Awkward 'thing' need insightful folks

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Nomad, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    A year ago my cousin passed away. I have very few was a big loss for myself and horrible loss for her immediate family. She was in her early fifties.

    She has two young adult sons. One took it decently, the other didn't do well at all.

    I flew out to see her right before the end. She passed away three weeks later. I did not go to the funeral since I just saw her...and also cause I was working on a large school project at the time and was already a little behind on it due to the previous trip.

    During my trip out there, I made good friends with the mother in law. I tried to get to know the husband and sons, but they seem to be gone all the time...I attributed some of to being sad and overwhelmed and simply trying to keep their minds off of the tragedy at hand. She had been sick for many years and they knew what the final outcome would be.

    One thing that was really weird for me is that the husband spent part of the time while I was there having coffee with- a woman who he began dating shortly after the death. It was noticeable...but I did my best to remain mum about it. It bothered me that he didn't take time to have coffee with- was a very long flight and I really wanted to hear more information about the health of my cousin. However, he did need respite. It's just one of those VERY horrible situations...again...she needed much care and it was a long time....lots of complications and sadness. Also, I am very grateful to the husband who took excellent care of his wife, my cousin.

    Flash forward to now and my questions and concerns...

    While I was there, the family said they would do their very best to attend my son's upcoming wedding. Yet, when the time one atended. Money is not a big issue for these folks.

    I have tried to keep in touch with- this family...and they have more or less made it clear that they have little or no interest.

    I have requested a photo of my cousin...yet none was sent.

    I am hurt by it all and feel particularly sorrowful and weirded out that it seems I have lost touch of her two boys...have no idea why.

    Should I concern myself at all? I had great rapport with- the mother in law and she is almost snubbing me.

    What gives? Any thoughts? I think they are super practical folks and their thought is well...that WAs MOM'S cousin, mom is gone....she reminds us of mom and so let's just hope she goes away.

    Sad, right? Should I do anything? Ya know what is weird...FOLKS TOLD ME NOT TO GO OUT THERE AND SPEND ALL THAT MONEY TO SAY GOODBYE TO MY COUSIN, ET I DID THIS. I do believe that was the right thing to do. But it is interestig, that her o family does not see me as anything part them.
  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    It is very sad for everyone, especially you. I've heard of this happening more often than not. I think it's really difficult to maintain a comfortable connection with someone from a distance and in the case where a blood relative passes away, it only becomes that more difficult for the remaining family.

    I'm thinking two things: The H of your cousin has his own story and given his wife's long term illness, he had already moved on in a sense. And second, in the case of the young adult boys, well, if they were anywhere from ages 17-25, it's likely that they are very focused on themselves and their lives, education, etc., and have little time for their loving, well-meaning 2nd cousin. It is very sad and it's also a sad statement on the way humans are treating one another. I don't get the mother in law thing at all, but who knows? Maybe they know something you don't know, or maybe they are paranoid about the H's involvement with the other woman and wonder how you feel about it -

    People are weird. I think you've extended yourself enough. Send a card for the holidays, keep it cordial and hope that one day your cousin's sons will reach back out to you.

    Hugs, I'm sorry.
  3. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Good advice, Jo. There is no book on the proper way to deal with death. There are people who just don't like to be alone, but maybe keeping in touch with family is just too raw. Toss in young men and you have a whole new box of worms to deal with. I think they go brain dead until about 35...come out of it for a few years, then hibernate again.

    Keep cordial.

  4. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I am sorry for your loss. And its continuance.

    While I, too, do not agree with this line of thinking, this isn't the first time I've heard of it. In fact, my very own Two Brooms and her family subscribe to the exact same train of thought.

    Two Broom's brother, G, passed away in 1992. His wife has never remarried and still lives in the home she and G built on the farm they bought from G's mother. G's wife and his step-daughter, who he raised, were not even allowed to sit with the family for the funeral. His wife was not listed as a survivor. The step-daughter was not counted in the "grandchildren/step-grandchildren", tho for 32 years, she was a "granddaughter" to this woman.

    G's 2 boys were not even allowed to have any of their grandma's things until ALL OTHER members of the family with "living links" to grandma had gone thru it and taken all they wanted, even the 10 year old great-grand-daughter got precedence.

