after death did us part

A Letter to the Former Sister-in-Law


Widow Shmidow, widow, widow life, widowed parenting, new beginning, new normal, after death did us partIn the first few months after he died, you called me to talk. Those two or three phone calls were for you to cry about how unfair it was and for me to give you comfort for losing your brother. He was selfish enough on his deathbed that he didn’t want you to know. In his own twisted, not-right mind, he thought he was helping you by not allowing you to see him waste away into nothing. He wanted your memories to be of when he was strong, not weak and fragile.

He died peacefully, at least. There was little peace during his life–during our life together. His final peace was a gift to me. I saw the Oneness of God and the Entire Universe in that moment of his peaceful passing. It was one of the only pure gifts he’d ever given me, and I will always be grateful for that. But that peace was all I could give you. I didn’t have anything else.

Frankly, I was looking for my own direction. Now I’d have to do everything alone–parenting and house maintenance. I was also helping my kids understand what they were feeling. So on top of dealing with my own family’s grief, I was also back to work at my full-time job as if I was a fully-functioning adult. In addition to that, I was dealing with all the paperwork related to reporting my husband was deceased–repeating my story every single, time I had to talk to someone new, refilling out forms (sometimes months later) after someone discovered they’d made a mistake the first time or second time…. Do you have any idea how incredibly exhausted (mentally and physically) I was?

I didn’t have time to deal with your feelings (or anyone else’s), too. I was responsible for my kids and me. You were responsible for you.

We talked one time almost a year after he died. I was happy and you could hear it. Because when I told you at our next visit that I’d started dating, you said you guessed that I was. By the way, my happiness wasn’t based only on the new man in my life. I was moving on with my life. I refused to stay in a grief-stricken stupor for a man who rarely thought I was good enough. My happiness was rooted in the fact that I actually liked myself as a human being again, that I was capable of making good decisions, that I was stronger than I’d ever thought I was.

Your father gave me one piece of good advice after your brother died: You grieve the way you need to grieve. On your own terms. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong.

I’m tired of your family telling me (and my kids) that we grieved wrong. Your implication that our grief has been somehow easier than yours is hurtful. You felt unneeded here. So what? So did my entire family. They got over it.

What the hell were you going to help me with? No one could help me with the legal stuff, and I had a lot of it. I didn’t want people over asking me what they could help do or what they could clean. My friends came over to prop me up that first day. They cleaned my kitchen and reorganized my pantry to keep busy while I called the funeral home, the insurance company, his devastated boss and co-workers, my parents, my siblings, his best friend, my boss… I was going on two days of little-to-no sleep, and I had to retell the story of your brother’s death to every single person I had to call and bear the brunt of the emotions from those who didn’t believe it when I told them the news.

I’m sorry your feelings were hurt that you were told not to share your stories with my kids. That was probably your way of grieving, but it was not what my kids needed. Your dad’s advice should’ve included, “Don’t impose your emotions on others who are also grieving.”

They lost their father. They were young and weren’t ready to talk about him. They deserved their own time to process what had just completely changed the entire dynamic of their home life. They didn’t need anyone telling them how to think about him or what people thought they wanted to hear about him. I promise you, they didn’t want to be told that he loved them unconditionally, because there were always conditions on his love.

I’m insulted that you assume to know what emotions my kids or I felt. It’s sad that you didn’t ever bother to ask my kids what or how they felt later. It’s sad that you put your depression on kids who lost their abusive father and now must relearn how to live. Are you going to help pay for the therapy sessions? Did you get help for yourself? No and No?

I guess you are his sister.

Add comment

By Dee
after death did us part

Recent Posts

Recent Comments




Enter your email address below to get the latest updates from Widow Shmidow.