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No Condolences Are Better Than Insincere Condolences

I’m submitting a Facemail correspondence I had with my cousin after informing him of the death of my father at age 80.  A year prior to Dad’s death, he had given me a small box which contained his military discharge papers, college report cards and term papers, and old photographs.  Included in this collection was a 2 page letter from my cousin detailing why he was had chosen to estrange himself from his uncle, my father.  The reason given was, “You did not offer a display of human kindness in saying to me that you were sorry for the loss of my brother. In that I will stop and give my sympathy to even the most despicable person, a kind word over the loss of a loved one, that incident leaves me to regard you with any thing but respect.”

Now that I have set the stage, here is the correspondence between us.

My Facemail to my cousin:

It took a little hunting to find you since your  contact information was no longer valid.

I have been charged with the duty to inform you that your uncle, James Robert Smith Sr. died September 1, 2009. He battled cancer for the last decade of his life.

My brother asked me to inform all of Dad’s side of the family. I know Larry is deceased and I don’t have  John’s current phone number.  Can you pass on his contact information to me?

Richard’s terse reply a few hours later:

you may reach John  hm ph XXX-XXX-XXXX    9:16am

A half hour after that, perhaps realizing he had committed the same offense to me that he claimed my father had done to him, Richard replies again:

I disowned your Father several years back when he insulted me for the last time, by failing to offer condolences for the loss of my brother. However: when any member of any family in the world suffers the loss of anyone of their immediate family it is only proper and right to offer condolences for that loss. For your loss I offer my sincere regrets to you, your brothers and all other members of the  James Robert Smith Sr. family. I also sincerely regret that at no time in my memory was I ever treated with any kind of familial regard by your Father. I am sure it was a mutual loss for both he and I.   9:37am

After my initial astonishment had abated, I realized why my cousin Richard was estranged from most of the family.  He was divorced, his own children were estranged from him, and his surviving brother and wife were angry at him and disagreed with his offense.  Richard had now estranged himself from me with his selfish,  insincere condolences sandwiched between insults of my recently deceased father. It was all about him and his poor, damaged love cup being chipped.

The final irony is that I later learned from my other cousin John that my father had flown halfway across the US to say “good bye” to his nephew Larry and be there when Larry died.    1001-10

Addendum by Admin:  The LW informs me that there had been no contact with Richard in over 7 years and every effort had been made to contact him via the usual means plus a Google search.   He was no longer at the last known address and the phone number was non-working.  Richard was eventually located on Facebook and contacted by private Facemail message.  You do not need to be friended with a person to private message them. Richard was not at his brother’s deathbed.  John was contacted by phone.

Miss Manners refers to these services family and friends render at the time of death as “responsibilities” and “assignments”.   In my personal thesaurus “duty” is synonymous with “responsibility” and “assignment” so I see nothing wrong in the use of the phrase, particularly in light of the fact that there was no family contact with Richard in many years.  The news was being delivered to him in a factual, straightforward manner …a private notification of what Miss Manners refers to as “just the facts”.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Joe J October 5, 2010, 8:07 am

    The verbose way that Richard replied, being self-serving and grandiosely offering insincere condolences by basically saying “I don’t care but I will offer condolences just because it’s a THING TO DO, and as you see I’m a BIGGER PERSON than that” is ridiculous.

    On the other hand, I don’t know the proper etiquette myself in this situation (yet), but it seems to me that telling a family member that you have been “charged with the duty of informing them” of a family member’s passing might not get the correspondence off on a very good note, either.

  • Cady October 5, 2010, 8:15 am

    Richard has what my mom calls “a chip on his shoulder.”

  • Kai October 5, 2010, 8:21 am

    I have one issue with the OP, and that is that it wasn’t right to say “I have been charged with the duty to inform you that your uncle, James Robert Smith Sr. died September 1, 2009.”

    If I got a message like that, even if I were on good terms with my uncle, I would feel a little taken aback. Really, you’re only telling me because you’ve been ‘charged’ to do so, and not because you think I would care to know? If the rather terse way of approaching the cousin was as a result of finding that letter, then that’s rude. Regardless of who was in the wrong, the dispute was between the uncle and the cousin, not between the uncle’s family and the cousin.

