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Husband's Behavior During Grieving His Mother's Death


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Last April my mother-in-law injured her back while trying to take care of her mother, whom was elderly and senile. I was taking care of both of them at my MIL's home, only a mile away from my home. After 7 week's of watching this woman suffer and become completely bedridden in constant pain before surgery was scheduled, her lungs could not recover after the long extensive surgery, and after 2 weeks of her suffering in the hospital on and off the ventilator, her body starting shutting down and my husband had to sign the papers to take her off of the vent and let her go. He had a special relationship with his mother. What i had believed to be a close knit family, turned out to be a total nightmare. before hospitalization, my brother in law and his wife and grown children, who lived 2 blocks away, all but refused to help care for the two. My husband works shift work and my teenage daughter is in many school activities, all of which i am very involved, but i was more than happy to help, but tension did build very high when my health became to be an issue. I would vent to my husband that I really needed help, but he insisted that he could not make his siblings do anything to help. when i checked into home health the whole family seemed to be insulted. while she was in the hospital, my husband and mother in law, including her mother all suggested that i get some rest because her recovery would be long and painstaking after surgery and she would need my help then. The times i went to the hospital, once a day, she was in and out of consciousness, and a couple of occasions, her two other children were there and each and every time, she was in distress and i would have to talk with nurses, doctors, liasons, and even the chaplin. i becaqme very close to my MIL during this time and I felt exhausted and all alone, trying to keep my husband and daughter comforted, trying to be supportive.

Now, after sibling fighting through the whole time, fighting even through the funeral, heck they were dividing her belongings before she was even taken off of the machines. I felt very protective and became very angry watching them going through her things. they came into her home and just took over! My husband, in pain, never wanted to say a word, he just let them go on. he was hurt, angry, confused, and feeling great grief, but it was like he didnt want to talk about it, and even refused to go to the funeral until the night before. he never went over to her home to grieve with extended family that had come in from out of town for the funeral. My daughter and i stood by his side and were here for him through it all.

Since then we have had several heated arguments and it seems he is acting very iradically. He started wanting to make huge purchases, and if i tried to talk to him about it or disagreed, he would only pull further away. But, the most concerning thing is that I came across, by chance, text messages to a 25-year-old young woman whomhe works with, and in further searching, found this had been going on for 3 to 4 months, calls and text. He works 12 hour night shifts with her. The thing is that we have set boundaries about texting and his relationships with women at work. when i confronted him, his response was that she text him once and he asked her not to do it again, but he didnt know i knew the full extent. Since then, it has been a war. we are both angry, im afraid he has pushed me to far away. Is this grief? I cannot handle another woman in his life in this way. im hurt that he is angry at me about his mothers death and his siblings behavior. none of us have had a chance to mourn, and i dont know what to do. we have talked, we have prayed, and he has committed coming to mass with us every weekend. Is there a chance that I will lose my husband and best friend, after caring so selflessly for his mother?

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Hi Ceh - While I really don't know how to respond to your husband's behavior and actions, I just want you to know that I read your post, and feel for you in your situation. Mostly, I want to give you my condolences for the loss of your mother-in-law. You really did well by her. As I keep learning, during my grief, rolling with life is quite challenging. Hopefully, you will seek some counseling regarding the situation with your husband. I know what it is like to not feel "heard", and how confused I started feeling, so, it would be great to know that you had someone in your corner who could help you to keep seeing what's going on in your life clearer.

My best to you.

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My friend, I'm so sorry that you find yourself in such difficult and complicated circumstances, and my heart goes out to you.

I must say, however, that ~ wonderful as this site is ~ I don't think your needs can be addressed adequately in an online grief discussion group such as this one. Certainly you are welcome to stay here with us, but in addition to whatever support we can offer you, I strongly encourage you to seek the services of a professional counselor or therapist ~ someone who can help you sort through all the issues involved here.

You may find my response in this thread to be helpful in that regard, as it addresses some of your same concerns: I Need Help to Help a Friend

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First I want to say, I am so sorry you lost your MIL and am glad you had a chance to grow close before she passed, that is time that can never be redone and I'm so glad you were there for her. As to the rest of the family, including your husband, I can only say I have seen people behave in all kinds of ways when grief hits. With your in-laws, I'm afraid that overlooking their behavior during their grief and trying to get past it (with time, of course), is best in the long run. I have been through this. :(

But most importantly, the matter of your husband's behavior with this 25 year-old he works with. It's so important that you convey to him that this is something you will not tolerate, and strict boundaries need to be adhered to in order to not further drive a rift between the two of you and damage your relationship. He is not thinking clearly at this time. Years ago I had a co-worker who lost her six year old daughter to a congenital disease. She ended up having an affair with our boss, which resulted in her ultimately losing her job, and both couples ended up in marital counseling. I remember her counselor had told her that this is very common when someone loses a child. It may not make any sense, but grief doesn't always make sense, it's just there to deal with.

I'm afraid Marty is right, to give your marriage the best possible chance, and your own personal recovery as well, I would seek professional help for this situation. He may not even know why he is doing what he is doing so he is ill equipped to explain himself to you, but part of the therapy can be helping both of you understand what is going on, if possible, so the past can be forgiven and the future solidified so you can focus on a healthy and fulfilling relationship. I realize that what you are going through is a slap in the face and feels very unfair...and it indeed is unfair. You'd think he'd appreciate all you did for his mom, but sometimes it takes time and help before that can be realized.

Please feel free to continue to come here, but in order to give yourself every best chance, do seek some professional help with your situation. Let us know how you are doing.

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