Dealing with the death of an estranged father

Paul Lines By Paul Lines, 28th Oct 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Bereavement

When a father from whom a child is estranged dies, how is that child meant to deal with this. Perhaps this personal message will help

Being estranged from a child

Dealing with the death of an estranged father is not something that I have experienced. However, my fear is that my daughter will have that experience and it is not something that I would wish upon her or anyone else. It has been ten long years since she last contacted me, with no response to any letters of calls I have made and my fear is that there may not be enough time to heal the wounds and hurt she feels inside. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity of explaining how I feel that one can deal with the death of an estranged father in the form of a letter to the daughter I still love and care for deeply.

The letter

My darling daughter,

It has been so many years since we last hugged and loved each other in person and I do not know whether we will ever share that pleasure again. The blame for that separation if not either of ours, for you were hurting and, because I was part of that hurt, I could not be there to comfort you. However, my greatest fear is that I will pass away before we meet again and therefore wanted to help you deal with the pain and extra burden of distress that this loss might cause you.

If this time arrives and you are left with regret that you could not have been with me sooner, within the years that we were apart, and that there were things you wished you could have said, there are several ways by which I would implore you to deal with this burden.

The first thing you should do is remember. Recall the memories of all the times that we did spend together and you will surely smile at some of the happy occasions we shared, both you and I on our own, and together as a family with your brothers and mother. Like you I have regrets, but time cannot be turned back. However, I would also want you to remember you have never really been without me. Every day since we last met you have been in my thoughts and my love has been with you each step of the way. I have cried when you cried, smiled when you smiled and been happy for all the good things that have happened in your life. Thus you should remember that I have not ever been totally separate from your life.

If you wish to talk to me you can. All you need to do is find a quiet place, away from everyone and the bustle of everyday life and just talk to me, tell me what you feel.

I will be there listening and I will be close. The gentle breeze will be the touch of my hand stoking your golden hair as I use to when you were a child. The silent rain or running stream will be me sharing the tears as we share the sadness together. The early morning sun will be me smiling down on you with love. There will be no anger and hurt, just moments of love that only a daughter and father can experience. That time together away from the troubles of the past will bring peace to me and to your heart, and it will make you stronger.

Alternatively you can write to me. Put down on paper the words you want me to hear and I will come in the night whilst you are sleeping and feel the depth of emotional beneath the words on the page. I will bring comfort to you. There will never be a need to say goodbye, because remember a part of me will always be in you, as you will be in me.

Finally, as you are sitting in that quiet place talking to me, I want you to remember three things above all others. I want you know I have and will always love you and that I in turn know that deep down you have always loved me too. Finally, I want you to know that all the past is over, the hurt is behind us, and no blame or guilt should be attached or felt by you. We can carry each other in our hearts for the rest of time in peace, secure in the knowledge of a special shared love.

Enjoy your journey through this life, for I will always be there.

All my love Dad


Anger, Bereavement, Death, Estranged, Father, Loved One, Personal Experience, Personal Loss

Meet the author

author avatar Paul Lines
Having spent a large part of my working life as a business consultant, I am now a full time freelance writer offering content for on-line and print publishers, as well as focusing on creative writing

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author avatar Anon
11th Apr 2011 (#)

I don't know your situation or circumstances, but reading through this as though it was from my dad just makes me angry. If you truly want to connect with your daughter again, understand that this letter comes across as self righteous and false.

Assuming that your daughter has shut you out because you have made her angry over the course of many years, your way back into her life would begin with the words "I'm sorry, I was an a**-hole." You may feel that the blame is equal, or lies completely with her, but unless you take your share and plenty more, you can't seriously expect to hear from her.

My dad passed away a couple of years ago, the resentment didn't. Indeed, the fact that he'd made himself out to be this ever loving victim so that people thought that my anger unfounded has put strain on my relationship with other family members, and added depth to my resentment of him. You risk your relationship with your daughter going the same way.

Feel free to contact me, I'd genuinely like to help.

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author avatar D
18th Oct 2011 (#)

Hi paul, The above comment from anon, is ironically very self righteous. She wants to get something off her chest and does not genuinely want to help. Anon does not "know" that you are an a-hole. At least you have made an effort to share your feelings. Anybody could quite easily unjustifiably say your daughter is an a-hole. You have extended an olive branch and if your daughter doesnt want to accept it for what it is, then it is a loss to you both... and yes that includes her. I admire the way that you have not pinned blame to anybody paul including the mother. I anticipate things werent particularly smooth running between the mother and yourself for things to have worked out the way they have. Frankly, as sad as it is, if your daughter is like anon, then you may be better off without her. For your daughter's sake and for your sake, I hope she is not. The point is, forget the blameful post by anon and if you like, sure, forget what I have to say other than I hope you find peace eventually whether in this life or later. All the best to you.

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author avatar Pip
21st Feb 2012 (#)

I've just found out that my father who I haven't seen since I was 8 has died. In looking for advice on how to cope with this, I stumbled across your letter. I wish my father had left me something like this, and I truly hope that my own father felt the same way about me. I found your letter deeply moving and helpful.

Please, please do try to make contact with her while you can. Accept the anger and the hurt she may express, because you are the adult in the relationship, no matter how old she is now.

If she won't let you into her life, it doesn't mean she won't remember how much she loved you. Trust me as a daughter facing this situation. And please, get your affairs in order. My own father has left me a legal nightmare, and a totally unimaginably derelict apartment. I can only tell you what I wish my father had left. I found lots of disordered photos of my childhood, put them in an album, annotate them. Remind her of the good times and show her you thought of her.

If you haven't spoken in a long time, she may barely know you. Instead of a letter, leave her a diary, every day, once a week or whenever you think of her or anything you wish you could tell her about your life or what you wish you knew about her, write it down. She may not be able to read it straight away, or all at once, but she will read it eventually, and even if she doesn't it'll be concrete proof that she was still an important part of your life.

I have so many regrets and questions and I feel so guilty about how my father lived and died.I never imagined that I would really never see him again, but too late came far too soon for us. I hope some of this will help you, and your own daughter.

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author avatar Pretty Summer
30th Oct 2013 (#)

Thank you for this letter. My father and I are semi-estranged, mostly because I am still dealing with the pain he has caused me over the years.

I do not know that he and I will ever be truly estranged, but I know that we will never be close. I love the man as my father, but he stopped being my "daddy" or "dad" many years ago. He made a selfish choice to begin our estrangement, and I continue it because I am still learning how to work through the subsequent emotions.
Your letter helps, somewhat, because it reminds me of some truths that I often forget.
I wish you peace.

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