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Daughter struggles with idea of reaching out to dying father she previously cut off. AITA?

Daughter struggles with idea of reaching out to dying father she previously cut off. AITA?


"AITAH for not reaching out to my sick birth father and continuing no contact?"


Long post, but I appreciate those who take the time to give insight. I (26F) haven’t been in contact with my birth father who I’ll call Gene (62M) since 2018. Our relationship has been estranged since I was about 6. He was incarcerated until I was 16.

Gene and my mom divorced shortly after he went to jail. I was exclusively raised by my mom (60F), but eventually gained a wonderful father figure around 16 who I wholeheartedly consider my dad and we have a great relationship.

I finally went no contact with Gene because he wasn’t showing up for me as I’d expect a parent should and I didn’t want to be manipulated by his excuses for falling short in the past or present, and we haven’t spoken since I blocked him.

My life has never been centered around him so I’ve never felt like his absence interrupted my life. While my support system is small, I’m appreciative of who I have and the people in my life are very near and dear to me. I was provided a good childhood from a single mom so I never wanted or needed much, graduated from college, and live a pretty normal life.

I was raised an only child, but technically I’m a middle child. Gene has an older daughter and a younger son from different women, both of whom I don't have a relationship with.

All of his children are estranged from him. Gene is very much a textbook narcissist and overall an unkind man. There’s also a history of drug and spousal abuse, as well as other really unpleasant/hurtful memories throughout my childhood that I had to experience because of him.

Recently, my mom was informed that he has a very aggressive and advanced cancer. Another relative reached out to us to tell us that the cancer has now spread to his brain and he’s likely to die from surgery or his body just giving up very soon.

His health issues are a result of poor lifestyle choices and I also believe there’s some aspect of karma for how nasty he’s been to those around him, myself included. I’m not heartless and very empathetic by nature. I’d never wish illness on anyone as that’s not in my character.

On the other hand, I’m conflicted by feeling unfazed by his declining health because this is a man that is truly a stranger to me now. It feels like there’s this expectation that because he’s dealing with ailment, I should be concerned.

When I was informed of his diagnosis a few months ago, I believe he asked my mom to tell me to give him a call, and I haven’t because I don’t know what to say. Whatever I might have to say, I also don’t feel it’s appropriate for a man who’s dying to hear or receive.

Quite honestly, even with better health, I still don’t think he’d receive my conversation well. He’s also pushed away pretty much everyone that has ever been in his corner due to how he’s treated them. So, it’s very likely he’ll die alone.

The relative that gave more detail about his health told me that when asked about me, Gene said that “I’m doing fine (I am, but it’s an assumption because we don’t talk) and he told me about what’s going on (having cancer)”.

He made it seem like he and I speak frequently and have an existing relationship, which is untrue. I feel like he lied because he’s embarrassed, and while I don’t agree, I understand.

Any resentment that I felt previously is genuinely gone and has been for many years. I think I’m really just indifferent to this because my life has continued just fine without him. I felt like I got my closure until this situation reopened a door I thought I closed.

I just kinda feel like an AH knowing that he asked for a call back to tell me himself but I haven’t and he’s gotten worse. I don’t want this on my conscience and, I knew this day would eventually come, just not this soon and I didn’t expect to be this conflicted.

So, AITAH for not wanting to reach out to my birth father even though he’s ill and dying because he’s only wanting to talk now due to his health and not on actual good terms?

Here were the top rated comments from readers:


It might be good to just get a bit of closure, I had a horrible relationship with my father and I was unable to have a final discussion at the end due to Covid and he passed away and I kind of wish I had one last chance to say goodbye.

But it’s your life and you have ever right to just carry on and keep him at distance but he will be gone forever and with that ends any chance to say goodbye. Best of luck in whatever you chose.

The OP responded here:


Thank you. Perfect world? I’d get the transparency and accountability that I feel is well deserved and overdue but I also don’t wanna demand anything from a dying man. I just want to make a decision that I can live with. Sorry to hear you couldn’t have your closure, but I hope that you’ve found some solace since.


NTA. I was raised by a narcissistic parent, so I get it. There’s no relationship there. Whatever you decide to do is the right answer. I think personally I would still go. It took many years to realize my narcissistic parent did the best she could, as crappy as it was.

It was the best she knew how. I would at least go and let him know that you turned out okay and that you forgive him and hope he goes in peace. But like I said, only you know what stage you are in your healing process. I don’t think you are the AH , no matter what you choose to do. Hugs.

So, if you could give the OP any advice, what would it be?

Sources: Reddit
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