Hurt feelings from in-laws after mother's death.

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My mother died Dec. 20. It was a horrible year for her (and my brother & I) and ended with a fall that broke bones, caused serious complications and excruciating pain for her last 2-1/2 weeks of life. I've been exhausted (along with her) from the year and am still very scattered over her death. I truly thought she might beat the odds and make it.

But, right now I am having a big problem with hurt feelings, to the point of intense anger, because my out-of-state brothers-in-law did nothing more than send an email back to husband expressing 'regrets' when he notified them she had died. Not even one of the 3 bothered to send flowers to the funeral home or even a card of condolence! No, money is not a problem for any of them and 2 are extremely wealthy and all are retired -my husband & I are the poor ones in the family and still working.

My husband and I (both of us over 65) have been married for only 7 years, but they all knew my mother and she was included in family functions when they were in to visit my MIL (here near us in a NH and my husband & I take care of her needs).

Maybe I am over-reacting, but I still can't make myself get past or let go of this. I'm not sure I will be able to be civil to them. I'm so angry I haven't taken recent calls from my MIL who phones ME at work (not my husband) with one or more requests for every freaking thing on a daily basis (mentally she's fine, but has mobility and some health problems). I expected the Facebook only 'sorry' from acquaintances and adult step-kids (his last 2 from his 2nd marriage are really spoiled & churlish), but my husband's eldest drove his family over 80 miles to attend the visitation which was so nice and I appreciated so much.

Okay, I needed to vent. My husband doesn't want to hear anything more about it and frankly acted like he didn't see a problem with them just sending an email to him which made me feel even more hurt. Actually, I didn't know they'd emailed him until a few days ago when I finally asked if he had even told them she died since I hadn't heard word one from any of the families.

It just feels very ugly. There were others I expected to hear from too, but this disregard from 'family' feels much worse.

21 Comments

Oh, Claire33, I am so sorry for your loss. It sure sounds like you are hurting. I bet you are the kind of person who has always been there for others and reached out when others are hurting and now in your hour of need find the same to be lacking. I don't know why this happens but it does. Your BILs should have reached out but I bet they have no idea you are so hurt by there lack of caring. Some people just do not get it.

Forgive me if I am overstepping my boundaries here but I do want to add that , in your grief, be sure you are not displacing any anger, sadness, hurt, frustration ....over the loss of your mom on your BILS. I have found that when I am upset by something-for instance-true story- a possible scary operation for my daughter I let my anger towards my sister's lack of response to my concerns become the focal point of my anger though it was really the situation at hand that had me so upset and angry. It caused me a lot of pain and separation from my sister when I built up my anger at her too much. She was being insensitive but not nearly as much as I had built up in my mind. I just needed to be mad at someone and she was an easy target. I just do not want to see the same thing happening to you and your BILS, if that be the case. I could be way off base and I am sorry if I am!!!

God bless you and I hope you find peace and some loving support, even if not from the ole BILs.
Claire, your post causes me much shame. When my two SIL's mothers died, no one in the family even told us about it until several months later. I assume because it was ILs, no one thought we would care. I could have attended one's funeral and at least sent flowers to the others.

When deaths happen in immediate families, people know what to do. When it happens in IL's families, the "rules" get a little fuzzier. What does matter is how you love each other and how you get along. Please don't let this get in the way of your family's relations with each other.

I am so sorry to hear of your mother's death. I know that you miss her, but she will always be a big part of you. I hope you will be able to let go of the anger and forgive, so you can grieve the loss of your mother without anything sullying your thoughts. I think your husband gave you excellent advice to let it go.
Claire,

I agree with the other posters. You are in deep mourning and it's easy to focus our thoughts on 'other' things than grieving. My dad died over two years ago and I still have issues I struggle with regarding other people's behavior at the time.

That is definitely crass just sending an e-mail. Give yourself some time before you react to the situation.

I send you my sincere condolences on losing your mom. It's so hard, so painful. I wish you a good night of sleep and peace in your heart.
Thank you all so much. It helps to have someone commiserate. And, yes, I have had the thought that I was transferring on to them. I'm sure I am to an extent. I'm hurting and of course that has magnified everything.

Actually, just a few minutes ago one BIL texted (.....) that they would like to send a memorial in 'lu' (lieu -love it) of flowers. Very generous & thoughtful and I will certainly find a Dementia/Alz research org that can benefit. Even so, a sympathy card a little earlier would have sufficed and been appreciated -oops, there I go again... But, seriously, what has happened to common courtesy and manners? Too often anymore so many don't bother with much beyond a text, email or Facebook post and I consider that sad. They're excellent for so much and fine in many circumstances, but insufficient & too impersonal if that's the only contact you get from close relatives/personal friends. Guess I'm old fashioned.

