My husband’s father passed away last year. His mother is still devastated. It was an unexpected death and her mother had passed away two weeks before her husband. My husband supports his mother financially and we have been staying with her half the week every week for the last year. He has three sisters and his mom rotates and stays with each sister on the weekends. We have a nine month old and I am going back to work. I cannot keep going back and forth between houses every single week. I am not trying to be mean but her house is dirty and I don’t want the baby crawling around. Am I being selfish? Or what is a reasonable compromise?

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Can you hire a housecleaner for a few times a month? Can one of the sisters take over the half week stay, and you pick up the weekend shift ?
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Josesmom Jun 2021
I think I would offend her if I hired a house cleaner. And the weekend shift does not work. I have a seven year old from a previous marriage that is with me on the weekends. I will not have him stay there as he needs his own space.
Why are you staying there at all? I imagine she is depressed but is she getting any help or just relying on her children to keep her entertained, etc.? I would stop staying there ASAP. Maybe she needs meds and therapy. How do the other siblings feel about this?
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Josesmom Jun 2021
They don’t want her to be alone because they worry that she will be depressed. I agree. I am trying to be supportive of my husband as I personally would approach this differently if it were my parents. She is speaking to a therapist on the phone. My suggestion was that she schedule her therapist when she is home alone so that she can process those feelings while she is on the phone with her therapist.
No you're not being selfish. You're just wanting your life back in your own home. It's now been over a year, since your MIL lost her husband. It's time that she now figure out her life on her own. It is not healthy for her(or you)to be so dependent on her children.
You need to have a heart to heart with your husband, and share what you've shared here. He needs to be putting you and your child before his mom. And yes, I agree, your child needs to be able to stay in a clean environment.
It's now time for mom to spread her wings to fly on her own, and start getting involved with folks her own age. She may actually find that she enjoys having the house to herself. But if she's never given the chance to find out, how will she ever know that?
Perhaps instead of you guys going to stay with her, you can compromise and tell her that she can come stay with you once a month for 1/2 a week. Now please note that I didn't say she could come every week, but only 1/2 week once a month. And I only suggest this if a compromise must be made. Otherwise, I would stop the back and forth completely. Again it's time for your MIL to start rebuilding her life. She will never be able to do that if her family keeps enabling her not to. You might have to use some tough love here. Wishing you the best.
Helpful Answer (18)
Josesmom Jun 2021
Thank you, I appreciate your support and kind words.
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You may find that Mom thinks she's doing this for all of you rather than the other way around. It's time for a family meeting with everyone to sort this out.
Helpful Answer (14)

I don't think that people grieve well when they have a lot of company. I think a short term support system of folks around and then being alone allows people to get in touch with their emotions.

Has your MIL joined a grief support group?

Has she previously experienced depression? Is she in touch with her PCP, therapist or other health care professional about her depression and grief?

How is your husband doing? Is HE grieving and seeking the support of his mom in that?

I would absolutely say that it's time for you all to go home and get back to living your life as your own family unit. If mom needs support, it needs to be intermittent and professional.
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Myachingass75 Jun 2021
Who pays for this? Does mom have a complete source of income and insurance to cover ongoing and increasing personal expenses? It appears from this entry that is not the case. Examine the financial aspects of being a caregiver, as the weight of watching your financial resources being overlapped by the expenses of living remains an undisputed 99% part of life. Yet one that nobody wants to address. Why?
I know everyone grieves differently. But I do think that those who have lost a spouse need to learn to be alone. If MILs age is correct 68 then she is not old. She is still young enough to get involved. If she is 68 then Mom had to be in late 80s or early 90s. She lived a good long life. Personally, I would not want to go to a different house every week. IMO, its time for MIL to be left alone. Start backing off. You are doing her no favor in hovering. You will be creating more problems as time goes on. Invite her over for dinner. A movie night. Take her to McDonalds with the kids. There are 4 children. Each have her over one night for dinner and send her home with leftovers. She needs to now establish a new life.

