We Had A Death In The Family – Except The Person Didn’t Die.


We had a death in the family except the person didn't die

For the last six months, my family and I have been experiencing what I can only describe as dealing with a death in the family – except the person didn’t die.

My husband has a daughter from a previous relationship.  After her mother passed away she came to live with us full-time for the last six years.

Then, one day, six months ago, out of the blue and with no warning she simply packed up all of her things while we were out and left.  We came home to an empty room and lots of questions.

All of our attempts at reconnection have gone unanswered and each day that passes has been slightly easier, but also even more confusing.

For the first few days, we were all stunned.  Like, what could we have possibly done to warrant being cut out of her life? After a while, I realized that we didn’t do anything, nothing we did or didn’t do warranted this.

But that hasn’t been easy to explain to my two little boys, her brothers.   All of their attempts to reach out to her have gone unanswered – and so they stopped trying. My oldest is the most hurt.  He was very close to her and believes that she hates him.  He keeps asking what he did wrong, why she hates us so much and why she just won’t come home.  It breaks my heart.

I keep trying to explain to him that this is not his fault and that she is going through some things that she has to work out on her own.  But how much of that makes sense to a seven-year-old?

Family pictures without her.  Family vacation without her.  Holidays all without her.

We are living in this weird quasi world where we had a death in the family but we didn’t.  We had a trauma?  We had a rupture?  Something happened where our lives will never be the same again.

It’s like she died.  But she didn’t die.  She’s alive – living and breathing but there is a good chance we will never see or hear from her again.  And there is an even bigger chance that we will never actually know what caused this sudden change in her.

She chose to completely cut us out.

We are all going through the stages of grief for death, denial, pain, guilt, anger…we are all trying to work through the mess that she left.

we had a death in the family except the person didn't die


  1. Thank you for sharing this. We often push aside our grief when we lose someone that has cut us out of our life, but that pain is very real. Praying for you and your family.

  2. I’m so sorry your family is going through this. Are you sure she’s safe? How old is she? Do you know where she has gone? I don’t mean to add more grief or judge in any way. I’m sure if I have questions from afar you have a million more.

    • She is definitely safe – we know where she’s staying and we have been kept informed by people who are still in her circle and on her social media. I should have edited it to say that she’s 18 and safe – just refusing to communicate with us.

  3. We had to make the difficult decision 7 years ago to make our 18 year old daughter leave our home. She refused to follow house rules to the point that it was having a bad effect on her 3 younger sisters and our marriage. We never told her that we wanted no contact, but that afternoon her cell was changed and we were blocked from all social media.
    Aside from some sporadic contact at funerals, we haven’t spoken since.
    I understand how you liken it to a death. Suddenly this family member is just gone. No closure, so many things left unsaid, so much second guessing.
    She’s now 25 and on her 2nd marriage. I know she’s trying to create the family she thinks she missed out on. I can’t imagine what its like to be her. No contact with her real mother, her step mother who raised from age 4, her father or her sisters. I hear she is in contact with her half brother from her mother’s 2nd marriage, and my father-in-law. I don’t agree with her choices, but I still miss her every day.

    • I’m so very sorry for your situation! It’s so hard to watch someone decide to cut you out of their lives – there is so much second-guessing and all we can do is wait for her, it may be next year or it may be 10 years…it’s really her decision.

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