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Hurting Again...husband's Family Has Disowned Me


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Although I suppose I should have expected it to happen sometime, this morning I'm deeply hurt and feeling betrayed because my husband's family has decided to exclude me from their lives.

When I last called them in July to touch base and find out how everyone was doing, it seemed like they couldn't end the conversation fast enough. That by itself hurt a little, so I didn't call again because I didn't want to be rejected. They have never called me since. When Bill was alive, we visited them fairly often and they always included us in every holiday celebration. I kept hoping for an invitation for Labor Day, but none ever came.

I've already had friends and even some of my own family drop out of my life since I became a widow. But I really didn't expect it to happen with Bill's family. They were always there for me the first few months after he died, but suddenly they broke off contact. I have no idea why. Up until now, we always got along well, they know I loved Bill with all my heart and soul, and when he died, they told me they loved me for being so good to him and taking care of him even through all the health problems he had. So where did things go wrong between us?

By now, I should have learned the lesson that a bereaved person should expect to be shunned. But I just don't know how to accept or forgive it. I'll move on, but not without regret and bitterness toward the shunners. Right now, I feel like Bill's family is dead to me.

If Bill could know, or does know, about this he'd be so upset. Last night, I dreamed Bill was with me. He was crying, and he said to me in a loud voice (so loud I woke up), "Kathy! Kathy! I love you."

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Kathy, I'm so sorry. People can be so cruel, knowingly or unknowingly. It was immediate with me that Jack's family never contacted me from the memorial ever since. It hurt but I got over it, and I know he doesn't approve of their actions. I try very hard not to let the actions of others get to me. What goes around, comes around - as they say. Try to ignore the best you can and begin filling your life with the kind of people you want around you. I've made some wonderful lady friends recently who are kind and gracious. It really helps. Take care of yourself, Kathy, you are so worth it!

Your friend, Karen :wub:;)

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People act so strangely in grief. My ex-husband's partner died suddenly of meningitis. The family came and took the body away, completely excluded my ex from any funeral or memorial services (not invited, told not to come!), and then tried to take the house he and my ex had bought together away from my ex. I don't know why they would want to treat someone so loved by their dead son that way, but they did, and never spoke to him again. THEN, when my ex died 11 years later, they had the gall to ask if he left them anything.

I know it hurts, but people unfortunately often show their true colors during very stressful times. It's possible that seeing you reminds them of their loss, however. I know that doesn't make it right, but some people can't take it.

Sorry to hear of this further heartache :(


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Know exactlywhat you are talking about and am waiting for the other shoe to drop. They have included me in some things, but Sun. sat there and planned a weekend away to a casino about 100 miles right in front of me and didn't include me. I know part of it is that most of them smoke and I don't and it makes them mad, but sorry not going there. I could get my own room, but apparently not going to have that opportunity.

I just decided I'm better off not being where I'm not wanted because then I just get upset. I have found so many wonderful friends here (even though I can't see or touch them) and ones in my support group that I say that I'm not going to let it get to me. I know it will because I am a very sensitive and caring person and always worry someone will take what I say wrong. But we can just do the best that we can and from that point on my life is in God's hands.

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Kathy, I am so sorry Bill's family have turned their backs on you like that. I don't understand how people can be so cold and heartless, especially at a time when they are really needed. I have had some "friends" drop out of sight, but so far I have had an excellent relationship with Janet's family. I hope it stays that way, but I guess you never know what can happen. Take care, Kathy.


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  • 8 months later...

Hi Kathy, I am so glad that you wrote what you did. My father has a terminal illness and was given approximately 6 mos. to live, which will wind up being in August of 2009. I am a nurse, and it is difficult for me to sometimes participate in his 'laughter therapy'. It has come to the point that we don't see anyone in our family crying or even being sad. Except for me!! So, I have been made the 'disposable' daughter by the rest of the family for not supporting my father. I do support my father, but he is going to be gone soon!!! The fact of the matter is, I don't feel like laughing, so I am only e-mailing my family, except for my dad, who I talk to on the phone (we live in different states). This is working so far, but I feel angry at everyone, and, now, I don't want to see any of my family, except Dad, and just kind of be in my own denial about them!!! I saw in a post that people reject people who are grieving (my family has been all about hiding their emotions and being very analytical about everything).

But you really made an impact on me with thoughts about my stepmother. I gave her a mother's day card this year, and really and truly meant it. She loved it, and I loved her hug. What if she doesn't want a relationship with me after my Dad dies? My own mother is so jealous of her that she demands that I not give my time or love to my stepmom. One parent was raised in a DP camp in Germany during WWII, and the other was raised bringing his father (my grandfather) home from the bars. So, my family has issues!!