You, she is ur MIL who has 4 kids. You have a perfect reason to bow out. A baby and a job. Think ur going to have a period of adjustment here. At least 10 hrs a day is going to be getting you and baby up, fedand dressed. Drop off a Daycare, work, pick baby up and then home to...cook a meal? So we r looking at 7 or later when u can finally sit down. Oh not really...u now have to get baby ready for bed. By the time you get that done, ur ready for bed. Weekends, your focus should be on the 7 year old. So I see nowhere in there that you can care for MIL. Do the sister's husbands help out. If not, why should you because you are a woman. I think you will have enough on your plate.

And why are u helping MIL financially? Yes, her SS has been cut down. But are there things she can cut down on? House too big, then clean it up and sell it. Use the proceeds to offset the rent on an apartment. When a spouse dies there is loss of income. You have to adjust to a new lifestyle. I see it all the time. The widows sell the home and move into an apt with no upkeep and love it.

You can disable your MIL, by doing for her what she is very capable of doing on her own. I suggest finding her a grief support group. Our Church has one so ask around.
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The family may be enabling the Mom not to move on. As to supporting an elder, this is money you will badly need for your own elder years, and it takes a lifetime of saving to be safe in your elder years. Visits and helping out with grocery trips is great, but to be there all the time is saying you WILL be there all the time. This is difficult loss, and your MIL would likely benefit from support group for grieving. Your husband may be spreading himself thin; I would suggest counseling. A new baby and this grieving process has given you quite a hurdle, and it would help you to talk this out with a mediator, and the ability to openly express your thought.
Helpful Answer (11)

Your husbands family has suffered two losses. I’m sorry.

Since it has been a year and MIL is not able to stay alone, I think it is safe to say that this plan isn’t working.

People can grieve for a very long time but it is important not to get stuck. Her grief can’t come before your own family.

Thank goodness she didn’t move in with you.

Good for you on being clear that your 7 yr old comes first on the weekends. Now it’s time to do the same for the baby and yourself. You have given up your privacy through your entire pregnancy. You have more than compromised.

If the sisters think their mother needs someone there, they will need to step up. You can’t decide for them but you have to be responsible for your own family.

Perhaps MIL could benefit from a part time job of her own?
She is too young to stop living her life.

You are not being selfish. You are being the voice of reason.
If it feels too abrupt to just stop, then ask DH for him to stay 3 nights the first week, then 2 nights the next week and then 1 night the third week or some such tapering off. It's clear you are not insensitive to her situation but some next step is in order.
Helpful Answer (10)

Some people get stuck in certain stages of grief. That doesn’t mean that they have a right to impose their desires on others.

There are parents who have used grief as an excuse and they try to manipulate their children to do what they want. Has your mother in law always been an overly needy type of person? I know a woman who lost her spouse in 2009 and she tries to manipulate everyone. She is always boo hooing about something and loves to lay a guilt trip on everyone but especially her grown children who lead very busy lives. Her children don’t fall for it.

When my father died, no one moved in with my mom. Mom didn’t expect that from us. I did help her with bringing her to appointments and errands because she could no longer drive, due to seizures and Parkinson’s disease. At that time she still cooked and cleaned her own house.

I can’t imagine living at my mom’s home at that time with my two young daughters for part of the week. My mom later moved in with us. That’s a whole other story!

Of course, you want a clean environment for your children. You have gone above and beyond supporting your husband and his mom. Does she have major health issues or is the primary issue grieving the loss of her husband? I feel it is certainly time for her to be on her own or hire someone to help her. Do you think she would join a support group for widows?

Would downsizing help her? She could hire a housekeeper.

Losing a spouse is a significant loss. I am sure that she is devastated. Is this your mother in law’s idea to be with her, your husband’s idea or his sisters? I certainly hope they don’t want this to continue indefinitely. Your mother in law isn’t even 70! This could last a long time!

Tell your husband that it’s important that mom starts to live independently and that your family needs to resume your life in your own home. I wonder if his sisters are hoping that mom will get back to life on her own too. It is nice that they share the responsibility of caring for their mom.

