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My husband of 35+ years passed away a year ago. His half-sister (lives in the same town a few blocks away), hasn't reached out to me since he passed and, well, throughout his life and the 35+ years of our marriage, she didn't embrace a relationship with him or his family (me or his children). Oh, she pretended to "love" them during family get-togethers, but aside from that, she didn't include him in the family. She wants others to believe she does so when we were together at family outings, she made a big deal (hugs, sweet voice, missing you sentiments) so everyone thinks she is kind to him (us).


But, during the memorial service and thereafter, not one word to me since his passing. Not one. She did lament to someone (at a bar over her sixth beer) that she doesn't know why I hate her. That I haven't called her since her brother died. Whatever. The reason for this question is...I will be seeing her this weekend for the first time in over a year. I plan on being very cordial, nice to see you, blah blah blah. But after that, what in the world do I say? I KNOW she will ask: How have you been? in her oh-so-sweet voice. Let me say that in the 30+ years that we were married, in the first 10 or so, I went overboard to become part of her life...trying to get the children together for play dates, to movies, to shopping and other attempts to become a "sister-in-law" and part of the family. ALL attempts were ignored. Not once did she take me up on any of it. So after a while, I just stopped. I had my husband and children, my mom, dad, sister, etc. When his family had outings and get-togethers, we'd of course join, but aside from these 3 or 4 events throughout the year, nadda.


At first, I was really hurt, but after more than 10 years, I just didn't care any more! So, no, I don't hate her. I really don't spend my precious time on her at all. I still feel badly that she hurt her brother all those years, but now that he's gone, I don't feel any obligation to her. Throughout the years, I have had several friends and family who lost a sister, brother, best friend. My M.O. is to call the person left behind. Take them to dinner. Find out how they are and if they need anything. It's what a person does. We console each other. The fact that she was "waiting" for me to call her and that she hasn’t called me (texted or sent a card) after he passed just reinforces her narcissism. Yes, he was her brother, but she never had time for him while he was alive.


On the other hand, he was my husband, my friend, my every day. I miss him and our life every day. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him...sometimes to growl at him! :-) I have my children, grandchildren, friends--all of whom embrace my sorrow, have been there in the good and bad times and who all have tried and succeeded in making life after his passing as pleasant as they can. Seriously. I don't give her a thought. She just wasn't part of my life for a good 30 years. Wow. It could have and should have been better, but that was her choice. He and I have a loving family unit. My entire family embraced him. He was an easy person to love. Now that he is no longer here, I’ve chosen not to be part of her "family". I think it’s funny that she is pretending that it bothers her, but that’s how she gets other people (her people) to feel sorry for her. It’s always about her, you know. She needs the attention, so that is the story she is spinning. That I am the one who hasn’t kept in touch with her. Anyway, any advice on how I should conduct myself? Just be nice is my motto, but believe me, it won't be easy. (PS: I wouldn't be thinking of her now, but this little get-together is being hosted by my children. I feel I have to go...or I would make an excuse not to go!)

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Yes, you two apparently do not like one another, and apparently that isn't a change; you never did like one another. That's OK. Not everyone likes everyone else. You are correct. She will say "How are you", and you will say "Fine, thank you, and how are you". And she will say "How have you been" and you will say "OK", and then just say "Nice to see you" and move on. She apparently was never overly fond of her brother, either. Or the kids. Just treat her like the acquaintance that she is. It isn't a contest to see who was right and who was wrong, who is good and who is evil, who is responsible and who is not. It is time to move gently away from it. You have not missed her. She hasn't missed you. She isn't familiy.She never was to you. So just move gently and quietly and kindly on.
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If you are close to anyone in that family ... they know her and will know her show.

As for you, don't worry about what anyone else thinks if they are not close to you. As far as she goes, just act like you are fine and keep to pleasantries out in public.

If she, or anyone asks why you have not called her, or them, your answer is simple ... "I've been grieving for my husband of 30 years, so I'm taking time to care for myself right now, not other people. Any of you are welcome to call me anytime." Then move away.

