I feel Like A Terrible Mother

My Sister-In-Law Recently Passed and Her Husband Moved on Two Weeks Later: How Should This Be Handled?

A mom writes in asking for advice after her sister-in-law passed away from cancer and her husband moved on just two weeks later. The mom claims that ever since her sister-in-law’s passing, he’s been neglecting his grieving children, and has since proposed to his new girlfriend. Now that he has invited himself to his late wife’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving, the mom fears that he will bring his new fiancée with him and she knows that would crush her husband and later sister-in-law’s parents. The mom is asking community members if she should say something to him because her in-laws are too nice to do something like that.

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A member of the community asks:

“My sister-in-law (my husband’s sister) passed away from stage 4 breast cancer this past February. Obviously, my mother-in-law and father-in-law (who I am very close with [and] love like they are my parents) are taking it one day at a time. It’s been very difficult. They have been helping to take care of her youngest daughter (now 14). My sister-in-law’s husband of 20 years moved on two weeks after she passed.

He brought home his new girlfriend, who stayed the night in front of his then 13-year-old daughter. Naturally (for EVERYONE involved), it was very uncomfortable that he moved on THAT fast, but even more so, that he would do that in front of his grieving daughter. He planned a cruise for October of this year by himself without making ANY arrangements for his daughter, immediately after her passing (within three days). He spends every day and night with her to the point where children and youth services actually came to his house to investigate neglect of his 13-year-old daughter. He was leaving the house overnight for days on end and not leaving enough food.

My husband, my in-laws, and I took our niece to Niagara Falls on vacation with us during her birthday. Her father not only didn’t object but told her to ‘let the dogs out when she got home’ because he wasn’t going to be there overnight again (on her first birthday without her mom). He has gone on several vacations without her for days on end and when confronted by his 19-year-old, says ‘I’m not required to take her on vacations.’ He is now engaged to his girlfriend, who he plans to marry June 17th (3 days after their mother’s birthday). He has just recently announced the date less than two weeks ago. He hasn’t given the girls enough time to grieve their mother but it seems like every time they start to be ‘okay enough,’ he rips the rug out from under them and they become emotionally shattered again.

The whole side of the family is pissed off at him. He’s recently invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws, who are WAY too nice to uninvite him, so I know they will bite the bullet. My real concern is whether or not he will be crass enough to bring his new fiancé, which is a hard line for my in-laws. I know they will say nothing because they are all about being ‘pleasant for the holidays,’ but I KNOW it will be a VERY quiet first thanksgiving without their daughter if his new fiancé shows up uninvited since he invited himself.

My question is if he shows up with his new fiancé, who my in-laws have said several times is too sore a subject, should I be the one to say something? I don’t want my in-laws to go through ANY more pain and drama than they’ve been through already. I’ve done [everything] I could possibly think of to make them happy or at least less sad this year, including getting them kittens, offering to take care of their house when they’ve gone away. I talked and cried with them. I’m honestly coming from a place of pure love, and I just feel I want to be their shield for longer. I don’t think they’ll be upset if I said something, probably glad. And of course, I’ll be polite and tactful about it. Thank you for taking the time to read this.”

– Mamas Uncut Community Member

Community Advice for This Mom Who Is Upset With How Her Late Sister’s-In-Law Husband Is Behaving

To see what advice the Mamas Uncut Facebook community has for this mom in need, read the comments of the post embedded below.

Advice Summary

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Her brother-in-law moving on isn’t an issue, but him neglecting his kids is. One commenter wrote, “My uncle moved on within one week of my aunt’s passing. They were married for 55 years. With stage 4 cancer, death is inevitable. So the living let go of the relationship aspect before the patient dies. It is quite common. Now, as far as the neglect, y’all need to take the kids. It may be that they remind him too much of his deceased wife to be around them.”

Another person said, “I feel for the kids, it’s sad. The father should be more sympathetic, it tells the kids he’s forgotten their mom (but he might not see it that way). You being the kids’ aunt, just be there for them. They’ll need someone to lean on. If the girlfriend or your BIL says something inappropriate, then I’d say something, but I’d do it tastefully. Be the kids’ advocate, that’s what I would do.”

And someone else added, “First, dying of cancer gives a spouse a lot of time to say goodbye. This doesn’t mean everyone does, but it means that it is common. They’ve already done a lot of grieving and they are ready for their life to continue. Two, I’ve found that how soon one moves on is not really a good indicator of the amount of love they felt. Sometimes the people who loved the most move on the fastest, because they can’t bear the thought of being alone or without them. I don’t know him and I don’t know what his relationship was like, but recognize that everyone grieves differently and choose not to judge. I would, however, intervene on behalf of the daughters and in-laws. Explain to him that they are grieving differently and while everyone wants him to be happy, choosing to separate himself from regular life through multiple vacations and avoiding certain holidays is hurtful to people who love them.”

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