You can visit his mom. She can visit you.

Wishing you and your family all the best.
Helpful Answer (5)

You should be given a pass to not need to stay. You do enough as a working mom.
Perhaps she feels afraid with no other person at the home, especially at night.
Or she is lonely.
Perhaps a pet would help her?
No one should have to be the emotional support for another person, although we can care and help. But there needs to be other resources for her to get through her grief ( no one gets "over it")
Perhaps an assisted living community with a communty room and travel with others programs there?
Helpful Answer (5)
97yroldmom Jun 2021
The pet might be a good idea.
My sons MIL lost her husband to Parkinson’s. She was his caregiver for many years. She kept wanting to babysit my DILs dogs. They were old and it was hard on them going back and forth. So she adopted an adult dog. An older one but with lots of life left. It has really helped her.
It’s good to be responsible for something. Plants, a pet, a job. Something. Even goldfish.
Emotional support 💜 - or emotional, social, practical & financial support? To me it appears closer to complete support.

Great repsonces regarding the grief issue 🐘. A double loss, very sad indeeed. I too wonder if MIL has had the chance to be alone enough to adjust to her new life?

Question is: does she want to? What's her motivation like to become an independent, lively widdow? Or has she given up - resigned to sit down & let family do all.

12 months is often an accepted time-frame to make changes after a big loss.

You & your DH's family have given your MIL this wonderful gift of support for this whole time.

Maybe the next gift is to encourage MIL to take charge of her life again. Either to fly solo or land in an assisted living (if that is preferred).

Step back. Detach with love. Step back into your own life.
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I have a friend from church whose husband died early this year. She has several daughters who are taking turns bringing her to church & sitting with her. She recently confided, with a chuckle, that she'd be fine by herself and doesn't need all this taking care of. She lets them do it because it may satisfy some need THEY have.
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When my husband died after 37 years of marriage, my children and I was devastated. It took 5 years and mental health counseling, and an anti-depressant to finally feel better.
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How old is she? If she isn’t ready for a retirement or nursing home, there is no reason to still be staying there. As far as her dirty house, can’t everybody pitch in and clean it? She about her go to a senior place. My mother always liked. They would play cards and have lunch together and there was a pool table. Also, they would take one trips. You need to speak to your husband about it. He can stay there without you if he insist on being there.
My husband died at home and I did have somebody with me for three nights but after that I stayed alone.
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A year is long enough. Grief can "chain" the soul of the deceased to Earth. The soul must be free to move on to the Afterlife. Tell you loved one to let go, to release those she loved. Grief is negative energy. It harms her, and it harms the souls of those she loves. Instead of grieving, she must be grateful for the time she had with them. She can honor them by lighting a candle in their memory, or having a vase of flowers. With time, she will find moments of joy again in life. Eventually those moments will become longer and longer. Joy can even become a way of life for her again.
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I’m glad she has a therapist. She may also need a short term antidepressant. But it sounds like her kids are too involved with her at this stage of grief. Really it’s overkill and she should be beginning to reach out to others that she previously had relationships with. At 68, my age btw, is not old and I am involved with several different groups, between church, book club, the gym etc., I have activities to help me feel a part of something. It sounds as though she is being over protected by her children and that is not normal for healthy grieving and moving forward. I think it would be wise to have a family conference so to speak.
You are a young family and need to be at home with your new baby. I hope you can convince your husband.
Helpful Answer (5)

People grieve in different ways and on different timetables. The day my father died, my mother was cleaning out his closet and giving away his tools. But that fit her personality. She found some peace in being active and doing something practical.

On the other hand, when my MIL died, my SIL fell apart so badly that she didn’t enter the family home for 3 years. It has now been 10 years and the estate still isn’t settled because she keeps dragging her feet. Unfortunately, her husband (an attorney) is the executor and won’t rock the boat. Neither my husband nor his one brother will confront her. The one brother that did is now not speaking to anyone in the family except my husband.

