What do I say to my kids?

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
The rapid, brief background is that both my late husband and his brother have died by suicide within the past 5 years. Their parents, my former in-laws, are both still living. There were no other children. mother in law also lost her dear sisters. By my observation, she has never been a happy person and she is a severe alcoholic. father in law has always been a complete @$$hole. I made a decision long ago that I would have minimal contact with them.

I received a phone call from father in law's brother yesterday. father in law recently purchased burial plans for himself and his wife. He went to the florist and pre-ordered flowers to be delivered to their graves once a month for a period of time, a year, I think. I believe father in law is preparing for something horrible. His brother thinks so, too.

I am remembering when my brother in law died, that a family friend told me that she expects a murder/suicide to occur with my in-laws. I now think this is a more than likely possibility. mother in law has been diagnosed with cancer and is mostly bed-ridden. father in law's health is declining rapidly. mother in law has asked to go live in a nursing home, and father in law refused.

My question is: do I say anything to my children about the possibility of their grandparents taking this drastic step? Do I simply talk in general about them being elderly and in failing health? Do I discuss that I think father in law has personality disorder?

Trying very hard not to kick myself for marrying into this family . . . .


member since 1999
Pigless - no I wouldn't broach the subject with your kids. But I absolutely *would* contact local social services, agency on aging, protection agency for elderly/disabled, or something along those lines. Their doctors, mother in law's hospice if that is involved, pretty much anyone who is involved in their care or whose responsibility is to protect the aged.

You know firsthand the devastation that suicide brings into a family. I'm not sure it's something we ever heal from. We are almost 4 years out from difficult child's girlfriend's suicide, and ... well, you know. It's changed all of us, forever. I cannot begin to imagine the trauma a murder/suicide would bring to your kids.

There's nothing to be gained, from my spot on the sidelines, in discussing father in law's possible mental illness with your kids. It will not make a worst case scenario any easier for your kids to deal with.

mother in law has the right to be protected and well cared for. father in law also needs to be protected from himself. Most importantly, your kids deserve to be protected from yet another tragedy.

Hugs to you.


Well-Known Member
I agree with Slsh, don't try to talk to them about it. Wait until if/when it happens. If nothing else, there is no reason to upset and worry them with this.


Well-Known Member
I wouldn't be "writing the end of the story" on this either - even if the probability is very high that you could be right.
mother in law has asked to go live in a nursing home, and father in law refused.
Is there an elder-care program? The kind that will protect an elderly person from abuse by others, including financial abuse by not providing appropriate care? They might be able to pull your mother in law out of the situation and into a nursing home...

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Oh Pigless, yet another worry. Well I agree with the others that this isn't something you need to share with the kids.
Do I simply talk in general about them being elderly and in failing health?
I think this is good. Keep it simple.
Trying very hard not to kick myself for marrying into this family . . . .
Pigless, don't kick yourself, how would you have known? Young love is blind, and hindsight is, well hindsight. If we all knew stuff beforehand, we would be fortune tellers. You have been through enough, don't beat yourself up.

(((BIG HUGS)))


Well-Known Member
I agree with everybody else.

I would think about calling father in law Brother and suggesting that because of his concerns he might think about calling an elder hotline. The thing is, there is no real evidence. father in law can say he is preparing for end of life. Who could question this?

By the phone call to father in law, it is off your shoulders. There is so much in life that is sad and unfortunate. Nothing will be gained by your worrying. It is not on your plate. The kids should not be told anything. I agree.

What a sad, sad story.


pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
These two people are desperately sad and unfortunate. They were like that BEFORE their sons' deaths. I knew expecting that to improve was ridiculous.

mother in law is being cared for solely by father in law. Many years ago when my husband was still living, I saw disturbing evidence in their home of how they needed assistance. I asked my husband and his brother to take action. They attempted to confront their father. It did not go over well. The man is nasty tempered. No one can do much to help my pitiful, lonely, mother in law. She made her choice years ago to continue her life with this man.

