to feel really quite uncomfortable about this?

(25 Posts)
lastnightiwenttomanderleyagain Mon 09-Sep-13 21:25:13

I'm not good at being concise but will try to keep this short!

Two months ago DHs grandfather was taken into.hospital as they suspected something was up with his kidneys. They sorted it out but short version is that he's got so many types of cancer that they aren't really listing them. He's 87 and has decided he doesn't want any treatment. All very upsetting, but he's seen most of his friends die and is just getting a bit fed up with the world. Totally respect his decision. He's moved into a home and wont be going back to his house.

Now, MIL has always been practical to a fault (this has rubbed off slightly on DH). This is a woman who brought a plunger with her the first time she came to stay...

Anyway, we're going to visit DHs grandfather at the weekend and she's asked us to meet her at the house. It turns out she's taken a load of 'junk' to the charity shop and wants us there to see if there's anything we want. This makes me very uncomfortable. It would be different if he'd said it to us but it almost feels like she's erasing his life whilst he's still here. There's also a lot of talk of 'Daddy agrees that we should...xyz' which just feels odd to me - he's perfectly compus mentus and capable of deciding what to do rather than 'agreeing'

MIL is an only child so has nobody to give another point of view. DHs father died when he was small and so he's very touchy about anyone remotely criticising the way his mum does things. Equally, she rarely listens to him as when their dad died, his brother became the 'grown up' and DH was very much treated as a child for longer than he should, MIL still finds it hard to treat him as an adult capable of running his own life.

AIBU to find the whole situation very uncomfortable?

CharityFunDay Mon 09-Sep-13 21:34:27

There's also a lot of talk of 'Daddy agrees that we should...xyz' which just feels odd to me - he's perfectly compus mentus and capable of deciding what to do rather than 'agreeing'

If he has actually agreed to what she's doing, then you're going to have to grin and bear it. At least she's offering the chance for you both to save a few bits and pieces.

<bitter memories of my granny's stuff being thrown in a skip by my father and his cunt of a brother, then her house being put on the market by them one month after she was buried>

Hassled Mon 09-Sep-13 21:42:09

If the grandfather is compos mentis and you're going to visit him anyway - just ask him. Put MIL's house clearance on hold and talk to him first - is it OK if we take the tea-set and that lovely picture?

I can see why you're uncomfortable, but equally it's better you get to keep the things that you'd like than that they get cleared out. And if this is hard now, it will be a lot harder after he's died.

thruppenceworth Mon 09-Sep-13 21:49:21

I don't find it odd at all. Your mils father is ill, not going to return home and from your OP I assume is very ill. His daughter is alone, no siblings, no mum, I would assume she is trying to make it easier for herself. She's not erasing her father's life, she's coping. I've helped my Mum "clear" houses after a family death - not the easiest time.

NoComet Mon 09-Sep-13 21:51:36

My DGreat Aunt gave away lots of her stuff while she was still alive and not even ill. She was just insanely practical. She didn't use most of her three story Victorian house and only needed the kitchen, living room and her bedroom furnished. All the bits and pieces elsewhere could go.

Outwardly she wasn't at all sentimental, but she wore her engagement ring for 70 years (her fiancé died in WW1 and she never married and became a teacher)

So I think being practical doesn't mean not caring, but just a different way to cope

It sounds like this is your MIL's way of dealing with her father dying.

lastnightiwenttomanderleyagain Mon 09-Sep-13 21:55:29

Thanks all for replies. I think the thing that grates s that it feels very much like it's MIL giving away her father's things without him having any real say in it, if that makes sense?

Hassled I think you're right and I can't believe it hadn't occurred to me to just discuss it with him in person!

sleepyhead Mon 09-Sep-13 22:13:44

my mum had to do this as DIM had gone into a nursing home suddenly after a period in hospital.

The house had to be cleared and sold to pay for her care fees so things had to move fairly quickly.

sleepyhead Mon 09-Sep-13 22:18:47

DIM confused that should be DGM. She's old but certainly not dim..

she didn't have much to do with distributing the things she wasn't taking with her either. DGM is unsentimental to a fault and doesn't really care much about what happens to "things", plus she really wasn't happy about moving into the home (although accepted it as a necessary move) and didn't want to get involved in the details.

lisylisylou Mon 09-Sep-13 22:19:27

Brings back memories of my ultra practical mil getting rid of my fil things when he died and hadn't been buried yet! However, they are a different generation and they always would put work and tidying/cleaning before their own emotions. Bizarrely it was a strange way of my mil coping and I remember her saying 'it really would be wrong to get a skip wouldn't it?' I did agree with her but if she could have got away with it and the neighbours couldn't see a skip she would have done it! It's just a different generation but it did seem peculiar at the time. My husbands family actually said that my fil couldn't have an oak coffin but a light coloured one due to dust.