So support your MIL emotionally, but the overnight stays need to stop. She needs to learn how to re-enter society and become more independent. If she is unable to live alone, it may be time for a move to IL or AL.
Helpful Answer (5)

Your MIL may need more time and professional help to work through her grieving, but there is no reason for you and your husband (and his siblings) to be supporting her to the degree you describe. Grieving does not mean a person cannot live alone.. Is your MIL afraid to live alone? Is she incompetent to manage her own affairs?

If she cannot live alone, help her move into a senior living facility appropriate to her needs. Help her find a Grief Support Group or professional counseling.. The current amount of "support" she is receiving from her children is not helpful and is unrealistic.

You are not being selfish in wanting to focus on your own child and home.

If she is emotionally unstable b/c of her two recent losses, encoura.
Helpful Answer (3)

I AM 68, and my mother is 88. As an in-law, whatever you do will never be right or enough. I have SIX sisters-in-law.
(And please don't get guilt tripped into letting MIL move in with you.)

My mother lives in a beautiful senior building with lots of activities but refuses to even go down to the vending machine and calls me when she runs out of diet coke. (Even two weeks after my knee replacement surgery.) I intervened when I saw her starting to call my daughter who is a single mom who works two jobs.

We can't put a time limit on the grief of others, but MIL should be encouraged to do all of the things suggested here. My aunt has eight children and had 10 brothers and sisters. My uncle died 18 years ago and people still stay with her.

Focus on your family. Children at those young ages need your time, energy and attention. You need time to rest. Motherhood, though wonderful, is exhausting, especially when you work outside if the home. DO YOU.
Helpful Answer (6)

Couldn't your husband just go stay with her in those times? And if you wanted to, then you could just go occassionally. That way you could spend more time with your baby and home. I know when my MIL was living with my husbands sister, I would only go occassionally. Because I had a young son and worked full time. Also because it was a few hours away. My husband was alright with it, that way it gave him mother/son time together.
Helpful Answer (4)
Grandma1954 Jun 2021
Why should Josesmom have to care for a baby by herself while her husband stays with his mom. He should prioritize his wife and child.
A year? And she has to leave to rotate with daughters? You got pregnant there, go home!
Helpful Answer (0)

This question falsely combines two completely separate issues.

1. How long would we anticipate MIL grieving when her mother and her husband died two weeks apart last year (not necessarily a year ago, note)?

2. What role is it reasonable for the OP to take in supporting MIL through the process? - bearing in mind that at the moment she and her husband contribute by staying 3-4 days a week at MIL's unkempt home, with a small baby, and the OP is looking ahead to her return to paid employment.

1. A lot longer than this.
2. Open to negotiation and discussion, and especially it is very important to talk openly with MIL and other family members about what support is really helpful to MIL and what is possibly not helping at all.

The OP is not being selfish, she is being practical and attempting to set boundaries that will accommodate all of the important people: her baby, her husband, her employer, her MIL - and I don't see why the list shouldn't also feature the OP herself, writ just as large.
Helpful Answer (6)

A year doing this is about 11 1/2 months more than I would have done.
You are not out of line wanting your life back to normalcy.
Mom should look into Assisted Living or Independent Living, which ever is appropriate. She will have more stimulation, more activities to keep her occupied.
You do not give a lot of details as to any physical problems or if she has dementia. So if she is of sound mind I would start letting her find herself, we all grieve. It is possible that having people around all the time it is delaying the dealing with being by herself.
If she is not of sound mind I would begin looking for Memory Care or AL with the knowledge that she will have to transition to MC.
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I think your mother in law has it exactly the way she wants it and for her, it can stay that way - but for you, it must be very hard.
Firstly you need to make it clear to your husband that this can't carry on. Tricky because MAYBE it has already gone on a bit too long and makes me wonder if he is frightened of offending his mother?
It is also more difficult to change long standing arrangements without giving a clear reason. So be clear and consistant. The baby comes first, your marriage has to take precedent and you have been kind enough. Reduce the amount of contact and if your husband insists then let him go there on his own with the intention of weabing her off.
Good luck.
Helpful Answer (3)

