I Just Found Out My Estranged Father Died....(this Is a Bit Long, Sorry!)

Updated on January 27, 2011
T.R. asks from Altamonte Springs, FL
15 answers

Short history: I haven't been in contact with my father for over 15 years, since the passing of my Mother (from breast cancer, I had just turned 25). He got remarried just shortly before my mother died. My parents were divorced about a year or 2 before he got remarried, and he has been out of state the entire time. For his reasons, he decided not to keep in touch with me (or my brother, his only 2 children). I have sent many cards and letters with no response, this has been a heartbreaking situation for me (especially the first 5 years or so), to the point were I gave up. But then after a year or 2, I would send another card... The last card I sent was Christmas 2008, a photo card of my daughter, now 3yrs old. I slathered it with contact info, of course, I got no response. Last night I got really sad, as I do off and on, and felt the need to "want" my dad. So, today I did a lot of internet research, and sadly came across his death certificate. He died only 2 months ago, and left his house to his wife. I have been crying almost all day, because what ever little hope I created in my mind about possibly seeing him again, is gone. I always wondered if he even got any of my cards/letters? Did his wife intercept? I don't think he ever got the mail himself, he never did when I lived in his home, up until the age of 17. I know they were delivered because nothing ever came back to me, or wasn't deliverable by the post office. It's the same address that is on the Deed of public records, I know out of 15 years, they got lots of my cards! Anyway, now I am left with guilt, that I never did more to get his attention, other than correspondence, maybe I should have just flown out to see him, but I never did. All hindsight, I know. Now, I have this need to send this woman my awareness to his passing, to let her know that I know he is gone (since I know she will never tell me). My first thought is to send flowers with a note, but, what should this note say? Obviously I have some anger towards her (I want to instinctively be mean), but I would think that she loved him too, so, I just don't know what to try and say to her. One thing that I think of, (as I cry) is that now when I talk to him (in heaven) he can actually hear me, I don't have to wonder if he got my mail. And a strange thing, he died 7 days before my uncle (and God father),coincidence, I know... Should I send flowers? How else can I express my thoughts to this woman (his wife)? And should I? Thank you for listening...

What can I do next?

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answers from Dover on

If you feel the need to reach out (she was your dad's wife/your step-mom), send a sympathy card or a note.

Say something like, I haven't heard from you or dad in so long and can only hope that he received my correspondence before his passing. Please know that I share your loss because after all this time, I still loved him very much.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Odessa on

First of all, I am so sorry for your loss, and I understand your pain (almost)

I am in almost exact situation with my father with only two differences...1.) he is still alive and 2.) He lives a mile and a half away from me in a small town of 30k people. I, too, have written letter after letter, to no avail. If we bump into each other in public (him, my stepmother or my half brother) they will literally turn and walk the other way. I have 4 children, ages 11 and under, that they have never met. I wish I could tell you why...I wish they *would* tell me why...I honestly have no clue as to what I did. (This has been going on since I was 18 and moved out of my dad's house in a huff because, I thought, I was an adult now and could do whatever I wanted...Yes, I was a jerk, but that was also 15 years ago. Just to clarify, I have never killed anyone of course, nor have I stolen or anything else...the worst trouble I have gotten in to was a speeding ticket.) The last time I contacted my father was about 4 years ago, and he wrote me back demanding to never contact him again (still, with no reason why.) 18 months later, I learned from a cousin that he was facing colon cancer. I desperately wanted to reach out, but I still haven't...not to him. (I found my brother on facebook not long ago and made another attempt, and still have yet to receive a response.)

Many people have asked "He is basically in your neighborhood...why don't you just go to his house?" My response is...he knows where I am at and how to get a hold of me...I am not going to deny the request of an old, sick man.