    With that said, Richard was horribly rude, unkind and self-serving. Even if his original complaint had been valid, he had no cause to treat the family like that. Nor should he have even made a big deal to the family about the dispute. Even if he truly couldn’t care less, his response should have been limited to a simple “I’m sorry to hear of your loss, I’m sure you loved your father and will miss him terribly. My best to your family and my brother John’s phone number is XXX-XXXX.” Simple as that.

    Unfortunately I’ve known people like this cousin, and they always make everything all about them, and they never change (because the first step in changing is to admit you were wrong, which they cannot do).

  • SammyHammy October 5, 2010, 9:03 am

    Considering the self inflicted estrangement that Richard chose to impose, I think the wording “charged with the duty of informing” is perfectly fine. After all, we are not talking about a close relation or someone who might actually care that this death has occurred. It is simply fulfilling a familial duty insofar as, at a minimum, in most cases all family members should be notified of births, marriages and deaths.

    As for Richard’s response, he may think he was being correct in his response to this information, but he was actually incredibly rude. His beef, real or imagined, was with the father-the deceased party. Not with the son-just the father. So the only possible goal he could have had to make ugly comments about the father would have been to hurt the son. All he should have said is, “I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this information with me.”

    This guy is a pompous, self-centered jerk and I can easily see why so many people are estranged from him.

  • summer October 5, 2010, 9:10 am

    Telling someone that another has died on facebook is awful.

    Iknow it’s sad when families don’t get along, but you have to allow Richard his feelings, whether those feelings agree with you or not.

    To have this conversation via FACEBOOK is the biggest etiquette faux pas of all. If Richard didn’t like your dad, so be it. It should not change your feelings for your dad at all, so who cares what Richard thinks or does?

  • Typo Tat October 5, 2010, 9:10 am

    To be fair, the LW sought Richard out, and was not at all friendly or even polite in her letter. Richard seemingly tried to be the better man, but he failed, and his response is horrid.

    There’s obviously a lot of history here, between Richard and LW’s side of the family, that’s for sure.

  • Jillybean October 5, 2010, 9:19 am

    My sincere condolences on your loss, OP. It is never easy to lose a parent.

    As for your cousin, as you can see, some people hold bitterness in their hearts and the person they do the most damage to is themselves. Having twice lost cousins to young and tragic deaths, and witnessed their siblings trying to cope with it, I can only imagine what your cousin went through losing his brother. I have no way of knowing how old your cousin or his brother were at the time of his brother’s death, or how close they were, but that kind of loss often changes people, and grief can cause the slightest offense to be magnified greatly. Whatever your father supposedly did was likely not nearly the slight your cousin took it as, but often it’s easier to project your anger on the living than on the person who you can’t yell at for being dead. Some just take it too far, and never really recover from it.

    While I agee with Joe that your wording might have set the tone, I’m not sure it would have mattered either way. What I do suggest is that you delete any electronic record of the conversation. It’s been a year, and yet, you still had the messages to cut and paste here. No good comes from holding onto the negative in life.

  • Just Laura October 5, 2010, 9:27 am

    I agree with Joe.

  • beth October 5, 2010, 9:31 am

    in my opinion, both messages are insincere and cold. the first message reads as “i don’t appreciate you making me spend time looking for you. but i am duty bound to tell you in a completely impersonal way that your uncle died. and since you are the one i did find, can you give me everyone else’s info so i can continue with my duty.” i don’t even see a please in the request.

    i do think the cousin took it to far with his line about “familial regard”, though. his opinions and feelings are his own, and don’t need to be taken out on a grieving son.

  • lkb October 5, 2010, 10:28 am

    Sigh. I guess all that can be said is that death brings out the weirdness in people and situations, for better or worse. “Be Kinder than necessary for everyone is going through some kind of battle,” certainly holds true here.
    My condolences to all involved in this story.

  • Enna October 5, 2010, 11:18 am

    I agree with Beth in that both messages were rude/cold – the death of a loved one can cause distressed people to act in was they wouldn’t normally.

  • Ruth October 5, 2010, 11:52 am

    @Summer, no, no it’s not awful. Telling them about it via a FB posting would be awful. If she didn’t have any other contact info for him, then it’s not awful. I don’t care for FB & rarely use it, but it’s essentially another kind of e-mail, just one native to a social networking site.

    As for the “charged with” part, I understand the OP’s need for formality. I had to call a number of my mother’s friends this summer to tell them that she’d died. It was expected for most of them, but finding the words and telling people over and over that someone you love has died, realizing each time you’ll never see them again, formality creates a kind of emotional buffer that helps you get through it. I wouldn’t have been as formal with close friends and family, but when calling someone she’d been exchanging letters with for the last 20 years, for example, it was useful.

