To think that DSis should have acknowledged the death of DH's mum? :(

(42 Posts)
Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:03:44

DH lost his mum a while ago. Very sad but not unexpected. DH told my parents, and DM said that she would let my DSis know when she spoke to her the following day.

I thought I would hear something back from DSis some time during the following week. When DBIL's father died last year, we sent a nice card and flowers for the funeral. We didn't hear anything though, so I thought perhaps DM had forgotten to mention it.

I rarely talk to DSis myself as she doesn't answer her phone and always forgets to return calls. She is usually terribly apologetic about this, but I've concluded that she can't really be bothered, so now I don't hassle her. However, DH rang DBIL the other day with some info about some possible work for him (he is self employed and desperately needs the business). At the very end of the conversation, DH told DBIL that his mother had passed away (several weeks ago now), and DBIL said "oh yeah, we were sorry to hear that, DMIL told us at the time." hmm

AIBU to have expected some acknowledgement from them if they knew what had happened? They knew that DH was incredibly close to his mum, and I feel quite embarrassed at the fact that they appear to have just ignored it. Is it not normal to send a sympathy card or something in circumstances like this?

JustinBsMum Tue 20-Aug-13 19:06:04

Yes, they should have sent a card at least imo.

But this will colour your view of them from now on.

picnicbasketcase Tue 20-Aug-13 19:06:51

Yes, it would be the polite and caring thing to do for most people but they sound like they are either self centred, incredibly busy or somewhat vague, so you probably need to lower your expectations. Sorry for your family's loss btw.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:13:16

Thank you. They are incredibly busy and probably quite vague too, but then, that could be said of me and DH as well. I'm terribly disorganised but got my act together to send a card for DBIL's father because I thought it was important for families to be there for one another at times like this. So that leads me to the conclusion that they must just be incredibly self-centred, but I don't really want to believe that....

We usually get on well when we meet, I have just learnt not to expect much in between meetings. I guess I shouldn't have expected anything at all. sad

Finola1step Tue 20-Aug-13 19:14:24

A card or a phone call would have been nice. I agree with pp re lowering your expectations. Your sister and BIL are unlikely to change but are not behaving maliciously. They are probably too wrapped up in their own lives to really notice. Hope you and your DH are ok.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:19:25

Thank you, and yes, we are ok, but it has obviously been a difficult few weeks for DH, and for dd who has lost a grandmother. I'm sure you're right, it wasn't malicious. I just feel a little bit disappointed, I guess.

DH hasn't said anything, but he comes from a very strong extended family and it would be unthinkable for him not to acknowledge something like this. I suppose I feel quite hurt on his behalf.

ForTheLoveOfSocks Tue 20-Aug-13 19:24:46

I'm going to go against the grain and say you are being a little unreasonable.

I personally find sending cards for everything over the top and unnecessary. If that is what you like to do, then fine. However sending a condolence card to your inlaws is a bit much really.

I think because cards are now expected in every occasion they have lost their meaning IYSWIM?

IfYouLoveSomebodyLetThemSleep Tue 20-Aug-13 19:28:36

I can see it from both sides here. Some people aren't in to the flowers and cards so don't think to send them, although I would at least have had a phone conversation to send my condolences.
Maybe she doesn't feel close to your DH and wasn't sure what to say? It probably wasn't done out of maliciousness, but yes she should have acknowledged it

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:30:15

Really? That's interesting to think you feel it's OTT. I do know what you mean about cards, but I guess I feel this is one occasion when they are appropriate. Or at least a phonecall. But it's good to hear different opinions.

For me, my in-laws are a part of my family. I can't think why I wouldn't acknowledge something as huge as the loss of a parent. But then, I'd probably say something to even a casual acquaintance in this situation. Maybe that is OTT. confused

DeWe Tue 20-Aug-13 19:33:22

I wouldn't phone someone unless I was very close because to me grieving is very personal, and the last thing I would want while grieving is having to deal with sympathetic phone calls. I would mention it if I was phoning anyway.

I also wouldn't send a card unless I had something special to say, like a special memory or something I felt relevant to the person who has died. It just isn't me, and when I have been in that situation I couldn't tell you who has sent or not sent cards.

