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Would you tell BIL that MIL had died?

(136 Posts)
BouncingFrog Mon 08-Jun-15 15:50:20

Have name changed for this as the facts may identify me.

This is more a WWYD, rather than an AIBU as DH has no idea what to do. It may be long and I'll try not to drip feed.

Long story short. BIL and SIL are no-contact with the rest of the family and have been since 2008, following a very spectacular family row regarding the family business which BIL & SIL caused by their behaviour, and resulted in very expensive, drawn out legal action.

MIL was very close to BIL (BIL was her PFB favoured son) and was devastated by this, but sucked it up and dealt with the no contact because that was BIL's choice and she was between a rock and a hard place choosing between BIL & DH/FIL. She tried to offer olive branches and contact BIL via friends, but was blanked. She then was very ill and ended up in hospital.

DH rang BIL at work to let him know that their mum was gravely ill. DH had to leave a voice message, which we know BIL got, because although he didn't bother to visit, BIL sent a get well card to the hospital. MIL then came out of hospital, developed really serious dementia and ended up in a nursing home. Where she currently is. She is going downhill rapidly, as in, the grim reaper is knocking.

BIL knows that MIL is very ill, as he attended a local funeral for a family friend where he was seen by DH and a number of mutual friends - 2 of whom made a deliberate point of telling him that his mother was very, very ill and that she was in a nursing home. That knowledge still didn't facilitate contact from BIL.

We currently have no idea where BIL lives because he moved away, nor do we have current phone numbers for him because he changed job. We can track him down via various mutual contacts if we really have to, but it will be very laborious.

The family rift between BIL and DH/PIL is HUGE. There is absolutely no question - it will never be repaired because there is far too much bad blood because of the family row, and consequences of BIL's actions were too horrific. DH is still salvaging the business and will be for at least another 5 years. PIL had to give up their retirement and home to secure it. FIL wants to kill BIL if he ever sees him again. It's not good.

So if you've read this far, thank you. The question is - WWYD? Would you tell BIL that MIL had died, or would you say fuck it, he doesn't deserve to know?

DH is torn and has no idea what to do when his mum eventually dies. On one hand, he is saying not to bother telling BIL because he clearly doesn't give a shit about MIL, has never visited her, has never asked after her, so doesn't need to know - he deserves to find out by accident.

The other part of DH is saying, well actually he DOES need to know because it's his mum, DH should play the bigger person and give BIL the chance to pay his last respects at her funeral.

I'm staying out of DH's decision making process and supporting what ever choice he makes, because I will not tell him what to do. I am however his sounding board. ~

MN collective- I'm looking for help!

FarFromAnyRoad Mon 08-Jun-15 15:52:57

I'm not sure it's a question of whether he deserves to know - for me I'd see it more as he's opted out, has made that choice clear by his actions both past and recent and so no - I wouldn't go out of my way to inform him. Let it be HIM who does the ringing around if he's concerned - I truly don't think it should be you doing it.

shinyrobot Mon 08-Jun-15 15:55:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Serendipitymuppet Mon 08-Jun-15 15:56:02

He should tell him. Then it's BIL's choice what to do with that information. Because of all the reason's you put in your 3rd to last paragraph.

He may or may not choose to come to the funeral, but at least he has a choice.

In fact he should probably try and get in contact now to give him a final chance to see her.

littleducks Mon 08-Jun-15 15:56:46

I think you should and maintain the moral high ground

Reginafalangie Mon 08-Jun-15 15:57:09

I would do all I could to make contact and tell him.

When people fall out they always think they have all the time in the world to make it up.

If your DH does tell him and BIL does nothing then so be it at least his brother tried I know as a sister I would try to let my sibling know.

Finola1step Mon 08-Jun-15 15:58:03

Right now, there is no need to do anything. You BIL knows that his mother is seriously ill, chooses not to visit, his choice.

But when the time comes and your MIL passes, find a way to get a message to your BIL with funeral arrangements. That's all. Then leave it up to him.

Meerka Mon 08-Jun-15 15:58:25

I would come down on the side of letting him know yes.

No matter what bad blood there has been, this is one of those things you need to know. Even a single line simply for information would do "MIL passed away on ?/june/2015, the funeral is at XX on XX date at XX time".

No need for anything more. No need even for personal contact, simply a quick letter / death announcement will do.

It isn't about being the bigger person or anything else really, it's simply a factual thing that he needs to know. For nearly everyone, the passing of their mother is something they want to and/or ought to know about.

Been in a similar situation if it's any help, as the one neutral person having to inform a sister of her estranged mother's death (no legal black pit lying around though; though my God the sister has hated me ever since, for some reason I don't understand, I think she's just taking the difficult feelings out on me )

OldBeanbagz Mon 08-Jun-15 15:59:27

You're right. It is about being the bigger person at a time like this. In fact in your position i'd personally take it out of your DH/FIL's hands by being the one to tell your BIL that his mother has died. What he does after that is entirely up to him.

