart of your father. All truths have been revealed to her. Your father will some day stand in front of the gates of heaven and at that time he will have to answer for his actions. No one ever gets away with ill abuse and evil; it always is judged and punished, just not always for in a manner for us to view. Try and forgive your father his transgressions, as it is what is best for YOU (forgive him for your sake not his). It is too hard on the body mind and soul to hold in that much anger.

Try and remember this, and know that your anger, although justified, will serve you no good. It will only spiral into anguish and darken your days. You need to move past these feelings and live your life the way your mother would have wanted... happy. Honor her by living your life to the fullest. If it means limiting your interactions with your father in order to do this, so be it, but don't let darkness get a foothold in your heart because it spreads and breeds until that is all that is left.

Just my two cents.

Prayers going out to you and your family


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I am sorry that you had to witness this, and I am in awe that you have any positive feelings towards this man.

May I take this opportunity to tell you how much I admire you for doing all you did to ease your Mother's final days and passing, especially in light of your Father's selfish and hurtful conduct.

I hope that you find consolation in the knowledge that you did so much good for your Mother, and that you lose no sleep over how your Father feels right now.

I'm not objective on the subject of this kind of cruelty. I'm reminded of boys who tear the wings off dragonflies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow all I can think of to say is wow.. I am probably not one to comment on this because I was always taught if you dont have anything nice to say about someone dont say anything at all so on that note I will say nothing because I know I would judge very harshly, although I do want to say I am so sorry you and your family had to go through such a horrifing experience..I hope you can find some peace through all of this, my heart goes out to you and your siblings..God Bless

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Betty when she said you are obliged to honor your father but not obliged to love him.

I lost my mother in December and although my father was great at the end of her days, I thought they treated eachother terribly for the 7 months that she lived after her diagnosis. They nit-picked eachother constantly and said mean things to eachother. I knew they would regret it, and now he does, he feels so guilty for having lost his temper over the small things.

Your dad sounds like a real jerk but I do want to give him the benefit of the doubt on a couple of the things you mentioned. You said he sat on the porch crying while looking at her picture instead of being inside with her in the living room - that sounds like he did love her and just couldn't bare to see her slipping away.

Also, you said that he said awful things like "I wish she would die already so this was over". That sounds so terrible, but I have to say that even I said that when my mother was sick. One morning about 6 days after she was bed-ridden and we had gone on nearly no sleep in caring for her and watching her suffer, I said the same thing because it was exhausting watching her suffer, I so desperately wanted her to pass on so that she could have peace. I said it out of love, if he said it with a nasty tone then I can understand your anger.

The comment about the letters and being put out about moving the bed was totally crappy, and I can't seem to find anything positive about that. Maybe that was his way of lashing out about losing his love.

If he were my dad I probably wouldn't be droppin' to many lines to him. Has he been like this all his life? If not, maybe you can forgive him.

Take care,


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I would like to add a little bit to Anne's, about the tone of voice, etc. with the letters and moving of the bed... Maybe your father was "punishing" your mother for leaving him. :?:

I am so sorry that the whole thing was so drawn out in the "bad". I wish good stuff could last forever and bad things were just a blip on a radar screen, bad things that carry on are horrible to everyone involved.

Your relationship with your father is up to you. I would second/third/fourth/whatever any suggestion that you seek therapy. Therapy NOT to "fix" you, because you are not "broken", but therapy in how to deal with the stress caused by all this. I agree with Carleen on darkness in the heart spreading and do not wish you to have a hardened heart. I am SURE that is not what your mother ever wanted for you...

Take care of you now, focus on getting through the pain and the heartbreak....and maybe, through therapy, you may learn what made your father act the way he did (if it were totally out of character) and someday have a relationship with him again. It will probably never be the same as before, but there is a possibility when you BOTH work through the hurt that you will be able to lean some on each other.

I wish you peace of mind and a return to happiness for your soul,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.