When a family dispute means you can’t say goodbye

Denying goodbyes

The story of a 14 year old cancer victim being cryogenically frozen has troubled me this week.  Not for the story itself, though that does trouble me on many levels.   The false hope this girl has believed may one day bring her back.  What happens if by some medical miracle she is brought  back to life?  She will remember nothing and know no-one in the US.  She will still be 14 yet will have not completed education, have no ability to work, no family to support her, no income.   No idea of who she is or what has happened to her.

 There are so many questions for me about this process that I struggle to get my head around them all.

I do think it is right, however,  that the judge found in her favour and allowed this to happen.  Which sort of contradicts my thoughts on the false hope and all of the above.  For whatever our beliefs, or struggles with understanding this, a young girl  did her research and wanted this over being allowed to die peacefully.   If this is her final wish then I don’t think it should be for the courts to deny it.

The press have made much since the news broke of the chaos surrounding her final hours as she was “prepared” in her dying moments for this next journey rather than being hugged and told it would all be okay.  And whilst this is unsettling for me what really breaks my heart is the fact that family bitterness had prevented her father from being able to say his own goodbyes.

He split from the young girl’s mother when she was small and, if we are to believe the stories, has not been permitted to have any contact with her for a number of years.   This, I believe is unforgivable.   <insert massive disclaimer> Unless of course there is a properly valid child protection issue that means denying access is in the child’s best interests.

I don’t think any child should ever be denied access to a parent or grandparent.

And this point more than any other in this story that has sparked many debates this week is the point that I wrestle with the most.

I cannot understand how one parent can deny another parent the opportunity to say goodbye to a child they jointly created and brought into the world.  Whatever happens subsequently how can it ever be “right” that one parent decides they will block another person from saying goodbye?

After all, you need an invite to go to a wedding but you don’t need an invite to a funeral, you can just turn up to pay your respects.   This young girl’s father doesn’t get that opportunity however as there will be no funeral and he was denied the opportunity to say goodbye in the girl’s final hours.

When I split up from my children’s father I remember vividly making a promise to him that I would never deny him access.    By the same token if he said he was going to see them on a particular weekend that promise was to be kept.     We vowed that no matter how acrimonious our divorce would be become we would never use our children as pawns.    Our divorce never did get acrimonious but I am fairly certain that even if it had then we would have stuck to that promise.    For whatever our disagreements, or laying of blame, that was our fight, they were not the children’s.   They were ours.

It is hard for me to understand why a parent would use a child to score points, because that is how it feels to me.   The idea that you have annoyed me and therefore I am going to block access to the children we created is a process I find as hard to comprehend as the statements in my first paragraph.

It seems we often hear stories in the news or amongst friends where the words are spat out that a biological parent will be refused access.   How can this be allowed, where a parent who has just as much right to access as the main carer has to fight through the courts for something that should be given naturally?  (see disclaimer above though).

I have never denied my children seeing their biological grandparents yet once again a birthday passed last week with no acknowledgement from them.  No card, no presents.   It baffles me how a grandparent can think that is in any way right.  Whatever the differences between their son and me, our three children are still their grandchildren.     Yet appear to have been written out of their family dynamic

Would I therefore ever deny my children their opportunity to say goodbye to them when the time comes?  Of course not.   It shouldn’t work like that.

So I don’t understand how any parent can do the same thing to a person they once loved.

Especially when that person then tragically dies far too soon and they don’t then have the opportunity to say their own goodbye either.

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  • Beautifully written.
    What a lot to think about.
    Things often not considered at all, recognised even, by the vast majority of people.
    Including me.

    • Thank you. A very thought provoking story and one I cannot begin to imagine having to actually go through. But the elements I have touched on really do concern me.