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Sister's Death - Dealing with Dad's grief


ModKonnie

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Hello,

I find myself in search of a clear perspective, and hoping someone out there might be able to offer me some advice, strength, hope... something, anything.

So here is my story. My half-sister passed away last October from a drug OD. She had been an addict for years. She was nearly 30, and had been in rehab several times, completely detoxing at least 4 times. Her drug of choice was narcotic prescription medication. She didn't want the help, and she didn't want to get better. We tried for years to help her, to encourage her to get better, to support her. But nothing worked. She had a young son (cute as can be), that she loved dearly, but did not know how to be a good mom. Her love simply was not enough, and she was too engaged in her drug habit to understand that a good parent must first be ale to take care of themselves before they can take care of another.

My sister was 5 years older than me, and couldn't be more different. She struggled through her childhood, got involved with the wrong groups of people. Lacked motivation, aspiration, and basically always looked for the easy way out of things. She blamed all of her shortcoming on everyone else, and tried to pin everything she could on my dad. She was very manipulative, and she used him to get things she needed and wanted. He paid for her bills, her car payment, gave her a car, furnished her home, bought her clothes, groceries... you name it. He knew he was enabling her, but couldn't bear not helping her, especially since she had a a young son.

The months leading up to her death, my dad became more and more overwhelmed with my sister. She had gotten a DUI and was being charged with child abuse because my nephew was in her car. she was being investigated by child protective services for separate reasons. She had been involved in fights with her new boyfriend. She was fired from her job for stealing money. Basically things were bad. My dad had had some serious conversations with her telling her she needed to get her life together, if not for herself, then at very least for he son. She turned the conversation around to make him feel like it was all his fault for her problems. That made him mad, and one of those conversations could have very well been the last they had had.

I could go on to describe the traumatic events that proceeded, but that seems, at least for now, unimportant to the story. Anyway, it has been over 6 months now, and we're all still hurting in our own ways. It seems so unreal, and to know that death is so permanent is more strange than ever. My dad is by far having the hardest time with this. It is very frustrating, but it appears as though he doesn't want to get better. He doesn't want to let himself return to normalcy. Instead, day in and day out is a full blown pity party. He keeps saying things like, "this is what I get for being a bad parent," and "my happy days are over."

I, along with others, have tried to continually remind him that he tried so hard, that it was in no way his fault. That her death was a result of her actions, not his. On and on, stuff like that. He has had several trips to the bar, where I have had to be the driver to go get him. In his drunken state, he talks about how he failed as a parent, and how he is so terrible. And he mentions lots of stuff about her. Like "this was the last place I saw her alive," and "its been 'x' amount of days/months since she died." Off-the wall comments that are not positive.

He has been seeing a therapist for several months now, but it seems like she is only encouraging him to continue to wallow in his sadness. She is not encouraging him to move forward. He has been giving no "homework," no positive tasks to focus on. I am frustrated to say the least. I know he is hurting, and I know he is sad, and he has every right to grieve. I know we all grieve in our own ways, but I cannot help but be frustrated. He has so much to live for. He has 3 other children (myself included). He has 3 grandkids with a 4th on the way. I am getting married soon. Our brother is graduating college. So many happy events, but it seems like his half-smiles are always laced with a frown.

I need a fresh perspective, and some help wrapping my head around this. I want to be supportive, but at the same time I'm ready to scream. I am so sad for him, but I want him to know that it is okay to move forward, and it is okay to be happy. Help... Thank you for reading my post. I appreciate any comments.

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Malc,

I am very sorry about your sister. It is a terrible tragedy. I am an addictions counselor at a prison. Addiction is a disease that consumes and controls a person. Their thoughts focus on getting the drug/alcohol needed to satisfy the craving. Thoughts of parenting, being a family member, working, even eating take a backseat when the addiction is in full throttle.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a 12 step program that starts with: We admit we are Powerless over our addiction--that our lives have become unmanageable.

That's what happens when addiction takes over a person--they do not have control over it. That's what happened to your sister, and your father wasn't at fault. It is easy to enable a person without even realizing it. We try to help the person we love; it is hard to not give them money or food when we see them struggle or see them in need. As parents, we try to love them through everything. That's so normal.

But, I can tell you that I deal with addicts every day; When they are sober and clean, they can be completely different people than when their addiction. Today, I listened to a therapy session in which many of them talked about their parents. They wrote letters to their parents, and most thanked their parents profusely for trying to help. Most were saddened and felt terrible about what they put their parents through. They did not blame their parents for their addiction.

