Author Topic: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).  (Read 11489 times)

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sparksals

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #45 on: October 29, 2012, 03:14:06 PM »
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my inlaws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

What is wrong with people? 

cutejellybeen

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #46 on: October 29, 2012, 03:52:28 PM »
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my in laws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

What is wrong with people?

I don't know if this was the case here, but my Mother passed away when I was 11. I'm now 31, I find it uncomfortable when people bring my mother up all the time. They might think they do it for my benefit, because THEY feel I am not bereaved enough, but I feel they bring her up for THEIR benefit, so they can feel good about reminding me that she isn't there and how I should be sad about that.  i find it slightly offensive actually.  Maybe I'm the odd one out though, but constantly reminding someone of their loved one doesn't bring them back, and just makes me feel like they think I'm doing it wrong - as though I don't keenly feel her missing just because I've had to move on with my life, and that I'm bad because I love my stepmother and brothers that came from that marriage.

Is it possible that people not bringing it up are trying to be kind? I might ask how someone is doing but i would not ask how someone is doing with their grief and how  much their loved one would love to be at 'event'. 


ETA - OP I think you are well within your rights to not want to attend Christmas with your In Laws this year - but I agree about starting as you mean to go forward. If your MIL is at all Passive Agressive as mine is, expect tears from her to your DH and that he might try and convince you to go for family harmony. Thats how I got into a terrible Christmas funk last year - this year he is on board that even if she cries we are doing christmas in the way that best suits us.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 03:55:10 PM by cutejellybeen »



sparksals

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #47 on: October 29, 2012, 04:17:00 PM »
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my in laws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

What is wrong with people?

I don't know if this was the case here, but my Mother passed away when I was 11. I'm now 31, I find it uncomfortable when people bring my mother up all the time. They might think they do it for my benefit, because THEY feel I am not bereaved enough, but I feel they bring her up for THEIR benefit, so they can feel good about reminding me that she isn't there and how I should be sad about that.  i find it slightly offensive actually.  Maybe I'm the odd one out though, but constantly reminding someone of their loved one doesn't bring them back, and just makes me feel like they think I'm doing it wrong - as though I don't keenly feel her missing just because I've had to move on with my life, and that I'm bad because I love my stepmother and brothers that came from that marriage.

Is it possible that people not bringing it up are trying to be kind? I might ask how someone is doing but i would not ask how someone is doing with their grief and how  much their loved one would love to be at 'event'. 


ETA - OP I think you are well within your rights to not want to attend Christmas with your In Laws this year - but I agree about starting as you mean to go forward. If your MIL is at all Passive Agressive as mine is, expect tears from her to your DH and that he might try and convince you to go for family harmony. Thats how I got into a terrible Christmas funk last year - this year he is on board that even if she cries we are doing christmas in the way that best suits us.

You make a very interesting point that I hadn't considered.   Just goes to show everyone grieves differently and that it is a slippery slope in what to mention - or not. For me, it is comforting in a way for people to bring up my Dad.  To me, it shows they care. 

In the case of heartmug, I can see why it would be hurtful that they didn't even ask how she is doing after her mom died.  It was as if life went back to normal and no one cared about the grief she felt/feels.

The other family who expected the poster to go to Mother's Day celebrations as if nothing has happened to her.  I don't know how one can easily go celebrate a Mother's Day when her own just died,especially when that celebrant Mother doesn't seem to care or fathom how difficult it is. 

Visiting Crazy Town

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #48 on: October 29, 2012, 04:40:44 PM »
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my inlaws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

 I'm confused they acknowledge your mom death with a card and flowers so they didn't ignore it.  They may have just waited for you to say something I know some people would have for them to bring up a close family member's death  every holiday

Visiting Crazy Town

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #49 on: October 29, 2012, 04:46:41 PM »
OP, you have my sympathy for your loss, and for what you have to go through now.