I'd be much more likely to offer practical help if I could.

thebody Tue 20-Aug-13 19:36:07

I think k they could have sent a card but It doesn't sound malicious just unthinking.

so sorry for your loss.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:39:17

I think if you asked my DSis, she would say that we are quite close, even if she doesn't behave that way. And she has known my DH for nearly 20 years.

But I will accept that maybe IABU. Everyone is different, and I guess we have different expectations about what is appropriate at times like this. It's very hard for me to read DSis's non-reaction as a sign that she just doesn't care all that much, but I'll try to give her the benefit of the doubt.

ForTheLoveOfSocks Tue 20-Aug-13 19:40:32

Oh don't get me wrong, I would offer support and acknowledge their loss, I just don't understand the whole cards thing really.

Maybe they feel they wouldn't know what to say or how to help, so maybe saying nothing is better than getting it wrong?

I'm sorry, I should of said I am sorry for your loss, it must be a difficult time.

YANBU, all my siblings have lost a PIL and we've always had at least one sibling turn out for the funeral and we don't all live in the same town.

skylerwhite Tue 20-Aug-13 19:42:30


Are you in England, OP? I know English funerals are often quiet affairs, but it's pretty bad form not to even acknowledge the death of your BIL's mother [shocked]

tertle Tue 20-Aug-13 19:44:40

YANBU - a loss should be acknowledged. When my mum died very suddenly my husband's family sent flowers and messages of support - even his 20 year old brother emailed me. To ignore a death of a parent of someone you know is pretty shocking in my opinion. A text is all it takes.
Maybe it would help to mention it to your sister next time you meet up. As although I think you're well within your rights to be disappointed with her, it's not worth getting worked up about it, for your own sake. Hope that makes sense. I am sorry for your loss.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:46:41

Thank you. It has been difficult. The rest of DH's family are overseas, and he wasn't able to get back for the funeral so has missed out on the opportunity to share his grief with his siblings. I guess I had kind of hoped that my family would rally around to make him feel supported. To be fair, my parents have been great. I'm sure that DSis just had other stuff going on.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:49:23

You're right tertle, it isn't worth getting worked up over this. I won't mention it to DSis when I next see her, I wouldn't know what to say. I think I will just try to let it go.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:52:18

Yes, we are in the UK, but DH's mum was overseas. Didn't expect flowers or anything, the customs and traditions are obviously different. As someone else said, just a text would have been nice. Anything really, other than complete silence.

Backtobedlam Tue 20-Aug-13 19:54:05

I think a text, email or just saying something when you meet up would be enough for me. My siblings have only ever met inlaws a handful of times, so whilst a card/flowers would be appreciated, it wouldn't be expected. I'd let it go tbh, it's thoughtless rather than malicious I think.

MrsWilberforce Tue 20-Aug-13 19:57:11

Some people are very good at these conventions but many more struggle with the detail of what is the right thing to do and when.

If she's quite disorganised she might have been meaning to do something and kept forgetting until it had got to that embarrassing point where it is so far past the time that whatever you do or say is going to be too late.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 19:59:29

Yes, that's probably the case, MrsWilberforce. She may have just not got round to it.

I will try not to read too much into it!!

4yoniD Tue 20-Aug-13 20:00:09

I must admit I wouldn't know the social etiquette for what to do in such a situation. I also never know what to say, so tend to say as little as possible asides from "sorry to hear that, hope your OK, such a shame" etc if confronted with a relative.

Doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, but it isn't taught at school - and these things don't seem to come naturally to me.

Luckily I don't know many people who have died. One day I imagine I'll figure it all out sad

I'm not sure really, I know that if one of Sils lost a parent I would be on the phone every day and supporting her as much as possible. If my Bil lost a parent I would probably send a card, and if my other Sil lost a parent I probably wouldn't do anything. I think it depends on how close you are and whether you knew the parent really, tbh. I'm sorry to hear about your loss as a family, but I don't think you can expect everyone to feel the same way as you do. I wouldn't actually expect my siblings to send a card if anything happened to my Mil and probably just as well, as none of them did when my Fil passed away.