The main thing is I recommend you maintain at least neutral ties and not start a family battle. They are your children's relatives and their tie to their dad's side of the family. So however nice it would be to stick it to her, it's ultimately not in the best interests of your children's long-term family ties. Just put it in neutral, and then you can stand back and laugh at all their antics.
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Be nice. Be brief. And move on. She’s shown you exactly who she is so believe her. As for what anyone else thinks, who cares? You shouldn’t
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After the initial pleasantries of "Hello and how nice of you to come" you are under no obligation to actually have a conversation with her. When she tries to stir up a conversation with you, which she does for show, smile and say "please excuse me" and go talk to someone you haven't seen in a while or use the powder room and take a 5-minute self-imposed time out. I would not let this woman drive you away from your own children's get together.
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Thank you all for the level headed responses. You're the best! I am taking advantage of this logic, taking deep breaths and smiling. I had already planned on being nice, but now I have some lovely responses to avoid a very awkward silence (as I'm sure there would have been). The best to all of you...sending a lot of hugs :-)
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JoAnn29 Sep 6, 2019
Always be the nice one.
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Sometimes it's as simple as being cordial ,and whatever questions she may ask answer them as you normally would to anyone else.Excuse yourself and mingle.

You control the narrative.I to tried to have more than a cordial relationship with my now deceased SIL for over 20 years.

My brother also passed prior to her passing.Five years prior,but she was as Lucy would say to Charlie Brown wishy- washy.

I tried for the last time after my brother passed for my niece and nephew as well as my brother.I would say a good year maybe a bit less it looked like we were making progress.Then back to the same.

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite poets Dr Maya Angelou..When a person shows you who they are believe them.
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You don't like this woman, and it sounds as if at bottom the feeling is mutual. That's fine. You don't have to be nice, let alone cordial; just be civil so that nobody suffers embarrassment and nothing detracts from the real purpose of the occasion.
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This get together is being hosted by your children, so just let them and the reason for the event be what you focus your time and attention on. Take a deep breath and smile cordially when she approaches you, and keep your verbal exchange very brief. If needed, come up with something in advance that you have to check on or talk to another person who you have not seen in years. I agree with the other replies about how to respond to her question on why you have not called her. Nobody can argue with "Since my husband died I have been so busy getting things in order" ... and then "Oh, there's Susan who I must say hello to, but so nice to see you again" and then just avoid her the rest of the day. If anyone else inquires about your level of contact with her, just claim ignorance and shrug and change the subject.
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I think you are correct in ur thinking. Her sincerity is for show. I have been there. I have 4 SILs all by marriage. My DH had brothers and me too. I get along with 2 and don't with two. The SIL my age has never treated my BILs side well. Its always her family. After a visit some 30 yrs ago, I refused to visit again. It took the wedding of their son for us to travel the 12 hrs. We were going to stay in a motel but BIL insisted we stay at their home. The morning after the wedding, we were literally pushed out the front door. They had visitors coming. Yep, long time again before we visited. My SIL is a condescending person. You are just waiting for the shoe to fall. Other SIL probably 16 yrs younger than me so maybe that was the problem. My oldest was 20 when her oldest was born. As time went on, we were invited to less and less. The last Xmas we were invited, everyone there got some kind of gift...but me. Was an awkward situation. Never could understand the dislike. Neither could my other brother. My DH, this kind of stuff doesn't bother him.

Lets just say its a personality thing. Haven't you met someone that u just don't like. They didn't do anything, u just didn't like them.

Me, I would go to the party and be my friendly little self. Allow her to hug you and put on a show. When she says why haven't you called her, with a smile tell her that goes both ways. Then enjoy the party. If someone says anything to you again about you not calling SIL, tell them the relationship was not that close in the 30yrs u were married to her brother.
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Maybe she won't show up. Family stuff is strange. You got her answer years ago. She isn't interested in being your friend. I can't think why you would want to bother with her. Maybe as a link to your husband? Maybe she didn't like him or was jealous of him. Who knows? I have seen what I would say is a power struggle once a person forms their own family, that it more important than the one they came from. As a widow, you are really out ot that family. But you have your children and their families. Feel free to ignore her.
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