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Lost my 34 year old Daughter unexpectedly Aug 2022; now raising a soon to be 5 yr old granddaughter

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Hello all..and thank you for allowing me a place to release some of the continued pain.

My 34 year old daughter, Allison, passed away of a sudden cardiac death the end of August 2022.  What a horrible experience.  She was our 'baby girl'.  We were blessed with two beautiful children..our son is 38, the father to two, happily married.  He said he knew the day his sister died he gained a daughter...and one day, when my husband are I are no longer to care for her, or should something happen to us, he will have custody of her with his wife.  Her biological father is currently incarcerated and has been wonderful in signing over custody to us, yet retained his parental rights.  We really have no worries for when he is released, as his history would make it very difficult for him to gain custody.  Nonetheless, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

My daughter had remarried one day shy of two months before she passed.  She had lived with her new husband for a year and a half; he has two daughters, ages 11 and 13.  Our granddaughter lived with her mom, stepdad and stepsisters for that year and a half.  Prior to that, our daughter and granddaughter lived with us for two years.  Our granddaughter was a miracle child.  Born at 27 weeks and was in Childrens Hospital from the day she was born, Valentines Day 2018, until May, 2018.  In January 2021 she and her mama moved in with the young man she married and his girls.

They lived just around the corner from us and several times a week our granddaughter would call to come spend the night with us as there was so much commotion going on at the house.  No doubt our daughter butt heads a bit with the older stepdaughters, and Madison enjoyed the quiet and comfort with grammy and grampa :). We got along with her husband fine; but we really didn't know him very well.  When Allison passed, she hadn't been gone 24 hours before he began asking me about her life insurance, her 401K, etc.  Of course that took me by surprise.  When I told him she did have life insurance, but that the beneficiaries were her daughter and I - so basically everything went to her daughter - he indicated he felt he was 'entitled' to some of it.  I explained that's not how that works.  Within a week I was able to discuss finances with him as they rented the house they lived in.  At this time I found out that they were quite in debt - but because his credit was so bad, the loans for a Harley Davidson motorcycle and a Ford Explorer were only in my daughters name.  The motorcycle title was in both their names; the Ford Explorer only in her name.  He liked his 'toys'.

Long story short...because he couldn't get a loan in his name for the Harley he was forced to return it to the bank.  Once we went to probate, we also called the bank to come pick up the Ford Explorer.  He also had a truck that was fully paid for.  I had purchased a 2019 Ford Escape for my daughter when my father passed and I was joint on that title.   While he had hoped to have custody of Madison, I told him her grandfather and I would be seeking custody and that once approved we would need a second vehicle and that I would have my daughters car I bought her.  That didn't make him happy either; he had hoped to keep the car for his 13 yr old daughter.  I took care of all her credit card debt - notifying the companies.  Of course there was no personal responsibility for either her husband or us.  He allowed me to be administrator of her estate - after all, I was a banker for 40 years.  My daughter always discussed finances with me but when I asked about the big ticket purchases, unfortunately she was not honest with me..probably because she knew I would have not been happy.  My husband and I paid for all the funeral expenses even though her husband signed the contract with the funeral home.  We knew he didn't have the money and her current financial situation couldn't afford a big monthly payment.

Her husband never fought the custody; didn't even go to court.  Suddenly on November 3 were were served a subpoena - he was seeking visitation rights - on his terms.  Mind you we had always let him see Madison when he asked - he and the girls.  However, before we obtained permanent custody, we didn't allow him to take her off on his own - per the advice of our attorney.  With her mother gone and her biological father incarcerated - no one had custody of her and had he taken her and not brought her back, we could not have fought it without a custody battle.  When we went to court in November, the visitation case was continued to May, 2023.  Why he didn't talk with us first, we don't understand.  But, doing what he did to us after all we had done for him and his girls, we certainly lost all trust with him.  Again, per the advice of our attorney, we basically cut all ties with him.

She doesn't ask for him; she has only recently expressed some feelings about missing the girls and I really find myself questioning our decision.  Madison has extreme separation anxiety; she just finally started spending the night with her other grandmother again, but called wanting to come home the first night.  She is now in preschool and there are days we leaving her at school crying because she wants to stay home with us.  The teachers, however, tell us that she is fine within 5 minutes of us leaving.  The holidays were so very hard for all of us - my son, husband and I still grieve horribly - we don't hide our tears and when Madison asks us if we are crying, we say yes, we are just missing your mama.

I know this is a lot to take in...but I know others have experienced this loss.  We both buried both our parents, but the pain of losing a child - so much worse.  I still find it hard to believe she isn't here anymore.




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Oh Cathy ~ my heart reaches out to you in your pain. I'm so sorry that, in addition to the sudden, traumatic loss of your precious daughter, you're being dragged through so much drama with her husband.

Your granddaughter is just beautiful ~ and the pictures you've shared with us just take my breath away.

I hope that here you will find some of the comfort and support you so richly deserve, as so many of us know firsthand what it's like to bury a child. We can also refer you to some of the many resources that are available to grandparents who find themselves in situations similar to your own. See, for example, Harriet Hodgson's informative book, So, You're Raising Your Grandkids!

See also When An Adult Child Dies: Resources for Bereaved Parents  

You might find some of these resources mentioned in these articles helpful as well:

Children and Teens in Grief: Suggested Resources

Tips for Helping Children and Teens in Grief  ❤️

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I am so sorry for  your loss of your daughter...that alone would be more than most could bear, but combined with all of the extenuated circumstances, it challenges the strongest...I am glad you have your husband and son and are so good with your granddaughter.  Marty's articles are wonderful and I hope they are of help to you.  

Your granddaughter reminds me so much of your daughter, I love the pictures you've shared.

I am so sorry you've had so much to deal with, just when one's brain is least able to.  Praying for a better new year for you all.

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  • 1 month later...

She is beautiful.

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