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When You Lose an In-Law You Didn't Like

Category: 

Bereavement Relief

Posted On: Mar 20, 2017

When You Lose an In-Law You Didn't Like

No doubt, this sounds like a heartless topic, but it has the potential to affect any married or committed couple. We don't all get along with our in-laws. Even if you lucked out with your mother- and father-in-law, perhaps your partner has a brother or sister with whom you don't get along. It's a universal reality. It happens. No family is perfect, after all. Nevertheless, when your spouse loses a family member, you have to help her or him get through it. Your partner's loss is more important than your feelings, point blank. Consider this the “better or worse” portion of your wedding vows. The situation won't necessarily be comfortable for you, but you need to stand by your partner. This is one of the hardest situations s/he will ever endure.

Don't Make This about You

It's not the time to air all your grievances. Tensions run high after a death, so it's important not to provoke responses or give into baiting behaviors. How do you get along with the rest of your in-laws? If there are also issues with those relationships, then simply focus on your spouse. Speak civilly and kindly when you have to talk at all. In response to any provocative remarks, just repeat, “I'm so sorry for your loss.”

Know When to Stand Down

If you have a contentious relationship with your all of your in-laws, then you may want to ask your spouse what s/he wants you to do. Make it clear that if your partner needs to spend time with the family or doesn't want you to go to the viewing or funeral, be understanding and take a step back. Since emotions are raw for everyone right now, it's possibly best to hang back and give the family some space. Just make sure your spouse knows you'll do whatever s/he wants, and that you'll provide support no matter what s/he needs.

Provide a Safe Space with No Restrictions

More than anything, your spouse needs a space to grieve without judgment, censorship, or restriction. Don't put a time limit on her or his bereavement. Listen to rants, venting sessions, or monologues filled with memories. Invite her or him to expression the pain and anguish in any way that feels right. Be there if your partner needs to get away from the family or the services. Make it clear that s/he can cry in front of you.

Remember, above all, no matter the acrimonious feelings between you and your in-laws, these are only a few hours out of your life. Your spouse is the most important part of all this.