Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How to forggive when the hurt is to bad?


My mom has schizophrenia. She has had it my whole life (I’m 32) and I am the main caregiver.

Last year my dad died. He and my mother didn’t have any contact for years. My sister kept his ashes in her house, so we could decide what we wanted to do with them. My mom stole his ashes and dumped them in the sea.

I have been reading a lot of comments about forgiving and trying to understand that the hurtful things people with Schizophrenia do are because of their illness and not because they are bad people or want to hurt you. I heve been through a lot with my mother and normally I can take this approach with her. But in this case the thing she did is so big and hurtful that I don’t know what to do with this. I am so mad and hurt. Not just because she did this, but also because I didn’t have any say in what happened with my dad’s ashes. She took that part of the grieving process from us. This can never be replaced. It also feels like the grief surrounding my dad’s death is starting all over again.

At this point I can’t even speak to her. But at the same time I feel guilty, because mentally I know that she didn’t do this to hurt us. But I really don’t know how I can get over this or what to do. I am afraid that I can never forgive her for this. I really don’t know who to talk to about this. Because my friends can’t relate and don’t know what it means to have a family member with schizophrenia. They think I should cut her out of my life completely.

Does anyone have some advice?


I am so sorry for your loss of your father, twice.

I also feel your pain of being the caregiver for your mother. I can’t imagine what it would be like having a parent with mental illness. My mother-in-law had severe mental illness but I was not close to her. My son now suffers with severe mental illness. My son and I are very close and I have cried so many tears.

I recently completed a bible study with a group of women who also is suffering grief from things in life that are a loss. One of the women lost her daughter at the age of 4. She told me about a book, Choose JOY Because Happiness Isn’t Enough, by Kay Warren. This is a Christian book, and the author also lost a son due to mental illness.

This book has helped me tremendously with the pain I carry missing my son that once was but is no longer the same. Things happen that we have no control over but knowing that things happen and knowing that God is in control, not I is what keeps me going.

Your father’s ashes is no longer your father. The memories of your father are with you forever. As time goes on, the grieving will be less painful with the loss of your father. The ashes being thrown in the sea is just another painful process of grief. This too will pass, unless you choose to hold on to this disappointment. The grieving process takes long for some, and let yourself grieve for the loss of your father. Please try not to dwell on the actual loss of the ashes.

You might want to find an item that you can relate to your father to set up a small memorial to always remember him whenever you see this item. Maybe a fond picture.

You have a heavy burden being your mother’s caregiver. Try to forgive her as she might have had a lot of painful past that you are not aware of with your father. A pain she wanted to go away but unable to express. Take care.


Linda, so sorry you have to deal with all of this grief…My first thought was that maybe if you got some sand from the beach where your mom put the ashes you could use that.

To be honest it is very hard for me to read your post because I am struggling with this whole mess of grief. I am putting my dads ashes near his twin sister who died at birth as was his wish. My two brothers will be present as well.

Currently, I am not ok and struggling. I am reading this book and find it most helpful in helping me understand what I’m going through:
It’s Ok that you’re not ok

I am also seeing a grief counsellor who was very helpful with letting me know that whatever you do is just fine. There are no rules to what you choose to do in regards to ashes, services, belongings of your loved one etc. It was a relief to talk to her.

Wishing you all the best with sorting through this.

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"You might want to find an item that you can relate to your father to set up a small memorial to always remember him whenever you see this item. "
“My first thought was that maybe if you got some sand from the beach where your mom put the ashes you could use that.”

These are great ideas. You could even take some things that represent your father to you, and burn then to create new ashes.

Spreading the ashes is to console the living. The dead have no use of their discarded bodies. It’s the ceremony that matters, not the ashes.


First my condolences on your losses. I don’t mean any disrespect, but did you approach your mother and ask her input on what do with your father, her husband’s, ashes? Did it or would it hold any significant weight in the discussion? Despite their estrangement, she likely knew him longer than any of you and you wouldn’t exist without their relationship.

