Family Matters
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Family Death Etiquette (long, but necessarily so)

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Edit: sorry for the crazy graphics, I pasted from Microsoft Word

 

Backstory: MIL is a passive aggressive person with me, but DH has actually gotten her to stop for the most part. She enjoys making plans for us, but not telling us until the last minute so we can?t go/end up going and changing our plans. MIL has never liked my mom as she is too ?independent? (She snowblows every winter, gardens, cuts her own grass, takes care of the house alone, since my dad has emphysema, and fixes things that need to be done) and has always been jealous my parents live 2 minutes away, while she lives over an hour away.

 

The issue: My mom died on July 14 from an aneurysm. Mom was my best friend. We talked every day and DD and I would go visit her almost every day as my mom loved seeing DD and spending time with her. 

 

Since my mom died, MIL has been back at her old tricks. The first being the day after Mom had her aneurysm. She was still on life support while we waited for the doctors to determine if she could be an organ donor, as they determined she had no brain function. DH had come to get me at the hospital (which is over 2 ? hours away) since I had stayed the night with my mom so my dad could go home and get my sisters to say their good-bye?s to mom. DH had taken DD home the night before and MIL had come over to sit with DD so he could come back up to get me. As soon as I walked in the door MIL started in with her ?I know how you feel?, ?It?s a terrible loss?, etc. (FIL passed away 4 years ago) I just nodded, since I was still numb, and went to sit with DD before I went to my parent?s house to let their dogs out/find insurance papers, etc. DH went outside to get my bag out of the car and MIL comes in and says to DD ?I?m your only Grandma now?. I started bawling and had to leave the room. I took a bath and DH came up and asked what was wrong, I told him and he said he would talk to MIL. Soon after I left and didn?t see her again until a week later, for DD?s birthday.  

 

MIL shows up at the house for DD?s birthday and immediately begins pestering me about going to their family reunion the next week. I was still unsure if I wanted to go, since I was still hurting and it would be a mess of people asking what happened, etc. Since I am pregnant, I knew I couldn?t handle the questions without breaking down, etc. and I didn?t want anyone else to have a bad time due to me being in a funk. I told her I didn?t know if I was going and to drop it. If I showed up, I went. If not, I didn?t. She then launches into how she knows what I am going through, etc. I told her, no, you don?t. Your mom is still alive (she only visits her once a month, even though she lives in a nursing home about 10 minutes away), your husband died of cancer and you had a year to come to terms with it, I had literally minutes. I thanked her for her sympathy but asked her to not talk about it anymore, since it was DD?s birthday, let?s think of her. DH spoke with her again and she stopped for a week or two, then back at it again.

 

MIL was upset that she wasn?t invited to the viewing we had for my mom. It was immediate family and my mom?s best friend only. Nobody else went. We had a family party at the house the weekend after she died. MIL was upset she wasn?t invited. Again: family only/Mom?s best friend. We buried Mom?s ashes on August 17th at the farm where her best friend lives, where her horse was buried. (we chose the 17th because it was 2 years prior that her horse had been put down, so we knew mom would have liked to be buried that day) MIL was upset nobody told her we were doing it and she wanted to go. Again: family only with Mom?s best friend. I explained this to her, and she got all p!ssy with me over it. So I told DH to handle it, and he told her the same thing.

 

Since then MIL has again announced that she is DD?s only grandma (in front of my dad, nonetheless), asked me why I haven?t opened up to her like I did my mom (since she?s gone now) and told DH?s family that I ?need to get over this, since I am pregnant and need to worry about that baby and DD?.

 

My question is: How do I handle this? DH has talked to her, so she doesn?t do it in front of him anymore (again), but I can?t handle this at all. I?m having a hard enough time dealing with my best friend/mom being gone, not to mention trying not to strangle his mother when she comes over/calls. Can I just not talk to her/ignore her? I hate to have DD not have a relationship with MIL, but since DH is working out of town, it?s usually me that deals with her, unless it?s the weekend. I really can?t handle any more of her stressDH has tried handling it, but it seems MIL just hides it from him and makes me out to be an emotional-pregnant-woman that blows stuff out of proportion, which DH knows is not true. . What do you ladies suggest?