Many of these answers disturb me. Grief is not a linear process with a defined end date. The web site: What's Your Grief is an outstanding resource. It speaks to griefs of all types.
This is The Myth of the Grief Timeline:

1. Grief has an endpoint.
Sorry friends, grief is forever. This isn’t a bad thing, though! It just means that when we lose something we loved deeply, that loss will be with us in some way forever. Grief may feel different or become more manageable, but it will always be there and that’s okay. Too bad people often make us feel like we should have reached the “end” of our grief.
2. Once you are done grieving, life will return to “normal”.
3. There is a consistent and predictable timeline for grief.
4. The first year is the worst.
5. Time heals all wounds.
6. You recover from grief like you recover from a cold, it gets a little better every day until it completely goes away.
7. If you are still talking about your loved one after ____ years it means you’re “stuck”.
8. If you still display photos of your loved one after ____ years it means you’re “stuck”.
9. If you haven’t gotten rid of your loved one’s belongings after ____years it means you’re “stuck”.
10. If you still cry when you think/talk about your loved one after ____ years it means you’re “stuck”.
11. Women grieve more than men.
12. Men don’t want to talk about their grief.
13. You can only grieve a death.
14. You can’t grieve something you never had.
You can obviously click the link to learn more about this, but here is the gist because this one can sound a little confusing: we grieve things we never had all the time. If I always thought I would have children, then learn I can’t get pregnant, that is a loss I will grieve. If I always imagined my future would look a certain way and it doesn’t, I grieve what I imagined it would be. You get the idea.
15. Your friends and family will always be the best support.
16. Someone who experienced the same type of loss will definitely be supportive and understand what you’re going through.
Eeek, this one gets people into trouble A LOT. Just because someone also lost a child, a spouse, a parent, a pet, whatever, it doesn’t mean your experiences will be the same. Heck, they may not even be similar. Sometimes people with similar losses end up being your best support, sometimes it is someone with a totally different kind of loss who you connect with. You just never know.
17. Grief follows a similar path and timeline for everyone.
18. If you aren’t crying, then you aren’t grieving.
Some of us aren’t criers, get over. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with us.
19. If you aren’t following “The 5 Stages of Grief” it is a problem.
MANY people don’t follow the 5 stages. If they do, it is often not in order, they may skip steps, repeat steps, you get the idea. This is just one theory about grief among many theories – you aren’t grieving wrong if your grief doesn’t fit in this box.
20. The only grief theory is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ 5 Stages because everyone knows it’s accurate.
21. Grieving is a problem.
Nope, it is a natural reaction to loss. We all, sadly, go through it. Just because something is painful doesn’t mean we should avoid or ignore it.
22. The goal of grief is to “move on”.
23. The goal of grief is to “get over it”.
24. The goal of grief is to “find closure”.
25. Certain types of loss are inherently “better” or “worse” than other types of loss.
26. Young children don’t grieve.
27. Children should not attend funerals.
28. Children are resilient, you don’t need to worry about them.
There are more but I'm out of space....hope this helps. Everyone grieves differently, no two people experience it the same even if the person who died was the same (ie parent).
Helpful Answer (5)
Mpmmpm Jun 2021
So glad you posted. I was skimming through the replies to the original post, and thinking everything you said. You are knowledgeable, and it is good to see these reminders of how very individual grief is. Thank you.
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Unless your MIL has either a physical or mental disability, age 68 is quite young enough to care for herself. She suffered two devastating losses in a short time. It would be helpful to discuss her grief with a professional. Also, meds might help. People take meds for high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid issues, but are resistant to drugs that will help their brain function better. Don't let stigma against psych meds stand in her way. You need to take care of the baby, and secondarily visit MIL when able. Give her a daily call to check in. She has a son and daughters for support. But too much support leads to learned dependence and she is far too young to go down that road .
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If your husband and his sisters want to continue enabling their mother, that is their decision. Their decisions should be for them, not you.

With a 7yo and a baby to care for, along with your own home and impending return to work, your schedule is full enough! While it's nice you remain adamant that weekends are out because of the 7yo, do his needs end during the week? I should think stability for him, you and the baby require more time at home.

