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Should I be grieving for family I’ve never really know?

Community Member

To preface, I’ve never been close to my dad’s side of our family. My father tried to keep in loose contact with a few uncles up until I was about 14/15 (I’m 20) and then communication just stopped. Outside of them and the rare visit from his father, I’ve never really met anyone on his side; at least not since I was a toddler. No cards, no calls, nada.

My father’s uncle is on his death bed, and my dad expressed that he’d like me to see him before he dies. Apparently I’ve met with him a few times (I was young, and so I don’t recall this) and every time he stayed in his shed and had no interested in meeting me or my brother.

I feel like it makes me a bad person, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to react in this sort of situation. This is a man who’s face and name I don’t even know. To put it insensitively, it doesn’t feel like I’m not losing anything; it’s almost like hearing about a stranger’s passing. I feel like I should be sad, after all, this is family I’m losing.

Does feeling this way make me a bad person? What am I supposed to do when I inevitably see him?

11 Replies 11

Community Member

Hi Gambit,

It a tough situation when you don’t have emotional ties with a blood family member because of long term absence and not really knowing a person.

I haven’t seen my father or met him till I was 35. I found him. Even thoe I found him I feel that I never ever get the level of emotional love like my three step siblings have who know him from child birth and know him as a person. He left me before I was born due to beening ashamed I was born out of wedlock and my mother was a teenage pregnancy.

My grandparents who tried hard to get rid of me are in there 80s now and I tried to have a happy ending before it was too late but sadly too much of the truth is still hidden and that dream will never fully happen.

I kind of wanted that fairytale happy family ending. But I think I too like you said is too much a stranger to them and too much time has been lost.

I care about my father and even thoe my grandfather sinned badly i still wish them well. I just don’t think I ever really get to have that love that a child has for his dad and pop and nan. I was lucky to and blessed with my nan and pop on my mother side.

Try to kind to yourself it not your fault that you don’t have the bond to them. Maybe try to see him to just make shore you have no regrets. I think it help you progress forward. His actions you can’t control of the past but you can if you want have the closure before his time is up.

Take care


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Gambit, and welcome to the site.

I think your decision is whether or not you want to please your dad, that's if you're close to him, but if you haven't received any birthday wishes/presents then his uncle is just a stranger to you.

It's still possible for you to see someone on their death bed if they are conscious and whether or not they are able to have a conversation, but however for some people, this isn't easy to do, and if you feel uncomfortable then tell your dad that you hardly know him and there has been no contact for Xmas or your birthday.

It's not uncommon for people not to know a relative that has passed away, and if it wasn't for your dad then you wouldn't have even known.

No, I don't believe you would be doing the wrong thing but if this makes you feel anxious then perhaps tell your dad, explain how you feel.

The only question is do you have to travel far if you decide to see him.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Gambit,

Welcome to the community here. What ever you decide to do, you are not a bad person, you will be making choices in relation to your own set of values, beliefs and behaviours.

Maybe it would not be a bad thing to see this guy before he dies, like Hang 10 mentioned, that way you will have no regrets.

It is not your fault you didn't have a relationship with your Dad's side of the family. Have you asked your Dad why this happened?

Maybe there are issues that no one from that side of the family really understands, it is just something that happened.

Ultimately the choice is yours. Seeing the man does not mean that you have to tell him you feel anything for him, it might just be out of respect, curiosity, a sense of you own well being perhaps.

Decisions are not always easy. Look at it from different angles and see what you decide to do.

Cheers to you from Dools

Hello Gambit

Welcome. You have had several replies which I think basically say the say thing.

  1. You have no obligation to see your great uncle.
  2. Being a blood relative does not mean you have automatic feelings of regard.
  3. This is not something for you to feel guilt about. Not your fault there is no family connection.
  4. Ask your dad if there are any specific reasons he wants you to see his uncle. Consider if he may have some guilty feelings, though it seems like emotional blackmail.
  5. Consider if you do not see him you may have regrets later, though I suspect not.
  6. Is the hospital nearby or will you need to make some travel arrangements.
  7. It is totally your decision and I know it feels as though we are passing the buck.

Listen to what your body is telling you and go with that.

I do hope we have helped you make the decision.


Community Member


I think seeing your great uncle will be a good idea. If he does pass away, at least you will have closure in the sense that you did go and meet him and you fulfilled your fathers wishes. It will be like a bonding thing with your father as well. Having good family definitely helps in the development of one's being. It is sad to hear that you were never close to him but you can take comfort knowing that you are not alone. You will find most people have at least one member of their extended family that they don't really have an attachment with.

In saying that, embrace it. Embrace the fact that you were never close with him and ensure that as you grow older you try not to cut off these ties. Hope this helps and all the best my friend.

Community Member

Thanks for your reply Hang10.

I’m sorry to hear about the situation with your family. I understand that parental estrangement and lack of emotional connection is incredibly hard and I hope you found/find familial figures who can and do love you as you deserve.

I will be visiting him, but as closure for my father more than for myself. I have no connection to this man and therefore don’t feel any emotional hang ups about the way things have turned out.

Thank you for your kind words and advice 🙂

Community Member

Thanks for the welcome, Geoff 😄

I have expressed to my dad that I am uncomfortable with going because I don’t really know this man and wouldn’t have anything to say to him. His response was that I‘m selfish and have bad morals/am I bad person. That response is what actually pushed me into finally joining this site haha.

I don’t know how far we’d have to travel to see him (I believe he’s in the same state), but I work six days a week so that’s an issue.

I might try to talk to my father about my concerns again but, if I’m being honest, I don’t think the result will differ much.

Thanks a lot for the advice 😄

Community Member

Hi Dool, thanks for the welcome and reassurance 🙂

My main concern was that when I inevitable meet him I really don’t know what I’m meant to say to him, or his wife. Thanks for addressing that, it’s reassuring to know I don’t need to act like he means anything to me on a personal level.

Thanks a lot for the response, it really helped me think some things over.

Hi Mary and thanks for the added advice. I’ve got a lot of things to think over, especially concerning 4. I’ll keep all your advice in mind when it finally comes time to see him.

My decision was already made -I was going regardless of it I was comfortable or not- but you all certainly helped clear up a few of my concerns about actually going. Thanks so much for the help 🙂