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Ask Ellie: Divorce not always end of a family connection

Acknowledging that connection is a bond to share with those grown children, as part of the joint history of your family.

Dear Reader: There’s no question here, just one man’s personal expression of his loss, regarding his ex-wife’s passing:

“My ex-wife passed away three and a half years ago after her nine-month battle with cancer.

“My 17-year-old daughter has been living with me since then, with lots of Kleenex used by us both. We also have two older married daughters, and there’s grief all around.

“My daughters and myself set up the celebration of my wife (and their mother’s) life.

“There was lots of mixed emotions from family and friends about my being there despite that we’d divorced.

“The fact is that she was an amazing and wonderful mom/person, very respected by many.

“I will always miss her.”

Ellie: Life is a passage. We can love our parents/grandparents etc. long after their deaths, through memory of past feelings and experiences related to them.

Yes, we can also retain love and memories of shared love of former partners with whom we raised beloved children.

Acknowledging that connection is a bond to share with those grown children, as part of the joint history of your family.

Reader’s Commentary regarding a different view of life as the opposite of an introvert (Sept. 13):

“I’ve discovered over the last 15 years who my actual friends are, since my spouse started treatment for alcoholism. She requested that, for her to come home, I must make our house safe.

“I liked to entertain, so we had lots of liquor/beer/wine. We had people over every weekend. So, I was resentful about changing my lifestyle but I wanted my spouse more.

“I joined Al-Anon, she joined Alcoholics’ Anonymous (AA). I learned how to be in a relationship with the alcoholic. In 2012, I joined Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and learned why I chose these types of relationships.

“I learned that I confused love with pity and loved those I could pity and rescue. Pride and ego prevented me from being an honest open person. I wanted to get as many people to like me as possible.

“So, from the pool of people I considered friends, we were all just hostages of our own character defects. Only one person from that time remains a good friend.

“My other friends are from the rooms of Al-Anon and ACA and I call them family: Brothers and sisters of the same childhood experiences. Our lack of good parenting caused us to become people-pleasers who lost our own identity in the process.

“I, too, don’t seek relationships with other males. I’m cautious as I don’t wish to be hurt or hurt others. So, I’m content with work/gym/current relationships. I’m an extrovert who can speak with most people and have a great conversation with vendors at my local farmers’ market.

“My spouse has just passed a decade of sobriety. We’re living a different lifestyle from 15 years ago and I’m grateful for her desire to change. It helped me find myself.

“I think this letter-writer’s husband should join ACA and learn about himself. His spouse should join to find out why she wants to fix him. Maybe she was attracted to him because he needed to be rescued.”

Ellie: Yours is a very personal insight into how alcoholism can sometimes be the driving reality behind behaviour that’s misinterpreted by many, while harmful to the physical/mental health of an individual.

FEEDBACK regarding the man unsure about attending his ex-wife’s funeral with his teenage sons who’ve lost their mother, despite his current wife’s discomfort about him being present (Sept.15):

Reader No. 1: “Your advice today was perfect and so well-expressed. His sons should be his focus at this time and they will need his support.”

Reader No. 2: “A local Hospice organization may provide some specific resources/counselling about how to approach his sons regarding their mother’s illness, death, and funeral plans.

“Hospice provides several resources for age-appropriate conversations and materials about anticipated and post-loss grief. At their age, they’ll face this loss throughout various developmental stages of their lives, as their perspectives are altered by their experience.

“I’m speaking as a Hospice/Palliative nurse and mother of boys who lost their dad when they were quite young.”

Reader No. 3: “What you wrote to the ex-husband and father of two boys in today’s online Star re what to do about their dying mother’s funeral was amazing.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Divorce isn’t always the end of a family connection. The original love between a couple, and their children, can live on in memory and respect.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].

Follow @ellieadvice.