    Its like they think their "link" to that family is gone, therefore, there is nothing that makes them family anymore.

    I feel sorry for people like that, but to each their own. I am sorry for you, tho. I have no real advice other than to second what Jo said. Periodically make yourself available and interested in the they grow older, they may seek you out.

    Other than that, not much you can do.

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you wise and kind souls....
    Your words are so thoughtful and so true.
    I am hurting deeply.
    I don't dont well with- these type of anniversay things, but feel a little awkward saying it 'cause I know their pain is greater.
    I have tried reaching out to them over the year with- little luck.
    Ironically, I sensed it WHILE I was visiting them...they actually started making it clear THEN.
    It was almost gross. moves on
    I wonder what kind of integrity these folks have and also what kind of heart they have. Certainly it must limit them in their relationships, etc
    Thank you again for your insight and good advice...very helpful for me today and appreciated...wobbling forward and tomorrow, this too shall pass!!!!
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My guess is that this has a lot more to do with H's and the boys personal lives right now than you or anything you did so as hard as it is, try not to take it personal. I agree that sending a card on the holidays is appropriate and lets them know you care without expecting anything. Also, the boys may contact you someday if you keep your name out there, subtly.
  7. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Is there anything that your cousin held near and dear? A cause or a charity that she was particularly fond of? A research group? Feed the shelter dogs for a day?

    Do you know a friend of hers who would take pinwheel or a "whirly gig" to her grave for you? (I've started putting pinwheels or those little plastic animals with rotating "wings" on graves I wish to remember - who says cemetaries have to be sad places?)

    Perhaps on this anniversary, you could establish a tradition to make a small donation in her memory, or mail a small, cheerful memento to put on her grave. Something that would make her smile. Perhaps that would help you, too, to create something positive out of it.

    Hugs to you. Just because someone else hurts, doesn't mean your hurt is less or not real.
  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Nomad, you did what you did because of your love for your cousin. The expectation that the rest of the family should show their appreciation is what we all hope for but isn't the primary purpose of your visit. They probably figure you spent that money because you wanted to and not because they asked- so no sense of obligation on their part.

    I think guys are horrid with keeping in touch with in law families and even their own families as a general rule. The social graces of returning graciousness with a note or a return gesture seems lost on guys in general. I know my husband loves his mother dearly but if I didn't remind him he would forget to call or send a card or a gift. Clueless! It means a lot to people to be recognized by their families in some small way but my husband and my son's always have to be reminded.

    The boys may care more as they get older and want more involvement with mom's family but I figure it's probably such a painful period of their lives that they want nothing to do with anyone or anything that will cause them to have to talk about mom's illness and death.

    Hopefully the husband has found a way or someone who can help him recharge from such a difficult job as attending to someone he loved who was ill. I am betting cousin would want for him to move on and be happy.

    I would send cousin's husband and children a card once a year at christmas with your address and phone number. Someday they may call. Maybe not but what have you lost but a stamp and a Christmas card. At least you tried.
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Fran, although I think you make many good points, I can't fully agree with all of it.
    I did totally make the decision to make the trip to visit my cousin because of my own personal reasons...what you said about my cousin and how I feel about her sums it up.

    I did NOT expect them to reciprocate...I did it 'cause we are family and cause I wanted to. It was not a quid pro quo. I made the choice because she was a close cousin, but I think of her entire family as 'my family." While visiting, while she was still alive, they made me feel as if I was 'her' family and an outsider. It was subtle, but yet there. Also, they made the choice to say that they would like to go to my son's wedding and no one showed up. This actually, didn't bother me nearly as much as greatly limiting communication.
    I do recall that when my own mother passed away in her 40s, I was able to recognize and understand the loss for others.

    I also don't fully "buy into" the notion that men see and feel things siginificantly differently than women and therefore they are for thee most part given a pass with- reference to social graces and the like.
    This seems a little like enabling to me.
    Granted, due to the sadness and certain dispositions, leeway is appropriate. But I don't agree that it should be a blanket slate/pass .....young males in grief don't have to do the same 'cause they are young and male and in grief. It is through our trials that we learn how to grow and certainly our behavior during these difficult times can reflect the underpinnings of our integrity.

    by the way, I also hope the husband has found someone to help him through his grief and from what I understand, he is considering an engagement. This is not an issue on my end...perhaps a distraction for him...only a guess on my part. I think its nice that he is able to move on...he suffered for a long time. Life is too short.

