Par­ents change af­ter los­ing their daugh­ter

Dayton Daily News - - L!FE - DEAR ABBY PER­SONAL AD­VICE

My beau­ti­ful 20-year-old daugh­ter was killed in a car ac­ci­dent. I am writ­ing this not only for my­self, but for all par­ents who have lost a child, and to all of the won­der­ful peo­ple who asked, “What can I do for you?”

At the time there wasn’t much any­one could do to help, but af­ter two years I have an an­swer: Ac­cept me for who I am NOW.

When Rachel came into my life, it changed me pro­foundly. Los­ing her did the same. Her fa­ther and I work hard to honor her me­mory, but we will never “get over it” to the de­gree of be­ing who we were be­fore. I am dif­fer­ent now. In some ways — I think — bet­ter. I am kinder, more pa­tient, more ap­pre­cia­tive of small things, but I am not as out­go­ing nor as quick to laugh.

I know peo­ple mean well when they en­cour­age me to get on with my life, but this IS my life. My pri­or­i­ties have changed. My ex­pec­ta­tions of what my fu­ture will hold have changed. Please ex­tend to me again the of­fer of “any­thing I can do” and, please, ac­cept me as I am now. — Dif­fer­ent Now in Riverview, Fla.

Please ac­cept my pro­found sym­pa­thy for the tragic loss of your daugh­ter. I hope that your let­ter will help any­one who doesn’t un­der­stand that the death of a child is the most dev­as­tat­ing loss par­ents can suf­fer and that the ex­pe­ri­ence is life-chang­ing. They may get be­yond it, but they never get “over” it. To ex­pect that they would is un­re­al­is­tic, be­cause it’s a wound that may be­come less vis­i­ble but never goes away.

Dear Dif­fer­ent Now:

Dear Abby:

My hus­band and I strug­gled for years to have chil­dren. Af­ter many at­tempts and dis­ap­point­ments we have ex­hausted all our op­tions. It has been ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for me to ac­cept.

My hus­band re­cently found his daugh­ter from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship. He knew she ex­isted, but his ex had kept the girl from him for many years. He is now ec­static and wants to spend ev­ery minute with her. He tells me how happy he is to have a daugh­ter. I want to be sup­port­ive, but it kills me.

The girl ap­pears to have no de­sire to have me in her life. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to view her as my step­daugh­ter. Yes, she’s my hus­band’s — but she is his, not “ours.”

I ac­cept that my feel­ings are some­what self­ish, but I am not sure how to deal with them. I have been in and out of coun­sel­ing with no change. Please help. — Not a “Real” Mom

Dear Not:

Stop beat­ing your­self up for hav­ing un­pleas­ant feel­ings. If your de­scrip­tion is ac­cu­rate, your hus­band has al­lowed his daugh­ter to “clique” you out. While it’s un­der­stand­able that be­cause of their long sep­a­ra­tion his daugh­ter could be fix­ated on him and vice versa, he should let her know that both of you will love her if she’ll give you the chance.

Look at it from her per­spec­tive. If she’s a young woman, she is deal­ing with a lot of emo­tions right now. Try to be pa­tient, treat her warmly when you see her, and give her a chance to get to know you. Dear Abby is writ­ten by Jeanne Phillips, whose mother founded the col­umn. Write Dear Abby at Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069.

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