My mother passed away 3 years ago, and I had some issues dealing with the inlaws after her passing.  First, DH had a hermit uncle (yes, most definitely some psychological problems there).  For some reason, there were several relatives who did the grocery shopping for him, carted him around (when they could get him out of the house; he was a lifelong bachelor so had no wife or kids of his own), etc.  Basically, instead of getting him help or encouraging him to get help, they enabled him.  For years. He got more and more and more reclusive. (This man had been very active and outgoing years before, so this reclusiveness was a somewhat new thing; I have my own thoughts on that.) He refused to go to the doctor, even when it was obvious there were problems.  And when he finally did go, it was too late because he had cancer and a host of other problems. 

My mother had a chronic condition which could be managed, but she also had a weaker heart than average.  The condition took a toll on her heart.  My sister and I did everything we could to manage her condition and keep her with us as long as possible.  She knew this (well, some of it), and was very appreciative, and trusted us to make the best decisions for her, even if she didn't want to do it (no chocolate? blasphemy! ;)  ).  So after my mother passed away (and I was right there with her), I couldn't stand to hear ANYTHING about DH's uncle.  We tried so hard to keep my mother alive, and when they talked about him, all I could see was a man who refused medical help until it was too late to have any benefit. Whenever my MIL would bring him up, I'd grit my teeth and say nothing.  Finally, within a few months after my mother died, DH mentioned something about the uncle or seeing the uncle since he was sick, and I lost it.  I told him, tearily and noticably upset, that I just lost my mother, and if there had been some way keeping her alive longer, some other medical thing, we would have done it.  Without hesitation. Not a question...we would have done it.  Yet there was nothing that could be done for her anymore.  Yet his uncle could likely have had a much better prognosis, yet he REFUSED medical treatment, or even to SEE a medical professional, for months (could be years...I don't know).  He had it available to him, and he REFUSED it.  So, I told him, don't talk to me about going to pander to a man who values his life so little that he could essentially throw it away, when my mother just wanted to live and went through a lot, weekly, just so she COULD continue to live.

It was strong, I know.  There were circumstances of uncle's mental state, I know.  It wasn't as cut and dried as that, I know.  But that didn't matter to me at the time.  I had just lost my mother, and I told DH that I could just NOT handle seeing or hearing about the uncle.  It was like sticking a knife in my grief and twisting it.

OP, I don't know how your DH is, but maybe you need to get a little bit mad and emotional for him to understand.  Contrast what you were going through, with what MIL said at a certain time.  "DH, I was in the hospital, knowing that I had hours left with my mother.  EVER.  And your mother said XYZ.  Do you know how that made me feel?  Do you realize that I will ALWAYS remember that she chose to do/say that?"  Tell him that the wounds are still very fresh, and you still remember that like it was yesterday.  So to be around her at Christmas, which meant something special to your mother but was just almost an ordinary day to his mother?  No, you do not need to be around MIL on that day.

Perhaps 'she didn't mean it'.  Fine.  But you're feeling what you're feeling, and you have the right to feel that way.  Your MIL is a big girl and she didn't just lose someone.  In fact, she told you the day had no special meaning.  So you're taking her at her word.  Tell him you need him to have your back on this, even though he may not understand it completely.  And if MIL gets mad?  Tough.  She can get over it or die mad (to use a phrase I've seen on this board numerous times).

Hang in there.  And again, you have my sympathies.

I'm sorry for the loss of your mom but I think that you were really rude to your Husband about his Uncle.He didn;t deserve the resentment that you threw at him and I hope that you apologized to him later.  His Uncle waiting was in no way his fault and I don't think that he should suddenly ignore a sick and dying man because it upset you to hear about the Unclewhen you didn;t previously have a problem with it.

