I am not going to cry when my parents die

“I won’t cry when she dies”

I came across a heart-wrenching story shared by a Russian blogger, here it is translated:

“I had a sister when I was younger. I’m the older of the two. My sister was terminally ill from the age of six. And for our parents, she was everything. They never paid attention to me. There was never any praise for my hard work – and I tried, I wanted them to notice how I hard try.

And thank God I tried, because I was able to go to college and get an education.

There were no gifts. My mother often forgot to ask if I’d eaten.

Aged 10, my sister died of leukaemia. I was scared and felt sorry for her, and one day when I was crying, my mother came to the room and said: if it weren’t for you, she would have got more attention. I was 12 then.

Then it began: if it weren’t for you, we would have taken her abroad, she would at least have see the world. If it weren’t for you, we would have bought a house out the country and would have taken your sister there… and so on. My heart sank every time my mother came into my room.

It lasted about a year, then it died down.

But there was a cult of my sister in the house. I grew up and though that it would have been better if I had been the one that died, not my sister. Thank God, my father treated me much better than did my mother. He kept me from going mad. He helped me while I was studying. But then he died; it was his heart.

As soon as I could, I moved out. And now my mother demands attention from me. If I do not call for 2-3 days, she makes a complaint, she says I’m an ungrateful beast.

When I remind her of my childhood, she says: you are a liar! We loved you both equally! I say: try to remember at least one gift that you gave me. She replies: as if I am bothered reminiscing about dolls.

Now she demands that I take her to live with me, because loneliness kills, and she is already sick. It’s true, she’s really sick and angry at the world. I honestly do not know what to do.

On the one hand, she’s still my mother, although she pushed me away all her life, and on the other – I’m afraid that she will spoil my relationship with my husband if she comes to live with us. Whatever she says now, I know she will be horrible to me. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe life has taught her something. I’m really lost. But I know one thing, I do not like her. When she dies, I will not cry.”

Perhaps the narrator has a skewed view of what happened, but what can you expect from any of us when it comes to childhood memories. It’s so easy to blame our parents.

I didn’t have that level of drama in my life, I think. All the same, some of the feelings in the above entry definitely resonate with me. I am confident they resonate with my mother and how her parents treated her: she was the youngest of three girls and no one ever hid the fact that “she was meant to be a boy” from her. And it would resonate with my father: a man not overly suited to formal academic thinking forced to become an engineer – because to not follow his father’s footsteps is an abomination. And countless other people I know: virtually half the people I know well.

I guess there are good stories too. Everyone’s heard of Magdalene laundries in Ireland. One part that everyone forgets is that in a lot of cases, the woman’s family had to be complicit. Her father had to cave into the local priest, bring the poor expectant woman there and disown her – and not everyone did.

I don’t have a painful sibling story. I’ve countless stories of how my parents stood up – or bent over backwards as the case may be – for me. But I also have a painful divorce story. Every once in a while it rears its head. And I am like that too, still feeling guilty for the untameable destructive craziness of one of the parents, still feeling guilty for not being the perfect daughter though I realise the limiting factor there isn’t set by me.

  1. Are we all this fkd up or do I just have a very bad sample?
  2. What do you do with your crazy relatives?

30 thoughts on ““I won’t cry when she dies””

  1. I think we all have experiences that shape us, and we can decide whether it’s to build a strength or a perpetual burden. I read something recently about making choices in difficult situations… think first about who you want to be and pour your heart into that. Then the choices are easy.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Steven Pinker tells the story that when he told an audience that the major influences on how someone turns out as an adult is about 50% generics (nature) and about 50% interacting with others (nurture) but that latter 50% was almost entirely due to out of the home influences, he was accosted by an irate/disturbed mother who asked “So, it doesn’t matter how I raise my children?” And Dr. Pinker said “Well, do you want them to like you when they grow up?”

    Just because we are related to others doesn’t mean we are obligated to them, even very close relatives. While it is true that our parents fed and clothed and housed us and wiped our bottoms when we were young, we were not in a state of suffrage at that point as we didn’t choose to obligate ourselves so. So, my point is that *how* you raise your kids is much more important than the fact that you did and if it was spiteful and uncaring as the story suggests, that comes home to roost later.

    I do not believe the story to be false, although it might be. I had a loving upbringing from parents doing the best that they could, but I have heard stories, myriad stories, that lead me to believe that my situation wasn’t all that common.