I've also had alot of jealousy toward's my sibling who seems to always be accepted by my family. So the issues of the past I have with my family are hitting me like a frying pan!

And the gossip in the family is horrible right now!!! I knew that I have a sick family long ago, but, now, I don't want to participate in their problems. But I still want to be part of my dad and stepmoms and mom's lives. How can I keep my family and still be me?

Thanks for listening!!

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Daddy's Girl... we all go about this in our own ways. Your Dad will have a totally different perspective since it is his sunset after all. But as far as your other family members go... try real hard not to compare yourself with them. You will go through this in your own way.

Other than that..... Your Dad seems to desire lighter moments in abundance. And it seems that is how he feels best at the moment. So sure.. you can support that in your own way. It is their illness and death, not our own. So... I think...when in their presence it should be all about them. Giving to them whatever they need. This is our gift to them in my thinking.

For me... I kept on affirming things for my Dad. I tried to mirror whatever feelings he was having or however he wanted to be. I wanted to do anything that he needed that I could do. If he needed to laugh.... you bet.. I laughed. Even if I was crying inside.... I laughed with him. I just shed my tears later in private. I just stayed in the very moment with him. I didn't think a whole lot about myself while I was with him... I just thought about him and what I could do to make it any easier for him.

I also had someone very close to me... almost like another Dad to me who I lost. He faced it very differently than my Dad did. He did way more laughing and joke telling during the whole process. He was so irreverent... and some of the things he said then.. STILL make me chuckle today.

For example one day a few months before he passed, he straight out asked if I would cry when he passed. I almost fell apart right there. And I know he caught my pained expression that I wasn't quick enough to hide. And then a split second later... before I could even answer, he told me I had better cry.. or he would sit up in the casket and give me a good smack til I did. Of course I laughed, as he did. But that was how he was dealing with it. (There are loads more stories of that kind of humor from him that really still warm my heart and make me smile.) But truth be told... that was HIS way of telling me... 'I know you are going to hurt and I don't want you to'... and really.. it was his way of telling me how much he loved me and that he knew I loved him too. It was HIS way... and after all.. it was HIS death.... so I was along on the journey with him... no matter what.

And again.. when I stayed in the moment with him.. and thought only about him while I was with him or on the phone with him, I was able to laugh with him. Many times...of course.... I cried all the way home alone in the car afterwards.... but.. IN his presence... no way. I sensed he didn't want that or need it so I didn't do it. I expressed my own pain when I was by myself. When I was with him.. it was ALL about his pain, his joys, his feelings... whatever they were.

Just so you know.... in my opinion... helping someone we love die is one of THE hardest things to do. Yet it is a priceless gift to them.

I didn't talk to his children a whole lot about his "dying". We talked mostly about logistics... who can take him to treatment... who can visit when... etc. And we also would tell each other some of the funny things he had done to us or told us.... kind of mirroring his coping without being totally aware that was what we were doing. We kept it light with each other...

Until, of course, he actually passed. Then on occasion we would share our pain in words together a bit. (And many times we shared that pain together without words. Sometimes we would call each other and do nothing other than listen to the other one cry and say to them "I know." And then the other of us would call and just cry on the phone and it was their turn to simply say "I know. It stinks.")

But he kept things light so we had a tendency to do that with each other. Now afterwards we all found out that all of us were crying when we were alone or with our spouses or other friends. But as hard as it seems... we laughed with him because that's what he needed I think. Sure we were sad.... but we loved him so much... we wanted to just "be" with him in every way possible before he went. And being with him, really "present" with him meant... laughing alot of the time.

Of course there were times as he neared the end that he would shock me with his openess about dying itself. We'd be laughing one minute and then he would ask me a question out of the clear blue like "What do you think it will be like?" (Meaning but not saying.. what do I think dying or heaven or the final process itself will be like. AND.. I told him what I thought it would be like.)

So I had many sobering moments with him as we got closer to the end.

So yeah.. we laughed.. ALOT. But those very moments kept us in "joy" with him for as long as was possible. And now... I can't tell you how much I treasure the memory of those moments in my heart.

Like I said we all do this in our own way... and I mean "grieve" in our own way. But while they are still amongst us... for me what worked was making it all about them and what they need of me to help them pass on from this life. My needs I just squeezed in between visits and phone calls. Til they passed... it was ALL about them for me. Once they did pass though... man... yeah then I allowed myself to feel it completely and it hurt deeply... as deeply as we loved each other. And I knew that would come when he was dying.. but I was more concerned about helping him pass peacefully than I was about what I was feeling about his death. I know that may seem odd. But it is what worked for me.

