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How Could This Happen?


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I never dreamed when I lost my Tom almost 3 months ago that I would also lose all support of his family. Tom and I lived in Arizona and I continue to reside here in Phoenix in Tom's house. We only had two years together. The first year was full of joy and happiness in finding each other in our 50's with plans of marriage and growing old together. The second year was Tom being diagnosed with esohageal cancer and me taking care of him 24/7. His family lives in PA. His family had a service back in PA in July and I attended. It was a beautiful service and I know that it fulfilled a lot of things for them as a family. The service here in Arizona is to spread Tom's ashes in October from a mountaintop in area that he loved. Tom owned a sandrail and we took many wonderful trips together. The service here will be to bring Tom's ashes up the mountain and camp for the night. His family was all invited and some friends were even offering a seat in a rail for the service, although the seats were never guaranteed. When I wrote the family an e-mail stating that now the people who had offered the seats were now backing out and didn't want to give up their seats and that the family should look into rentals to get up the front of the mountain, I got a call from one of the brothers wives who stated very clearly that they had a right to those seats in those rails. Also during that phone call I had mentioned to the wife of the brother that I had found two life insurance policies and that one of them had Tom's mother's name on it who is still alive and in a nursing home. Two days letter, I get a blunt e-mail from the brother of this wife stating that none of the family is coming out for the service here and it's not real clear why and could I please send the insurance policy. I knew full well that there would be nothing in those insurance policies as Tom worked for those companies over 15 years ago and was not paying any premiums into them. "Someone" thought there was". I got an email from his sister demanding that I send it. I wrote her back and said that I couldn't. I am Tom's Personal Representative according to his will and I inherit 100% of the estate. There will barely be enough left to cover the medical bills that are left and the lien against the house. And sure enough I've heard from the insurance companies and there is nothing there. Haven't told the family yet because no matter who I write to, I get nothing back. Zero, Zip, Zilch. I wrote another letter to his sister because she is next in line should anything happen to me. I informed her of the estate account and the attorney that I am working with. Not a word. I sent three boxes last week to his sister. Big boxes. Things of their father's, things of Tom's, things that I thought the family should have. They should have arrived today. I'm very hurt and it doesn't matter who I try to reach out to in that family; the result is the same. The only exception is one brother who lives in CA. Pretty amazing to go from "we'll always be there for you" to we're not talking to you after taking care of their brother. My dad calls me every Tuesday just to see how I'm doing. What a difference in family values. Paula

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Hi Paula B.,

I am sorry for your loss. All I can say is that usually in times of grief and sorrow people don't know how to react and they look at one another to make a move. I would suggest you try to hang on and be strong in yourself so that you can carry on through this life alteration. I am sure you have the strength to do the right thing as I read it in your message.



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Hi Paula,

My husband died 3 weeks ago tomorrow. Nobody from his family has called me at all since the one sister came to the house in the afternoon after the funeral service, along with her daughter and her daughter's son, to be there while my husband's son (my stepson) and three friends pawed through his father's belongings to take what he wanted.

I have now come to the realization that the only person the death really, really effects is US! The others have their lives and the illness didn't even effect them all that much, really.

Yet you nursed your husband through that illness and so did I for 14 months. So it has been a big, big portion of our lives. I am trying to be charitable and to understand that if one of his sisters died, it probably would not effect my life all that much and while John would have been sad had that been the case, would it really have effected his life?

Am I making any sense? I was hurt and upset at first but have now realized that I probably should not expect to hear from these folks. My own family, also, has been caring of me. They do call regularly to see how I am doing.

I am very sorry for your loss and you have my condolences for the loss of your husband. John and I were together for 19 years, would have been married for 2 years this December. We were finally ready to be married and were looking forward to spending our retirement together as a married couple. He was diagnosed 6 months after we were married.

Take care of yourself ('cause who else will?) and keep writing here. It helps.


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I thank you Kavish and DeeGee for responding to my post. I will continue to do the right thing for Tom through all of my obligations because that is what he wanted me to do for him and that is what I believe to be the right thing to do for me as a person. The "Golden Rule".

I hadn't really thought about that people are waiting for someone to move on things and that we are each waiting on each other. And I guess everyone is maybe waiting on me and I am waiting on them. And neither one of us are sure what to do. I have to leave my expectations at the door, that's for sure. And not worry so much and just do what's right.

Tom and I weren't married; we were just hoping to be. I am so sorry DeeGee for how John's family treated you and continues to treat you. That is just horrible. That's just really, really bad. And I can't imagine how hurtful it is to you. And you're right, everyone still has their own lives. Nothing has really changed for them. They go back home each and every day and there is their significant other and maybe their children and things are just the same as they always were. For US, it is a chasm that we can't even begin to see the bottom of. Everything we centered our lives around is gone. A friend of ours, said I had been at "ground zero" for 12 months with Tom. That is so true. I was exhausted when the end came. Some days it catches up with me again. Tom passed near the end of June. I am really looking forward to spreading his ashes on October 3rd in a place here in Arizona that he loved dearly. I think that it will allow me to have some closure and I know that I will have fulfilled what Tom wanted and that is paramount. It's "bittersweet". His family wanted his ashes back there in PA or at least part of them and I wouldn't do it.