  • Xtina October 5, 2010, 12:04 pm

    Wait–so the other cousin, John, said that the OP’s father actually DID go and spend time with the family (including Richard) when the brother Larry died? So what you’re saying, OP, is that Richard lied–made up that your father had no contact with him when his brother died (or perhaps didn’t think your father’s appearance at the funeral was good enough)? If that is the case, then Richard might have something of a mental problem.

    At any rate, agree with previous posters that communications from both the OP and Richard were rather terse–I presume Facebook was used because the OP had said they had trouble tracking Richard’s contact info down, though. I guess Richard was good enough to finally realize that he was trying to carry out a vendetta with the wrong person (the family of the deceased), yet the tone in his response was self-serving and making it all about how HE was the bigger person, which was hypocritical on his part. Richard sounds like the kind of person who thrives on drama and conflict, and I don’t expect he’ll ever change.

  • Tara October 5, 2010, 12:50 pm

    I think it’s stupid that your cousin was mad that your father didn’t offer condolences when his brother, your father’s nephew, died. When a mutual family member dies, everyone who cared about that person grieves, and they don’t offer condolences to each other. I think about this from your father’s perspective: if my niece died, I would be heartbroken, and I wouldn’t offer condolences to my nephew, her brother. If I were you, I’d point this out to your cousin.

  • MurdockFan October 5, 2010, 2:07 pm

    I must admit, I always thought the sentence ‘I have been charged with the duty…’ was a traditional and ultra-formal one. Certainly I’ve heard it in use before. As for keeping a hold of it for a year, most of these stories seem to take a long time to come up on the website once submitted – there’s a warning about a 6 month waiting list whenever you submit a story.

    I’m sorry for your loss and can only hope you let him get on with his grievance on his own.

  • TheBardess October 5, 2010, 2:07 pm

    Summer- while in general, I would probably agree that delivering notice of someone’s death is best not done over Facebook, it doesn’t sound like the OP and his cousin had been in contact all that much. It says rights there at the start of the OP’s message that he had had difficulty contacting Richard because the information he had was no longer valid. I got the impression that the OP had originally tried to contact Richard in some other way, but had had no luck doing so, and so had turned to Facebook as a last resort. I understand not wanting to deliver the news of someone’s death that way, but if all other methods of communication have failed, and you have no other reliable way to get a hold of them- well, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

    As for Richard- his behavior was awful. As numerous other posters have pointed out, it doesn’t matter how much you may personally dislike someone- when they die, there are other people grieving for them, even if you are not, and those mourners deserve your support and compassion, not your scorn and insults. A simple “I am very sorry for your loss” would have sufficed.

  • Lianne October 5, 2010, 2:18 pm

    I agree that the tone of both emails are a little weird, but looking at some of the vocab, I’m wondering if OP translated the whole exchange from another language and we’re seeing the quirks of that translation. For example I’ve never heard Facebook referred to as Facemail.

  • gramma dishes October 5, 2010, 2:21 pm

    I have no problem with anything the OP did. I do not think the word was unfriendly, just formal. Given that he/she knew before she made contact that the cousin was estranged from her Dad and her family, I think she did the best she could considering that she had no way to get hold of him except for the method she used.

    I’m especially appalled at the fact that her father had indeed been loving and respectful to his brother at the time of his death, so the cousin who wrote the letter was certainly being obnoxious. Did HE offer condolences to the Uncle who had flown half way across the country to be with his nephew at the time of his death? Clearly the Uncle loved him and his actions would make him one of the family members who would have deserved the condolences the cousin speaks of also, right?

    Cousin sounds like a guy who sees things in ways that revolve only around him and his feelings. His vision is pinpoint narrow. I can see why he has alienated nearly everyone who at one time surely loved him.

  • Amazed October 5, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Sometimes the answer is just really simple. The guy’s a jerk.