Shellybeans

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #50 on: October 29, 2012, 06:36:06 PM »
I just wanted to pop back in to comment on one thing - the "who would he rather have upset" idea. While this is a veryvalid point  know it can come with pitfalls. My MIL, although nowhere near as toxic a yours, was very PA and had a history of crying when she didn't like a situation. So early in our relationship, DH really *would* have rather upset me than his mother. Not because I was less of a priority or because he loved me less, simply because firstly I appeared less upset (because I reacted like an adult  ::) ) so he just didn't realise how I felt and secondly because it was just so much more unpleasant for him to have an upset mother than an upset wife. It took a lot of verbalising my feelings and pointing out his mother 'tricks' before he really understood the full implications of "who would you rather upset..."

Truth is, DH probably would prefer to deal with me being upset, rather than dealing with his mother, because we can come to some sort of resolution like adults (which so far he has been unable to do with MIL).  I am not going to guilt-trip him or threaten him, I don't say things like "if you loved me, you would..." and I certainly don't want to behave like she does just to get my way.  I have a problem with how she acts, I am not going to act like that.  I am sure he would not want me to be upset but if I am, it's a lot easier for him than if she is.

Shellybeans

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #51 on: October 29, 2012, 06:44:32 PM »
As far as your MIL goes, let DH go and see her on Christmas Eve and let him get the present (first year married - new tradition, joint presents!).  I may be projecting slightly but one of my concerns would be how DH is with his parents without you around, if you want him to start standing up to MIL when she says something about you then I would suggest explaining to DH that this needs to happen whether you're there or not.  So make sure he tells her before Christmas Eve that you won't be attending, and try to get him to understand that if she says anything on Christmas Eve about you not being there he must speak up on your behalf.

This does worry me somewhat, DH has informed me of things said about me (by PIL) when I have not been there, and I have not always reacted well to what has been said.  I think he is likely to stop telling me things so I don't get hurt, rather than dealing with them when they're said.  I would rather know what is said, and his response, than not being told.  I will talk to him about this and we might consider some responses that he can say if he is in that position.

Shellybeans

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #52 on: October 29, 2012, 06:56:23 PM »
It was strong, I know.  There were circumstances of uncle's mental state, I know.  It wasn't as cut and dried as that, I know.  But that didn't matter to me at the time.  I had just lost my mother, and I told DH that I could just NOT handle seeing or hearing about the uncle.  It was like sticking a knife in my grief and twisting it.

I am very sorry for what you went through and I can completely understand how you felt about the situation with your husband's uncle, especially compared to what your mother went through.  It may not be entirely rational under other circumstances to react that way but it is hurtful to have to be around that, considering what you had been through. 

And if MIL gets mad?  Tough.  She can get over it or die mad (to use a phrase I've seen on this board numerous times).

I may never utter those words to DH but I am certainly going to start saying that in my head!

Shellybeans

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #53 on: October 29, 2012, 07:29:41 PM »
Sometimes I think people say "that's just the way she is" when they are feeling pressured to CHANGE someone. When they are only being presented with *complaints* and not with requests to craft a response.

Your DH can't change his mom. And if your complaints feel to him as though he is being pressured *to* change her, then this is how he is going to respond to you.

The truth is, That IS just the way she is. And he has realized that he is not going to be able to change her.

So if this is the response you get from him when you complain about your MIL, you need to change your script. You need to start saying, "Since your mother is this way, I want to response in *other* way than we have been doing."

I think a lot of times that "just the way they are" gets trotted out not to *excuse* the behavior but to say, "this is the part of the equation we are not going to change. Stop pressuring me."

Just a thought.

Honestly, I had not considered it that way and I can see your point(s).  I will say, though, that in some situations "that's just the way she is" is used as an excuse, and I do strongly believe that people can change - but they have to want to change and they have to acknowledge there is a reason for change.  She has no reason to change because everyone around her just accepts "that's the way she is" and allows her to continue being that way without any repercussions - why should she change if no one has a problem with it?

