Sunday, December 2, 2012

The "Out-Laws"

At camp widow, I was sitting at the suicide round table, and the topic of in-laws came up.

An amazing widow, referred to her in-laws as the “out-laws”.

My adventure with the out-laws started about a year into Seth’s illness.

It was Christmas night. Seth had been battling his illness for a year, and I was desperate. I was grasping at anything I could to help my husband.

I sat his family down, and told them that one of these times, Seth was going to be successful on his suicide attempts, and I needed help. He needed help.

After that, his family pretty much disappeared from his life. His dad stepped up to the plate, and was amazing. He would call Seth daily, take him to do things (sometimes dragging him out of the house, literally)  and was just present in Seth's life.

His mom, step dad and siblings on the other hand, were gone.

The day before Seth took his life, he told me “ I've been trying to call my mom for a week, and she won’t call me back. Why won't my mom call me back??”

I could see the pain in his eyes. He was truly distraught over it. Which I don’t blame him. If my mom stopped returning my calls, I would be beside myself.

He was gone the next day.

My real adventure with the out-laws started as I stood next to my husband’s coffin.

As I stood next to my dead husband, his family blamed me for his suicide.

After 3 suicide attempts, and me begging them for help, they were standing there, blaming me.
I was astonished, to say the least.

I did everything in my power to keep Seth alive. Yet for them, it wasn't enough and I was to blame for his suicide. Which was fine, they could blame me. 

They weren't there every day, literally carrying him to his next breath. I knew, without a doubt, there was nothing else I could have done.

After the funeral was done and over with, I cut ties from his family. I didn't need the harassment and blame. I had a life to rebuild and get on with, I didn’t have the time or energy to try to make them see the bigger picture. The bigger picture was that Seth was gone before he actually died.

At the end of the day, it came down to Seth’s decision to live or die. If blaming me for his suicide helped them feel better, then so be it.

In March, I had my next run in with the out-laws.

Seth’s mom filed for Executor of Seth’s estate.

Due to the fact that if you murder someone, you cannot be the executor of your victim’s estate.

Yes, she blamed me for homicide.

In court filings.

I of coursed filed to be executor of Seth’s “estate”.
I was granted executor of his estate hours later.

The thing is, Seth didn't have an “estate”.
Everything he had, we acquired together.

It was the most outrageous thing I have ever been through.

The sad thing is, I was already investigated for homicide the day the police found Seth’s body. It was  ruled suicide within a couple of hours. The location Seth was found at is very hard to get to (I couldn't drag a 230lbs man against his will there). The police found only his foot prints, which is how they came up with no one else was involved.

His mom has never asked me for the police reports, autopsy or toxicology.

She thinks her son died on July 26th.

He died on July 27th.

She doesn't even know what date her own son died on.
She doesn't even know what the autopsy says.
I find it sad that his mom is so busy placing blame, that she doesn't even know the details surrounding her sons death.

The reason for posting my story?

Have a will. So there is never any question as to who owns what.

You might think your family would never do this to your spouse.

You might think your in-laws are your family.

But boy, does death bring out the worst in people.

I never would have thought Seth’s family would put me through everything they have.

I would have never thought they would become “the out-laws”.

And if you find yourself blaming someone for a loved one’s suicide (Including blaming yourself), stop it.

Seriously, stop it.

By placing blame on someone else, you are robbing yourself of the grieving you need to do to move forward.
If you are so focused on placing blame, you can’t focus on anything else including grieving.

If you find yourself in a battle with the “out-laws”, take a good look at your own health and well-being.

There is no law that states you have to include your in-laws in your widow journey.

In fact, your spouse wouldn't want you to put up with being treated poorly.
I know without a doubt, if Seth was alive, he would have disowned his family for how they have treated me.

The sad part about it all, is Seth's family doesn't realize they lost the last piece of Seth they had.

The last piece of Seth they had left was me.