Did I mention how hard it was to do that??? :)

One of the hardest things I have ever done. But I wouldn't take a second of it back. I wouldn't do it any differently if I had it to do over again. I loved him so much. And still do.



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I cannot disagree with your approach, Leeann, and it's good to know that it worked so well for you. I also want to emphasize (and I know you did, too) that we must always allow for individual differences in these important matters of anticipatory grief and death. Sometimes we need to attend not only to the needs of the dying, but to our own needs as well. As an example, here is an exchange from a thread that appeared on our site some time ago, that comes from an entirely different perspective:

Posted by: Gracey Tues Feb 7, 2006 @ 12:50 AM in Anticipatory Grief and Mourning _ My Mom Is Dying Of Cancer

Hello, My name is Grace. I live in Minnesota and my Mom lives in Arizona. I have 7 children so it has been hard to visit. My last visit was 6 months ago, and 6 months before that. My sister called me and told me that my mom is close to the end, so I am flying there this Sunday. I am so scared. I've never seen anyone at the end of cancer. Let alone, this is my mother.She is dieing. I am a wreck. My therapist says since I live so far away and may not be there when she dies...he said I was grieving already.Well I want to stop.{doesnt that sound easy} My mother doesnt want me crying...I dont want to cry.But I cry everyday.My body does things of it's own. Somedays I am dizzy and pukeish, sometimes for days. I cant eat, I have to take meds to go to sleep, sometimes my body stays tight for days. Like when you flex you arm..only its my bodies natural state.Sometimes I cant breathe either. I just know all this stuff is grief related. I have went to the doctors for all of these things. They gave me Lithium, but that med scares me.I just need to find some strength..or something. Any advice? Thank you

Posted by: Marty Tues Feb 7, 2006 @ 5 pm

My dear Gracey,

I’m so very sorry to learn that your mother is dying, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to be so far away, yet so fearful of seeing her so helpless in the face of this horrible disease. It is extremely difficult to know that your loved one’s health and quality of life are deteriorating this way, much less having to witness it. And as you have discovered, you are already experiencing all the emotions of grief in anticipation of losing your mother. This is known as anticipatory grief, and the physical and emotional reactions involved are the same as those experienced in normal grief.

You say that you don’t want to cry, but you’re crying anyway, as your body “does things of its own.” You feel sick at the thought of seeing your mother like this, and you worry how you will control your tears when you get there. I wonder, Gracey, how you would feel if your own daughter knew you were dying and refused to cry for you? And if she did cry, how would you read her tears? It seems to me that crying in your mother’s presence simply shows how deeply you care about her, and how deeply sad you are that she is dying. Perhaps your tears will speak much more powerfully to your mother than any words you can think to say. As Washington Irving once wrote, There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.

I know you’re worried about how you’ll ever find the courage to go to your mother’s bedside and face whatever lies ahead. Somehow we think real courage is about soldiers being the first ones to charge up the hill, or about firefighters running into a burning building. Yet real courage is simply facing that which we're most afraid of, and doing it anyway despite our fear. Somehow you will find the strength to do what you need to do, and you will be glad you did. Think of how you would feel if you chose not to go to your mother, and missed this opportunity to be there with her at this most difficult time in both your lives.

You don’t say whether your mother is aware of her condition, or if you’ve talked about it openly with each other, and I’m wondering if that may be part of what’s giving you such pain right now. If she already is on hospice care, your mother probably knows a whole lot more about her illness than anyone else does, even if she does not acknowledge it to those around her. Keep in mind that this is her life, and her dying, and she will do it the way that she needs to do it. Also remember that we human beings are pretty well defended – we hear what we want to hear and keep out the rest. That is how each of us just gets through the day. Your mother will face her dying as she is ready to do so, and for all you know, she may have begun doing that already. As your mother, she may be feeling a need to protect you by not expressing freely and openly what she feels and knows. I encourage you not to assume what she is thinking and feeling. The only way to know for sure is to ask!

When you're with her, you might ask her what she makes of her illness or what she thinks is going to happen to her – then take your cue from her. If she's ready and willing to talk about it and she knows that you are ready and willing to listen, she will let you know what's on her mind, and she’ll want to know what’s on your mind as well. The greatest gift you can give to your mother right now is just to be there with her – to be open to whatever she needs to say to you, and to be open with whatever you may need to say to her.

