Navigating emotions as estranged family member is dying
I grew up with this person who for most of my childhood I would have equated to a big brother figure (I am an only, so that was important).
He was a bit of a bully in childhood. I remember being both happy and fearful to be around him and it worsened as we aged. Fearful of his words, he was not physically abusive.
I learned how to stand up for myself at some point and we would argue. I would a few times cut him out of my life completely when he crossed the line in trying to belittle me, ridcule me or say something so heinous I couldn’t rationalize a relationship with him any longer.
We are now 51 and 52 years old.
We had the fight of all fights about 1.5 years ago and I cut him off for the last time. My childhood affection that had tethered me to him was gone. And the “funny” stories of his treatment of me back then, well, I came to see them as not funny anymore. I saw them as a pattern in his adulthood treatment of not only me but many family members.
Six months ago he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is now in his last days. I reached out following the dx, mainly due to family wishes and a fear of future regrets if I didn’t. I still feel nothing for me, though I don’t wish suffering on him or my family, so I am doing what I can to be supportive while maintaining distance. I would regret being fake with him as much as I would regret not acknowledging his / my family’s pain.
Sorry for the long story.
I guess I’m just here to see if anyone relates and to see how others have/might navigate grief for a childhood idea of someone while also non-grief for the toxic reality I came to see and loathe. All while he lays dying.