How to offer condolences?

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pianissimo

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How to offer condolences?
« on: July 11, 2021, 01:54:20 PM »
This seems like a simple question but it's complicated by family relationships. My father's sister-in-law has passed away. I'm not close with the family. But a cousin (my aunt's daughter on the paternal side) who is close to both me and the uncle's family told me to call the two children of the deceased.  This kind of annoyed me.  One thing is that I feel like I'm asked to be fake in some way. I have been out of touch with my uncle's family for so many years.  It feels like bad advice. The other thing is, I'm not feeling great myself. I actually feel sad about any loss and I don't feel like I'm in a state to offer anything. I have been mentally preparing myself to visit my parents next week, and, at least for now, that's all I can do in terms of family relationships. So, I thought of sending my cousins a  text message instead. I know it's not a welcomed method of communication to offer condolences, but a text message feels more sincere to me, given our relationship. I  thought of something along the lines:

"Dear Cousins X and Z
I'm sorry for your loss.
I can't be there  because of the pandemic,but I hope to see you both in person soon."

Do you think this is hurtful in some way?

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Andeza

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2021, 02:22:36 PM »
If you're not close to them you don't have to send a darn thing, no matter what your cousin tells you (an adult) to do. But text is perfectly fine these days for most things where family is spread out or not particularly close, it's not like you're breaking up with somebody. If they choose to be offended by condolences, that's their chosen reaction. It's not on you so long as it's worded respectfully. Matter of fact, you don't have to mention the pandemic even. It's not necessary and just JADEs.

I've had those "you should call so-and-so" conversations before. Usually just say "yeah I should do that sometime" change the subject and then.... don't. :ninja: It's my choice who I spend my time talking to.
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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pianissimo

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2021, 03:40:01 PM »
Thanks Andeza, your message is so validating because I wasn't able to explain the full extent of what "call cousins X and Y" meant to me, even for condolences. The other reason I'm so hesitant to call is because I sense my father in all this. I'm a bit horrified by the reasonable possibility that my cousin might be passing down my father's message knowing she's letting him use my trust for her. I thought she understood me. But, then, it's a funeral.  I can't make sense of the whole thing. It's perfectly OK for them to ask for my support, but why do it in such a manipulative way? What's the call meant to be about? The thought of all this makes me uneasy. I don't want to be fake because I do care, but then I don't want to be taken advantage of either. Perhaps all this just means something nasty is waiting for me. In the past, I would have thought, "Well, it's still about offering condolences, so what's the big deal", but, in the past couple of years, these kinds of manipulative requests ended up hurting me in the long run. So, perhaps I won't call or text them at all.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2021, 03:41:34 PM by pianissimo »

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Andeza

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2021, 03:43:24 PM »
Yeah, in the end you have to do what you're comfortable with, not what other people try to dictate. It does feel like some weird manipulation to back you into some kind of corner. I sense danger.
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2021, 06:56:19 PM »
If you had no plans to call and the suggestion feels "wrong," I wouldn't do it. Maybe send a card or flowers, if that feels appropriate. But I'm with Andeza that it's entirely up to you and what you're comfortable with. It's definitely flying-monkey-ish for your cousin to tell you what to do like that. 

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pianissimo

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2021, 07:11:05 AM »
Thanks Cat of the Canals. I decided not to get in touch with them. I think I will do things my way when it feels right.

The situation in general is weird. Now, it seems like my cousin has been in touch with me for a while, because my father told her to check on me. And, cousin, along with other relatives, are planning to visit where I live, even though I told her a month ago I need the summer to work on my stuff. On the other hand, my mother, who has been in a silly power game about me with my father, texts me random music videos, and asks me to visit me. I'm really annoyed about my cousin. They seem to be reaching out, but the way they do it makes me feel lonely.

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Oscen

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2021, 09:04:38 AM »
Agree with all here. It's your life, your actions, and your right to do only what feels right.
Even when genuinely well-meaning, non PD people have told me to do xyz and it felt wrong but I did it, it backfired.
Always do what feels right to you. Because you're still responsible for what happens after that even if it wasn't your idea.

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pianissimo

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2021, 08:39:37 AM »
I came across other posts about what is best to do about funerals in these kinds of family systems. I didn't know funerals were a thing in all this. I didn't make the call or send a text. Knowledge is power. But, it's quite unbelievable.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2021, 08:48:36 AM by pianissimo »

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2021, 08:52:20 AM »
Oh yeah, funerals are ripe for FOG. Emotions often running high, there’s a sense of etiquette and expectation.

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Oscen

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2021, 01:04:49 PM »
Oh yes, good point about funerals Call Me Cordelia!
Death in general - funerals, wills, the whole she-bang.
Death is like a picnic for emotionally abusive people!  :barfy:

It's a sensitive topic in general so everyone is tiptoeing around and so they get a free pass if they explode or have an emotional meltdown, but also get to control what others do, how they behave, and attack people saying they're not behaving as they "should". Best of both worlds for them.

