Dear Barb – Relationship Death

Dear Barb:

Hi, I recently attended a funeral of a family friend and, while there, was appalled to hear one of the family members talking negatively about the person. And she was speaking this way about other family members as well. She actually cornered me and began criticizing some of the family members. For example, she said this person is bipolar, that one is overweight etc. She even trash talked the man who had passed away, saying he would be spending 25 years in purgatory for what he did. I was very uncomfortable and found it difficult to get away from her. Why would someone do that at a funeral? I just listened to her, not really knowing what to say. What would be the right thing to do in that situation? Darin

Hi Darin:

That would definitely be uncomfortable and not appropriate behaviour for a funeral, of all places. She obviously has issues with her family members and chose to air her grievances at the funeral. Perhaps she felt she had a captive audience. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong way to handle this behaviour. Attempting to distance yourself was an appropriate approach, as you don’t want to make a scene by saying anything to her. This person definitely has some deep-seated issues related to her family, and especially the deceased, for which she may need counseling. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do, as these are her issues to work out. Thanks for writing, Darin.

Dear Barb:

My adult daughter and I have had a tumultuous relationship through the years and every time she gets mad at me she decides not to speak to me. Sometimes for months at a time. She says I can see my grandchildren any time I want, but we all know how that works. If your mom doesn’t want you to see someone, she doesn’t have to say anything, but most times it won’t happen. I am so frustrated with this situation, I have reached out to my daughter on a couple of occasions and she says we need some space. I really feel that there is nothing more I can do to heal my relationship with her and I have accepted that, but I do want to maintain contact with my grandchildren. My daughter and I have been to counseling a few times and nothing seems to work. She just expects something from me that I am not able to give her. Not sure how to work my way through this situation while maintaining a relationship with my grandchildren. Thanks, Donna

Hi Donna:

It is so sad and unfair when people choose to expose their children to this anger and resentment. I suspect your daughter has problems with other intimate relationships in her life and probably would benefit from counseling to help her learn to work through these issues rather than just running away. I can understand your frustration, as she is deciding how things will progress. She has the control and you are expected to wait until she decides to allow you to see her and the children again. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do, except try to maintain contact with your grandchildren by sending text messages or phone calls and trying to arrange meetings with them when possible. I would suggest you seek counseling as well in order to accept and manage this unfortunate situation. Good Luck!

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