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My husband passed away very unexpectedly on 9-19-19 at 50 yrs. I'm a trainwreck. Our 11 yr old is with step-mother in-law. Husband is cremated. Brother-in-law has been texting me, their side of the family really wants to have the memorial already. He calls tonight. He says they keep on calling him and he says they're going to make it happen on Oct. 19th, and it'd be nice if you were there. I flipped out and just started balling, I was so insulted, hurt, devastated he'd say that. I told him that maybe I took it the wrong way. He said if I wanted to help him with arrangements, then we can do it. They live 3 hrs away from us. HOW do I read into that? I haven't even ordered an urn yet. I feel so not important, so left out. That doesn't sit well with me. No one from my husband's side of the family has even called me on the phone or emailed me. I think my husband's 3 cousins and his aunt facebooked/texted me. I feel like saying you know what.

Please, what are you thoughts? 

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Hi Lola,

I'm so sorry for the loss of your husband.  It must be very difficult with it being sudden and at such a young age. 

As for the memorial, I think your in-laws are being very disrespectful to you.  It would be one thing for them to offer to help with the memorial, but I think it is out of line for them to set a date for it and apparently plan to make the arrangements - with our without you.  What about just texting your bil and telling him that you will be making the arrangements and will let them know the date?


Hi Mary,

Thank you very much for replying to my message. Yeah, I was pretty messed up last night after that phone call. For my daughter's sake, I'm going to "show up" at my husband's memorial, stay a short time, and leave. The morning before I set up a full military honors committal ceremony at a nearby veteran cemetery. It's free for veterans, and it's important to me. I don't think I'll bring his ashes. Right now my main concerns are getting my bills in order and making sure I keep my job. 


I think you've made a good decision on how to handle things.  Especially since you do have your daughter to consider.  Then, you'll have the military ceremony that you wanted.  

It's so hard during those first days/weeks.  Just do what you think is best for you and your daughter.


Sweetheart, YOU are the one that should organise this, not them.

I dont know how it is in there, but in the UK the spouse has the legal right over the body  to do the funeral etc.

My parents in law cut me off completelly from their life after my husband died, it might have something to do with me not consulting them about the funeral details, however, when i  called them to tell them I found Mark dead and said I would like to visit for a week they said dont, and then never said anything about anything, yet, they are still the ones upset.

You dont need any extra stress and pain on top of the massive tragedy you are dealing with, YOU decide what and when happens. Saying that, noone could stop them organise an extra commemorator event independent of you. But NOT THE MAIN one. You are in charge of the main one, what they do on top of that is their choice. 

Love and hugs to you.

Hello, Lola,

I am so sorry for your loss. I will cut to the chase quickly, then explain (sorry this is so long). If I were you, I'd write something like the following and send it to ALL of them asap:

"I understand some of you are eager to have a memorial service for [name]. While I appreciate your sentiment, as his widow, it is up to ME to schedule his memorial service. Right now, I am simply not capable of doing so, it's just too soon for me. My grief is too raw, too deep. I don't want to rush into anything I will later regret. I would appreciate you respecting my wishes by not scheduling a service yet. As his wife, as his widow, that is my role, my right, and I ask that you honor that. There's an old saying: "You honor the man by how you treat his widow." Please honor [name] by honoring my wishes. I will let you know when and where his service will be held but it won't be for a while yet. It will be held locally, though, that much I know. Thank you."

Oh, and include this website----> Maybe they'll realize what they're doing is so wrong and insensitive.

I wish someone had said this to me when my husband passed away on Dec. 14, 2016...3-1/2 weeks after his fatal diagnosis (after 3 months in & out of ER/hospitals). He was only 56.

The last 9 days were spent in hospice care where I stayed with him. The last night was a bizarre nightmare which I won't go into. Suffice it to say, I was up all night. Hank passed away at 8:35am. His family were all visiting from out-of-town.