Re: Family Death Etiquette (long, but necessarily so)

  • First off I'm really sorry for your lose. Second, it sounds like your husband actually sticks up for you so congrats on finding a great guy. Many situations like this always turn out being a DH problem, but this actually sounds like a IL problem. She needs to back off. I understand that you don't want to take a relationship away from your daughter but at the same time I don't see how anyone could think it's ok to say " I'm your only grandma now" and then REPEAT after she has been told to not say that ever again. Anytime she brings your mom up say " You have been told time and time again to stop bringing this up. If you keep bringing that up I will take my daughter and leave" then, ofcourse follow through. She needs to under stand that you can't just "get over" a death. If she understands so well what you're going through she would also understand your a human not a robot. Breaking off all ties with her might not be a bad idea, but you would want to clear that up with your husband first.

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  • I'm so sorry you lost your mother. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. It seems like your MIL could learn a thing or two from her..

    I think your MIL is totally completely out of line in her actions and what she is saying to DD (being the only grandmother) It is great the DH is speaking to her about it, and sticking up for you, but in my opinion, it might be time for his talks to be stronger. As in, "if you continue to hurt my grieving wife, we will not be in touch with you."?

    ?If it's possible, I would avoid talking to your MIL right now. You need time to grieve and deal with your loss without worrying about your very obnoxious mother in law.?

  • First of all im so sorry about your mom...it is horrible. I lost my mom in May, also no good byes it happened very quickly she was not ill. the shock still stings and the finality of it all makes it so hard to comprehend.

    Even though your H has spoken to her a # of times it obviously isnt working. She is playing nice for a little bit but then back to her ways. I think the only solution is to take the next step.

    Have you confronted her? To her face? Strongly? If not it may be time. Next time she makes a stupid ass comment BLAST HER! Tell you H now so he is warned. Tell him you are done.

    Honestly we have seen a lot worse MIL's around here, and maybe understandably you are being more annoyed than usual. Give it some time, see if when you start to feel better things get better.



  • first of all I am sorry for your loss I cannot imagine losing my mother.

    I don't have much but I think you are okay in ignoring for awhile and focusing on yourself, your daughter and your pregnancy.

    If your DH knows the situation and is supportive of you ther eis no reason you cannot limit contact with her at least for the time being, I would however let her continue to see DD but without you for awhile. Let you DD go to her house once in awhiule of have her pick your DD up for an outing or something without you. This way she can continue her relationship with her grandmom while you work through your grief.

  • Well, first of all, I'm very sorry for your loss.

    Secondly, your MIL is a real piece of work! I think it would be best for you to ignore her/not talk to her, and to just limit your time with her as much as you can from here on out.

    And don't change your plans when she tries to get you to commit to something without asking, either. That tells her that she can just keep doing it, without showing respect for your time, and you and your H will go along with it.

  • Whew -- first of all, I'm very sorry for your loss.  It's so recent that I'm sure everything that touches on this is extremely painful.

    Your MIL lacks tact, to put it mildly, and she seems incredibly selfish.  I'm sorry that you're having to deal with her on top of the rest of this.

    I think you are right to continue having your DH handle her.  I would consider just having DH and DD "represent" your nuclear family at all family functions on his side for the next few months.  When they have to go to a family birthday or reunion, you take those days off to curl up and rest and not have to deal with any further crap-ola from your MIL.  Your DH can just explain that you need a few months to mourn the loss of your mom and that no one should take it personally, but that ALL family functions are really difficult for you at this time.  He should assure them that this is a temporary thing while your grief is still fresh.

    Also, I think your DH should tell his mom that she should NEVER say to your DD, "I'm your only grandma now."  I think that type of comment would at the least be confusing to your DD; at the worst -- upsetting.  What's a child's response supposed to be to that?  Come on, lady!

    Finally, you should consider seeking grief counseling.  I would think that even a few sessions with a good counselor would bolster you as you deal with the crossover of 1) your mom's passing, 2) your MIL's unhelpful behavior, and 3) the upcoming birth of your new baby!!

    Hang in there!

  • image magsugar13:

    First of all im so sorry about your mom...it is horrible. I lost my mom in May, also no good byes it happened very quickly she was not ill. the shock still stings and the finality of it all makes it so hard to comprehend.

    Even though your H has spoken to her a # of times it obviously isnt working. She is playing nice for a little bit but then back to her ways. I think the only solution is to take the next step.

    Have you confronted her? To her face? Strongly? If not it may be time. Next time she makes a stupid ass comment BLAST HER! Tell you H now so he is warned. Tell him you are done.

    Honestly we have seen a lot worse MIL's around here, and maybe understandably you are being more annoyed than usual. Give it some time, see if when you start to feel better things get better.

    Ditto this

    At first I wanted to say that maybe the MIL just isnt being tactful and coming out with the wrong things to say and not trying to be intentional but the comment about her being the only grandma would have set.me.off.