  • ferretrick October 5, 2010, 2:46 pm

    I would agree that a phone call is best, but if I did receive notice of a death by facebook or e-mail, I would err on the side of forgiveness and just tack it up to the grieveing family not having strength to make multiple phone calls and tell the same story and hear the same things over and over again. I know I personally did not handle either of my grandparents deaths well. At my grandmother’s funeral, immediately after the service I was simply inconsolable and I absolutely could not face making polite chit chat and hearing the same well meaning but inane comments from near strangers about in a better place, at peace, blah, blah, blah. I just wanted to be alone and grieve for my grandma in peace. I slipped away from the burial site without saying anything to anyone and did not come back until most people had left. I’m sure that’s inexcusably rude, but it’s what I had to do for my own sanity. So I’m going to excuse minor transgressions like using facebook to communicate a death.

    That said, Richard’s letter is just plain out of line and unnecessary. I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story of what went down between him and the deceased, but there’s a reason we say you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. Particularly to their children immediately after the death.

  • TychaBrahe October 5, 2010, 3:29 pm

    The reason for the formal phrasing “charged with the duty,” is from the tradition that we do not contact strangers without an introduction. Traditionally, if you approached someone you did not know, you would carry with you a letter of introduction from someone known to both of you. An exception would be made in circumstances such as these, where the mutual acquaintance has requested or required that the contact be made, but is no longer around to facilitate the introduction.

  • Simone October 5, 2010, 3:42 pm

    This post shouldn’t make me giggle, but I love the imagery of “his poor, damage love cup being chipped”. I am SO going to use that.

  • Sharon October 5, 2010, 3:57 pm

    I agree with Jillybean entirely.
    Grudges are too expensive for me. People who hold them are ususally mentally ill. My mother is bi-polar and the cost in human suffering is emense. No wrong was EVER forgotten, no matter how small the slight was it had to be repaid 100 fold. She is now almost 80 and has estranged everyone who ever knew her. My sister and I visit her and call her. It is sad to say that it is more from obligation than from joy. She still is bitter and complains about everyone she has ever known. She is my mom. I love her. But, when everyone walks away over and over, you have to start thinking, “Is it possible that I am creating this situation for myself?”
    Richard’s response sounds just like something my mom might have done. I hope he gets help before he hurts anyone else and for his own sake… he needs to let go of that stuff, it is poison.
    And, if the only contact you have for someone is Facebook, a private message is not unforgivable. I have had people pass information to me in this way. The OP’s daddy had just died. I can cut people slack when they are in mourning.

  • Mother of a Bride October 5, 2010, 3:58 pm

    These rifts among family members can happen for some of the most mundane things. Maybe Richard felt left out when the uncle showed so much concern for his nephew and didn’t shower the same attention on Richard? Maybe Richard was jealous of the love shown to his dying brother? Maybe Richard is just a nutcase. Who knows! I think it’s shameful when people can’t put their hate aside for a short time in order to attend a funeral, or offer condolences to those who need it, or even just call to say “I am sorry about your loss.” I can’t imagine holding onto that much hate, even after the other party has died. It’s sad.

  • Dear! October 5, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Dear Me. Funerals and weddings bring out the worse in some people.

    As for one of the commenters, this is the OP’s father and given the situation she did her best in her time of mourning (I see not a thing wrong with it given Richard’s attitude (he wasn’t even at his brother’s funeral or his death bed from what I gathered in the after notes and anything she might have written he would have probalby found fault with.) If you would have been taken aback by a word choice, then that is a personal issue on you and not the OP. I’m all for manners, but when it comes to death, especially on the party closest to the deceased, you can’t get in arms about a wording less you upset them even more and that is a reason to go to Ettiqette Hell.

  • The Cat Whisperer October 5, 2010, 5:24 pm

    Ah, family estrangements: the gift that keeps on giving (pain), even from the grave and beyond.

    FWIW, in the face of a family feud or estrangement, all you can do is remember that you aren’t responsible for the words or actions of other people, but you are absolutely responsible for your own words and actions. You try to find the right thing to do, and you do it no matter what other people do.

    It looks to me like OP was trying to do the right thing in carrying out familial notifications of a death. As for Cousin Richard’s response, well, let it go. Cousin Richard is obviously a person who has chosen to carry a lot of emotional baggage and who harbors a great deal of anger. Some day Cousin Richard may understand that anger and resentment are acids that corrode and destroy the vessel that holds them. They do far more damage to the person who hangs onto them than to the people he is angry at and resentful of.

  • HonorH October 5, 2010, 6:50 pm

    Given what the OP already knew about her cousin–that he held a huge grudge toward her father–I don’t blame her at all for the extremely-formal wording of her message. This wasn’t someone who was close to the deceased or, for that matter, to his family. She informed him of the death and asked for information as to how to contact another member of the family–all perfectly polite.

