Dear Barb – Rethinking the Benefits from Death

Dear Barb:

I have an adult daughter, with whom I am estranged. We have not spoken for three years. I have never abused or neglected her in any way. If anything I may have been a bit overbearing. Through the years every time something happens in her life, she gets mad at me and doesn’t speak to me. I always initiate reconciliation and do what she wants me to. However this time I have reached a point in my life, where I have to be true to myself. I have contacted her three times and she is not very willing to reconcile and I do not want to beg as I know I did nothing to bring about this situation. Anyway the reason I’m writing you is because I have an insurance policy and my daughter is the beneficiary. I have been considering taking her name off the policy, but I keep changing my mind. I feel that if she doesn’t want me in her life she shouldn’t benefit from my death? I don’t feel comfortable talking about this with anyone in the family, so I’m looking for a second opinion. What should I do?

Thanks, Helen

Hi Helen:

Thanks for your excellent question.

I’m sure this scenario plays itself out time and again in many families, especially between mothers and daughters and fathers and sons. Often people need someone to blame for their mistakes, thus relieving them of the responsibility and leaving them to believe they are the victim. This is not a healthy way to live your life, as we all make mistakes and blaming someone else, does not take the onus off you. I don’t know how old your daughter is, but often as people mature they are able to see situations in a different light, however it doesn’t appear that your daughter has reached this point yet. There really is nothing you can do until she is ready. As far as your insurance policy, you obviously made her the beneficiary for a reason, perhaps simply because she is your daughter and you wanted her to have this. If this is the case, she is still your daughter whether she talks to you or not. Try not to become vindictive, rise above! Besides, as she gets older her thinking will likely change and hopefully you will still be here to give her an opportunity to work through these issues. Unfortunately, if you are not still of this world when she comes to that realization, no amount of money is going to make her feel better. My advice would be to leave the insurance policy as it is, but ultimately you have to do what feels right in your heart.

Good luck Helen.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.