    It is fascinating to me that we expend a great deal of effort to make sure every child is taught mathematics, but we don’t give a fig about teaching them to get along with their friends, parents, and children. It is quite sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rational relatives? What, like 1 out of 5? 20% of them, maybe.

    Is it not somewhat sad that bitterness, resentment and hatred are more outwardly powerful, more influential than kindness, forgiveness and love?
    Take a room full of people, 90% of them could be kind and loving, but just 10% of them, 1 out of 10 could be a righteous asshole, belligerent and odious. That whole room’s dynamics change because of that one person.
    Now take a room full of assholes, and leak in one rational, calm and giving person. Will that person have any impact? (Or will the group string that person up from the ceiling if she/he opens their mouth?)

    Given the standard distribution of all human traits, I’m not sure there’s any panacea, or even salve to cure or assuage much of the world’s hatred of each other. Just take all of the world’s religions… most of which have core tenets of kindness and forbearance. But so what?

    Steve above mentions Pinker who claims that humans have become less violent over the centuries. Pinker’s numbers don’t lie, but hell if I can see evidence of it. Let’s face it: humans suck.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “When I remind her of my childhood, she says: you are a liar! We loved you both equally!” Yep. Parents will recreate their own memories in order to get what they need now, (Now Mom’s Lonely!!) and shield themselves from guilt. Heartbreaking story indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dr.

    Many of us can relate back to a less than desirable, even fucked Up childhood. The other side is a great childhood, with insurmountable challenges at adolescence or adulthood. Either way, overcoming adversity and laying the past to rest is the thing we all face. Lisa Feldman Barrett has done some amazing research into emotions and how they work…😎

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve had an ideal childhood. Nothing to complain about. But I do have a lot of friends who’ve had issues with their parents and family. Some even worse than what you describe. It’s so hard when family doesn’t support you. A real sad story.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol. I think I was a real spoiled child. My parents, especially my mom, doted on me. We had ups and downs like any other family, but they did whatever they could for us. And for that, I will always be grateful πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I think not only are we all fkd up, but most of us don’t even know it. The power of the family myth is enormous. I’ve lost count of the amount of families I’ve met where people are profoundly invested in dysfunctional and sometimes highly destructive relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recall some of your own very moving entries. It’s a double edged sword, I think. There is something to be said for a tribe that will unite against external threats. Not every tribe will and some will just result in dysfunctional baggage. I think that to experience love we need to trust people and thus be vulnerable.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Martina, there is a tool to help with the question you posed at the end. It works for every source of pain.
    The suffering has two components:
    1. The situation (this lady’s story; a pain in my body, loss of a job, whatever);
    2. The person’s reaction to it.
    The Buddhist tool of equanimity is to simply accept the first. If that pain in my back is allowed to be there, it is only an unpleasant sensation. If I am desperate to have it go away, then I am suffering.
    Same for emotional pain.


    1. I’ve thought long and hard about this in the past. I think that we all need a dose of acknowledging reality before deciding whether it must go away: “This is my situation. Let’s study it without pushing it away”. This certainly takes some of the distress away, but it doesn’t fundamentally change external circumstances. I find this comfort slightly dangerous, almost like it washes away one’s motivation to change the world around them.

      I am very curious as to what you think about this.


  9. I don’t believe that dysfunctional families are really dysfunctional at all, but the norm. A person with no siblings may resent his parents for that choice. I was one of 8 children, and hated my childhood largely because of being lost in the midst of so many kids. The trick I think is to understand your parents are people and no training manual is provided upon birth. Sadly, this understanding takes many years for most of us.


  10. Me short:

    – was an outsider in school.

    – Mother was a teacher. She could not take it and went manic depressive now called bipolar –

    – Unfortunately her husband – my father – is not a warm person. Which I belief she needed.

    – I had conflict with my immediate family several times. Because they had a different point of view

    I realized that we all have our own view on things, way of handling things. We have also forced on us views.

    Some people are more sane then others.

    Everything lingers on. old habits and that.

    We have faults, sins, and despite 2000 years of christianity – not to mentioning Buddhism or others – have not been taught how to deal with them.


  11. Such a sad story. I think all families have their dysfunctional elements. My therapist used to say to some of her clients who worried about messing up their children, “You will f__ them up. All parents do. Just pay for their therapy when they’re older!” πŸ˜‰


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