I'm grateful that your family continues to support you as mine does, too. It's a really good feeling when you need it the most. That you are not alone even though you think you are. The really important people in your life will always be there for you in a time of crisis and times of joy. And the rest of them will be gone like the wind. Thank you both. Paula

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I'm happy that you and DeeGee have the support of your families because I not only don't have the support of his (he was the oldest of 12), but not from mine either. Mine act like if they don't recognize it, it didn't happen and will go away. I got more sympathy and emails when my dog died a couple of months ago than I did when my husband died and his family was all mad because I didn't let them know the dog died. Why would I? I didn't get any support when their brother died so why would they care about a dog?

One of them emailed me the other day and said they are all worried about me and that Tom would want me to get on with my life. In other words, get over it. Well, when I'm worried about a friend, I call or email them or go see them if they are close. In almost 2 years I've had maybe 5 inquiries as to how I am doing. It's like you said, they all have their spouse and/or family to go home to. They don't come home to an empty house that you shared for 37 years. They don't have to go to thinks alone. So I really find it hard to believe that they are worried.

Tom knew and was worried about how I was going to get along because he knew that I put him on a pedestal. We did everything together and except for work and his 3 day trip with a friend twice a year were always together. He asked them to take care of me and they said they would try Well, if they have to "try" then their hearts aren't in it and he knew it. They think they had him buffaloed but if they only knew that he had his will rewritten after he was diagnosed to be much more specific about the family trusts and to make sure they couldn't screw me, they'd be shocked. I've wanted to say something several times but have just kept my mouth shut. They have been rude, humiliated me, been hateful so many times in the last 10 months that I pretty well avoid them because I would be so upset and now don't have Tom to comfort me. But it is MY fault and MY behavior that has alienated me from the family (which I knew it would be turned around to be my fault). They never do anything wrong. And that is fine. I have made new friends and I don't have to come home upset every week.

Enough about me. You are so new to this journey that you will have many more peaks and valleys. I must say though if the insurance policy has his name as beneficiary don't you have to give it to her whether there is money in it or not and there should be some if he didn't borrow against it.

I hope you will come back here often to "release" because it does make you feel better and you won't blow a gasket.

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Well, regarding insurance policies, I definitely got the idea that his family was very interested in "who got the insurance money". Actually, the son CALLED down to John's place of employment two days after the funeral to "find out about" who got what. Had he asked me, I would have told him, but no, he had the audacity to call down to the HR department of the employer.

They told the son that John's widow would get everything. The insurance, the pension and the social security. At first I was angered that the HR man at John's work would give this information out like that. But then I rethought it and came to the conclusion that the guy did me a favor by telling the son the way it was.

Now, we are not talking the Rockefellers here. I actually have more in my 401K from when I worked than John had in life insurance! So it was not a huge amount. But I guess Sonny Boy just wanted to check and see if dad had kept his name on as beneficiary, since he was on it throughout the years - actually up until January of this year. (And I hope they told him the actual date that John changed it. NOT when we got married, NOT when he was first diagnosed.)

I gave John's son all of his medals from his Vietnam service, any personal items that he wanted, his guns, family picutures and stuff. I basically allowed him to take whatever he wanted. And I provided him with a commemortive urn containing a portion of the ashes.

So, I too did what was right in my estimation.

And I know that I will get through this. One day at a time. I think I have already reached the point where I expect nothing from his family at all. If they call, so be it. If they don't, so be it.

While I will be curious to see what happens in the coming months, I expect nothing.

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Mary Linda,

You hit the nail on the head for me when you mentioned "blowing a gasket". There have been a lot of days like that for me especially as far as my Tom's family is concerned. It's even worse for you because you don't even have the support of your own family. At least I have that and some very good friends and neighbors. Actions do speak louder than words. I think that this world is full of people that don't understand what that really means.

I sent three large packages to Tom's sister. I had an e-mail this morning from her. All it said was I got the three boxes. Thank you. Nothing else. No inquiring as to how I'm doing, nothing about Tom's mother who's in a nursing home and to whom I regularly send cards and short letters, nothing about the upcoming service here. Just nothing. It still shocks me, but there's nothing I can do about it. All I need to be content with is that I am doing the right thing and I will continue to do so.


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To Paula and all the others who are experiencing such troubles with their loved one's families, I am so sorry for all that you are having to go through. Paula, I am sorry to hear of your dear Tom's passing. But it is good to hear that you have your father and your own family at least on your side, nurturing you, asking how you are doing.

It is amazing how just being asked how we are doing can make a difference, isn't it? I think that is why we go on this website; to know that people care, to vent out the feelings that others wouldn't understand. Even if you say 'each goes through it differently,' you would think that people who all loved someone would want to band together, instead of growing apart, right? Alas, people's minds don't work rationally in grief. So even though it would help all of you so much, to come together, some insist on the cold shoulder. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. That sister is probably overjoyed to have those three boxes, Paula, but instead she just sends that quick note. It just isn't fair!

Today I was at a grocery store and I wiped away an eyelash and someone asked me, "Are you okay?" It felt so good to be asked how I was doing, and made me realize how much I wish people would ask me more, because our grieving hearts are hurting; we aren't okay. To have people who care about us in our grief makes a huge difference.

Please accept my hugs, Paula. (((Hugs))).

Take care,


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