Occasionally helping out is one thing. Staying there half the week is not sustainable. As others noted, will they continue doing this for the next 10, 20 or even 30 years? My mother lived alone in her own condo for about 8-9 years after dad passed (they were there for many years together.) They were married for a long long time, but she was okay being alone (until dementia crept in.) When it came time to make changes, she refused to have aides and refused to consider moving anywhere, AL or with brothers (I opted out, for many reasons, including physical abilities for both of us.) I did have to assist with transport to appts or getting supplies once we took the car away, but at no time did anyone move in with her, part time or not.

If I were you, I would stop going there. If your husband insists on going to stay with her, so be it. We/you can't make decisions for him or his sisters, but neither can they make decisions for you.

Why is her place so dirty? Instead of her going to stay with the sisters, why don't they go there and help out by cleaning up or hiring someone to clean? If they think you should help, I would push back - you have your own place and young children to care for.

Financial assistance? Why? If she can't afford the place she lives in, then there should be discussion among the family members (MIL, husband, sisters) about downsizing and being in a place she can afford AND can maintain.

I agree with the others - MIL is being enabled. While she has some issues (per the profile), they don't seem to be overly serious. If they are, then it all comes down to needing to move to an appropriate setting where she can get the assistance she needs. Those decisions can only be made by them, not you. As for being selfish, nope. You've given up the past year being pliable, but it's time to put your kids, your home and yourself first. MIL isn't that old (about my age really) and should be able to find her way by now. Does grief end? Not really, but it does subside. She really needs to be more active on her own, finding ways to "entertain" herself, volunteer, take in a pet, busy herself with activities outside the home (Senior Center? My mother loved going there with neighbors, until dementia set in.) Sitting around, being coddled and not moving on will only delay the process.
Helpful Answer (4)

Wow! A son being so loving and self sacrificing for his own Mother is downright amazing to me!! And the sisters helping too? This woman must have been one fantastic loving and nurturing Mother. Hallelujah! Boy you got lucky marrying her son and you need to thank your MIL for that. I love my husband. But his Mother was not nurturing, warm nor fuzzy. Thus he isn’t! I doubt my grieving would last a year!!!!
Helpful Answer (2)

You and your husband's sisters have made a rod for your own backs. No matter how one expresses grief, if in a partnership you know that sooner or later one of your will be left alone. It is not reasonable for MIL to be on her own the whole time, but unless she needs care then popping in once a week a letting her get on with finding her own way forward is fine. She has to learn to come to terms with her grief in her own way, at the moment you (and sisters) are putting off her coming to terms with things and finding a way forward for her life and not letting her grieve properly. If she rotates weekends then that is good, add yourselves to the weekend roster and let her have her own time during the week. This is not going to be popular and you will get "I can't manage, you don't care" etc. but too much support leads to this being the way someone thinks. Talk to your husband and pull back a bit - if she needs financial support then help her to find a job - which will get her out meeting new people and being more independent. Best wishes to you all.
Helpful Answer (1)

Everyone grieves differently.

My mother lost her dad when she was 33. She still grieves him to this day, 58 years later. Talks about him a lot. Gets teary and blue when she does. She NEVER got 'over it' and moved on. Doesn't have a picture of Daddy in her place, but several of Granddad.

Her mother, Granddad's wife lost the same man. She grieved privately for about one year. I remember he died a few days before Christmas and the funeral was on Christmas Eve Day. She was at the family Christmas Eve party.

She went on to live a VERY fulfilling life and traveled, worked, made friends, joined clubs---etc. Setting a wonderful example of living her personal life--well, personally. I will probably be a youngish widow and my grandma's example has been a great example.

Nobody 'shored up' grandma. She was her own best friend. Mom never did and never will 'get over' grandpa's death. She said, not long ago "Oh, what would your grandfather think of 'such-and so?" I replied "Well, I think he'd be furious to be 123 years old, really. Yes, he died way too young, but he left a great legacy. Can't we lean on THAT?".
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