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Loss of Mother in Law

Discussion in 'Loss of a Parent' started by Ekws, Apr 13, 2020.

  1. Ekws

    Ekws New Member


    While I am also grieving, I am mostly posting on here to find insight on how to best help my husband.

    My mother in law passed away 6 weeks ago. She had been very sick for the past two years. She was diabetic, had liver and kidney failure, had had 7 stunts put in her heart, and was on oxygen. My sister in law and I have been dreading this for a long time. My mother In law was the center of my husband, his brother, and my father in laws world. While my SIL and I could see this coming they were all (understandably) in denial. She regularly “passed out” and “went unresponsive” and had been in and out of the hospital for the past two years. This has been a devastating blow to our husbands.

    To make matters more complicated, my husband and I had a baby girl 8 months ago. My brother in law and sister is law had a baby girl 7 months ago. My mother in law was hospitalized and almost died the day before I had our baby (they were “calling in the preacher”...). She thankfully lived to meet both of these babies.

    I feel like my husband has experienced the happiest of emotions with the birth of our child and now the lowest of emotions with the loss of his mother. I can’t even imagine the emotional turmoil going on inside of him. Unfortunately, he is the type to really hold things in and not talk about it. He drinks more than he should and hasn’t even really cried about her loss.

    We have been together for 8 years and married for 4.5. I thought we were adjusting to becoming new parents and working our way through her loss. Two weeks ago he blindsided me and told me that he was thinking about filing for a divorce. He told me that we should have never gotten married and that he should have never agreed to have a baby with me (she was very planned). He has brought up a specific incident from two years ago where he feels like I made him choose between me and his mother (I would not do this on purpose because I’ve always known how close they are). He says he feels like he can never forgive me and move past his anger and resentment surrounding this incident.

    I feel like he is just angry at the world right now and is not dealing with his grief well. I feel like I am just there so I am the one that he is lashing out at. I’ve convinced him to go to couples counseling even though I really think he could benefit from grief counseling (but he doesn’t “believe” in counseling...). I’m trying to be understanding and sweet in hopes that we eventually move past this as he works through the stages of grief. I don’t think that leaving me and our baby will give him the peace that he’s looking for.

    I am grieving her loss too. I know that my grief in no way comes close to what he is experiencing. She treated me like a daughter and I am so sad that my daughter will not get to know her grandmother. I’m just looking for advice on how to deal with my own grief while also trying to help my husband heal and hold on to our marriage...

    Thank you for reading the long post...
  2. David Hughes

    David Hughes Well-Known Member

    Long post...


    When your mother-in-law was sick so often it might have been hard to admit she is needing specialized care. Sometimes our own love for someone can hurt the one we love so much in life.

    When my own wife started her nightmare journey on seeing doctors, the first prognosis was suspected cancer. She went through so many procedures, tests, blood draws (dozens of vials in one sitting), and yet it seemed to never end.

    The bills were scary, but for now our two sons and I were always acutely aware of how she never seemed to get better. We were always hoping for one day to have good news and she would recover finally. Then to also be put on a transplant list over the course of ten years three times and each time she was removed due to cancer making an aggressive return. She never lost hope so we never did.

    As for the two husbands, there is something about love that is hard to put a finger on. You can feel for a person suffering, you can witness their decline, but when you wish for more (recovery) inside yourself it is very hard to accept anything else.

    That is beautiful. She had the chance to see both babies. That is an image she most likely kept close to her heart till the day she passed.

    As for your husband's well being and his what might appear as no outward emotion it does happen, then all of the sudden one day the floodgates open and the emotions start to pile up. When my dad passed it was shattering, then I had to be the caretaker for mom.

    I had to take her to and from dialysis. Make sure her meals were delivered from Meals on Wheels, take care of her multitude of cats, shop for her desires, and lastly sit and talk with her, play cards with her, and be a companion. This lasted for two years till she had to be moved to a special hospice hospital near my older brother, her first child.

    When your husband's anger finally surfaced, he focused all his energy on you. So he moves his own denial of how sick his mom is and then passes onto blaming another person, you. Of course he is angry, he kept it all to himself, he did not share his own inner hurt with you. When he finally did, I would say not blind rage, but more misdirected anger over his loss. He then decided that was it, he was right, you were wrong and he didn’t want to really deal with his emotions other than putting it all on you.

    I was married for 42 years, in my time in the service (12 plus years) I have come across so many angry, desperate, lost and so many other emotions. Suicide was always at the forefront for so many reasons for people, so when we came across, a man or a woman who seemed like they no longer cared for anything literally we had to guide them to mental health experts.

    It is just a part of life anyone could encounter no matter who they or where they are. All it takes is someone with a watchful eye to help another get help.

    The most valuable time in a person's life is when they reach out for help. Convincing them to accept another hand is hard, but counselling is one of many steps. I know I have seen priests, counsellors, and psychiatrists in my life for one thing or another.

    Having panic attacks is hard to get beyond without help. If depression moves in that is when antidepressants help the most, as when it happened to me I had lost the ability to cope anymore; afterall, we are all only human and capable of error. My treatment was in 1992 and lasted for 5 months. You would be surprised what life seems like after you get beyond what is holding you back, even after facing deaths.

    Your grief as well needs to be addressed. Counselling, by talking and speaking you release those feelings. As each of us shed tears it shows us there is a reason deep within us for them. One way to get beyond sorrow and grief is by talking, talking, and treatment if possible.