Anyway, so being in almost the same make and model of a boat that you are in, I wanted to reach out to you. And let you know you are not alone. Advice? You can send a card or flowers, but don't expect anything back. do it for closure. Or, find out where he is buried and visit his gravesite and have your closure there. I agree with others, your dad was a grown man. Even if she is the Wicked Witch of the West, fact of the matter is that, had he wanted contact during those 15 years, he would have found a way to find you. It's hard to hear and accept, but it is true. We don't want to beleive that daddy's treat their daughters this way, they aren't supposed to. It is easy to try and convince yourself that this is the other wife's fault, because real daddy's would never do that.

But some do, darlin...and I am so sorry than you (and I and however many others) were chosen to be the daughter's of dad's like that.

Take care, and I hope you find some peace. big hugs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

First and most importantly, I am sorry for your loss.

I would strongly suggest that you NOT reach-out to this woman. She is not a relation to you, nor is she a friend to you. There is a very good chance that she will not respond and you will be left with even more undone details.

I would suggest, however that you write a letter to your father expressing your thoughts, feelings, anger, frustration and love. Tell him about your life and your family. Tell him all of it and then tuck the letter away. It can be very cathartic to "get it all out".

In truth, you are mourning the loss of someone you don't really know anymore, but more so you are mourning the loss of what could have been salvaged. You won't find that fulfillment in a person who has shown you no care or concern and who didn't have the courtesy to notify you that your father was dying.

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answers from Tampa on

You won't know the truth until you contact your Step Mother. Send flowers and a note if it makes you feel better. Just keep the note simple. Honestly, I would just say something like this: I loved my Father as much as you did and wish I could have been a part of his life. Please contact me with his burial information as I would like to be able to visit his grave. Thank you for loving him.
If she is decent at all she will contact you. If not then just let it go and know that you did your part.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

I think you need to do what you feel in your heart. If you want to send flowers and a card that would be great. Keep it simple on the card... Sorry for you loss as we all the mourn his passing. or something like that.. your acknowledging her loss and both of your pain.

I cannot say why he chose his course of actions only he can. But my SIL's grandpa just passed away a few months ago and it was kinda the same situation. Only he lived in the same town as the family that only has 2,000 people in it. After leaving the family and cutting off all contact with all of the 8 kids while they were little. A few reached out to him, but never got a response also. After his passing his care giver brought over his things to one of the kids. In it he had a year book from every year that the kids were in school, all of the newspaper clippings from various events they were in, all of the wedding and baby notices of his "grandkids" that were in the paper. All of the few things that the kids had sent him to reach out to him. In the midst of it there was a letter he wrote to the kids ( few of them that he updated over the 40 years he was out of thier life) saying how sorry he was for leaving them and that his pride and guilt got in the way of contacting them again and the fear of rejection even though they reached out. So what Im getting at is that over time he may have felt the same.. guilt for not responding after so long. The sad thing is none of his kids or grandkids were at his funeral. My heart goes out to you seeing what they went through. Your right.. he can now see and hear you from heaven!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

First, my condolences to you on your loss. It sounds like a very difficult situation.

Personally, I wouldn't contact his wife. His wife did nothing to inform you that your father died, which is rotten. I don't care if she's never met you, she knew you existed and had your address, so at least you should have received a personal note in the mail. Leaving you to find out online is horrible. I would not send flowers or anything.

You are the one who should be receiving condolences. This is your father, so don't worry about offering condolences to others who haven't been kind to you.

Just my two cents ...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

What do you hope to get out of sending her a letter? It will not turn out as you hope, she will not respond and you will not feel better . I would suggest going to your fathers grave and either write him a letter saying everything you have wanted to say to him and leave it there or go there and have it out with him. Yell, laugh, cry, do what you need to do to let this pain go. You did nothing wrong (at least from the info you gave). Also talk with your brother, maybe he can help. Maybe the two of you can go out and have a drink to dad, remember the good times and let him go. I wish you the best of luck in dealing with this horrible situation.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

