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Old 07-10-2014, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Wake County, NC
1,207 posts, read 1,610,042 times
Reputation: 1873

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Background: My mother-in-law passed away 19 years ago. Father-in-law remarried six years later. (Hubby and siblings were all grown adults during this, some married with children.)The new wife was nice at first. FIL always said that the house would go to his kids, and wife #2 would get pension, life insurance, etc. We were also to give her lifetime rights to live in the house. Gradually, she began to keep us all from him. They would travel out of state for a ballgame or recital for HER grandchildren, but couldn't bother to go down the street for one of HIS grandchildren. They made major changes to the house (not improvements) and took many gambling trips to Vegas, Mississippi, etc. When he was ill, she couldn't be bothered with him, because it cut into HER life. Father-in-law passed away suddenly 19 months ago. We found out at that time that he was to be cremated and buried next to wife #1 (hubby's mom). The memorial service was all about his life with Wife #2. All of the people who spoke didn't know wife #1, kids, grandkids, sister, etc. It was all military. No minister. Wife #2 and I had a huge argument in the time between his death and the memorial. Hubby and his siblings were pretty much left out of everything. She kept saying they were his wishes, but nothing was in writing. The will left the house and all contents to her. Hubby and siblings were to benefit from CDs which were stated to be worth the value of the house. She was the executor. She claimed there was one CD and she was going to be nice and add to it so that the 3 kids would have an even amount. It was about 1/10th of the value of the house. It's not about the money. They wanted the house and the treasures in it. She went through the house first and sold what she could make money off. Some of these things belonged to MIL's family. It has been heartbreaking.

A couple of weeks ago, she notified the kids that she was selling the house and wanted them to come get anything they might want that belonged to their parents. Most of the little trinkets she had marked for a yard sale. We think she has a new man. Keep in mind, he's been dead 19 months and his ashes are STILL not interred. Legally, she has to do this in keeping with his will. She claims she has no money. Sister-in-law rescued the ashes, so we now have physical custody and can bury him ourselves. We do NOT want her to be there when we do.

Hubby has not been able to get closure, and probably won't until it's all over. He is grieving his mom, his dad and the house he lived in for many year. He's not opening up and talking about his feelings. I know he's hurting. He's going through the grieving process all over again. I don't know how to help him through this. I'm grieving too. We've been together 33 years, so I'm losing part of my family too.

What can I do to help him?
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Old 07-10-2014, 11:28 PM
 
Location: West of the Catalinas East of the Tortolitas
4,922 posts, read 7,668,153 times
Reputation: 8014
I don't know if this will help, but I've told my story many times here on C-D in this forum. My husband died almost 5 years ago this October at the age of 59. In February of 2010, I had no choice but to sell our home and downsize to what was to be our retirement condo. My daughter and her husband came from Kansas to help me divide up the contents of my house into categories like sell, send to the condo, keep in storage for the kids/grandkids, etc. It turned out that right under my nose, she and her husband took all the sterling silver, antiques and valuables and loaded up their truck, unbeknownst to me, taking it back to Kansas and selling it all on Ebay. Irreplaceable things that had been in the family for many generations.

I learned, kicking and screaming all the way, that these are just things. As much as we love things, in the scheme of it all, they are just that.....things. What your husband has are memories, love, joy, and the wonderful people that were his parents. It doesn't matter what the step-mom took/has/kept, she can't take the memories or the love. You and your husband may miss the things (I still want my silver back....), but for all that your step-mom, or my daughter took from us, they couldn't take the love or the memories. My daughter may have made a bunch of money selling MY things, but, it was a hollow victory. The money was spent, the things were gone, and she was left with nothing. Me, on the other hand, I was left with the love and memories of my husband, his parents, my parents and the joy that was them. Your step-mother may have the money and the short-term benefits, but she can't take the love your husband's parents had for him and his siblings. You have what matters most.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:50 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
19,231 posts, read 20,588,431 times
Reputation: 49480
Sadly something very similar happened in my husband's family when his father's father remarried after his first wife died after 52 years of marriage. Although, he was only married to his second wife for a few years when he died everything went to her and nothing went to his children.