Vengeance is a lazy form of grief. ~ Silvia Broome


  1. You did not deserve what happened to you, but you are right before my husband died his mom died. She had a will and so did he, but even with this things can get complicared. Thanks God, I did not have to deal with both situations without one. As it was, his two siblings bailed out with dealing with his mom's house, so I had too, even though both of them were single, and I had my own home, two teenage girls along with grieving for my husband. I often do not know how I did it. I had no energy for anything but the tasks at hand. The house was on the market for 3 years, despite dropping the price, etc. But I can honestly say if the wills had not been setup things would have been much worse for me. Unfortunately here we are preaching to the choir, but at least we can warn others before it is too late!

  2. Wow! Unbelievable and yet not. I thought I was the only one with a crazy ex mother in law.
    Mine is a religious fanatic. When my husband was diagnosed. She did everything possible to "convert him" back to a religion he left years before. She even insinuated he had got cancer because he left and would be cured if he returned. We had a previously easy going and good relationship. However, when he refused to be bullied into priest visits and church attendance she went - crazy.
    She blamed me, tried to bully me, said such terrible things to my dying husband that I remain shocked years later. I could not imagine torturing someone you profess to love over religion. But torture him she did. He begged and pleaded with her to stop. In the end she made it a showdown = he had to choose her and her religion over me.
    He chose me.
    She never forgave him ( and demonized me )
    He died without being fully reconciled with her.
    I vowed after he was gone to never speak with her again, for what she did to me and my family - but mostly knowing what she did to her own son. And I haven't.
    When he died she lost him and her grandchildren.
    What she gained is the ability to lie and tell the story differently to whomever will listen (versions that I have heard). I tell the story to no one. Except here.
    Because I know the truth.
    She lives in her beautiful home, and goes to church every week and lets on to everyone that she is this pillar of goodness and faith.
    But I know when she lies in bed at night - the truth lies there beside her. She will never escape it.
    She can't. I pity her for that.
    But the truth is - I also feel great sadness for her. She took a wonderful relationship, her beautiful son, and his family and buried it for her chance to "convert" him back to Catholicism. Even two priests told her to stop!
    I told her - if you have faith in a loving God, then trust your wonderful son, my incredible and kind and loving son will be in Gods care.

    I am so sorry this happened to you.
    It just shows under crisis peoples true motives are revealed.

    1. Anon,
      You're not the only one who knows the truth.
      God knows.
      And that's what counts. And who counts.
      I'm glad you were able to separate yourself from her, and from her twisted version of faith. She'll always remain miserable as long as she holds onto that.
      You will not.
      And that's huge.

  3. We like to think that in crisis people will rise and show their best selves. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.

    My brother is a schizophrenic and I am the only person in my family who has ever said so out loud. While he is now in late middle age and fairly functional, my parents' shame and embarassment - and subsequently his - about his illness kept him from treatment that would have given him a chance for a full life instead of one on the fringes where he self-medicates with alcohol.

    It has been torture for us all and a bad problem was made exponentially worse - disastrously for him - because they didn't want anyone to know that their genetics had produced such a "freak". So, for decades we all played along with the fiction that if he found the right job, or woman or apartment or friend or whatever he would be magically transformed into the person they wanted him to be instead of the person they made him be.

    And, the real tragedy is that he still feels guilt and shame for what he "did" to their lives and so can't even find a way to enjoy the years he has left.

    I am so sorry for what happened to you.

  4. I am so very sorry, Mel. You did not deserve this treatment. Your story is a valuable one - we do have readers who have not yet joined our ranks - and we still could face a loved one's suicide one day. Your words are powerful and wise. Thank you.