PtolemysNeedle Mon 08-Jun-15 16:00:04

I'd tell him. He will find out sooner or later, and if you don't tell him, your DH will wonder if he did the right thing by not telling him as soon as possible.

If he is told as soon as possible, then your DH won't have any worry over whether he did the right thing or not. I'd look at it from the perspective of how the two different options would affect your DH and FIL rather than how they will affect your BIL.

Aermingers Mon 08-Jun-15 16:01:23

The fact that you are even considering doing this makes me suspect that if BIL could give his side of the story it may very well not be as clear cut as you would have us believe.

CornChips Mon 08-Jun-15 16:01:59

Yes, I agree... tell him and the info about the funeral and then leave it. I agree, even though there is such bad feeling, he ought to know his own mother has died. No need to engage beyond that though.

I am sorry. thanks

lottiegarbanzo Mon 08-Jun-15 16:03:10

I think BIL has had plenty of warning that the end is imminent. He can choose how he uses that information. If he wanted to be informed promptly he'd make arrangements with someone able to tell him, which might well not be you. So, leave it.

I think contacting him would be more about your DH putting himself beyond reproach. From what you've said, that's not really about 'doing the right thing' or avoiding any growth in the rift between them, which sounds as big as it could be already. It's about being seen to have done everything he could, so that his brother and other people have no further ammunition with which to try to tarnish his name. Your DH is already beyond reproach, as he knows that his brother knows the situation. So, is he most bothered about behaving decently, or about third party gossips' and slanderers' perceptions of whether he's done the right thing? I know whose opinion I'd value more.

diddl Mon 08-Jun-15 16:03:39

Does FIL have an opinion on this?

Would BIL be likely to attend the funeral to make a scene?

I can't imagine why he wouldn't be told ever by his dad or brother though.

iknowimcoming Mon 08-Jun-15 16:04:07

Poor you and dh, it's rubbish to be in a situation like this on top of having a loved one so very ill. I think it's tempting to not tell him because of his behaviour, but that may leave your dh feeling bad at some point. I think I'd do what poster above said and get in touch now explaining very factually that she is dying and asking him to get in touch with you if he would like to be given details of the funeral when the time comes. That way you guys are cleared of any guilt and the ball is firmly in his court. thanks

mynewpassion Mon 08-Jun-15 16:04:29

You've all let him know that she was gravely ill already. What's one more communication about her death going to do? Tell him.

BippityBoppity Mon 08-Jun-15 16:05:00

Is it possible to have the police notifyhim of your MIL's death?

A neighbour of mine was no contact with her father and that's how she found out - her siblings gave her last known address details and the police tracked her down

Meerka Mon 08-Jun-15 16:05:07

sorry to make it clear, I think it would be the right thing to do to let BIL know about the death.

Before that - well, he knows she's very seriously ill anyway. He has decided not to be involved. So be it.

BertrandRussell Mon 08-Jun-15 16:07:14

Tell him.

There can never be any doubt that telling him is the right thing to do. There can be doubt about whether not telling him is the right thing. Your dh should do exactly what will put him in the best possible place down the line. And nobody ever regretted being a better person than they needed to be.

mynewpassion Mon 08-Jun-15 16:07:51

Please don't waste police resources.

RachelWatts Mon 08-Jun-15 16:08:11

Perhaps you could put an announcement in the paper. Then it's available for him to read, so you haven't kept the information from him, bit you don't need to track him down or make contact.

AlmaMartyr Mon 08-Jun-15 16:08:20

I would tell him. I will one day be in a similar situation with family members when something happens to one of my DParents. I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't tell them, even though they have opted out and the thought of any contact makes me actually nauseous.

BouncingFrog Mon 08-Jun-15 16:08:30

Aermingers - I suspect that if BIL did give his side of his story, he would indeed give a very different version of events, because he probably perceives what happened very, very differently to how DH and FIL perceive it happened and having seen the initial arguments through the solicitors, there is not doubt this is the case.

Still, that is water under the bridge. What did or didn't happen is actually neither here or there, because the question I'm actually asking is should DH tell his brother that his mother has died or not?

I've given the basic facts, but as you rightly surmise Aermingers, it is a hell of a lot more complicated than just the facts I have given.

Flossyfloof Mon 08-Jun-15 16:10:09

Let him know, that way you cannot be criticised.

BouncingFrog Mon 08-Jun-15 16:11:55

Diddl - FIL's opinion is "If I see the fucking bastard, I will shoot him dead and do time for it". He has said that BIL should not be told.

FIL can be a little pigheaded and singleminded..

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