Grieving Husband Giving Me The Blues

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Grieving Husband Giving Me The Blues
Sat, 03-16-2013 - 2:50am

Since my MIL had a stroke 7 weeks ago my husband has fallen out with 2 of his brothers, one sister and one of his sister in laws. He has never been close to his family and he and his mother just got close after her stroke. After one of his sister’s died last August he and his siblings all vowed to be closer and act more like a family. But after their mom’s stroke they all fell apart again and started fighting with one another.

My MIL died on Tuesday and my husband has refused to meet with his family to help make funeral arrangements stating he was not going over his brother’s house under any circumstances because as he put it “ I’m not going over there and make anyone uncomfortable in their own home.” I told him the fact that his brother called and asked him to come over; means he is willing to put their differences aside in light of their mothers death.

After he had expressed to several families that he did not feel comfortable going over to his brother’s, they decided to meet in a neutral place which turned out to be his mothers home. But he still refused to go stating to me, he was not going to deal with those people. He was really angry with one of his brothers ( not the one whose house they were supposed to meet at) because his brother was supposed to take their mother to a follow up doctor’s appt the day before she died and he didn’t.

My husband feels his mother may have still been alive if his brother had taken her to the doctor like he was supposed to. He felt if he were to see his brother it would not be a good situation. So I understood how he felt and agreed he probably needed to stay away and calm down. Then he said he is not riding in the family car, going to the repast or the gravesite; I said nothing even though I disagreed with that decision. But when he said he was not going to stay for his mothers funeral service and would only be putting in an appearance I spoke up. I told him that I felt that would be rude and disrespectful for him not to stay for his own mother’s funeral and that you don‘t just put in an appearance at your own mother‘s funeral. He blew up at me saying he knew he should not have talked to me about anything and that he didn’t give a damn what I or any body else thought about him. He then stormed out of the kitchen and went in the office and slammed the door.

My question is… would it be wrong of me to not ride with my husband to the funeral and drive my own car? Because I am not under any circumstances just putting in an appearance at my MIL’s funeral and walking out with him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
Sat, 03-16-2013 - 9:55am

You're in a really tough position.

I've had my share of death in my family beginning at the age of 11.  I've seen my large and extended family go from being close and spending countless holidays together to not seeing them for years. The impetus was a death in the family and the need to "blame" someone for it.  It's difficult to be angry at some vague concept of God, the universe, or "life", so some people need to make someone or something tangible the culprit.  It's not unlike the view of God being some old man sitting on the clouds.  We need to relate to something.  We search for meaning and part of that is cause/effect.  The concept that there may be no reason to someone who was so important to us dying and leaving us shattered inside is so scary.  We HAVE to have meaning sometime until we are able to accept that is a part of life.  The mind is very good at sheltering itself from too much at one time. 

IMO, this is the way your DH is expressing his grief.  Your DH sounds like he is expressing his grief with anger, which is normal especially in the beginning.  There is no talking sense to him right now as he's processing his grief.  The only thing you can do is to be there as the quiet shoulder as he vents and processes his grief on his schedule.  He will come around when he does and not a moment before.  Don't judge and don't be angry with him unless his anger is directed at you in which case under no circumstance should you bear the brunt of it.  That said, compassion and understanding will go a long way.

Is there any way to drive with him, drive him back, and then go back to the wake?  If not, how many days is the wake going to occur?  If more than one, could you appear for the other days alone?  I think you showing yourself there would be a good idea for your own grief, in the long run for your DH's grief, and good for family relationships.  You will be representing him while there, and you can explain to his family that your DH's behavior is his show of grief.  It has no rhyme or reason and it doesn't have to.  It just is.

So, yes, I think you should attend the wake and funeral for however long you feel is necessary for yourself as you too had a relationship with his mother and I do think it will be good for the family in general.  Do not get into any serious discussions about the fight other than to express your hope for reconciliation.  Stay neutral even in the face of criticism of your DH.   Everyone in his family is in need of compassion, understanding.  I have a feeling judging by your writing that you are a natural at it anyway.