    It takes time, it takes honesty. You have to find coping mechanisms in life, things that help you and others, like reading, movies, looking through tokens of life and so many other things. Music is also a great way to help. Please never give in to despair. Reach out and take care of your needs, your child's needs and try to talk it out with your husband. Peace be with you today.


    I am not sure what music helps, but this is my collection when I was going through grief I started to gather. It is requires no subscription just click a song and listen if you wish:


    When we have to face one leaving us

  3. Ekws

    Ekws New Member

    Thank you so much for your reply. I feel like my husband really has a hard time asking for help. It’s not “manly” to ask for help or talk about feelings. The other complicating factor is that he is a police officer. With that comes a whole other level of stress. He really disassociates from people that he deals with at work; I understand this because it can be a difficult job and he needs to remove himself some to be able to cope. However, I feel like it makes him disassociate from his emotions at home too...

    I plan to get us into marriage counseling. It’s difficult right now because not many places are seeing new patients in their office due to COVID. I hope that after a couple of sessions that he will be more comfortable with the idea of counseling and will be willing to do some sessions by himself. I didn’t get married just to give up during our first rough patch. He has said some hurtful things but I know that it’s just because he is hurting so bad right now.

    I’m so grateful that my mother in law got to meet these little girls. She was actually very rude and said a lot of ugly things to my sister in law and me while we were pregnant. She would call us fat b******. She made a huge scene at my baby shower and was sobbing and saying mean things to me. As a hormonal pregnant lady I probably did not always handle the situation well. Looking back (and with out pregnancy hormones clouding my judgement) I now understand that she “wasn’t herself” and that she likely had some bitter feelings about her health and not being able to see the babies grow up. I wish that I had handled things differently and have regrets about things that were said in anger. I’ve had resentments towards her for not taking her health more seriously. I had hoped that she would try to “do better” (eat better, exercise some, etc) so that she could see the girls grow up. Before she was so ill she would have never treated me that way. I know that she loved me like a daughter. I’m sure that some of my husbands resent towards me right now is related to things that occurred while I was pregnant.

    I hope that we can all move past our resentments and honor her life. She truly was a sweet person that would do anything for anyone. I have written my daughter a letter about her grandmother to have when she is older. I encouraged my husband to do the same because I thought it would be nice for her to have and that it would be cathartic for him. He has refused... I can’t make him do it... I just wish I could “fix” this for him and take his pain away...
  4. David Hughes

    David Hughes Well-Known Member


    I used to believe that men don’t cry. One day I went to visit my parents, dad was in another room, mom in the kitchen. As I started to round the corner to where dad was I heard a soft whimpering.

    I carefully peered around the corner and saw my dad, a hulking man who had seen so many deaths in World War 2, in his chair crying. So from that day forward my outlook changed.

    He would never share with me his time in the war, but I saw all the campaigns he was credited with as a naval sailor and know he saw so much life lost, so I think he never wanted to make me feel bad.

    What he didn’t realize is I also had seen war deaths, I watched other soldiers want to commit suicide in Vietnam,, and on it went. I remember one of my commanders asking me to extend my first tour - I went home instead. However, a friend talked me into coming back to Vietnam for another tour, he never made it with me, not death, but illness, and medical evac back to the states. Death visited my friends again on that tour.

    I think now at my age, 71, I don’t care anymore to hide those tears. When I need to cry I let loose, it may not totally make me feel better, but it is a start.

    Your husband is one who protects others, he carries that fasad with him in life. Even he needs to release anger, and so many other emotions safely. Counselling is the only way. Speaking to peers also helps a lot. I will admit I don’t know the stigma associated with him reaching out or if there might be any repercussions.

    Stress eats us alive inside. It builds up over time. It can make us less capable of handling life and all the sad realities it presents each of us with. So he has to reach out for his own good. I know the old saying - ‘You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ True, but when each of us look in a mirror back at ourselves we can see we are not the same person perhaps. It is up to others to help if at all possible, and/or for him to reach out.

    Sure, withholding yourself from reality might help for a while, but eventually life will come knocking on your door. We all one day will face reality.

    The worst part of this isolation is the loneliness, the removal of so many support systems that are available. It takes heart to keep an open mind and make it through situations.

    During my 42 years of marriage, Nadine and I had fights like any couple would. But we always moved beyond that strife. Besides her cancer was the death of her two brothers, one sister, her parents and the grandmother who took care of her in high school. She was angry at times with me for not being able to be with them more, that is what stress will do to a person.

    When I had to take care of my mother after dad's death, she was mad at me for not being around more, stress again. She travelled in her job across the US and so she was not around so many times.

    Understanding loneliness from my service days, I saw hers as well, and of course stress would always come roaring back into our lives due to one thing or another. So we both worked out our hurtful times and always understand just how fragile life really is, with no darn guarantees.

    Sure anger is present with failing health and especially when she realized she might not be around to marvel in her grandchildren's lives. Pain does awful things to each of us, we all handle it so differently. Stress again comes into the picture.

    Loss is not an easy thing to accept. It takes a toll on anyone. Hopefully both your husband and you can get the help and guidance you need. I hope the best for both of you. Life is hard enough - isolation compounds that, so we each have to find ways to cope and overcome our stress.

    Please take care. Don’t give in to despair, and never give up hope.


    This is a song from Sia

  5. Ekws

    Ekws New Member

    Thank you so much for your kind words!