Your father might need to try a different therapist. Or, perhaps he should read up on addiction. Maybe it will help him to understand. He may even want try out an Al-Anon meeting, where he will meet others who struggled through the addiction of a loved one. A grief and loss self help group or depression support group may even help him.

You may also want to seek some help and/or join a grief and loss group for support.

We have a forum for parents who have lost their children, including adult children. He would find others here who are struggling in their grief. They may be able to help him.

You can also help him by listening to him, but urge him to stay away from the bars. If he needs medication to temporarily help him, he should go to a professional instead of attempting to "self medicate." Of course, many people do that because they are lost and in dire need of direction. Your loss is new; six months really isn't that long of a time, especially when the loss is so profound like a child. His world has been shattered, and it is going to take him time to learn how to live in his new world without her.

We will be here for you.

ModKonnie

Hello,

I find myself in search of a clear perspective, and hoping someone out there might be able to offer me some advice, strength, hope... something, anything.

So here is my story. My half-sister passed away last October from a drug OD. She had been an addict for years. She was nearly 30, and had been in rehab several times, completely detoxing at least 4 times. Her drug of choice was narcotic prescription medication. She didn't want the help, and she didn't want to get better. We tried for years to help her, to encourage her to get better, to support her. But nothing worked. She had a young son (cute as can be), that she loved dearly, but did not know how to be a good mom. Her love simply was not enough, and she was too engaged in her drug habit to understand that a good parent must first be ale to take care of themselves before they can take care of another.

My sister was 5 years older than me, and couldn't be more different. She struggled through her childhood, got involved with the wrong groups of people. Lacked motivation, aspiration, and basically always looked for the easy way out of things. She blamed all of her shortcoming on everyone else, and tried to pin everything she could on my dad. She was very manipulative, and she used him to get things she needed and wanted. He paid for her bills, her car payment, gave her a car, furnished her home, bought her clothes, groceries... you name it. He knew he was enabling her, but couldn't bear not helping her, especially since she had a a young son.

The months leading up to her death, my dad became more and more overwhelmed with my sister. She had gotten a DUI and was being charged with child abuse because my nephew was in her car. she was being investigated by child protective services for separate reasons. She had been involved in fights with her new boyfriend. She was fired from her job for stealing money. Basically things were bad. My dad had had some serious conversations with her telling her she needed to get her life together, if not for herself, then at very least for he son. She turned the conversation around to make him feel like it was all his fault for her problems. That made him mad, and one of those conversations could have very well been the last they had had.

I could go on to describe the traumatic events that proceeded, but that seems, at least for now, unimportant to the story. Anyway, it has been over 6 months now, and we're all still hurting in our own ways. It seems so unreal, and to know that death is so permanent is more strange than ever. My dad is by far having the hardest time with this. It is very frustrating, but it appears as though he doesn't want to get better. He doesn't want to let himself return to normalcy. Instead, day in and day out is a full blown pity party. He keeps saying things like, "this is what I get for being a bad parent," and "my happy days are over."

I, along with others, have tried to continually remind him that he tried so hard, that it was in no way his fault. That her death was a result of her actions, not his. On and on, stuff like that. He has had several trips to the bar, where I have had to be the driver to go get him. In his drunken state, he talks about how he failed as a parent, and how he is so terrible. And he mentions lots of stuff about her. Like "this was the last place I saw her alive," and "its been 'x' amount of days/months since she died." Off-the wall comments that are not positive.

He has been seeing a therapist for several months now, but it seems like she is only encouraging him to continue to wallow in his sadness. She is not encouraging him to move forward. He has been giving no "homework," no positive tasks to focus on. I am frustrated to say the least. I know he is hurting, and I know he is sad, and he has every right to grieve. I know we all grieve in our own ways, but I cannot help but be frustrated. He has so much to live for. He has 3 other children (myself included). He has 3 grandkids with a 4th on the way. I am getting married soon. Our brother is graduating college. So many happy events, but it seems like his half-smiles are always laced with a frown.

I need a fresh perspective, and some help wrapping my head around this. I want to be supportive, but at the same time I'm ready to scream. I am so sad for him, but I want him to know that it is okay to move forward, and it is okay to be happy. Help... Thank you for reading my post. I appreciate any comments.

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