(this book, Tuesdays with Morrie, is not necessarily about death and dying, but the message is very appropriate and I found it very helpful)


This book was amazing and I only read it 2 years ago.  I highly recommend it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-18-2004
Sat, 03-16-2013 - 7:19pm
I think you should do what feels right for you. I am curious about the sibling that didn't get your MIL to her doctor appt the day before she died. Depending on the circumstances, I can totally see myself going off on the others.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Sun, 03-17-2013 - 11:03am

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post and for the book suggestions, I will order the books online today. In answer to your question about whether I could drop my husband back at home and drive back for the funeral, that is not possible. They are not having a wake and the funeral is being held 30 minutes from our home and is to be one hour. So by time I were to take him back home and then come back the service would be over and they would be on their way to the cemetery.

My husband seems not to realize that he is not the only one grieving, I lost her too and I had more of a relationship with her than he did. He only got close to her within the last six weeks after her stroke, whereas I have been close to her for 18 years and I loved her too. I talked to and visited her on a regular basis, shopped for her and brought all her gifts for Mother’s Day, Christmas and her birthday; whereas I had to remind him to call her. I have been unable to grieve for her because I have been dealing with his drama with his family on a daily basis and trying to be strong for him and our son. But I am starting to really resent the fact that he is acting like I was only the “daughter in-law” and she was “his mother” and therefore he is entitled to decide everything including us not staying for her funeral because he does not want to deal with his family.

Avatar for lizmvr
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-06-2001
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 8:26pm

I'm sorry for this loss that both you and your husband are experiencing. I know it will likely be difficult, but I do think you should mention to your DH that he might want to go to the funeral so as not to regret not going later in his life. It is a sign of respect for his mother, regardless of how he feels about his siblings right now. I'm sure she would want him to be there.

While I understand that you want to support your husband, sometimes supporting someone you love means seemingly going against them in a moment when they're not thinking clearly. I agree with another poster that you going to the funeral is likely the best thing for you, your husband, and the family in general. I hope that your husband eventually sees this and appreciates you wanting to be at his mom's funeral, too.

You all will be in my prayers. Take care!


Clinical Research Associate


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Thu, 03-21-2013 - 7:33pm

Thanks for your response and words of support. We ended up  taking separate cars and arrived together. He did stay for the service but he did not sit in the front with me and his family. He sat in the back of the church wearing dark sunglasses.We did however ride to the cemetery together, but he did not get out of the car and people were asking me where he was and I said he was parking the car. When we came back to the church he did not go in for the repast, he stayed outside and again everyone kept asking me where he was and I kept saying he is outside, which was true. I'm just glad that he did stay for the funeral even if he did refuse to sit with the family. I'm just sorry that it was obvious to everyone else that he had a problem with the family; when he refused to sit with them and sat in the back of the church.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Mon, 03-25-2013 - 7:49pm

Sounds like your husband is behaving like a spoiled brat. Did your BIL say why he didn't take their mother? Was she too sick to go? Did she refuse to go? If she wouldn't go was the BIL supposed to force her? (Good luck).

I think your husband is probably rebelling against some perception of his brother and his mother's relationship. Did she give him something your husband wanted or thought was his? You'd be amazed at what people take for gospel when it's spoken and never written down and then when a parent or grandparent dies they take offense that no one else "heard" what they heard. My own family is a prime example of that.

Good luck. If he continues to hold his breath and kick his legs (like a kid) then recommend he get counseling.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 2:34am

The BIL who was supposed to take their mother to the doctor, just lied and told everyone that she did not have a doctor's appt. My DH has alway had a distant relationship with his family; they are very dyfunctional and unfortunately their mother for years had been the author of all the dysfunction. Now that she is gone I don't see my DH having any contact with them again; they just have too many unresolved issues with each other that date back to their childhood.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-04-2010
Thu, 05-09-2013 - 9:35pm

Its a tough situation you are in with your husbands unresolved issues with his mother and your feelings for her too. I can relate to what your going through, not with the death but with the fact that his mother sounds like she had favourites and your DH having resentment towards her. I think time will heal a lot of things... and I wouldnt push him too much to have contact with his siblings right now. 

Perhaps the two of you can do something in your own way to make the farewell special to both of you. Would that make a difference to the situation, or to your relationship with each other?