Alison's dad was diagnosed with cancer many years ago. She knew he was in the end stages of the disease. His death did not scare her, but his funeral and seeing the rest of her family freaked her out.
Approximately eleven days before he passed away, Alison went to say goodbye to her dad in hospice. She was surprised at how happy he was to see her. Their visit went well until her sibling called him. She watched as her dad became agitated during the phone call. After he hung up, he lashed out at Alison. The rest of the visit went downhill from there.
Alison knew this was the last time she would see her dad, so she focused on staying calm, being present, and making the most of the situation. Her dad told her she had to get along with her sibling after he passed away. Alison knew she wasn't the difficult one but appeased her dad by telling him she would do her best to get along with them.
Alison stood over her dad's hospital bed, reached for him, wrapped her arms around him, and said, "Dad, I love you. Thank you for everything." He started to cry and said, "I love you, too. Be a good girl, Alison." God. She hated it when he told her to be a good girl. She had to focus on what was important now. She could feel her throat closing as her eyes welled up, and she replied, "I will, Dad." She kissed his cheek and said goodbye. She took a deep breath and sighed. Her relationship with her dad was volatile, but today she got the loving, drama-free ending she wanted.
It was the best time for her to leave. Soon, her dad would start blaming her for things she had not done. Whatever it was, her sibling probably had done it and convinced her dad that she was the culprit.
After Alison's dad died, she felt a sense of relief. She knew that was an uncommon admission, so she kept it to herself. Her hospice visit had left her feeling fulfilled, so she chose not to attend her dad's funeral. She knew her decision was wildly controversial and that her family and family's friends would be shaming, gossiping, and speculating about why she had not attended. She knew the truth, and that was all that mattered to her.
A few weeks after her dad's death, Alison learned about the details of his estate. She hoped her dad had split his estate equally among his offspring. However, her sibling, his golden child, had made out like a bandit. Her dad had given them the majority of this estate. Alison's dad treated her as a second-class citizen and continued that tradition by giving her significantly less than her sibling. How did her dad manage to have the last word and upset her again after his death?
Two Years Later.
Alison was still bitter and angry after her dad passed away. She didn't realize it until two of her close friends began to call her on it. Her friend, Meg, had listened to Alison talk about her family and gifted her a book about narcissistic family structures. She believed it could help Alison make sense of her complicated relationship with her dad and invited her to write a letter to her dad after she finished the book. The letter was to help Alison process her loss.
Alison was uncomfortable with Meg's gift and suggestions, but her life wasn't working, and she had nothing to lose. She started to read the book and immediately connected with it. Wow! The author had described her narcissistic family perfectly: her dad was the narcissist, her mom was the people-pleaser, her sibling was the golden child, and Alison was the scapegoat. After reading the book and doing additional research, she saw her story and family differently. Now, she knew the truth: she was not a problem, but her family structure was.
Now, there was so much she wanted to say to her dad. She started to write the letter, and it quickly poured out of her. She had no outline and no smooth transitions between topics. She just wrote and wrote and wrote to get what she wanted to say out of her and onto the paper. She dumped her confusion, anger, rage, shame, sadness, and grief into the letter.
Alison was nearly finished with her letter when she reached out to Meg to ask if she would witness her reading her letter out loud outdoors. Meg agreed. They met in a park near the lake on a sunny spring day. Alison wanted to face the lake while reading her letter. She thanked Meg for encouraging her to read the book and write a letter. It had taken some time for her to process it, but she had figured some things out.
Meg winked and said sarcastically, "Well, it's about time!" And they both laughed. Alison said, "No, for real. I'm ready to let go of my suffering, and I want to look at the water while doing it, so get out of my way." And they laughed some more.
Meg hugged Alison, stepped back, and listened as Alison started reading her 11-page letter.
Alison began, "Dear Dad, I want to start by saying...."
There are many ways to process loss, like Alison processing the loss of her dad after she discovered some new information that changed how she saw herself and her family. If you or someone you know is processing loss, consider a gift box filled with positive rituals, care, and love. Sometimes, the simple act of giving one of our gift boxes helps someone find a way of processing loss.
Thank you for reading,
Founder @ Robiins
Processing loss. One gift box at a time.™