Both sides of my family had issues with the wills when my step-grandfathers died and left money to our grandmothers, without telling their blood-relatives about it, who weren't wise to their father/grandfather's games and use of money to control them. They just felt betrayed and attacked our grandmas. It got ugly. Twice!! 
:stars:

And we held a memorial as a sort of funeral substitute for my father's stepfather and my mother was just in top supply-harvesting mode, not asking me how I was but telling me to stand at the front and look sad, the implication being that it would make our family look good. I was 15! Sooooo not healthy. :sadno:

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pianissimo

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2021, 08:18:04 PM »
Yes, FOG nearly made me go against my gut feeling. I also realize my father uses the FOG on me a lot. Even before I knew about narcissism, I was aware he was scaring me to making certain decisions, but I never realized he was using obligation and guilt too. It's good to know what I thought depressed feelings around my parents are actually obligation and guilt. This might make it more tolerable to be around them. I will report results.

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pianissimo

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2021, 09:02:55 PM »
Just a follow up.

So, it seems like I was right that it was my father who wanted me to call my cousins about condolences. What makes all this difficult is that I actually want to be involved in all this and I want to reconnect with aunts, uncles and cousins in the paternal side of the family. In the end, I didn't call anybody because I realized the way I would rather do this would be to go visit them for an hour and, then, take my leave. So, I thought perhaps I could do that when I visit parents next week. Cousins are four-hour drive away from where my parents live.

Lately, I have been kind of onto my father's narcissistic traits. We don't have a fight out in the open, but, there is tension. What happened with this one is, he called me yesterday to tell me he would not be at home next week because he would be with my uncle and cousins (the mourning house). He then asked me if I knew my uncle's wife (aunt) has passed away. Practically, he wanted  to know if I was conciously not giving a call to cousins. I said, yes, and told him, then, I would cancel my plan to visit them next week. My mother also said she had something else going on.

But, since then, I started to feel disconnected from family and relatives, and felt the need to be around them. In these kinds of moments, I feel like I should make effort and find a way to be around them. So, I thought perhaps I should do this my way. One reason I didn't feel like calling my cousins on my father's request through my another cousin was because it felt inauthentic.

So, today, I called my father and shared my idea about visiting my uncle and cousins in person next week. But, he took my suggestion to the next level and suggested I visit my grandfather, my mother's father, too. Well, the thing about my grandfather is that he and my mother became estranged due to very painful events that affect us (both her and me) to this day. Upon my father's suggestion, I gave my grandfather a call last year. He is in his deathbed, so I though he needed a lot of support. But, from what he told me on the phone, I gather he needs to know if I'm still a decent woman or not, having spent several years abroad and God knows up to what. He seems to have these kinds of things in his conscience. Upon this call, I told my father I didn't feel comfortable talking to him again and that I don't blame my mother for not wanting to be in touch with him. Above everything else, to do these kinds of things, I would need real emotional support, but I definitely don't feel like being vulnerable around my father. Anyways, when I called my father today, I said that perhaps I would come next week, and would take a coach to visit my uncle and cousins, and return home the same day. But, he pushed his plan, including a visit to grandfather. After the call, I realized the potential problem and how it all would relate to his behaviour pattern. I would insist on skipping the option to carpool with him and brother when they drive to uncle's place and opt for taking the coach when I feel like visiting them. Then, my father would try to convince me how dangerous or inconvenient it would be for me to take a coach. I wouldn't  yield.  He would end up yelling at me as if taking the coach would be the biggest mistake of my life.

Anyways. I feel bad about my disconnection to the family these days. I turned on myself again and started to have ideas like perhaps I'm too sensitive, perhaps I should be more assertive, perhaps it's OK if the whole thing turns into a scream match, if I end up crying at the top of my voice, if I snap at my father and everybody else in the funeral home, because, at least, I would be there, and that counts as something. But, then, especially when it comes to father, I don't seem to do well when it comes to asserting my boundaries. Like, I wasn't able to tell him that I didn't want to visit my grandfather. I have lots of confusion around these issues probably because there is trauma there. I don't know. I'm wondering if there is some kind of emotinal abuse going on between father and I. I feel like if I don't do this, I will be on my own for the rest of my life.  He doesn't say this, he even told me he leaves it all up to me, that it's OK if I can't make it. He thought it's better if I give cousins a call. I don't even know what I'm fighting here.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2021, 09:36:26 PM by pianissimo »

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Oscen

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2021, 06:18:48 PM »
Hi Pianissimo,

It sounds like you're good at saying what you want and not caving in.
From what you're saying, your father sounds controlling, ie wants you to be driven by him, literally putting him in the driver's seat.
I know I wouldn't want to be around that much. I don't think you're being sensitive.

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pianissimo

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Re: How to offer condolences?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2021, 10:11:16 AM »
Thanks Oscen, I felt like I was rambling, I hate it when I'm indecisive. It's weird that I feel like I'm being too much even in this forum. So your response made me feel like it's OK to ramble and be indecisive and that I'm not too much  :)