Weller Mon 09-Sep-13 22:30:57

When my DP's died even though I was the youngest sibling I did all the clearing and sorting, mainly as I am not attached to things, tbh not even my own. It was much easier to do it when they where in the hospice and it was what they wanted me to do, they wanted to know everything was in order.

DoJo Mon 09-Sep-13 22:46:08

Some families are a lot more blunt about death - my husband's are and it still shocks me sometimes but I can imagine it would be much easier to clear someone's house while they are still alive and can enjoy the fact that their stuff will be loved and also answer questions about who is in photos, why they kept a particular memento etc - much nicer than wondering what made someone keep a pressed flower or piece of jewellery.

BackforGood Mon 09-Sep-13 22:54:18

I agree with thruppence. If he's happy for this to start now, and has no intention of ever living there again, then why on earth not get on with it now. I've cleared out my parents home after they've died, I think it would have been lovely to have had the chance to ask them about a few of the things we'd come across, and ask them what they would like us to do with them.
I like that your MiL feels strong enough to be practical about things at the moment - feel it's really positive.

IAmNotAMindReader Mon 09-Sep-13 23:19:59

I would be like this. The vast majority of the contents of my house is just stuff and stuff doesn't last forever. I don't own much jewellery and only wear pieces that mean something to me. I wear my wedding rings and my mothers wedding rings and that's it.

thebody Mon 09-Sep-13 23:24:00

your mil had lost her own husband young so presumably had to bring up 2 children by herself? there probably why she is 'practical to a fault'.

her presumably dearly loved father is now dying.

please be nice to her. she's had to be a coper so help her by sharing the burden and supporting not criticising.

BrokenSunglasses Mon 09-Sep-13 23:32:19

It's not a situation where you are ever going to feel entirely comfortable, no matter what others do.

If she is the main person that will be dealing with his things, then it's up to her how she does it. As long as DHs GF really is ok with that of course.

You just don't know why she's reacting this way, maybe it's her way of preparing herself or she just gets comfort from being organised. Your role is to support your DH, and by extension his family. It doesn't really matter whether you feel uncomfortable about it or not.

SockQueen Mon 09-Sep-13 23:42:47

Some people respond to grief by DOING stuff - it keeps them busy and keeps their mind away from feeling sad all the time. She may well have started grieving already: even though her dad is still with you, she knows it's not going to be long at all now, and maybe by clearing everything now she thinks she's saving herself pain later on. It might not make total sense to you, and I completely understand why you'd be uncomfortable, but I wouldn't try to interfere too much. Maybe have a word with your DH's grandad if there are any particularly treasured things that you think she's getting rid of too easily, but really just be there for the family in whatever way is needed.

kmc1111 Tue 10-Sep-13 00:03:23

I've had to do the clearing out a few times. It the person is willing to let go of their stuff, it really is so much easier to do the clearing out when they're still alive. Your MIL's father may have encouraged MIL to get on with it, but at the same time he may not be wanting details or to be pestered with questions about every little thing, so unless you think she's chucking out valuable stuff or ignoring his wishes, leave her to it. It has to be done, and your DM will be in a better state to do it now rather than after he dies.

MidniteScribbler Tue 10-Sep-13 00:12:23

What do you want to happen? That his house be left as a shrine? Presumably it needs to be sold or rented out, so it will need to be sorted out at some time.

Stuff is just stuff. It's not the person. And aside from a handful of truly sentimental items, the rest really is better being passed on to someone who needs/wants it, or thrown away.

Rockinhippy Tue 10-Sep-13 00:22:23

I'm afraid it sounds to me that your your MIL is already grieving, in her mind she has already let him & she is acting accordingly - this sort of get everything out, very practical, but at the same time emotionally hiding away from all reminders they were ever there is not actually that uncommon, it's a grief coping mechanism for some people.

