Processing Grief


Dads wake is today.  I have purchased appropriate clothing for my sons, hunted around for dress shoes for same and procured a second dress for myself, as the funeral mass is on Saturday and it is expected to be quite warm.

I am experiencing a flurry of emotions.  It is likely no surprise that I was not exactly close to my dad. I don’t feel any loss of a relationship, per se.  No loss of phone calls, fun times, card games, conversation.  Yet he was my dad. The only one I had. For better or for worse, he was Daddy.

Dad was a complicated man.  He was a Gemini, like me. He had an incredibly difficult start to life being born in WWII Poland.  He set foot on American soil when he was 5 years 11 months old.  He spent 12 days at sea with his mother on the SS Ernie Pyle.  His mother married not once, but twice, while she lived here in the States. The first marriage produced a set of identical twin sons 11 years younger than my Dad. They were related, yet not.  Different generations and entirely different life beginnings caused them to be almost strangers to each other. My father, the bastard child, was a 1950s rebel without a cause while his younger brothers were over protected highly sheltered nerds.

I am touched, deeply, by the showing of support for me, my mother and my siblings. Friends and family have been dropping off food to the house while others make touching entries into my fathers guest book. The memories, the silly memories, the good ones of my dad come to me at the oddest moments.  When the memories are not there, the expectation that he is still here is ever-present.  Last night I went to call my mom and experienced a flash of panic as I realized i dialed the house phone and that the ringing would wake my Dad.  I then realized I could now call my mother’s house freely as Dad is no longer there to hear it ring.

I was a tad bit annoyed at the local papers that had edited our obituary. I had put very specific items in that listing and became angry that they might have removed one of those important words. They did not.  They kept in the fact that he had fourteen children, the first of which is my daughter.

I did inform my daughter that her grandfather had died. It was brief and to the point. I did make a point of letting her know what he died of and that one portion of this illness was indeed genetic.

There was no response. No offer of condolences, no “gee, thanks for letting me know”. Just dead air.

While I must admit this saddened me, I was not completely surprised. I did not let her know out of any favor to her or even with the expectation I would get a condolence in return. I offered it because it is who I am, what I believe is the right thing to do, and how I want to be known. I did it for me.

Yet with that, I felt slightly bitch slapped by adoption once again.  I will never get used to the lack of feeling and caring that it creates between parties. I will never understand the depth of anger/denial/avoidance/whatever that prevents a person from expressing a simple condolence. They don’t print this stuff in those happy adoption brochures. The professionals offer no guidance on dealing with such feelings.  They don’t tell expectant mothers “Your child will be so happy to be adopted, have such a good life, that when you notify them a member of their family has died, they wont care one bit! Isn’t that fabulous!”

It simply makes me sad. How unfortunate for all concerned, most of all for future expectant mothers who will never be told what adoption is truly all about.

9 Thoughts.

  1. So sad to hear that on top of the pain of the loss of your father, there is this additional pain to bear.

    I hear adoptive parents say “family bonds aren’t made by blood alone” a lot. I wish they understood that blood bonds aren’t broken by adoption either.


    • Agreed Margie but I suspect to understand that the would have to also understand alot of other not so pleasant things about adoption. Its easier to live in a fairy tale.

  2. Oh Suz,

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. No matter who they are in our life, losing a family member can be so hard and to have, as always seems to happen adoption crap pile on top of it, just really . . . sucks.

    I’m thinking of you during this time and wishing I could offer more than simple cyber hugs to get you through!

  3. One of the most meaningful signs to me of the coldness of my son’s heart was when my father died. Like you I wrote and told him and heard absolutely nothing back. Even his father sent me a very nice note. I do not think you should assume it is the happiness in their current situations that makes them behave this way. And I agree with you, it is very sad and should be part of what goes into truly informed consent if any woman or girl is considering adoption.

    • UM – I was being sarcastic. How could agencies possibly explain that in advance – truthfully – and still acquire babies for their waiting customer families? I doubt they could. So they sugar coat everything – hence my sarcasm. I dont for a second think my daughter is over the moon with joy at the death of my dad. I do believe adoption has made her unable to communicate with me even at the most basic human level – as in “my sincere condolences on the loss of your dad”. Strangers on the internet offered that much.

  4. How hurtful that your daughter cannot even offer condolences. It boggles my mind. I’m sorry Suz.

Comments are closed.