I’m uncomfortable with you saying your mother ‘stole’ his ashes as if any of you ‘owned’ them. I think this speaks more to the importance of having a will to codify these decisions to avoid these sort of conflicts, and that these things happen with or without mental illness in the mix.

What she did was deprive you of something that you hadn’t yet spent the time to consider, a missed opportunity that none of you can get back. This is the fabric of families, of weddings and baby showers, and birthdays and holidays that everyone wants to be perfect and agonize over tiny details, but they never truly live up to expectations.

I went through this with my Uncle’s memorial which he tasked to me because he was childless, and I was going through issues and delusions at the time, so I got some help from the rest of the family. Even with fairly explicit instructions there were still hiccups and things that might have gone better. I felt I’d let him and the rest of the family down, but they never mention it. We did the best we could.

To forgive someone is to say they aren’t perfect, and we aren’t perfect for expecting them to be. My solution would be to go ahead and decide what you would have done with the ashes anyway, or come up with some alternative and try to move on. I recently learned a quote that “grief is just love with no place to go.” And those ashes were a symbol of that love finally resting somewhere, so I understand how this is hurtful. But the ashes went into the sea, so maybe you can think of your father as part of the sea. My mother wants to be part of a mountain she loves, and I’m planning to do the same with a much loved dog that I recently had to let go of. But be it sea or mountain or hole in the ground, the important thing is to remember and honor the life lived. I can think of worse places to go than the sea to remember a loved one.

I was a big fan of the TV show Six Feet Under, so I hope folks don’t mind me posting a clip of how things can go wrong if you don’t have a plan for your ashes. It’s tragicomic and fittingly the one person who has a mental illness seems the sanest one there.

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I am sorry for your loss.
Grief is hard on everyone. Mentally ill or not.

My dad was cremated too. I understood the men of the family were disposing of the ashes at a place he spent much time and enjoyed. Mom and I were ok with them doing the disposing because it was an activity the guys all shared when dad was alive and a wonderful way to celebrate his life. Only not all the ashes were disposed of. My brother kept some. That was distressing to me at the time.

But later it softened. You see my dad died suddenly and my brother and he were not really getting along. His grief was different than mine. It drove him to do things he normally would not.

It is ok to take a little time and process your pain at both the loss of your father and the loss of control of your grief process. As your grief eases you may find forgiveness comes naturally.

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I am So sorry for your loss.

My older brother pretty much destroyed my family when paranoid schizophrenia took him over at 17 (summer of 1984) I can’t remember how many times we had to restrain him when he was having one of his delusions, which could happen any hour of the day or night. When his delusion would pass he wouldn’t even know what the hell he did. He wouldn’t remember kicking and hitting my father and me, as we physically restrained him. I was only 13 at the time; I can’t believe I lived through those times. He would fake taking his meds, so he would have delusions often. I was fortunate to have 5 close friends all brothers; I would often call them for help when my brother started to act up. This went on for about three years, until he manage to run away one time and was arrested for felony assault. He has been incarcerated ever since because his schizophrenia so bad.

When I talk to him on the phone over years; there are small windows of time he will be in control. He tell me he doesn’t expect to be forgiven; he certainly does not forgive himself. He only wishes he could be free of schizophrenia. But he knows he is so sick, he will never forgive himself and the he will never be free of the sickness.

Knowing that I have been able to forgive my brother for messing up my youth.

Gosh! The things our loved ones can put us through are so extremely challenging and so difficult to avoid. You are entitled to feel anyway you like about this, your feelings are real. You will forgive her eventually, you are allowed to take as long as you like. You most likely haven’t a lot of time for her right now as you are going through enough for yourself with the loss of your dad. Take time out, you have done so much for your mum. Life for you still goes on, it can’t always be about your mum. You can still love her and maybe it’s okay not to forgive her for a while so you can work through your own experience. Sending love to you honey, you sound like an amazing person. xoxoxo stay strong

Thank you for your reply! I will read the book. I was just looking for some good reads about grief. So this is very welcome. I also think that it is a good idea to do something else to remember him by.

It’s nice to hear that uou and your son are very close. I sometimes miss that with my mom. Take Care!