So sorry for your losses. God bless you and your brother & kids. I agree with Lynn. Send the card if that will make you feel better. Be the person you want to be. Don't expect a response. If you are sending the letter to get a response, than maybe I would advise against it. Krista is right as well...you are mourning the "what could have been". Nurture the relationships that are healthy around you. If you and your brother get along...have him play the BEST UNCLE role in your daughter's life. I think that will make you happy. I pray that you find some man that can be a strong nurturing role in your life too. I know none will replace your Uncle/Godfather or Father. We all need someone to lean on every once in awhile. Just don't ever be afraid to communicate your needs. God bless you 1babygirl ~ B. mom of 6 year b/g twins

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answers from New York on

I would send her a letter for your own good, to help give yourself closure. I would consider it a forgiveness letter. Forgiving her is the best thing you can do for yourself regarding the resentment you have towards her. Which is completely understandable. So you voice your resentment towards her but you forgive her in the same breath and then you let it go. Peace to you, God Bless.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am so sorry for you loss...I can't even imagine the pain...But, I have no advice for you. There have already been some super responses and I see both sides. I do know you have to find forgiveness for YOURSELF because you cannot live with guilt (which you have nothing to feel guilty about), hurt or anger. You have your own live to live and children of your own to love! Continue to seek out that peace for you...You cannot "fix" anything anymore when it comes to this topic. But you CAN heal yourself. Much love and prayers going your way...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm so sorry for your loss. You basically lost him twice and I'm so sorry. There is really nothing you can do. This woman is either mean spirited or has mental issues. I'd let it go. If you want to contact her, maybe you can sleep on it for a bit before going forward with this. If she's mean spirited, you might get hurt trying to reach out to her. Or if she totally ignores you, it might add to your pain. I don't know. But either way you want to handle this will be fine. Blessings!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I am so sorry for your loss.

Based upon what you have written, I am not clear as to why you are angry with his wife. Unless I am missing something, you have no reason to think ill of his wife. It's even possible that she urged him to contact you. Reality is...you don't know.

Your father was an adult and was responsible for his actions.

I am not sure what I'd say in a card, though I would want to send one too. I would probably labor to write something along the lines of "I just read of Dad's passing and was so sad that we never reconnected, that he never met his grand-daughter. I am sorry for your loss" but possibly warmer.

I'd want to know that if there WERE any nasty feelings towards me that I'd done NOTHING to deserve them - ever.

Hugs & good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

My deepest sympathy to you and your family with the losses. To loose an Uncle and Father~ even distant, is difficult. You need to do whatever makes you feel better! You tried and maybe there is a reason like pride that he didn't respond to your letters. Unfortunately, he lost out on your lives and seeing his grandchild! I think you got a lot of excellent advice, but the note Rosemary wrote was good and gives opportunity for his wife to respond. If you don't get any response that is terrible, but you tried!!! I think you were a wonderful daughter to someone that never got to have a relationship with you and your family! It is so sad, but he is the looser here and you need to do whatever makes you happy! Hugs and please know that you did everything you could to make a difference!!!

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answers from San Francisco on

If it will make YOU feel better, then express your thoughts to this woman. Don't expect much back though. It doesn't appear that she did much all these years to promote your father's relationship with you, so you don't need to be friendly now.

The loss you are feeling is the loss of what might have been. Not what WAS.

DON'T FEEL GUILTY. You never did more to get his attention? You know that's backwards thinking, right? HE should have been the one working to get YOUR attention. I'm sorry he wasn't much of a dad to you. But if he's watching you in heaven, HE's the one who should be feeling guilty.

Sorry, but your father wasn't that great a guy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

Mama B said mostly what I was thinking. I was crying as I read your post. My children's father left us in 2003 - he has very little to do with us. He is in CA with his new life. Sometimes my son will ask "Do you think Daddy is dead?" because he hasn't heard from him in so long. It breaks my heart that he would treat our children like that. You also have to look at his upbringing. In my ex's case, his father was estranged aswell as his mom would not let him near them so he gave up. Grieving for "what could have been" is so much harder to me that the death it's self. Second wives can be extremely manipulating and jealous and that may be her motivation. If you want to send anything - do it to show that you are the bigger person and not because you are angry at the situation. You cannot control the situation so eventually acceptance will occur. My heart breaks for you. God Bless
M. F

1 mom found this helpful
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