I will try and change the way I talk about MIL to DH and use some of your suggestions.  It may make a difference, or it may not.  But as an example, if MIL makes a racist / sexist remark (which she does, so I'm not just throwing that out there as a completely unrelated example), I would rather DH didn't say "that's just the way she is" with a shrug and a half-smile, I'd rather he said "because she is racist / sexist".  I would expect him to let her know we don't want her to make remarks like those because we do not feel the same way and find it offensive to hear them.  I don't expect him to change her but we do need to change the way we react and respond, which we are not doing because "that's just the way she is".

TootsNYC

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #54 on: October 29, 2012, 07:58:54 PM »
.....  She has no reason to change because everyone around her just accepts "that's the way she is" and allows her to continue being that way without any repercussions - why should she change if no one has a problem with it?


Good point! And one argument for changing you HOW react to her is that in a way, you are helping her by providing accurate feedback. By letting her know how hurt you are, and my cooling the interactions pointedly, by telling her directly that you are upset and that the end result is that you don't want to be around her,  you are helping her.

Quote

I will try and change the way I talk about MIL to DH and use some of your suggestions.  It may make a difference, or it may not.  But as an example, if MIL makes a racist / sexist remark (which she does, so I'm not just throwing that out there as a completely unrelated example), I would rather DH didn't say "that's just the way she is" with a shrug and a half-smile, I'd rather he said "because she is racist / sexist".  I would expect him to let her know we don't want her to make remarks like those because we do not feel the same way and find it offensive to hear them.  I don't expect him to change her but we do need to change the way we react and respond, which we are not doing because "that's just the way she is".


One phrase I love when people use is, "yes, that's the way Relative is. And this is the way *I* am--I refuse to stay when people say racist stuff. That's just how I am. Now it's Relative's turn to adjust to me. So I'll be gathering my things and leaving if she says that sort of thing. Or, I'll be speaking up when she says that sort of thing."

sparksals

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #55 on: October 29, 2012, 08:12:37 PM »
As far as your MIL goes, let DH go and see her on Christmas Eve and let him get the present (first year married - new tradition, joint presents!).  I may be projecting slightly but one of my concerns would be how DH is with his parents without you around, if you want him to start standing up to MIL when she says something about you then I would suggest explaining to DH that this needs to happen whether you're there or not.  So make sure he tells her before Christmas Eve that you won't be attending, and try to get him to understand that if she says anything on Christmas Eve about you not being there he must speak up on your behalf.

This does worry me somewhat, DH has informed me of things said about me (by PIL) when I have not been there, and I have not always reacted well to what has been said.  I think he is likely to stop telling me things so I don't get hurt, rather than dealing with them when they're said.  I would rather know what is said, and his response, than not being told.  I will talk to him about this and we might consider some responses that he can say if he is in that position.

I would think the ultimate solution to this is for your DH to stand up to his parents and let him know in no uncertain terms that any negative discussion about you in or out of your presence will not be tolerated.   What does he do when they say these things about you? 

sparksals

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #56 on: October 29, 2012, 08:15:14 PM »


Honestly, I had not considered it that way and I can see your point(s).  I will say, though, that in some situations "that's just the way she is" is used as an excuse, and I do strongly believe that people can change - but they have to want to change and they have to acknowledge there is a reason for change.  She has no reason to change because everyone around her just accepts "that's the way she is" and allows her to continue being that way without any repercussions - why should she change if no one has a problem with it?

I will try and change the way I talk about MIL to DH and use some of your suggestions.  It may make a difference, or it may not.  But as an example, if MIL makes a racist / sexist remark (which she does, so I'm not just throwing that out there as a completely unrelated example), I would rather DH didn't say "that's just the way she is" with a shrug and a half-smile, I'd rather he said "because she is racist / sexist".  I would expect him to let her know we don't want her to make remarks like those because we do not feel the same way and find it offensive to hear them.  I don't expect him to change her but we do need to change the way we react and respond, which we are not doing because "that's just the way she is".