    Honestly, she needs to shut her mouth completely and your husband has to push back harder with her to behave herself and I agree that if he doesn't, you should. 

    It's like your MIL is making this all about her.  I'm sure it is really hard for you to handle.

    I am so sorry for your loss. 


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  • image magsugar13:

    First of all im so sorry about your mom...it is horrible. I lost my mom in May, also no good byes it happened very quickly she was not ill. the shock still stings and the finality of it all makes it so hard to comprehend.

    Even though your H has spoken to her a # of times it obviously isnt working. She is playing nice for a little bit but then back to her ways. I think the only solution is to take the next step.

    Have you confronted her? To her face? Strongly? If not it may be time. Next time she makes a stupid ass comment BLAST HER! Tell you H now so he is warned. Tell him you are done.

    Honestly we have seen a lot worse MIL's around here, and maybe understandably you are being more annoyed than usual. Give it some time, see if when you start to feel better things get better.

    Ditto. Because you have your husband's support and because you are greiving you have a one time opportunity to tell her to "back the f-off". I mean, really tell that woman off because she's just begging for it. If she wants to fuss and yell and cry about it everyone will tell her the truth You just lost your mother and your pregnant.

    Get mad, go ahead and yell. Tell her DD will always have two grandmas, and if she thinks the sudden death of your mother makes her the new mom of the year she's badly mistaken.

    [IMG]http://img534.imageshack.us/img534/1457/jansiggy.jpg[/IMG]
  • My blood is boiling reading this.  "I'm your only grandmother"  NO- she isn't.  Your mother may be gone, but she is STILL your DD's grandmother and I have no doubt that your DD will grow up hearing about your mom, and hearing about the time she spent w/ your mom.

    I'd be LIVID.  My mother died 3 years ago, and while DS has my MIL and my step-mom, when he gets older, he absolutely will know about his 3rd grandmother, who he unfortunately wasn't able to meet.

    It's wonderful that your DH backs you up on this.  However, as he isn't around for a lot of it, I think you need to start being more firm and blunt w/ her.  Next time she says that, I'd say to her "No- you aren't.  And you need to stop saying that.  If you don't, I'm going to have to limit your time w/ DD. I find it very rude and disrespectful for you to say that. ". 

    Words don't work- your DH has "talked" to her how many times?  It's time to move to action.  "If you refuse to stop making ___ comment(s), we're going to have to stop spending time w/ you".  Or "Next time you make that comment, we're leaving/ we're going to have to ask you to leave.".

    Her being a grandmother isn't a "right".  Having a relationship w/ your child does NOT take priority over her being rude and thoughtless to you.  To have a relationship w/ your child, she needs to have one w/ you too!!  She needs to treat YOU w/ respect.

    She can't do this?  Then no, actually, she doesn't get to be close to your DD. 

    I think a few times of actually not being able to see your DD, or you all getting up and leaving, or what have you, will be the VERY serious wakeup call she may need.  Words go in one ear and out the other.  The reality of "Oh, crap, I'm not going to be able to see DD" may be the thing that makes her start ot think about what she says.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • I'm with everyone who said that her little "I'm your only grandmother now" comment would have set me ablaze.  My dad lost his mom before any of us kids were born, and you'd better believe that he worked hard to tell us stories about her and show us her picture so that we knew how important and how special she was to my dad and how much she would have loved spending time with us.  She will always be my grandmother as much as my living grandmother is!

    If she is still making comments like this and trying to intrude on your grieving process, you are well within your rights to set a firm boundary and tell her that you just won't be seeing her for awhile unless your DH is present.  A few weeks of not seeing her granddaughter may work wonders, too.

    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
  • DH's mom died when he was little.  All of dh's nieces and nephews (as well as our children) know that they have a grandma in heaven.  NOT the same as "no grandma" or "only one grandma." 

    I agree, you have an opportunity here to be angry.  You can give her a "you're NOT my mother"  (or, "you'll never be my mother."), if she wants you to "open up" to her. 

    I agree that if she keeps offending you, then you don't have to have her around.  To see you or DD.  Let your dh handle the pressures to go to family reunion. 

  • Can I just not talk to her/ignore her? - YES, especially while you are grieving. 

    I hate to have DD not have a relationship with MIL, but since DH is working out of town, it?s usually me that deals with her, unless it?s the weekend.  Then weekend visits it is.  Weekends only won't damage your DD's relationship with her.