I think what hurt his children and grandchildren the most, was not the money but that the second wife had thrown away, sold at a garage sale or given to Goodwill all of the "old stuff" (her words) in the house. The old dishes, knick-knacks, photo albums, family heirlooms and birthday gifts & Christmas presents to Mom/Grandma were all thrown away, donated or sold without offering anything to his children or grandchildren. Just like you posted "Most of the little trinkets she had marked for a yard sale."

Although it was very hard I think that they did what Marcy did, just remember the good times and the good memories and forced themselves to forget about the material possessions.

His father's father died almost 30 years ago and pangs of his second wife's betrayal still occasionally come up. Our grandson visited last week and we gave him something that had belonged to my husband's mother's father (his great great grandfather) and I looked around our house and noticed quite a few things that had belonged to that grandfather (furniture, books, paintings, knick-knacks, his fountain pens, etc.) . I asked my hubby if he had anything (any object) to remind him of his father's father and he sadly replied, "Not even one thing".

My heart goes out to people who need to deal with situations like that. All I can say is that the pain will get easier to bear as time passes. I wish your family well.
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Old 07-11-2014, 07:59 AM
 
Location: Wake County, NC
1,207 posts, read 1,610,042 times
Reputation: 1873
Thank you both. I have told hubby that she can't destroy the memories. He still has his brother and sister. As a matter of fact, they've grown closer during all this, so that's a good thing. I'm just afraid that this grief is going to get the best of him.
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Old 07-11-2014, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
19,231 posts, read 20,588,431 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbitsong View Post
Thank you both. I have told hubby that she can't destroy the memories. He still has his brother and sister. As a matter of fact, they've grown closer during all this, so that's a good thing. I'm just afraid that this grief is going to get the best of him.
If you are concerned that he is falling into true depression please suggest professional help. Sometimes just a few therapy sessions may be enough and sometimes an adult child needs more. I was devastated by my mother's death when I was a 40 year old married adult with two young children. I ended up needing to be hospitalized, on disability for almost a year and on strong anti-depressant medication for many years before I was able to totally accept her death and move on. Although reactions that strong are fairly unusual they do happen so please be aware of his mental health needs. I am glad that his siblings are close to him as that can be very helpful.

Good luck to you. I am rarely on this forum, but when I have visited it I have noticed many very knowledgeable and compassionate people. Please continue posting if you need additional help.
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Old 07-13-2014, 08:43 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,373 posts, read 8,377,563 times
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If it was my family I'd suggest a little get-together just after the ashes are interned, kind of an informal memorable service that is planned by and attended by your father-in-law's kids and grand-kids and other key relatives. Invite the 2nd wife to the internment itself if necessary to prevent further hostility or for legal reasons, but there is no reason to invite her to the FIRST FAMILY'S informal memorial. Ask everyone to come prepared share good memories, photos, etc. of the early years and leave hostiles of recent years at home for that particular day. There is no reason why you can't have a second memorial if the first one didn't give your family the closure they need. There is also no reason why anyone needs to be at the interment either, if you can't stomach the 2nd wife being there, side-by-side. A representative from a funeral home and the cemetery sexton can do it and in my state, by law they have to be there.
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
19,231 posts, read 20,588,431 times
Reputation: 49480
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayland Woman View Post
If it was my family I'd suggest a little get-together just after the ashes are interned, kind of an informal memorable service that is planned by and attended by your father-in-law's kids and grand-kids and other key relatives. Invite the 2nd wife to the internment itself if necessary to prevent further hostility or for legal reasons, but there is no reason to invite her to the FIRST FAMILY'S informal memorial. Ask everyone to come prepared share good memories, photos, etc. of the early years and leave hostiles of recent years at home for that particular day. There is no reason why you can't have a second memorial if the first one didn't give your family the closure they need. There is also no reason why anyone needs to be at the interment either, if you can't stomach the 2nd wife being there, side-by-side. A representative from a funeral home and the cemetery sexton can do it and in my state, by law they have to be there.
That is a wonderful idea. It would be a time for the adult children to share favorite childhood memories, grandchildren to learn more about their grandpa and talk about the good times in the past.

If there is reason to suspect that the second wife would cause problems in any way (such as come uninvited and unannounced) it could just be a "family/old friends get together" and not described as a memorial service. So even if the second wife somehow found out the date & place she would have no reason to "invite herself" to attend.
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