Temple University's Adam Davey found that aging stepparents were only half as likely as biological parents to receive care from grown children. "Society does not yet have a clear set of expectations for stepchildren's responsibility," he observed.
You can say that again. All stepchildren and stepparents forge a relationship in their own way. Some become deeply attached, some are virtually strangers, many fall somewhere in between. Even when stepchildren and stepparents are close, the deep ambiguity of the relationship can make losing a stepparent to death or divorce a profoundly lonely experience for the child. A friend told me about a colleague who had recently nursed her beloved stepmother, a woman she had grown up with, during a long illness. Even as she mourned her stepmother's death, the woman was mystified and hurt by the lack of support she had received from many friends and co-workers, who'd wondered why she would go out of her way to provide long-term, hands-on care to someone who was "only" a stepmother.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Elizabeth Marquardt's beautiful article shows the complicated ways divorce affects death.