    I really can?t handle any more of her stressDH has tried handling it, but it seems MIL just hides it from him and makes me out to be an emotional-pregnant-woman that blows stuff out of proportion, which DH knows is not true. . What do you ladies suggest?

    You could ask DH to call her even though he's away and tell her that what she's saying/doing is not acceptable.  let her know that just because he's not physically there doesn't mean he is unaware of what she is doing.He could also tell her that until she can prove she is able to treat you with respect she will only be invited to spend time with DD when he is there.

    I would also stop explaining things to her.  You don't owe her any explanations, especially not for how your family decides to grieve/honor your mom.  "I'm sorry you feel that way."  If she persists "It wasn't done to hurt you, but it's over so let's move on" and one more time "The matter is not open for discussion, let's talk about something else or DD and I will have to leave"

    You're a better person then me.  I would have told her to just shut the f*ck up already, she's not my mom, she will never be my mom and I will take my time grieving for as long as I want. 

  • Everything EastCoastBride said.
    fiizzlee = vag ** fiizzle = peen ** Babies shouldn't be born wit thangs ** **They're called first luddz fo' a reason -- mo' is supposed ta come after. Yo Ass don't git a medal fo' marryin yo' prom date. Unless yo ass is imoan. I aint talkin' bout chicken n' gravy biatch. Then yo ass git a all-expenses paid cruise ta tha Mediterranean n' yo ass git ta hook up Jared Padalecki on tha flight over while bustin yo' jammies. But still no medal.
  • Thank you, ladies. I was hoping I wasn't the only one who felt that I have every right to be p!ssed off about this behavior.

    To clarify I have told her to her face several times that this behavior will not cut it and if she doesn't stop I won't be around her, which would mean no DD either unless DH takes DD to see MIL.

    I also told her the last time she made the comment that DD has 2 grandmas, but one is in heaven (DD will actually look up to "heaven" and tell my mom still that she loves her and ask to go see her in heaven. It would break your heart to see it. I know it does mine.) and just because she isn't here physically she is still here. I asked her last weekend if just because her husband is gone, does that mean that DD doesn't have another grandpa? She got offended and hung up on me. It is the same thing in my book. I never met DH's dad, neither did DD, but we still show her pictures and DH will tell DD about him.

    DH has tried, I know it's hard for him to even confront anyone, and I am glad he is finally standing up to his mother but enough is enough. Thank you for the affirmations, ladies, and I will let DH read this. (He always gets a kick out of the responses on the Nest)

    Any more suggestions I would greatly appreciate. 

    BTW I have seen a grief counselor 3 times since Mom died and she seems to be helping me come to terms with Mom's death, but she also agrees that MIL needs to back off and leave me to grieve on my own. She said that everyone grieves in their own way, and by having to deal with MIL's BS I am putting my grief on the back burner to deal with her and it is NOT healthy. 

  • With your follow up, time to stop talking. 

    If you're visiting and she says something just tell DD to get her stuff together because you have to leave now.  MIL will probably try to complain.  Just tell her, "We've told you numerous times, these comments/behaviour will not be tolerated.  I don't have to listen to this" or I deserve to be treated with more respect.

    If she starts in on the phone don't try to make her understand, just tell her the conversation is over and you are hanging up now. 

     

    I'm also okay with you telling her she is such a b!tch some times.  But that probably won't work as well as just not engaging with her, even if it would feel good to say it just once.

  • First, I'm very sorry for your loss.

    Secondly...your MIL is NOT passive aggressive--your MIL is a B^TCH!  Since your H has talked to her about it, I think its time to put an end to it.  The next time she says anything like that to you or to your DD--you need to say "Listen MIL, we have asked you politely to refrain from talking about being DD's only grandma or that you understand how I feel.  If you bring this up one more time or make inappropriate comments like that--you will be asked to leave.  Do you understand?"  Make sure she says yes, and follow thru.  Your H needs to step it up...thats completely ridiculous for her to say stuff like that.

    ETA: I didn't read the other responses or your follow up before I posted...I just wanted to say that I hope your H helps you and realizes that there needs to be some dramatic steps taken because clearly your MIL is not getting it.

  • To clarify I have told her to her face several times that this behavior will not cut it and if she doesn't stop I won't be around her, which would mean no DD either unless DH takes DD to see MIL.

    This is the problem, though.  You keep telling her this, but from what you're writing, you aren't following through.  You should only be saying this ONCE.  And then the next time she does it- you leave.  or tell her to leave. 

    You're throwing out an ultimatum (VERY rightfully so), but you aren't following through.  That makes your ultimatum pointless. 