  5. How strange that you wrote about your husband's family today. Today my mother-in-law lies in an ICU fighting for her life because since her son died she has been consumed by her grief and ignored a problem until it led to septic shock. I have known her since I was sixteen and I realize, hearing these stories, how lucky I was. A devout Catholic, she never complained about my husband's conversion to my religion; she said, "Love is hard to find. You take it where you get it." She was not hands-on, rarely called, but when we visited she was always loving and warm to me and our kids. I always wished that she were more involved, more engaged in our lives, less of a workaholic, but I realize now that although she wasn't a support for me in hard times, she never did anything herself to make my life harder. Your prayers for her would be greatly appreciated, because I am not ready to lose her yet.

  6. Very powerful post! My husband died as the results of burns from an accident at our home. Everyone was very supportive and loving up until the time he died 3 weeks and 6 days later. The day after I buried my husband I received a phone call from his youngest brother telling me that he was injured while tearing down the pole barn my husband was tearing down when his accident happened. This brother told me that I needed to file a claim with my insurance company to pay his hospital bills, which I did and the claim was denied. He then sued me for $100,000 for negelegence which he lost that claim! Then once my husband's will was read the out laws really showed their true selves! They accused me of forging his will for my own gain. One of my husband's son's stole the safety deposit box key before the will had been read because his mother said that I would change it for mine and our 10 year old daughter's benefit. I could not believe all they were accusing me of, and the things that I found out they were saying behind my back.

    I believe my husband would have been very upset if he were alive and knew about these things that have happened since his passing.

    I had to make the decision to write them out of my life in order to move forward in my grieving process.

  7. My husband took his life in May of 2011. Neither of us were on very good terms with his family. His stepmother had been jealous of him since she married his father. She made him an outcast and was incredibly cruel to both of us through the years. His best friends couldn't get him to see that it was simple, evil jealousy. The girls were treated like princesses and he was treated as an afterthought. Millions of dollars were spent to set the siblings up in business and yet he was continually put down, his achievements belittled. I suspect I will be angry for a long time. He deserved love and respect and they couldn't even give him that. After he died, the parents were given an award for the renovation of the building they bought for the daughters' businesses. They had the audacity to say it was an entire family effort, when the truth is, they lied to him for several years about their plans. He was not included while alive, even as a footnote. They will continue to rewrite history so as to remain the upstanding members of their community they have fooled everyone to believe they are.

    I had to cut them out of my life because the stepmother was conducting her own investigation of his death, calling my friends and questioning them. They all think she's evil, and she is. My husband would never believe they would stoop to this level. God bless him. He always tried to see the best in them all.

    Peace to all of you who carry this additional burden.

  8. it was necessary to take out an order for protection against my husbands parents shortly before he passed. at his funeral he was deemed unviewable by the funeral director. still he had asked me prior to his passing that his parents have their own "viewing". the casket was closed but his family had a seperate funeral for him inviting extended family for comfort in their time of loss. over a 100 people showed up for this, and yet the next day at the actual funeral for his children and me there were maybe 30 people to show their support. i've resolved that it's ok. i have the best of him with me, his children, that i would have been more than happy to share if they would have been the least little bit kind. we'ver since moved away and there has beed no contact from anyone in his family. it's sad really, we could be encouraging one another but they prefer to blame me.

  9. That you were "the last part of Seth that they had" is exactly true, and it is profoundly significant that you had the insight to put that in words for other widows to realize. Blood relatives are, sometimes, disgusting in their assumptions. You are important because you loved him--anyone who would doubt or question this is a loser beyond repair (Oh! Forgive me, God bless them all, everyone!!!). That aside,you are immune from the errors of other people. God Bless, God Speed on your new journey. Grieve completely, but do not overspend your time when the time has come for it's completion. Those who have "loved not wisely but too well" are more abundant in this universe than you might guess. This is, in the end, just one more chapter in your book of life. And mark it as a success!

  10. Wow. This made me cry with tears of relief. We have exactly the same journey. I let it go immediately and the burden was lifted. We have to live with the responsibility of our actions and words and I sleep well at night because I never once gave them what they wanted which was my emotional wellbeing. Hurt people hurt people.

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