The book I mentioned about, "The Dance of Anger" by Harriet Lerner is about that very topic - of setting boundaries and changing how YOU react to the person who will never change. 

Shellybeans

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #57 on: October 29, 2012, 08:25:55 PM »
Last year was the first year in 5 years since my Mom died that I didn't have to go to the IL's for Mother's day.  They just did not get it. They are sweet people, but I had to leave the state to be able to ignore Mother's day.

I am sorry that you had to go through that, Christmas was a special day with my mum - and I know it's not like that with everyone - but Mother's Day?  There is no way I will be spending Mother's Day with my MIL, Mother's Day was a special day with my mum and it will be a special day with my children if / when we have any.  It is not a day for me to spend with MIL, it is a day for DH to spend time with his mum if he wants to.

I think that it is perfectly okay to spend Christmas away from the PIL's.  But I don't think a present boycott is the way to go.  Take this time to bond with your family.  This is going to be a really hard Holiday for you all. If your DH feels that he needs to show up at some point at his parents, so be it, but that day will be painful enough without having to put on a "Happy Christmas Face" so soon after your loss, so you will not be able to join him.

It wasn't really a present boycott in that sense, I was just wondering if it would be more acceptable (generally) to not celebrate Christmas and not do any gift exchanges rather than appear to refuse to spend time with PIL but exchange gifts.  I am worried the gift thing will factor into how his mum behaves or reacts "DIL couldn't be bothered seeing us on Christmas Day, we're not important enough but she expects a gift!" or "DIL is pretending she is grieving for her mum so she doesn't have to see us...but she was happy enough to exchange gifts with us!".  I do have good reasons for feeling this is how it is going to turn out - and I will definitely be sharing if my suspicions prove correct.  Anyway, I think DH giving a gift to his parents from us is how it will go.

And no matter what people say, no matter how nice they are, people tend to be made uncomfortable at the happy holiday by any outward grieving.  Ask your DH how comfortable his parents and family would be with any show of grief on your part.  And then ask him how nice or kind it is to make you put on that "Happy Christmas Face" for his family.

Honestly, I think any outward grieving on my part will be met with envy / jealousy from MIL because she knows I am grieving because I really loved my mother and miss her terribly.  I also think there will be a part of MIL that will be happy to see me upset because she does take pleasure in other people's suffering.  If I was to put on a happy face, she might instead assume it's because I didn't love and miss my mother terribly as much as I have made out that I do, or she might decide that I have elevated her into the position my mother would usually occupy and she would be absolutely over-the-moon about that.

However, DH is not like that and I suspect he has never really considered what I wrote above, so I will bring that up - I may instead choose to phrase it as "I would not be comfortable showing that I am grieving and make Christmas celebrations uncomfortable for everyone but I am not going to be able to put on a happy face and pretend I am not grieving".  Do you think that would work as well?  I just wonder if that will prevent any "but mum & dad won't mind if you're upset" or "no one expects you to pretend that you don't miss your mum" responses.

Also, is it okay that I am responding to posts individually?  I tried the multiple quote thing and I found it a bit too confusing.

JeanFromBNA

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #58 on: October 29, 2012, 08:50:00 PM »
I have never figured out multi-quotes either, and I've been here awhile.

For your own sanity and grieving process, I think that you need to back down from DEFCON 2.  Stay at home this Xmas, and use the social excuse of grief to avoid them right now.  Let your DH handle communication with the the ILs, and don't feel bad if he goes over to see them; you all have adjusting to do, and it takes time.  Let him get them a joint present, and accept a present from them graciously as you normally would (however that is).  Then, next year, when your grief is not so raw, decide together how to handle ILs.  You'll make much more rational and strong decisions, I promise.

sparksals

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Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
« Reply #59 on: October 29, 2012, 10:25:07 PM »
I have to say your MIL sounds absolutely vile.  It seems you have her number and that is a huge part of the battle.  To switch things around to her own benefit in her mind is just abhorrent.