Yonionekanobe Tue 20-Aug-13 20:03:41

So sorry for your loss OP 💐

I believe that in this day an age there is no excuse not to acknowledge these things. A simple text message takes moments and is better than nothing of the tone is right.

Thecurlywurlymum Tue 20-Aug-13 20:09:38

Sorry to hear about your loss. No I don't think your YABU. I lost my own mum last christmas and not one of dh's family even acknowledged it, not my mil or any of them. But then again they all send each other anniversary cards birthday cards etc but not to me or my dd from a previous marriage. They do send b'day cards to my dh and ds. Should I take the hint? Only joking as I'm past caring. Just ignore would be my advise.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 20-Aug-13 20:17:09


There are many occasions where a card is OTT, but to offer condolences is not one of them.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 20-Aug-13 20:18:56

It is nothing to do with knowing the ILs. It is to do with it being your sister's husband who has suffered a bereavement.

Do people really not know this stuff?

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 20:31:12

Yes, alibaba, that's what I thought. Neither DSis nor DBIL knew my MIL, but it hadn't occurred to me that this would make a difference to their response. They do know my DH and my DD, who have lost someone important from their lives, and I kind of expected some acknowledgement for their sakes, rather than for MIL. But clearly, people have different ideas about how important this stuff is.

Yonionekanobe Tue 20-Aug-13 20:33:48

Text just saying 'Mum told me the sad news. So sorry - anything we can do?' would be the least a sister could do even if not particularly close.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 20:38:28

Yes Yoni, that would have been nice. And more than enough actually - even without the offer of help.

ForTheLoveOfSocks Tue 20-Aug-13 20:45:30

Ali - it's not about 'knowing stuff', it's about doing what I feel is appropriate, not what everyone else thinks.

I don't know if this is like your sister but I have a friend who simply cannot cope with this sort of thing. We lost a colleague recently and she agonised about the RSVP to the wake, to the point of almost not going. About what she should say/wear/do. She is just no good at it, wants to do the right thing and does nothing for fear of doing the wrong thing.

Shenanagins Tue 20-Aug-13 20:57:52

I am a little shocked at some of the responses as i would have thought that as someone you are close to has suffered a bereavement it is pretty standard to send a card to offer your condolences.

skylerwhite Tue 20-Aug-13 20:59:43

Forthelove - you're free, of course, to do what you think appropriate. Others are free to think that your lack of acknowledgement or sympathy is strange, remiss, or ill-mannered.

ForTheLoveOfSocks Tue 20-Aug-13 21:04:30

It's not a lack of sympathy, I did say I would offer support and acknowledge the passing. Please read what I said before passing judgement skyler

But I don't understand by how not sending a card I am some horrible person? Surely the intention that's what is important, not how the message is delivered?

skylerwhite Tue 20-Aug-13 21:14:23

Apologies - misread your post Forthelove. You're right - message is what counts, not the medium

I agree with an earlier poster though, that sending a sympathy card is not buying into some Hallmark marketing ploy.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 21:15:26

I agree that a card isn't necessary at all, but a card or a text or a phone call or something would have been nice. That's all.

skylerwhite Tue 20-Aug-13 21:17:53

<Disclaimer: I am Irish, so the English way of dealing with death is utterly alien to me, and perhaps my expectations are unrealistic>

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 21:41:01

YY, sky, I remember when my grandfather died, a representative of my uncle's employer in Dublin travelled over to England for the funeral. We were very touched.

lurkerspeaks Tue 20-Aug-13 22:48:16

I am 8 months into my grief journey now (my Mum died) and the way people react is really different.

Some of the people who I thought would be fab havne't been and some of the most surprising people have been amazingly supportive.

My relationship with some of the wider family is irrevocably damaged as they have been very unsupportive during the long drawn out dying phase. I thought we were close and have been supportive to them during shit times in the past so have found the lack of contact/support very difficult esp. as really struggled (off work. on ADs etc) and they know that.

I'm sorry your family are being shit but there is nothing like death to bring out the best/ worst in people.

Jinsei Tue 20-Aug-13 23:09:49

Thanks lurker, I'm sorry about your loss too, and I'm glad that you have found some supportive people around you, even if not those who you might have expected.

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