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Holding A Grudge


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It will take a little background before I get around to explaining what this has to do with behaviors in bereavement, so please bear with me.

I've always joked that I've led a sheltered life--but in the last year I've discovered that it wasn't that much of a joke--I really have led a sheltered life! In my world; family and friends respected one another. Even when we had serious disagreements we never reverted to name calling, foul language or belittling one another. And once the argument was over--it was over and forgotten. Most of the time once an argument was over we could even laugh about it later. I have never carried a grudge in my life until now; and no matter how hard I try I can't let this one go!

Almost 4 years after my husband’s death and against my better judgment and the advice of everyone who cares about me I let my granddaughter, her husband and 6 year old son move in with me. It was supposed to be temporary and I put a few conditions on the arrangement before they moved in thinking I had all my bases covered. I knew the husband who hadn't held down a job in 6 years had an anger management problem (verbal not physical) and my great grandson who I adore has some behavioral problems and is under the care of a psychiatrist and is on medication. My husband and I took this granddaughter in after her mother, our oldest daughter passed away in 1993 and we are as close as any mother and daughter could possibly be. For the first few months the husband managed to control his temper reasonably well even though he remained withdrawn emotionally from his wife and son.

They moved in with me last November. Beginning more than a year before that, my youngest daughter had begun her constant and painful battle against the infection that would ultimately take her life February 15, 2010.

In spite of her own terrible struggles she remained extremely protective of me and I am convinced that she played a huge role in the fact that my granddaughters husband managed to behave himself (to some degree) as long as he knew she was keeping an eye on the situation. She had his number and he knew it and he respected her for that even though she was extremely blunt with him.

Eleven days after her death this is what I wrote in my diary: “Chalk up one more miserable day of an endless string of miserable days listening to ____ and his verbal abuse and animosity toward ____. Another heartbreaker is also my increasing suspicions of actual physical abuse. ____ came home from school. ____ ordered him to change his clothes. ____ went into their room to change but he was apparently too slow for ____ and in a threatening voice he repeated the order.. Almost immediately ____ began to sob. ____ told him “Stop crying! I didn’t hurt you”. Crying stopped but there was still a lot of softer sobbing and whimpering. I’m quite sure ____ had hurt him again, but I can’t ever prove it. Every time ____ comes to me in hysterics and tells me his dad hurt his neck, there are no actual bruises to prove it.

March 15 I wrote this in my diary; I have been in tears constantly over ____ increasing verbal abuse with ____ (and _____). The instant either one of them walks through the door the ranting and raving begins.

From then on it was all downhill, they tried counseling and it only made things worse. Finally she asked him to leave, but he pleaded that with no job and no money he had no place to go. He made many threats about taking the child away from her, suing for alimony and anything else he could think of to bring her under control. He also told her that she couldn’t make him leave because by law he didn’t have to leave unless he was served with a 30 day notice. The next day I saw to it that he was served with that notice.

The next month was a living hell! Though he never spoke one word to me that he didn’t have to, his demeanor toward me and my home made me feel like an unwelcome intruder in my own home.

The day before he was to leave my granddaughter came to me and asked me if he could stay; she said they were trying to work things out and he had no place to go. He did have a place to go but lied to her so she would try to get me to allow him to stay. My reply to her was a very solid NO! I tried to explain to her that I’d never lived such a miserable existence in my life than I had that last month and I wasn’t about to let it continue in my home that is supposed to be a place where one should be able to feel calm, secure and content. As long as he remained here, I had none of the above. The day he left I felt a sense of relief and freedom that I hadn’t felt in months.

She is still seeing him even though he isn’t doing anything about getting a job, still has the anger problem and continues to resent his son. My great grandson still has a few problems (ADHD) and always will, but even his doctors agree that much of his behavior is learned behavior and/or fear based defense. He’s a completely different child now that his dad is gone from the household.

I’ve discussed this at length with my deceased daughters husband and my surviving daughter and though they don’t want me to allow him into my home again even for a visit; they are both concerned that my constant anger toward him is so out of character for me that it worries them. They do agree that he became bolder after the death of my daughter because I was more vulnerable mentally and she was no longer here to stand up to him when I wouldn’t or couldn’t. I also feel horrible that my beloved granddaughter is caught in the middle of this.

