DEAR ABBY: I am a 25-year-old woman who still bears a grudge toward my mother. We never had a good relationship, but it really went downhill after my father died. (I was 13 when it happened.) My father always stuck up for me, and he committed suicide in our basement.
I did something when I was 13 that I deeply regret. I told my mother to check down there when we heard noises, but she didn't listen to me. Our relationship has never been the same. I have blamed my mother every day ever since for not saving him. I rarely talk to her now.
The thing that makes me so mad is that my father's death was her fault. Dad and I were very close and I miss him every day.
How can I get past my mother killing my dad? After his death, my mother put me in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services. I am glad I was put there, but I am mad that she killed my dad and gave up on me.
So how do I get past all this anger toward her that I have kept inside for so many years? -- MISSING MY DAD IN ILLINOIS
DEAR MISSING DAD: I don't blame you for being angry about your father's death, but because you were only 13, you aimed your anger at the wrong parent. Your mother didn't kill your father. Your father killed himself, probably because he had been struggling for a long time with the mental illness of chronic depression. Your mother did not go to check on the noises in the basement for the same reason that you didn't -- she didn't realize what they meant. As to why you were sent to "family services," it is very possible that your mother was as devastated by the loss of your father as you were.
You need more answers than any uninvolved third party can give you, and the person to provide them is your mother. Therefore, I urge that you call her and arrange to have a frank conversation with her -- preferably in the presence of a mediator such as a clergyperson. This is something that's long overdue.