This is devastating. Our mother died of cancer when we were very young. If you have advice, then I would gladly take it.
Devastated: Someone who “does not believe in covid” is down a very deep hole of disinformation, so there is no easy solution.
There may be no solution, period, if he doesn't want there to be one.
But it's important to try. And maybe you can co-opt some of the same forces that are working so hard against you:
The first is repetition. Your father didn't just decide covid was fake. He was persuaded through relentless messaging. You and your brother might likewise persuade your father you care about him by gently, respectfully, persistently telling him you do. Call on a regular schedule. Mail him letters and cards. Send photos. Remember and commemorate his milestone events. Recommend shows, books or new music you think he'll like. Extend invitations (and accept “no” without fuss).
Again, remain respectful — he has every right not to reciprocate or even accept your efforts. But also prepare yourself for a long commitment to proving your commitment to him, to help you both feel better. That's why letters and photos are so good, they're arm's length. They also reflect your time and effort.
The second force you might be able to co-opt is shrewd attention to what he does — and doesn't — want to hear. Don't harangue him about vaccines. Don't slam his information sources. If he baits you, don't bite. Make your calls, letters, commemorations, recommendations and invitations reflect your relationship, memories, shared interests.
This TED talk by Diane Benscoter— ex-cult member, current deprogrammer — explains these two forces’ effect: “These easy ideas to complex questions are very appealing when you are emotionally vulnerable.”
Connections persuade, and commonality builds connections. So offer yourselves, and offer love, and be his tribe. Leave these on the table for him to claim. As our mercurial political conditions change — on him and everyone else — prop open doors back to the truth.
Hi, Carolyn: I’m an immigrant whose parents and siblings live overseas. I recently lost my dad and couldn’t go to the funeral because of covid. A friend had a similar situation, but she and her sister live in the United States and their mom had to deal with their dad’s passing without them.
The friend keeps saying to me, “At least you have your sisters to take care of your mom.” How do I tell her yes, that’s a great help, but my dad’s loss is not going to go away just because of that?
— Grieving and Confused
Grieving and Confused: I am so very sorry.
Grief makes us thoughtless sometimes, blinded to others’ pain. It sounds at least possible your friend is dumping grief on you because you’re convenient.
I am sorry for that, too, if true.
Please respond, “Yes, so grateful — but that won’t bring my dad back.” And if needed: “We’re both hurting. Please let’s not compare.”