    And I truly can not believe that you called her out on the "only grandmother" by asking about her DH and she actually got pissed and hung up!!  It actually makes me laugh- you called her on it, and she knew you were right, so she got pissed.  Ha ha ha!  She needs more of that, in my opinion.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • i have nothing to add, as the others have said it all.  but i, too, am sorry for your loss.

    and your follow-up post has me in tears.

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  • I'm sorry for your loss.   My dad died last year and was only 54 years old.    It's painful.   If any of my ILs said my DS only had one grandpa, I'd be furious.   Livid, actually. 

    I would question her about it.   "WHY do you say that to my daughter when I've asked you not to?"   "Why do you do it if you understand how hurtful it is to me?"   Etc.   I'd be really curious to see how she digs herself out of it.   It would make her squirm more than just saying, "Don't say that ever again!"  

    Ultimately though, ECB is right.   An ultimatum with no bite is not really an ultimatum.   Act on what you've threatened. 

  • image SweetSoul089:

     

    I hate to have DD not have a relationship with MIL, but since DH is working out of town, it?s usually me that deals with her, unless it?s the weekend. I really can?t handle any more of her stressDH has tried handling it, but it seems MIL just hides it from him and makes me out to be an emotional-pregnant-woman that blows stuff out of proportion, which DH knows is not true.  What do you ladies suggest?

    For the time being, I think you need to be selfish and take care of yourself.  I would ask your dh to be there whenever his mother is over or you have to interact with her.  At least during this time while the grief is still fresh.  Your dd and MIL will both survive if they only get to see each other once/week on weekends.

    My MIL is challenging for other reasons and I don't feel comfortable being alone with her.  Dh needs to be there if we are interacting with his mother.  I think that's fair.

    I am really sorry about your mom.  My mom died of a brain aneurysm and losing a mother is hard no matter the circumstances.   

  • image kmap24:

    You're a better person then me.  I would have told her to just shut the f*ck up already, she's not my mom, she will never be my mom and I will take my time grieving for as long as I want. 

     

    This.  I would be tolerant right up until the "I'm your only grandma" horse$hit.

  • I am also so, so sorry for your loss.  I lost my mom in Oct and my dad 6 1/2 years ago.  Looking at both experiences, I see that no one grieves the same way and you don't even grieve the same way twice.  I still cry for my father and know that I always will.  I am still shocked by my mother's death.  You never, ever get over it -- and you never want to.

    So, it seems you are doing a remarkable job tolerating a difficult situation when you should be free to grieve.  I pray that you find comfort and strength...

    The only thing I wanted to add (besides -- good for you going to a counselor!!!) is a great book I am reading called "The Mom Factor" by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend (who also did a series of books on "Boundaries").  "The Mom Factor" is about dealing with any type of "mom" in your life who is not quite doing the job as a mother.  It might be especially good for your DH, who likely had issues with her from childhood.

    I'd also recommend for you the book "A Grief Observed" by CS Lewis, if it is applicable to you.  It is the journal Lewis wrote when his wife died.  Lewis was a Christian who was basically struggling with God.  If you are not religious then it probably is not for you.  Otherwise, when I read the book it was like someone was putting my grief into words, which I thought was impossible.

    In the end, there are no words and no answers to make the pain go away.  It just sucks.  My heart breaks for you.

  • I have nothing really to add to previous poster's advice- I just wanted to say that I'm so sorry for your loss.  *Internet hugs*

  • Your MIL has to understand that every person goes through 5 stages on Death and Dying (from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross)

    1.Denial

    2.Anger

    3.Bargaining

    4.Depression

    5.Acceptance

     

    she has to be sensitive enough unless all the other people has reached the Acceptance stage.

    much has already been said by the other posters. i'm just very sorry for your loss. *big huuuuuuugs* too.

     

    image 

  • I don't have any advice, but big hugs to you.  I'm so sorry that you lost your mother.

  • This happened between my grandmothers.  There was alot of back story.  The night we were leaving for the wake, she said to my sister "I'm your only grandmother now."  My sister said "the wrong grandmother died."  She never said that again. 

    I'm so sorry for your loss.  I can't even imagine losing my mom like that.  The only advice I have is to concentrate on your own family (DH, DD, and new baby).  And try to stay away from MIL.

  • I am very sorry, number one for your loss, but also for how your MIL is behaving. Wow, I really have no idea how to handle this situation. She is really out of line. Although I have no advice I hope that my support at least helps a little.
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