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We just found out my mother in law is terminally ill with metastatic cancer. She's still in the hospital but will be discharged home soon with Hospice in place. Anytime my husband goes to see her, he never wants to take me. On the rare occasion I do go, he makes me feel like I burden him by being there. His other siblings brings their loved ones when they visit. I'm trying not to be selfish during this time but it hurts to know he doesn't want me there. I've tried talking to him and telling him how I feel. He says it's not a burden when I'm there. He says he wants me there but yet he never asks me to go with him or always has an excuse as to why he's going to go see her on his own. What should I do?

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Kmartin, I've just been thinking back on my father's death. He went into the hospital for routine prostrate surgery. He wasn't healing as well as he should have. After a few days an oncologist came into the room and told my mother and several us in the room, "He has lung cancer. Because of its location near his heart it cannot be treated. He has 3 to 5 days."

OMG! 3 to 5 DAYS!! And we didn't even know he had cancer. I think we were all in shock and barely functional. The hospital was urging us to plan for his discharge. He died on the third day after the oncologist's announcement. I was the only one who could look up the funeral home in the phone book, and I did it on auto pilot without thinking.

That was 18 years ago. Recently my sister and I were discussing cancer in our family. I said, "Well, Dad died of lung cancer." She didn't believe it. She did not remember the oncologist giving us the news, our brother's meltdown, our mother's bewilderment -- she had completely blocked the whole hospital experience from her memory. She only believed it when we looked at the cause of death on his certificate.

I'm just saying that people getting the unexpected news that a parent has a terminal condition are not always thinking straight. They may not be functioning in their normal way. This is about his inability to cope, not about his relationship with you.

Go see MIL yourself. Be as supportive of your husband as you can. Do not hang on to this strange behavior. I don't blame you for being upset. Come back and vent about it some more. But don't let it poison a relationship that has sustained you both for a quarter of a century.
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I've always had a great relationship with his mother and siblings. Never any friction. We've been together for 25 years. So I've been there through a lot.
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Is there any backstory here that might affect his behavior? Has his mom liked you throughout your marriage? Do you like her? Do you get along with his siblings and their spouses -- any friction there? That's the only reason I could see for him not including you. If you get along with everyone, I'd feel hurt too. If there are old frictions, I can see why he's not including you.
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Your husband is trying to face a stark reality. You still are the most important woman in his life. Support him. Try to stop taking this personally and comfort him the best way you can. Stop comparing your husband to his siblings.

There are several reasons I see for why he is not asking you to go along with him. First, he may feel there are just too many people in the room already. Second, he's thinking about what's going on with his mother and by not having you there he can be in his head all he likes. It's not a social call and I would completely agree with you that he should take you along if it were. Third, the dynamics between him, his siblings, and his mother have changed and that's strange and he's in a difficult spot. Fourth, maybe some unsavory family dynamics are popping up.

Go see your MIL by yourself before she gets discharged. Make it a point to do so and bring flowers if permitted. Ask her how she is feeling. Let her know how much you care about her. Ask her what you can do to make her more comfortable including when she returns home.

Do you think it's possible that some of his siblings are hiding behind their spouses to prevent things from getting too "real"?
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I think in your shoes I would go and see her alone. Is there any reason you can only go with your husband?

But she is being discharged soon and things will change. Usually someone on hospice cannot be home alone. Who will be at home with her?
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At first I would have agreed with you. However, I have found out that when he is there so are his other siblings. It's hard not to take it personally but when his siblings are there and their spouses and he doesn't want me there, it hurts.
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I think CDN's suggestion that he doesn't want to be seen in an emotional state, or that he wants private bonding time is probably what's going on. These are and will be intensely personal times, and he may feel the need to be frank, honest, and emotional with her.

Another possibility is that he and she are still learning how to interact and even talk about this diagnosis. It's a shock, and either of them might be unable to discuss it but just need to spend time with each other.

You might want to check out the CURE website; it's a magazine for those with cancer and their caregivers. Sometimes the articles are emotional and to the point but helpful; other times they're scientific and sometimes hard to follow. But this subject might have been the subject of an article.

You also might want to see if there's a Gilda's Club in your area if it appears that any of the family members need a lot more support than the family can offer.

One thing you can do though is try to anticipate what might be needed when she's at home. Things she uses on a regular basis should be close to her, w/I arm's reach. Consider that she may have a loss of appetite and it might be hard to find something that pleases her. Find clothes that are easy to get in and out of, and that are warm as she probably won't be moving around much and can get chilled easily.

If family and friends want to visit, prepare to have them spend some time with her but away from her if they need to talk more, as she'll probably tire out much more quickly.

You might also get together a collection of her musical favorites to play if she becomes agitated, sad, tired, or just needs some music to relax her.

I'm so sorry to learn of this diagnosis; I do hope though that her remaining days are as peaceful and filled with family love as possible.
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Dear Kmartin17,

I'm very sorry to hear about your mother in law's diagnoses. I know its an extremely difficult time. I know you love your husband and want to support him. I think everyone reacts to this type of news differently. I don't know if the reason he wants to be alone with his mom, because he is afraid for others to see him cry or he wants to have some private words with her. Its always hard to know.

Hospice normally offers counselling and support group options. Maybe it would be a good idea to talk to someone and find out what is the best way to go forward.

Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.
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