I speak as someone who has recently lost my DM, prior to losing her she spent time in hospital where we were told she would not survive - my DF was in a complete state of shock, but he is ex long time military, so very much a practical coper in even the most difficult circumstance, his way of dealing with his fear & pain was to go through their home like a dose of salts & get rid of lots of stuff & move things around - he didn't then get rid go DMs personal stuff, but he did get rid of a lot of her extra less used stuff IYSWIM - she then against all odds got better, so it became him tidying up & having a clear out for her to come home too - unfortunately she caught another infection in hospital & never did get to come home

He then went on a massive cleaning spree & had cleared out pretty much every trace of her within the week - thankfully he couldn't face going through her most personal items if clothing, jewellery etc, or I don't doubt that would have been bagged up for charity shops or the tip too, do I had to go through that - his overwhelming NEED was not to have any reminders as he was hurting so much - stiff upper lip & all that - it didn't sit well with me either, but I saw it for what it was & have brought some stuff home with me to give back to him when he hits a stage where having her things might actually be a comfort to him.

Last week I as lunch with a friend who lost his Dad 6 months back - he is upset that his DM has done exactly the same thing, he feels very hurt & uncomfortable about it.

Ironically the same week I lost my DM, one of my oldest & closest friends lost her DM too - her older sister who lived with her DM has done exactly the same thing

It is grief, be gentle with her & maybe keep back a few things to give back to her if at a later date she might regret having been so rash, she's losing her DF, in her mind she has lost him already & coping the only way she knows how.

lastnightiwenttomanderleyagain Tue 10-Sep-13 03:13:22

Thank you all so much for your responses, especially as it seems to be bringing back.memories for some.

I completely agree that this is her way of grieving I suppose I've just been thinking that if I were him, to.know I'd been given a prognosis of weeks yet my family were already clearing out would make me feel like they couldn't wait to get rid of me.

I'm not materialistic in any way but I think

lastnightiwenttomanderleyagain Tue 10-Sep-13 03:26:49

Agh! ...I think rockinhippy has hit on my concern - she is largely doing this by herself (we've offered to.help on so many occasions, so her now wanting us to be involved is a good thing as she's accepting some support) and I'd hate for her or someone else in the family to find out later on that something seemingly mundane had a lot of significance yet is no longer around.

It definitely is different coping techniques - I'm generally quite practical in 'shock' type situations but when faced with a prognosis like this (and I've been there more tines than I would like) my main priority is normally to.spend as much time as possible with the person in question. I'd never dream of stopping MIL doing what she needs to do to cope - as his daughter she takes precedence - I suppose it's just hard for me to effectively adopt another persons coping mechanism that is clearly different. One of those things in life where to support others you have to go against your own feelings, it may be hard but not a patch on what they're going through.

lastnightiwenttomanderleyagain Tue 10-Sep-13 03:26:54

Agh! ...I think rockinhippy has hit on my concern - she is largely doing this by herself (we've offered to.help on so many occasions, so her now wanting us to be involved is a good thing as she's accepting some support) and I'd hate for her or someone else in the family to find out later on that something seemingly mundane had a lot of significance yet is no longer around.

It definitely is different coping techniques - I'm generally quite practical in 'shock' type situations but when faced with a prognosis like this (and I've been there more tines than I would like) my main priority is normally to.spend as much time as possible with the person in question. I'd never dream of stopping MIL doing what she needs to do to cope - as his daughter she takes precedence - I suppose it's just hard for me to effectively adopt another persons coping mechanism that is clearly different. One of those things in life where to support others you have to go against your own feelings, it may be hard but not a patch on what they're going through.

AmberLeaf Tue 10-Sep-13 09:41:48

It's really hard doing this after someone has died.

My Mum recently had to deal with a family members 'affairs' after they died, it was incredibly hard especially as my Mum isn't that sprightly herself [I did help her though]

That experience has prompted my Mum to get her own affairs in order and she isn't that old! she said to me that she hates to think of me having to do all of that for her on top of grieving and tbh that makes sense, it also allows her to have an input in a way she is happy with.

I agree with others that this may be your MILs way of coping with the situation.

Rockinhippy Tue 10-Sep-13 10:43:05

LastNight I totally get that, my own DF has some very serious health issues himself, so really should not have done what he did, but no amount of talking to him or offering help made a jot of difference, he needed to be busy to deal with his own grief, even if that meant totally overdoing it & moving/ dismantling furniture - thankfully he was okay, but with heart & kidney trouble on top of arthritis, it could very easily have been different.

I don't know what the answer is, bar keep offering support, but expect it to be turned down & be there for her.

Good luck

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now