In less than an hour, I received a text message from someone he had worked for years ago offering his condolences. I was perplexed & asked, how did you know he passed away? He gave me some bullshit line about he "just knew". I later found out my in-laws decided to inform people ON THEIR OWN. I was furious. They took away my right as Hank's wife to notify people and the general public. Not even an hour after Hank passed away, the main builder he worked for had posted a notice on his business' FB page with the most God-awful photo of Hank. Didn't look like him at all (he was very handsome but that's the only bad photo I've ever seen of him- yeah, that bad). HE HAD NO RIGHT TO DO THAT! MY IN-LAWS HAD NO RIGHT TO DO THAT! I was the one who was married to him for almost 30 years, together with him for 35 years. And, yes, I'm still pissed about this. lol

You see, my in-laws were under the mistaken impression that the builders Hank had worked for (he was a self-employed carpenter, worked exclusively for 1 builder for 10 yrs w/others on the side for several)...were actually friends of Hank's! They weren't. My husband was always the one who inquired about their families, (health, challenges, etc.) but no one in 20 yrs had ever reciprocated that concern to our family. No one ever asked how I was doing or how our son was doing. Hank did not consider them his friends, he told our son & myself that because we had discussions about how all three of us were always the ones reaching out to people and how hurtful it was that no one reached out to us (family or potential friends). It didn't stop us from caring, though. It's who we are.

Anyway, while Hank was going through this unexpected trauma (series of strokes then the discovery of the cancer that was causing those strokes), they were constantly calling, asking when they could visit. It got so bad, I created a website and would post updates on him. They refused to realize that fatigue is a major side effect from strokes & they were wearing Hank out! Not to mention, he only had weeks left to live!! He wanted to spend them with me & my son! They didn't understand or refused to acknowledge this or how exhausting it was for Hank to talk to them (he also suffered from short term memory loss, so being bombarded with questions about "What happened?" was insane!)

But, because they were constantly calling/texting/dropping by to see Hank before he went into hospice (for 2 weeks), Hank's family thought they were his friends w/the outpouring of concern. They just wouldn't "get it". Add to that the the wife of the main builder Hank worked for set up a fundraiser which I am grateful for. We received about $3000 but our bills at the time were $4500/month, so it didn't even cover one month's worth of bills. And, everything was breaking down while Hank was in the hospital: car got too dangerous to drive, washer/dryer finally broke down, water heater broke down (while Hank was in hospice), etc., so we relied on my son's savings. (He was about to move out...had graduated from college & saved.)

When I told my husband's mom, I appreciate everyone's financial support but I didn't want them coming to hospice to visit Hank, she was appalled. She looked horrified, took a step back and said, "Well, I think that's very two-faced." Like, because someone donated a few dollars, that gave them the right to see Hank on his deathbed? When all but 1 or 2, I'd never even met!! When they had never shown any sort of friendship towards our family? We kept telling his family, "But, they're not friends!" They're just people he did work for. He was friendly to them but it wasn't reciprocated. And, Hank had told us he didn't want to see anyone but family!

Well, I couldn't afford anything, so I had talked to Hank while he was still lucid and inquired about having a memorial service at the hospice chapel. Tiny but it was free and it wouldn't put any financial burden on his family. I felt rushed to have it done that weekend but they didn't do services on weekends, so I had to wait til Monday or Tuesday, so I scheduled it.

On the way home from hospice the day my husband passed away (not 2 hrs earlier), my brother-in-law said, "I don't mean to rush you with a service, but all of us will be gone by Saturday." It was Wednesday. Wth? I wish I had known then that I didn't need to hold the service right away, or that I could've cancelled the service! I felt like I was on a train that I couldn't stop.

I had already scheduled the service the soonest I could get it...Monday or Tuesday (I don't remember which, it's all a blur.) I was already feeling rushed to get his obituary in the newspaper! I did a horrible job on it & the service was pathetic. His family was already gone. None of my family came. It was just me and my son & a neighbor whom we chatted with every 6 months or a year but that had helped us a couple of times driving us to appts. Other than that, everyone else (about 20 ppl) were builders he had worked for over the past 20 yrs. I recognized people's names from Hank's conversations & we were given all sorts of promises that they'd help if I needed anything. (All lies. We were abandoned & ignored.) It was awful. I felt like I failed Hank. No special decorations, tablecloths...just a couple of photo albums, and a box of tissues. But was far too soon. I shouldn't have done it until I was ready.

My husband was cremated as well. It was only months later, I read that I could have the service whenever I wanted since he was cremated. It was up to ME. I could have it a few years later, if I wanted to! I wish I had had a friend who had told me I didn't need to go through with it.