I think I do have a problem being too sensitive over some things (particularly if I've been rubbed wrong too many times before), but I can tell you I was way too raw for my husband to say 'let it go' and 'you need to move on ' to me. That was cold. (MishkaM -You didn't overstep in any way. I totally understand your reaction to your sister! And JessieB, if you're not notified there's not much you can do. And for IL's, I guess it depends on how close you are. My family is pretty close -I had cousins 2 states away come in for mom's funeral...and, conversely, friends across town I didn't hear from. Windytown, you are so right, I will wait out my hurt).

Thank you all for your condolences and your thoughtful responses. It is very consoling to have others who understand how you feel. I know I will muddle through, it will just take a while. And I'll try to behave about the BILs, regardless of how boorish (2 are usually quite nice, one is frequently hard to take).

Thanks again.
Sorry that you lost your Mom. My husband's family doesn't do cards or affection in any way (he does, they don't) and it took me a couple of years to realize that my way of being raised isn't the same as theirs. I was raised by thoughfully, loving affectionate parents and his family thinks I am ridiculously sensitive sometimes. My husband is more like my family is, so he sees both sides of the story. He was raised by cold, insensitive, non giving people who think I am gushy and mushy.......I think they are cold.
I have been going through chemo for 12 weeks and none of his family has called to check on us........in that time he and I have been helping them get house in compliance.
People are all different. We will continue to hug them, send cards and call them to check in when the feel bad and help when we can, and they will continue to let us know we send too many cards, call too often and don't help them enough.
Point is, they probably did the best they could at the time and now they are doing it differently after seeing the pain it caused you.
If they didn't care, your pain wouldn't matter but clearly they love you.
Same thing just happened to me, except it was my in laws and my church. My mother just died Sept 17, and my Grandfather just died 3 months prior to that. When my Grandpa died the church sent two cards. After my Grandpas passing my church and in laws sent cards, messaged sorry on Facebook, etc. However, my MIL kept humiliating, correcting, mocking, and belittling me and others behind their backs for years prior and continued after my Grandfathers passing. I got sick of it and yelled at her. Since then, she's been slandering me to all the other in laws, and calling me disrespectful... Uh, yeah right, whatever.. Anyway, now my mom dies. No cards. No messages on Facebook. Nothing.. My Mom died suddenly, and unexpected. My Grandpa saw it coming. I need the sympathy more losing my Mom. We talked often. Now, I'm being punished when I'm at my lowest.. What's even more sickening is my in laws are a Pastor and wife, and my SIL works at the hospital where my Mom died... I think they re evil now. My husband is in shock, and torn between loyalties.. I told him I'm ready to move far away. I have no father, he died in 2003 at age 57 screaming in pain, and now my Mom, who was told she'd be all better after surgery, died at age 60, in 2016. My husband has both his parents, and these people have never lost anyone close to them. I know they have no idea the pain they put me through, and when they have someone die, I'll send flowers, etc, even though they don't. Gotta keep heaping on those coals.. Only way to work with h*ll bound folks..
One thing I have noticed since my parents recently had passed that there were more cards and flowers in respect for my Mom who passed in December. With my Dad who just passed, less cards and flowers. Maybe its a gender thing. Or maybe people were feeling Mom is gone and that would have been hard on my Dad.

I've begun to accept email sympathy notes instead of actual cards. It's wasn't easy as I was from the old school where people would send cards, and thank-you notes written by hand. Etiquette has changed with social media.

One thing that really set my hair on fire was a sympathy card from a younger relative who said they were sorry they couldn't attend my Dad's funeral because their 12 year old son had a football game that day. Seriously???
Suzie and FF, we are very vulnerable when we lose someone close to us -- sometimes even if the relationship wasn't cordial. Our emotions are heightened. We are very needy and sensitive to perceived slights.

A major reason for previous outward signs of mourning (armbands, black clothing, etc) was to signify "this person just lost a relative, and may be emotionally unstable" so others could tread carefully. We don't do that today, and we don't have a culture that formally acknowledges the vulnerability past the day of the funeral or service.

I'm not saying that insensitivity is trivial or not significant. But it is possible the bereaved give it more significance than it deserves, because of the state of our emotions.
I think that the social niceties of previous generations were part of the glue that bound us into communities and the less we take the time to acknowledge births, marriages, death or whatever the more disconnected we become. I have to admit that I have taken advantage of the opportunity to send online condolence notes since I couldn't easily attend a funeral or viewing, but it seems the majority have no real excuse beyond it being unpleasant or inconvenient to attend and total disregard has become the default attitude.
The same thing happened to me, my Dad died, and nothing from my BIL & SIL. then their Mom died, and nothing again! My husband and I did everything in the arrangements of her funeral planning, all the while, my own Mother was dying, and on Hospice. I have never heard one peep, not a card a fliwer, nothing, not even for their own Mom! We then took in their Dad, to live in our home, and they have only caused us grief, and never visited their Dad, in 13 years, not even once! They are both users, only out for themselves. I've cut them from our lives, they are not worth it! My husband and I have My great family, and that is more than plenty!

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