I’d like to recommend to you two wonderful books that I think you might find helpful at this sad and difficult time. If you just click on their titles, you can read Amazon’s description and reviews of each. The first is The Four Things that Matter Most, by Ira Byock, M.D. He is an international leader in hospice and palliative care, and in this book he discusses how four simple phrases can guide us effectively through whatever interpersonal difficulties may stand between us and another person (and most especially when that other person is dying) to help us finish whatever unfinished business may be getting in the way. The four simple phrases are “Please forgive me,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you.”

The second book is Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying, by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley. The “final gifts” of the title are the comfort and enlightenment offered by the dying to those attending them, and in return, the peace and reassurance offered to the dying by those who hear their needs.

Most of us find it very difficult to think about the death of our loved one. We act as if merely thinking or talking about a person’s dying will somehow make it happen – or we act as if not thinking or talking about our loved one’s illness will somehow make it go away. Yet the reality is that none of us has the power to cause the death of another being merely by thinking or talking about it – and illnesses aren't prevented or cured simply by choosing not to think about them. Facing the loss of a loved one is just as difficult whether it happens suddenly or over an extended period of time. But having time to prepare for what lies ahead can be one of the more positive aspects of anticipatory grieving. You can make the most of the time you have now by talking openly with your mother about what is happening to her, and by making your remaining time together as special as possible, as you make those treasured memories that will offer you comfort later.

Make sure, too, Gracey, that you are taking care of yourself while caring for your mother (by getting enough nourishment, relaxation, rest and exercise). And know that as you face the difficult days ahead, you are not alone. I know that every person reading this is thinking of you as you embark upon this trip to see your mother, and we will be here when you return, so you can continue to use this forum to express and work through your feelings about all of this.

Finally, I want to leave you with this wonderful piece:

How Well Are You Doing with Your Grief?

"If I were doing well with my grief,

I would be over in the corner

curled up in a fetal position crying,

not standing here acting like no one has died."

-- Doug Manning

in The Gift of Significance: Walking People Through a Loss

We are doing well with our grief when we are grieving.

Somehow we have it backwards.

We think people are doing well when they aren't crying.

Grief is a process of walking through some painful periods

toward learning to cope again.

We do not walk this path without pain and tears.

When we are in the most pain,

we are making the most progress.

When the pain is less,

we are coasting and resting up for the next steps.

People need to grieve.

Grief is not an enemy to be avoided;

it is a healing path to be walked.

[source: HOPE Line Newsletter, August 2002

E-mail: hope@dreamscape.com

Web site: www.hopeforbereaved.com]

Posted by: Gracey Weds Feb 8, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

Hello to all of you, thank you soo much. Tonight is a new beginning. I am going to buy a couple books to help me, I feel better knowing I'm not alone, it is an awful feeling having all these feelings and having no one to talk to. My husband said once that I was a baby. Joking or not I feel he thinks that everytime I cry.And my friends don't know what to say. My sister is in denial, but she also just had heart surgery done, so I am afriad to cry with her. She refuses to cry. I know she is in pain. I love her, and I will be here for her when she wants. She's my sister. I will see my mother and take all the advise I can with me in my heart. I will let my heart guide me with my mother. I thank you all again and I will be coming on this sight everynight. I hope we all talk more.

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Marty thanks for posting that.

I think Gracey had it absolutely right when she said:

"I will let my heart guide me."

One can't go wrong doing that.

So Daddy's Gal.. listen to your heart.. try NOT to compare how and what you are doing with how and what your sibs are doing. And if they start comparing what you are doing to what they are.. gently remind them... we are all different & follow our own paths to get through this, doing the best we can. How they are getting through it isn't wrong.. nor is the way you are coping. Each of you will do what is best for yourselves. I just wouldn't ever expect that to be the same. It just isn't the same for any 2 people.. (even if those 2 people are loosing the same person)because we all have unique relationships.

You will sense what your dad needs and doesn't need. And you will do the same for yourself & make time to express your own feelings. I would suggest you do that perhaps with a good friend or a spouse as opposed to your sibs right now though. It just seems someone else might be able to be a bit more compassionate & open to your needs at the moment.

And of course... share with us here too! We are here for you. XO



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  • 4 weeks later...

Marty Thanks for your post. It helps. Even though my mom has alreadybpassed on, We went through the anticipatory grief without knowing what it was. My mom battled lung cancer for 5 years. The last 2 were awful. Its true that they know more than ewe do. My mom was hesitant to receive some services as she told us that she would be gone before they could be done. She made many comments that are easier to understand after the fact. It has been almost 7 months since she left but it seems harder now than it did shortly after her death. Thanks for all the support on this site!


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