TO YOUR SITUATION: My husband's family put together their own "service"/party by inviting all of the builders he worked for (he was a self-employed carpenter, former bank mgr w/a degree so not your normal carpenter), to a local restaurant the evening of the day after he passed away.

I only heard about it after it was already put into place. I waited an hour before arriving. This was for them, not for me and our son. They couldn't have cared less if we showed up. It was in this huge outside area (COLD), super loud band and by the time I got there, everyone was drunk. The next day as his family were leaving town, Hank's mother mentioned, "I didn't know he went fishing every weekend." Both my son & I looked at her and said, "No, he didn't." The builder he worked for DID, not Hank. Hank went once 12 years earlier, got seasick & never went again + we couldn't afford to help pay the gas for the boat & Hank usually worked weekends too. So, who knows what other misinformation they got from those people at the party? ~shrug~

Long story, I know but know you're not alone with dealing with insensitive in-laws! Write them that letter, send it to everyone who you can think of or even post it on FB if you feel that would help reach everyone. Then, just let it go. If they choose to have their own thing in their own town, let them do it. You don't have to attend and you don't have to send your husband's ashes to the service either. You get to choose when, where, how you want to honor your husband. Not them.

Hang in there!! I'm sending tons of healing wishes your way. <3

Thank you for your reply and help. His brother organized the event at a casual restaurant, buffet, free beer and cash bar. He told me last night that usually the memorial service is paid for by the estate, meaning me. I had no say in the arrangements and his side of the family has not called me. He gave me an estimate of $1000. I feel like I want to ask him to pay for it up front and I'll see how much I can contribute after the final bill is given. What do you think??

Yeah I agree with you too. I got to put a little blurb on Facebook. and I'm not going to pay for my brother-in-law's service either because I'm already organizing a service and Dallas Texas and in Cincinnati. let alone the fact that I don't even know if I'm emotionally prepared for it.

You should not have to pay for anything that you did not prepare nor plan.  They moved forward with the planning, they can cover everything related to that.  Don't let anyone pressure you into something you don't want to do.

I wasn't  totally emotionally prepared when I held Stephen's gathering here.  I did it quickly because he was part owner of his own company, and his office and extremely close business friends needed closure, all of them I knew intimately.  Although we both did not have family here, I was touched by how many of his business friends attended, some from across the country.  And my neighbors turned out as well, something that really touched me.

Go with your heart.  Glad to read that you have planned something independently of this.  It will be so meaningful for you.

Hugs, ~Shirley

Lola, wanted to send some love and light to you..... so sorry about the added family situation.

When my Stephen passed, he was cremated.  Some of his ashes were sent to his brother up north, the remainder stayed with me.  I had a gathering of family and friends here, and his brother had one elsewhere in the country.  He didn't attend the one I had, I didn't attend the one he had.  Gotta tell you, it worked out beautifully.  I had the opportunity to do mine the way I wanted, his brother did the same.  Recognizing that not having any of his family where we live made my situation a bit different.  

Take a deep breath.  Don't let this family situation stop you from honoring your love for your husband.  Perhaps consider something ceremonial, something special and meaningful to you, separately at a later date.

Hugs,  ~Shirley 

Hi Shirley, our situations are similar. Glen's brother organized the memorial service at a restaurant this Saturday, but he told me normally the estate pays for it, meaning me. But he chose everything and he estsmated it'd be around $1000. I'm organizing a service in Dallas, TX. My 11 yr old and are flying from Cincinnati. We lived there for a long time, Glen has several friends and co-workers there. I'm staying at a friend's house. I don't think I should have to pay for it. Definitely not all of it. He knows I got Glen's life insurance money. But I'm investing that money for my daughter and I. 


I don't know what others think, but I don't feel like you should be obligated to pay for the memorial service that your BIL planned.  He should have discussed that with you before making the plans rather than just assuming you would pay for it.  If you feel obligated to pay, maybe you could contribute whatever amount you're comfortable with.


hi, I think the same thing. Especially because I am organizing to other memorials, one in Dallas Texas and the other one in Cincinnati where my daughter and I live. Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate you guys


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