I know I can’t live her life or make decisions for her, but when I see the difference in her and her sons life when they’re away from this poisonous man; I simply don’t see any possibility that I will ever want to be in the same room with him again. I will always wonder if my feelings toward him are influenced by my grief of losing my daughter or if they are real and justified.

By the way; I did see a counselor and she told me that she’d be more worried if I wasn’t angry with him. She told me I didn’t need counseling but if I just needed someone to talk to I could call her anytime.

One last note. In the beginning I laughed when warned that he could be dangerous because I had been taking him to counseling and having lunch with him almost every week for two years prior to them moving in with me. During these lunches he constantly talked about how he was going to change his life, control his anger, try to stop resenting his child etc. He also spent many hours talking about what a jerk his best and only friend is, telling me his mother is crazy, (she cut him off financially after buying him his last car when he was 40) how horrible his ex wives are and how it’s so unfair that he can’t work because half his money is taken for back child support before he even sees it. Now I am afraid of him too because he tells everyone that will listen that everything would be perfect in his life if I hadn’t made him leave my home. He refers to me as “the crazy old lady”. I'm also afraid for my granddaughter and great grandson if they get back together.

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Hello Tori,

Well, from the information you provided it sounds to me like your behavior is normal. If I were in your shoes, I would be very upset with this man. He has lots of issues to resolve and unfortunately his behavior is affecting how your granddaughter and your great grandson react. It is understandable that you want peace and quiet, you always had that in your family. You allowed them to stay with you and you witnessed behaviors and situations that are not acceptable for people. It is true that no one is perfect, but when your great grandson is suffering the consequences of his father's acts, that is simply inexcusable.

If I were you, I wouldn't worry about what other people may think or say about you from what this man tells them. I don't even understand why he resents his son, when children are to be loved and cared for, to be taught good manners and teach them good values, for life.

I also was wondering, could it be that you are upset with this man because the moment your daughter passed on, he became disrespectful towards you?

The main point here is that whether your daughter is dead or alive, he should respect each and everyone around him, period. You can't make him be a different way, so there is no point in being angry or holding a grudge towards this man. It is not worth it. Your grand daughter needs to look and her situation and see what can be done, but also always respecting you and being understanding of your needs.

Be there to provide support for her, she and her son are your family. Her husband needs to figure out his problems on his own and you shouldn't have to carry that burden with you, and neither should you carry the burden of a grudge, as it can build into resentment and ultimately bitterness.

The love and kindness you have received,you will give it to your grand daughter. Remember in life we can only do so much, and we can try to protect our loved ones as much as possible but in the end we are just human beings. Just be there for your grand daughter if she seeks your advice, and now that you have peace at home, I think it will also allow you to grieve your daughter's passing.

That's just my 2 cents,


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Daughter2010 thank you for the response. You've given me another way to look at the situation and I appreciate that. I will continue to love and support my granddaughter and great grandson in every way possible. This may be more difficult than I thought since just a few minutes ago I found out that because she injured her arm over the weekend she will not be able to work for the next several weeks. She went into work this morning and found it impossible to type with the cast on. Typing is what she does as an IT analyst.

I've come to the conclusion that I may not be carrying a grudge as much as finally coming to the realization that the husband is not the kind of person I would have tolerated in my life under any other circumstances. He would have never gotten a foot in the door if my husband had been alive. For 10 years my daughter and I were the only ones that ever tried to help him. The entire rest of the family, extended family included has merely tolerated him for the last 10 years. Guess I must just be a slow learner.

The daughter that passed away in February cared for my greatgrandson from the time he was 3 months old while my granddaughter worked. She never charged them one cent and did it for love of the child and in order to protect him from his dad and his indifference and anger. When she could no longer care for him, I paid for his daycare until he started school. After all my daughter did for them, to this day he has never once acknowledged her death in any way. That really hurts!

So after all is said and done; I'm not carrying a grudge after all. I've just given up on trying to fix him. That may turn out to be a good thing for him since he now has to make his own choices to either sink or swim on his own.

If there is one thing I have learned from all this is that; after the loss of a spouse, some of us may be more prone to allowing others to take advantage of us. I'd love to say that I'm 100 percent sure I've learned my lesson and will never allow anything like this to happen again. I hope I can stick with that!

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