He is now in charge of her chemotherapy. When she told me that fact, I was so relieved that my husband didn't have to hear it. father in law is incapable of keeping goldfish alive; I witnessed that. He has been unable to function for the past 20 years, but places his enormous sense of pride ahead of all reasonable action. No one can talk to him about anything. I mean that in the most literal sense. He will say "hello" and "good-bye" if you are lucky. There is no conversation in between. Zero. IF you are idiotic enough to ask him a question, he will yell at you. When neighbors brought them food after their sons died, he yelled at them, "We don't NEED any help!"

It was my husband's and my brother in law's duty to confront their father on behalf of their mother's care. They could not. I am not considered to be a relative, plus I am a lowly woman. I decided after my husband passed, that the care of my former in-laws was now in the hands of my brother in law. I focused on myself and my children. Now that brother in law is gone, each in-law has one brother (my husband's uncles) who is basically in charge of checking on them. Those uncles sometimes speak to me about the issues, but no one is able to influence father in law in the slightest. father in law is completely unreasonable. Oh, and both of the uncles are doctors. Both are intelligent and kind-hearted.

As I write all of this, I realize that father in law's issues predate my entering the family. Whether deliberate or subconscious, his typical actions are mean and irrational. He's lived through some tough times, I know. But he chose to withdraw from the world, and when he does interact with it, he attacks.

SO agrees with all of you. I should not tell my kids what I think might occur. Maybe I will be wrong. Please let me be wrong. I will speak to them of the not too distant passing of their elderly grandparents.

We are having lunch with them tomorrow. I don't think father in law will admit to any plan if he has one. If he does confess to anything actionable, I will contact the appropriate people.

Thanks for your support. This is a weighty burden.


Well-Known Member
I would contact Senior Services. If she wants to be cared for in a home and he is refusing that could be considered elder abuse. Also, she should be talking to her doctor about 'end of life care'. Knowing that the doctor can tell you nothing, you can write a letter to the doctor asking that he or she not tell them who wrote or even that anyone wrote, but that you are concerned for the following reasons... He could force an appointment. She should at the very least be receiving paliative care, and I would suggest that to the doctor. father in law would not be able to administer that initially, at least not until he was shown how and shown that he was trustworthy.

Dying is ugly. We all do it. But it doesn't have to be that ugly. It's hard that it is such a difficult thing to talk about. We're all so scared, and the secretive nature of it does not help.


Well-Known Member
Oh, and both of the uncles are doctors. Both are intelligent and kind-hearted.
They know what to do, then, Pigless. For you, there is no role. No responsibility. Life unfolds. It is sad, often, so sad. That is all there is to say. You have suffered so much.
Dying is ugly. We all do it. But it doesn't have to be that ugly.
Witz, that was a beautiful and very wise post.

I worry a lot now about my own dying, ever since the death and dying of my mother, in which I played a part, as the responsible (not I hope in her dying, but in her care.) It was so hard for me, and I struggled so to do it right. I worry for myself, but I am trying to find meaning in these fears now. So that I can live better and more.

Thank you both.


pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
We had lunch with "Mandy" and "Grandy" as the kids call them. Ferb had to work. They say very little to me, so as I expected, no one said anything alarming. Grandy (father in law) seemed to be in an unusually good mood.

I spoke to a family friend who explained that in the small town where they live, it is of the utmost importance to handle funeral arrangements in advance. She said her mother did the same. She also seemed to think that perhaps Grandy was preparing to send Mandy to a nursing home. That he would want to take care of final arrangements before all their assets are seized.

Witz, I agree with you that dying should not need to be "that ugly." The difficulty with this particular family is that they have never learned how to live. The living has been ugly. So ugly that the two sons died in an ugly manner in order to escape the living part.

It all seems to center around "Grandy" and his enormous sense of pride. He was a big fish in a little pond. He nastily refuses all help. Any sensible person would have placed Mandy somewhere where she could have 24/7 care. She is unable to take care of her own needs and has been like that for over a decade. There is a strange co-dependency going on between them, though. She would have to give up the sauce if she went to a home, and she is not willing to do that. She nurses a coffee cup full of wine all day long. He buys it for her. It is desperately, sickeningly depressing. Their lives are ugly. Grandy's personality is ugly. It's reasonable to expect the deaths will be ugly, too. But the funeral will be amazing!