    I certainly will send Christmas cards and the idea of making a donation in her memory is very good and one! I will seriously consider it!!!! Thank you Shari (hugs)
    Lasted edited by : Oct 29, 2009
  10. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I think there was some great advice already.

    In keeping with the idea of sending Christmas cards as a form of staying in touch:
    Maybe you could write on the inside of a annual card, a brief but funny or touching memory of their mom each time. Over the years, even if it isn't reciprocated, the sons may enjoy that connection/reminder of their mother. Maybe down the line, they'll marry and their spouses will be reading the cards too, and with encouragement, the sons may extend a hand? If not, you are honoring your cousin and her remaining sons, while yourself enjoying each yearly memory session during the holidays when you are writing in their card. If you do it for you, and to honor your cousin, without expectations, I am betting you'll enjoy writing out those cards.

    I wish that people understood the dynamics of small families more. When it comes to your level of small family, it is common for one person to wish for more contact while the others may really just see a distant cousin they didn't grow up knowing, and without reaching out conciously to form a bond, one doesn't exist. I wouldn't take it personally. But I do hope that you don't allow yourself to hurt over their lack of interest. It is surely not a reflection of you personally. (((hugs)))
  11. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Nomad, I never expect anyone to agree with me but we just hear from different viewpoints and take what's appropriate and useful to us. You asked for input.

    I wish I knew a male who would stay connected to in law family. I just don't. Sorry. Once the person that connects them is gone everyone sort of moves on and drifts. They don't have the shared memories of growing up in the in law family which is the glue that keeps relatives communicating. I don't think I enable at all. It's just my observation.

    It's unfortunate that you got a subtle feeling of distance when you visited. Not very nice manners on cousin's husband's part but considering the load he was carrying, I suppose you have to give him some leeway.

    Hopefully they will be in touch and rekindle the family feelings again.
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you Shari & Mattsmom for reminding me about the donations and Christmas cards and also what you said about "allowing yourself to hurt" is a great point! There are some extenuating circumstances and even without that, all I can do is try my best and hope for the best. Like I've said before here, I can't control other people, only myself.

    Some good news...I got a nice small note from the mother in law tonight. I had a really nice rapport with her. She did mention that one of the son's is having a hard time. I tried very hard to reach out to him...even called him on the phone once. It is obvious that he should go to therapy. but he doesn't wish to do this.

    I also go a brief, but very nice email from the husband tonight! I had emailed him about where to possibly send a donation in my cousin's memory. The weird thing is that he NEVER answered the question! Instead, he told me about his life (going very very well...including the engagement) and he expressed a lot of concerns about one the son who is struggling.

    Well...these two notes were VERY nice surprises. The boys...well, have not heard from them in a super long time and I don't get the impression dad or grandma are encouraging them to do so. But they are adults.

    I am thrilled that my son is better at these type of things...although I have noticed that he is slower at them then let's say my daughter or daughter in law. But, he does do them. (Hmmmm... however, he did half of the wedding thank-yous and he sent those back super fast and they were GREAT! My girlfriends were sooooo impressed!)

    So, I think the Christmas thing will be fine...perhaps I'll send a separate card and note to each of them with- my address, phone and email and just simply hope for the best.

    Thank you guys again for your understanding, kindness and help.
    Lasted edited by : Oct 29, 2009
  13. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I'm very happy they reached out to you today. Hopefully this will help keep the door open for future communication.
  14. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Well, Nomad, this is very good news. I bet it warmed your heart to hear from them! I don't think it's a gender thing with your cousin's sons - I really do think it's an age thing. And perhaps a personality thing.

    My soon to be 22pc has always been very good about writing thank you's and small notes to her gramma. difficult child was good when she was little and made to sit and write them, but in those interim years, she fell on the job - now, thankfully, she's picking it up again! Patience - I hope the son at least reaches out to those who love him if he can't bring himself to a counselor. Now, that, seems to be a very difficult sticking point in most men - seeking therapy!!! Haha. Hugs~