- 2 months ago
Another vote for respecting his wishes.
I say this as someone who is estranged from a parent. I realize the situation is a bit different since I’m the one who cut contact, and that we don’t know the full story here (e.g. whether she had valid reasons for cutting contact), but I’m going to put myself in this man’s shoes anyway. If I were dying, I wouldn’t want to deal with my mom trying to find a way back into my life at an already stressful and sad time. She had my first 18 years to treat me well and she couldn’t do that, why would I owe her another chance? She’s had the time we’ve already been estranged to take accountability for her actions and take steps to change her toxic behaviors, and she hasn’t, so how meaningful would it be to get that only because she knew I was dying?
I also want to correct the misconception that reconciliation (as in rekindling a relationship) is the only way to avoid bitterness. That’s not the case. You can accept and even forgive past hurt, and yet not want to reenter a relationship that has caused you hurt in the past (and likely one that you believe would continue to hurt you if you rekindled it). That is perfectly healthy. Acceptance doesn’t mean that what happened was okay, and it doesn’t mean you have to want to hug the person who hurt you. The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu have written about this. While we may see stories sometimes of people who become friends with the person who killed their relative and think that is the only “evolved” response, most people won’t react like that to a traumatic event/series of events. For many people the aim is just to accept that it happened, and be able to move on with one’s life without harboring ill will towards the person who caused us pain. Forcing a reconciliation, especially if the person hasn’t really changed and is not actually apologetic for their behavior (and let’s assume they are not since they have not taken initiative to express that so far) will likey just put salt in an old wound.
I say this because I suspect some of the people commenting in favor of telling the friend may not have experienced this kind of deep hurt from a family member in their lives, and therefore the idea of genuinely not wanting to rekindle a familial relationship may be incomprehensible. They may think that anytime someone chooses to be estranged from someone it is an example of “holding a grudge” or “bitterness.” That’s simply not true. And if you haven’t been driven to the point of cutting contact with a family member, I think that must be very difficult to understand.
(Then again, I think many of these people would understand this concept if you replaced an abusive familial relationship for an abusive ex-spouse. That goes to show how deeply ingrained the idea is that our family is inalienable. Why is it any different if the people who abuse us are related to us by blood? Try telling me it’s because there was once so much love there or that there were good times too and you’ll see how quickly the argument breaks down.)