Father-in-law's selfish death- how to get over it?

by Annie Love

My boyfriend's dad died recently of cancer. We had about a year and a half with him from the day he was diagnosed to his death.

My boyfriend is very angry at his late father and I don't know how to help him. Bob, as I'll call him, spent his life working at sea. When he died, many people who the family had never heard of talked of how close they were to him and how much they loved him. Photos emerged of him partying and drinking with women and his family started to believe that he worked away because he preferred it there, and coming home was a chore. He seemed to have led a double life that wasn't discovered until he was gone which devastated my boyfriend and his mother.

Since being diagnosed, he spent all his time either elsewhere with friends, or in his garage working on trains. He spent all the money he had left on gadgets and the trains (which are unfinished and worthless) and spent no time with his family creating memories for them to cherish.

He left them no money to continue without him and he demanded a very expensive funeral.

My boyfriend, instead of being sad about his dad's death, is very angry at how he has left him to look after his mum financially and emotionally, with no support and feeling as though he never cared about them.

His behaviour after the diagnosis was selfish and reckless which I can understand but my boyfriend cannot. He feels his first reaction should have been to comfort his family and try to make up for some of the time they were going to lose.

Bob even wrote his own eulogy, in which he talked only of his wonderful stories from sea and his great friends. There was no mention of his family, which included a 10 year old adopted daughter he was leaving behind, or his elderly wife. My boyfriend had to go against his wishes and rewrite it because he was embarrassed to read it out at the funeral.

How do I support him? What do I say? He can't get answers from Bob, he can't vent his anger to him. There is so much unfinished business and I don't know how to help.

Thanks for listening.

Comments for Father-in-law's selfish death- how to get over it?

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Aug 31, 2018
Acceptance of feelings
by: Jean

When someone in our family passes, we can experience so many different emotions and feelings. As someone who has lost 8 dear close family members in the past 10 years (including my Husband, Mother, Sister), what I have needed most is being loved and just feel all those mixed feelings. Grief is often a complex journey and is different for everyone. So do your best to accept his feelings and they will most likely pass in his own time frame.
Bless you and your Boyfriend. May peace be within you both.

Aug 31, 2018
Working through anger after bereavement
by: Betty from GriefandSympathy.com

Dear Annie,

Thank you for your letter and also thank you to Jean for her supportive message.

Your boyfriend is so lucky to have your love and support at this difficult time. It is not surprising that he feels betrayed.

Continue to listen to his concerns and support him as much as you can. Just being there for him is an enormous help. Anger is a common emotion after a loss. He is vulnerable at the moment and feeling a huge responsibility for his mother and sister. Eventually he will realise his energy needs to be spent on them and the anger will subside, but he needs to vent his feelings in order to move on. His father did not leave them for the other women so in his own way he may have cared for them even though he did not show a sense of responsibility at the end.

Having a diagnosis of only a short time to live can make some people only think of their own wants and needs. They do not realise how it affects the family too.

His mother and sister are very lucky to have such a caring son. He will need time to come to terms with his loss and the loss of respect for his father. He will not want to let his fathers selfishness ruin his and his family's life.

Our very best wishes for all your future plans but remember it does take time to adapt to such a huge change. To discover this level of betrayal makes everything so much harder.

Betty from the Grief team.

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