Our expert says:
Its genuinely good to hear from you, but I'm sad to hear of the sad situation that has arisen.
Naturally you feel very sad - this man was capable of many bad things, but also of loving goodness at times, and so your relationship was ambivalent, the sort that is hardest to adjust to in loss. And, being the really nice person you are, you feel sad for the good that was in him, among the bad things. And because his chosen way of life made him a loner and perhaps alienated other people he had known, you may feel almost a sense of obligation to mourn extra for him, because maybe there's nobody else to do so ?
And your little boy represents what was good in him, and in a way, that remains alive, through the boy.
Get this into proportion. You never were, and are not, any sort of bitch. You were more lenient and forgiving towards him than almost anyone else on earth was or would have been.
And being "lenient" wasn't good for him - it helped him to evade responsibility for his choices and actions. You loved what was loveable in him, and hated what was hateful in him and in what he did.
He hurt you, many, many times, and had no good reason for doing so. You can appropriately grieve for the good in him and the few good things he did, and also to feel sad that someone capable of any good at all, was also capable of all the bad.
So no, you're not nuts at all. Let yourself grieve and work through that, with a counsellor's help if possible. If one tries to stifle such grief, it causes more problems.
As for talking to the boy, that's an important question in its own right. He does not need to know all the bad things, nor to be told about your inappropriate feelings of guilt.
What you tell him needs to be based on what he already knows, and how you know him to feel about his dad, who seems to have been so often absent from the boy's life.
You don't mention exactly how the father died - was it perhaps a drug OD ?
Talk to him about how he remembers his father, how the guy loved him ( the boy ) very much, but that he was a man who had problems and caused problems for other people. Say that his father became very ill recently, and that he died.
Then concentrate on hearing how the boy feels about this, re-assuring him that it is OK to feel however he does, to feel anger, disappointment, and sadness. Explore what he may understand about death, and reassure him that he remains very much loved, and that you have no plans to doe for a really long time, so you'll be around to care for him. And maybe plan together, a little ceremony just for yourselves, to remember and say goodbye to his dad - maybe light a candle, say a prayer, play some music he liked or remember some of the good times you may have had together.
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