When I met separately with all three children, it was clear that they all had considerable anger toward their father, which partially masked their grief for their mother. Just as my goal with Tracy was to keep the rift manageable around the time of her dying, my goal now became restoring cohesion between John and his children. It didn't seem fair to me that John would be sidelined from the family for a mistake he'd made so many years ago, and at the time when they all needed each other more than ever. I've seen many families disintegrate after the death of a parent. I didn't want to see this happen to Tracy's family.
In order to facilitate cohesion, I began to describe in detail the care that John had shown Tracy, even after he'd been exiled from their home. He'd been given every opportunity to leave the relationship, but had chosen to stick with Tracy to the degree she allowed. Surely, this counted for something.
Indeed, the three adult children were able to factor this into their feelings. Looking at the big picture, they were all able to forgive their father for his mistake. Still, none of them wanted a relationship with their half-sister. Like Tracy, they were set in their ways regarding this matter, and there was no budging them. It was as if their anger toward John was being transferred to their half-sister. They didn't think this unwillingness to have a relationship with her was a problem, and therefore saw no need to discuss the issue further. Even so, I felt that helping them find some measure of forgiveness for John was important to have attained. The relationship with the half-sister could wait. After all, their mother had died only days before.
By contrast, when the entire family met, it was obvious that John desperately wanted to normalize things quickly by bringing his daughter into the family. I didn't think this was realistic. It was clear that the family potentially was heading toward an explosive impasse; in fact, the children refused to discuss the matter with John in the room.