    His response was egregious. This is obviously someone who not only holds grudges, but bottle-feeds and nurtures them until they grow up and take up permanent residence on his sofa. The fact that he’s estranged himself from basically his whole family says it all.

  • Mother of a Bride October 5, 2010, 7:28 pm

    My mother in law is one of those people who can’t let go of her hatred and bitterness. After more than 20 years of nonsense from her and the rest of my husband’s family we have given up hope any of them will ever change or learn from their mistakes. It’s true death and funerals can bring out the worst in people, but it can also bring people together when they are mature enough to bury the hatchet (no pun intended) and move on.

    The Cat Whisperer–your post made me say ‘YES! YES! YES!” because what you said about family estrangements being the gift that keeps on giving and how anger and resentment are acids that corrode the vessel. I agree 100%. It took me a long time to come to terms with that and stop doing what was expected of me and start doing what I wanted to do, whether others liked it or not. The OP’s letter hits a little close to home for me because Richard sounds like the male version of my husband’s mother.

  • PrincessSimmi October 5, 2010, 9:16 pm

    I completely agree with Amazed. This guy is a jerk.

  • Moi October 6, 2010, 12:02 am

    Richard is overwhelmingly self-centred! Very inconsiderate. What a nasty freak.

  • anon October 6, 2010, 1:50 am

    if the only way you have to contact someone is through facebook why is it not ok to use it?

    however-i don’t think anyone should use facebook as a way of inviting people (they havent seen in years and were never close to in the first place to a wedding)

    PS. OP I am very sorry for your loss, it is very difficult to lose someone you love especially after watching them go through what I am sure was an awful decade for your family, Within the last year I lost my grandfather and the last few years of his life were very hard on him and my family, I am sure that your father like my grandpa is now at peace

    –and i am sure he and Larry are having a wonderful time being reunited

  • Tana October 6, 2010, 3:11 am

    I have a feeling that if the OP had opened with “I have the sad duty to inform you of the loss of your uncle” or anything implying that the nephew would be sharing the feelings of loss and sorrow with the rest of the family, the response would have been even worse. Probably something along the lines of “good riddance and why would you think I care”.

  • Bint October 6, 2010, 4:50 am

    Richard holds grudges. Richard is grossly inappropriate in dredging up issues he had with a dead man to that man’s child.

    Delete his bad manners, his negativity and his poor grammar, and don’t bother contacting him again.

  • Kai October 6, 2010, 8:33 am

    “As for one of the commenters, this is the OP’s father and given the situation she did her best in her time of mourning (I see not a thing wrong with it given Richard’s attitude”

    Dear!, the thing is, aside from knowing that the uncle and cousin had been estranged for years, and having found that old letter, the OP had no idea how the cousin would respond. Until he sent his response, the OP had not personally seen the attitude, so his attitude after the fact does not change whether the original email was wrong or not before the fact.

    With that said, a few people have pointed out that this way of wording is traditional. If so, I can understand why some of you would have no problem with it. Since I have never seen it used before, it felt rather cold and terse to me. I would certainly be rather surprised if someone sent me a message like that (mind you, my reply would have been far different to the villain of this story, Richard).

    The way it is worded, I can see Richard getting defensive immediately and possibly reacting to it. However, the way this man sounds, he probably would have responded negatively no matter what.

  • RP October 7, 2010, 12:20 pm

    I don’t understand why people are jumping on the OP for using Facebook. The very first line in her message to him states: It took a little hunting to find you since your contact information was no longer valid.

    What would you have the OP do, not tell him at all rather than use Facebook? How is that better?

    As for the use of the word “duty”, I took that as a way of the OP indicating that she was required to contact him, not in a rude way but by way of explaining why she’s contacting him at all given that he and her father were estranged.

    So I’m baffled that so many people are reading her initial message as rude and cold. It doesn’t read that way to me at all. Nor does it sound like it read that way to Richard. He didn’t complain about the OP’s letter being rude, he complained about the OP’s father. Had he actually complained about her then I’d agree that she managed to offend him but Richard is just a jerk and the OP’s message had nothing to do with that.

  • Simone October 7, 2010, 3:32 pm

    FWIW I was once in a position where my elderly neighbour asked me to ring her children to let them know their dad had just died. So for anyone who doesn’t know from personal experience I can vouch that it is very very difficult to know what words to say when breaking this news. The best I could come up with was short and to the point as far as possible without being brusque. Obviously I didn’t then hang up and there was more to the conversation, but I’m talking about the initial news breaking here.

