I am looking for information on how to relate/handle/cope with changes with/in the relationhip with the in-laws after a person's spouse dies. I am struggling with mine as are some of the people I work with. Information (books, articles, etc,) ancedotes, advice, opinions, etc would all be helpful!
I am glad to see that I am not alone in this. Sometimes I think if I hadn't tried so hard to be good to my MIL for so many years, maybe she wouldn't have come out and attacked me like she did. It was so unforgivable to me under the circumstances, that I cut off all contact. Then my stepson, who I thought of as my family betrayed me in business, and not for the money, but for no better reason than that he didn't feel any loyalty to me, which was a surprise to me. It has been very hurtful. I would say incredibly hurtful, but when you have lost your spouse, all other pains pale in comparison. I don't fully understand why these things happen, and why even if somebody didn't find you someone they wanted to keep in their lives, why they couldn't at least be kind knowing the pain you are in? I have seen people trying to foster understanding that the attacker is grieving also, but I think that when mean people unload their grief on a vulnerable target, they deserve to be known for what they are at heart.
I was talking to my sister-in-law last night. I am no longer in contact with Ray's half-sisters and brother but his full brother's wife is my friend. I guess after three years I have accepted what is happening and can just ask her if her husband has heard from the rest of the family and catch up on the news that way. If one of your in-laws is still in touch with you they can become a bridge into what one day may still be a viable relationship.
Kate you may not be looking at this post anymore. But anyway I too am in Australia and have found the same thing happening. That people just turn away and leave the widowed alone. I do not have family either and when I lost the Love of my Life.... things were really tough. A week later my leg just broke and
I was taken to hospital. That was the last straw. I wrote Easter and Christmas cards to my husband' adult children but only got one of them to reply.
The next year I cut out the Easter Cards and sent Christmas cards only. The same thing happened. Worse still was that they did not even want any thing of his as a memory. I just could not believe you could love someone and not wish to have something of theirs. He had a struggle virtually from day one after the breakdown of his former marriage... He had not done anything wrong but they just removed themselves after he passed away. This year I will send Christmas cards. As I believe it does one's soul good to remember your beloved and walk the 'good' walk' - the one that you know is genuine.
So many people these days just opt out.... but if you have loved and lost you are changed forever and you view things of the heart very differently.
I'm sure it was hard Steve, but I think you did the right thing back then. I am one of those people who didn't say "boo" no matter how poorly I was treated because I was afraid to do anything that might harm my husband's or children's relationships with his family, and it was a mistake. I didn't draw the line with them until after he died, 1) because they treated me even more poorly, 2) I was too sad to exercise complete control over myself, and 3) because I felt so exposed and unprotected after I lost my husband I had resolved to be more honest about my feelings even if I was afraid of the consequences. I felt so right when I stood up for itself that I realized I should have done it years ago. I wasn't even asking for very much. I asked that they make 1 or 2 dinners for the family during their 3 week stay, I told them that I wasn't expecting them to do everything, and that I wasn't even expecting them to do half, but that I needed a gesture of some sort, and I told them they were going to have to start talking to me in the car while I was driving them places. It went very well during the standing up, I was calm and honest but firm, and it went well. Or there was progress anyways that I felt good about. They made 2 dinners, but they still didn't talk to me in the car. I started making sure I had someone else with me each time I had to drive them, so that I had someone to talk to and so that I could ignore that they weren't talking to me. After they got back home, a couple of weeks later, there came an outright attack, which I did not lie down for, and the relationship has completely ended. But I know now, I can see, if I had been more brave and honest years ago, there would have been a break, and then, as what happened with you, it would have started up again on a better foot. Because they would not have wanted to let my husband go. I don't think our relationship now will ever mend, with my husband gone they don't apparently have enough of a reason to mend fences with me, but I'm okay with it. Sometimes I can't believe that they are such awful people that they would rather not be involved with his kids than be nicer to me, but my life is infinitely better without their mistreatment, but I just wanted to write and say, I agree with you. Sometimes you have to draw the line, and even though it may be very difficult when you do, the relationship can be better afterwards. It is really the only way to have a good relationship, even if it is hard.
Yup! This is an old thread but still worty of responding to.
In my situation, my MIL at my husband's herson's funeral reception approached our friends, all my family, DH's co-workers that I'd find someone within a year. Believe me, everyone immediately understood she neither liked me nor wanted me in her life as well as her family.
It was best I severed contact with them, I didn't want our kids to go through the same BS my husband was subjected to as the black sheep of the family. My kids are young adults now with no time to waste on family BS while they try to make a life for themself. Never in 8 1/2 years have their grandparents called or visit. My kids never talk about them, its almost as if they buried them with their Dad -which seems to be a good thing.
Occassionally, I get this unnerving feeling one of them or both will call on their dying bed asking for something the kids can't or won't provide; give excuses they don't want to hear, or just simply not want to hear their voice or think of them. I don't want my kids to hurt or have regrets -my hope is they have completely detached from them for their own peace of mind. Bummer, but there are times when it just has to be that way.