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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!

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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.

I can't imagine something happening to the relationship that I have with my husband's sister and father they have been great through this . been there for me and our 2 girls. His sister is probably been there for me more then anyone and I know its been hard for her they were really close and she has grieved as much as I have.

My Roses

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 agree with your thoughts, My Roses. If I was asked to write an essay on the most noticable major challenges that the widowed seem to experience, number one would be neglect. The other that parallells is a system that plays on the back of/instead of covering.

Hi everyone, it saddens me these stories, I'm so sorry we all experience these hurtful things as human beings. My relationship with my in laws was very toxic in the beginning. This was 1978 I was 16 and Mike was 19 and active duty military. Mikes father, grandfather were fire captains and his uncles on both sides were all fireman and policemen. Mikes grand mother was secretary to chief of police in Los Angeles for 30+ yrs. Mike had a wonderful career in the military and when he was just completing his 4th year in service, one of mikes "friends" turned him in for being gay. It was a Huge deal and the entire family blamed me for Mikes problems in his career. The family was very upset and very abusive finding out Mike was gay and also, the military was filing charges against Mike and trying to throw him out with a dishonorable discharge, strictly for being gay. He had done nothing wrong, Mike was always a exemplary soldier. Luckily we had a wonderful attorney through the military and through it all he was granted an honorable discharge and maintained all his military benefits. Mikes entire family withdrew their support of his plans to become a fireman, and to quote his father " no queer son of Mine is going to degrade our families name in the fire department. There were many strained horrible years between his family and Mike and I. But we continued to accept Mikes invites to family holidays and vacations. Mikes sister would always throw a fit and get Mike invited then Mike would refuse to go without me, I sure as hell didn't want to go to this mess, with an entire family hating me and looking at me with disgust and shame. But I always went to support Mike. Many dinners ended in yelling and abuse, and I would try to suggest we not go, but Mike wanted to keep going so I went with him too. In 1989 I finally reached the end of my rope at one formal dinner with everyone there in a nice restaurant. Mike had just received a nice promotion in his job and I was so proud of him and he really wanted his parents approval. Well his mother started in on her criticism of his job and his wasted talents, and blah, blah, blah. I could see the light leaving mikes eyes, and I just couldn't stand it anymore. I slammed my hands down on the table and told his mother and relatives exactly what I thought. I went on for probably 5 min or more, telling them how ashamed they should all be for their behavior, how I had tried to tolerate their abuses and insults for over 10 yrs, and I wasn't tolerating their abuse of Mike anymore. How wonderful their son was and non of them deserved him. I stood up and told them all I would be waiting for a sincere appology from them and until it was done, Mike and I would never see them again! I had no idea I was going to say this, had not discussed it with Mike at all, and he was just as shocked as everyone else at the table. Then I said, Mike, get up now! We are leaving! To my surprise he got up and followed me out to the car. The entire walk outside I was like " oh my god, what have I done" Mike loved his family so much and I thought he was really going to be furious with me, never mind would support my idea of never seeing them again until appology. We got in the car and I was ready for his furry at me, but instead he was like so joyous. So grateful, so proud of me, thanked me so much, he said he felt so loved by me and supported me 100%. It took about 5 yrs of no contact at all, then some discreet invites came to Mike via email, lol, they were all terrified of me at this point. Mike would sheepishly try to ask me if we could go to Xmas or tgiving, and I would simply say, "have they apologized"? No we aren't going. One Xmas, mikes mother drove up to our home when we were both at work and delivered a hole bunch of Xmas gifts for both Mike and I in our home. I promptly donated every gift to charity and sent her the receipt. We finally got our appology, and things were much different at that point. For the last 13 yrs of Mikes life we became extremely close with his family, his mother is now my mother, we talk weekly and his sister and I are brother and sister. She still teases me about that night at dinner, her nickname for me is "Norma Rae" hoping you will get the reference and joke. They all stayed with Mike and I for the last month of his life, with hospice. I cried several times seeing mikes face so happy having his family around him and I was so grateful how it had worked out for us. But it was really tough back then.

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.

Hi Mary, I understand and I'm so sorry his family is like that. You are right, you are better off without them. And if you want to, you will find other people to fill that void in future. I know it's so hard and painful as we go thru that though. I am pretty lonely now, myself. Even though it's been almost 7 yrs since Mike passed, I've had to end friendships and my relationship with my family in Toronto, most friends left my life when Mike passed. I've made a few friendships since Mike passed but they didn't turn out to be good people and since Mike passed I have a new attitude about friendship and family. You see the pain was so tremendous, so all encompassing when Mike passed, I chose to take this time to clean my life out of all relationships that weren't good to me. I stopped all the extra effort it took to keep someone in my life. If they didn't want to put same effort in, I backed off and they were gone. I've started to see that these people weren't really my friends to begin with. I've been really paying attention to my relationships and I now prefer to be alone, vs having to put in most effort, or bend over backwards to be with someone. I just don't do it anymore. My mother now lives with me and I'm glad I did this. We were estranged for decades and the only reason she is here now, really, is because she is no longer able to care for herself and I chose to keep her with me, instead of putting her into home. If she was totally independent, I doubt we would have more than a casual relationship. I made this decision because I hoped mom and I would heal our relationship, become so close and tight before she passed. Well I have discovered that she really isn't the type of mom that I thought she was. I have discovered that all these decades I blamed myself for our distant relationship, I was wrong. Mom is a nice person, don't get me wrong, but she is also selfish, self absorbed and a bigot. As I've spent days and weeks and months with her, I've tried so hard to talk to her about things, she just doesn't get it. The warmth, love I've seen in so many mothers of friends just isn't there. I've discovered that when I left home at 16 to be with Mike, I wasn't being a horrible son, I was running from a cold, selfish, household into the loving arms of Mike where I belonged, finally felt wanted and appreciated. Mike loved me, cuddled me, was very affectionate with me and it was like a drug to me, I found home with him. So it's good for me, but very painful to realize that in the decades I was with Mike I became a warm, loving, caring person, and my parents have never been that. I now see why I left home at 16 and left all the money and privilege behind, left my Ivy league education, to be with my poor, broke, wonderful loving partner. It makes sense to me. But it's been really painful to realize that this warm loving relationship I hoped for with mom isn't going to be. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do. I'm still making up my mind if I will keep mom with me for another year, or decide to find a nice care home for her. There is something distasteful to me about doing that. Even though mom is who she is, I'm not the type of person that just locks someone up and throws away the key. I have to really think about this and decide if it's my time now, after caring for so many for so long, or if it's right to continue to care for mom and put my life on hold still. It's a moral question to me. And I also should say, even though I'm stuck to the house every day, I do get a good feeling that I'm helping her and providing a warm home for her, showing her what love is all about, caring, it surprises her.

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.

Relationship... yeah right.. no relationship. But people who dedicate their life to make mine hell is an appropriate description. Thought death would motivate a change in heart. Wrong. Best thing I did was remove them from my life.


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