    It sounds like the OP didn’t have much of a personal relationship with his cousin (witness the inability to track down his details) so I can see how a short, to the point message can have seemed the best thing to do.

  • Babs October 9, 2010, 10:41 pm

    The OP emailed him through Facebook, which would have been a private message. The letter to her father must have been hurtful for her, so I don’t think there was anything wrong in the way she informed him. He could have taken that moment to make things right, possibly admit a misunderstanding, but he obviously was still holding a grudge. I don’t think there was any obligation to inform the guy at all. My father-in-law was on the outs with some of his family. We didn’t feel the need to inform people of his death who hadn’t spoken to him in years. But I know that families and cultures have their own traditions, this is what the family felt was the correct thing to do, and I admire the OP for it.

  • The Cat Whisperer October 10, 2010, 11:56 pm

    Mother of a Bride, I just read your post. Yeah, dealing with family members that hang onto anger and resentment and who save up every perceived slight and injustice as if it’s a precious treasure really, really, really gets old fast.

    My dad and his family were grudge-bearers. My dad was perfectly capable of getting worked up and angry over things that happened more than 45 years earlier, and spilling out bile and resentment over them. Apparently when I was 5 years old, I flung our car door open in a church parking lot and hit the car next to us, which caused the man in that car to get angry at my father. And more than 45 years after that, my dad was still spilling out anger at me and resentment at the man whose car I dinged. I couldn’t even remember the incident.

    By the time my dad passed away, there wasn’t much left to him except a shell of anger and vitriol at just about everyone. He rejected a lifetime of love from family members so he could “get back” at family members for things like the car incident.

    All you can do is learn from people like that, to not be like them. Sad.

  • Bec October 10, 2010, 11:59 pm

    I did receive notification of the passing of a close friend via email recently. To be honest, it never occurred to me that it was odd. I was too busy processing the information, the fact that my friend was gone, to worry about the means by which the message had been communicated.

    After a few days, I thought about it, but still didn’t think it odd. My friend’s wife had sent the message, and his passing was under difficult circumstances. So rather than have to make phonecall after phonecall, which would have been insanely difficult for her, she chose to tell all who needed to know at once, and informed them of when and how. And I really didn’t mind. She did call me a few days later to give me funeral details, and it was still hard for her.

    When someone has to give bad news, it’s not just you they’re telling. You’re just one person in what is usually a very long list. I think the most important thing is to be supportive of the person suffering the loss, and be grateful for the time you did get to spend with your friend or relative.

  • Mother of a Bride October 11, 2010, 1:54 pm

    The Cat Whisperer–
    My mother in law holds grudges over the most mundane things and is a poisonous seed spreader (gossiper) When her mother died, 10 years ago, she swore she’d never speak to her only sister again and has held onto that grudge for all these years. She put pressure on us to also shun this family member and her children. We did for a while, but a death in the family changed our minds and we are now in communication with them again. MIL is NOT happy about it. In the last year my husband’s relationship with his brother has been destroyed and part of it is because his brother can’t see how hateful their mother is, he sides with his mom simply because he doesn’t want to be written out of (some imagined) will. He doesn’t care how much pain she’s spreading around the family, as long as he gets his money when she croaks. My husband’s sister is very much the same way. It’s disintigrated to the point his parents and siblings are not speaking to us and blaming me for whatever happened. The truth is they can’t face reality and admit their mistakes. They don’t know how to apologize. They are blamers. When things got uncomfortable and my husband shined a light on the dysfunction in their “perfect” family they freaked out. The brother has stated he will NEVER again speak to me, but will speak to my husband and children. My husband and children are not on board with that, so they are accused of holding grudges. We laugh and say they learned from the Queen, their own grandmother. MIL hates her sister, her son hates his brother’s wife and they appear okay with those grudges, but not the pain my children feel over the way their parents were treated by their uncle and grandmother. My husband, children and I have finally started to make a break from these toxic people. It’s painful, but worth it. We can no longer honor his mother’s grudges, we can’t have contact with a brother who blames an innocent party (me) for his and his wife’s actions towards the children in the family (our children) and the lack of real love and support from them towards my husband and our children makes it impossible for us to continue pretending they are “family” to us.

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