Dear Barb—Reluctant to Reconcile

Dear Barb:

I am the youngest of three who are all in our thirties now.  My oldest brother and I do not get along.  He has always been abusive and demeaning to me, so I decided to stop speaking to him.  That was five years ago.  Recently we learned my dad is not doing well.  Dad has been fighting prostate cancer for almost 10 years, but it seems to have gotten worse recently.  I have a good relationship with my parents and love them very much, but my mom told me that my dad’s dying wish was for my brother and me to make amends.  I am reluctant to do that.  My life has been so peaceful without the arguing and put-downs from my brother.  I have managed to see my dad at times when my brother wasn’t there, but as the end is coming, we will both want to be there.  I know my brother loves my dad and since he was the “golden boy” I’m sure he will be there till the end.  How can I make sure my dad has peace at the end of his life, without having to reconcile with my brother? Looking forward to your advice, Lisa. 

Hey Lisa:

So sorry to hear about your dad’s illness.  Prior to deciding to cut ties with your brother, did you do everything possible to resolve the issues you had with him.  Cutting off ties with a family member should never be taken lightly.  Did you go for counselling together or separately, to try to find a way to maintain some type of relationship? Unless there was physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, you should always try to maintain a relationship.  I don’t sense a feeling of regret coming from you, so perhaps your relationship with your brother was toxic, and, in that case, you may be better apart.

You do seem to be having feelings of resentment, though, which is evident when you refer to your brother as the “golden boy.” I feel you both need to see a professional counselor and if you already have and nothing was resolved, find another counselor.  In the meantime I would suggest you both form a limited truce for your father’s sake.  At least then he will be able to have some sense of peace in the knowledge that you are attempting to reconcile.  Sibling rivalry is a normal part of the sibling relationship.  There are a lot of family dynamics that contribute to the relationship and sometimes we simply do not like our brother or sister, for a variety of reasons, but estrangement should be a last resort.  Good Luck Lisa, hope I was able to help.