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To expect BIL to pull himself together over death of dog

(37 Posts)
LittleLionMansMummy Fri 03-Jul-15 08:53:48

We have pets. I get that people mourn their death and you can't put a timescale on it.

But last night I got a drunken call from bil, saying thanks very much for the tickets to see a show (for his 50th birthday) but that he doesn't feel he can leave the dog, who is now buried in the garden. We are supposed to be babysitting my nephews for the night.

By way of background, he overfed the dog for years. She was like an elephant and has had no quality of life for many years - just used to lie there grunting and groaning, struggled to get onto her feet etc. I was almost relieved when they had to put her to sleep about 3-4 weeks ago.

I told him he needs to find a way of moving on as he has two dc (6 and 8yo) to be a role model to and they need to see how to move on. That is his responsibility. Apparently he's spoken about building her a tomb etc!

Tbh I also feel like telling him to get a grip as far worse things happen in life. I am currently being made redundant and dh's father has cancer so we're sort of sick of the whole saga as we have rather enough to contend with. I know his response to the dog's death signifies a deeper issue and dsis is struggling to get through to him. Aibu to expect him to pull himself together?

mmollytoots Fri 03-Jul-15 08:55:53

it is hard when you lose a dog. it can feel like you have lost a real family member. perhaps a nice sensible talk with him will help him out of this circle of grief he appears to be in also alcohol will not help.

mmollytoots Fri 03-Jul-15 08:56:02


CruCru Fri 03-Jul-15 08:58:43

Hmm. I don't have pets and I understand that the loss of one can be like losing a dear friend.

I do, however, see your point. Does he rent or own his house? If he rents, his landlord is going to be seriously unimpressed at getting a tomb in the back garden. If he owns, his house will be unsaleable.

MrsGentlyBenevolent Fri 03-Jul-15 08:59:19

I was all prepared to say yabu, don't be heartless, dogs are family too... but holy moly. You BIL needs help. He can't leave his deceased pet to go out? Has he a history of depression, is there anything else going on, and it's coming out over this? I love my pets, but you love them knowing you will very likely out live them - all pet owners know and usually accept this (even though it hurts when they pass, as much as anything would). I don't think he can just 'pull himself together', as I said, this must be rooted in something deeper.

fearandloathinginambridge Fri 03-Jul-15 09:03:54

As you say there are deeper issues at play here. I think this goes beyond the usual level of grief. Do you suspect MH issues? If so he needs some support. Dog dying may have triggered a deeper depression based on other losses or difficult life events.

Glitoris Fri 03-Jul-15 09:04:29

* I know his response to the dog's death signifies a deeper issue and dsis is struggling to get through to him*

There is your answer.The man is dealing with some deeper issue and it's just showing up in mourning his dog.Telling someone in that boat to 'pull themselves together' is not only's borderline heartless,in my opinion.

I think you as a family should be encouraging him to see his doctor re : the underlying issues/depression.

MaidOfStars Fri 03-Jul-15 09:07:32

I know his response to the dog's death signifies a deeper issue.... Aibu to expect him to pull himself together?

The first statement doesn't fit with the second.

YABU. Assuming it's obvious to you and your sister (and me) that he's teetering on the edge of depression/anxiety/panic, he can't simply 'pull himself together', he's not thinking rationally.

Suggest he gets himself to a GP.

LittleLionMansMummy Fri 03-Jul-15 09:09:56

Hmm, my thoughts are that he's a deeply damaged individual. He has issues with alcohol and a childhood that wasn't happy. He's regularly been unemployed while dsis pays for everything as she's a high earner. Part of me wonders if this is an excuse not to work - he hasn't gone to work for a week because he's still grieving. Tbh though i am past feeling sorry for him as he doesn't help himself. And i sort of want to shake dsis and say "he gives you so much grief! Wake up!" They own the house. Dsis's words to me last night were 'I've lost a member of the family too, but this response is unhealthy - it's not right.' I suggested she speaks to him when sober and suggests he gets some bereavement counselling.

Meanandlow Fri 03-Jul-15 09:11:11

Yabu. Dogs are family members too. Its devastating to loose a much loved pet. My dog died and six weeks later dh died. It was horrendous. Have a heart and get dB to gp

BarbarianMum Fri 03-Jul-15 09:12:59

My mum totally went to pieces when our beloved dog died. His death (he died whilst she was away on holiday) brought back all sorts of unresolved grief from the loss of her mum, 30 years before.

You know that their are bigger things going on so how the hell is 'telling him to pull himself together' going to help? Suggesting it makes you sound like a bitch tbh. If you want to help him, or your sister, then pull your horns in.

LittleLionMansMummy Fri 03-Jul-15 09:14:12

And I know I sound a bit dismissive but this is a pattern of behaviour that has marked their 20 year marriage. I am very understanding of depression etc and do know that saying 'pull yourself together' won't work, but this is just the latest drama. He has such a supportive wife, who offers to help him at every opportunity, but he never takes responsibility himself.

BarbarianMum Fri 03-Jul-15 09:23:15

OK yes, so there is a big problem but the ball is very much in your sister's court. What does she want to happen? Is she willing to make changes in how she deals with him? Would you say she (albeit understandably) enables him to avoid responsibility?

LittleLionMansMummy Fri 03-Jul-15 09:27:46

Yes i think she enables him. In many ways my dsis is very strong in terms of resilience as he leans very heavily on her. But she's also one of those romantic 'stand by your man' types. I don't really know how to broach the subject with her. I don't like to think she's unhappy, but it's her marriage and her business. I should butt out, but bil had a tendency to drag others in.

LittleLionMansMummy Fri 03-Jul-15 09:30:09

And I also think dsis sees the world through rose tinted glasses and probably isn't aware that this goes way beyond. She isn't aware she's enabling or that his problems go way beyond this.

BathshebaDarkstone Fri 03-Jul-15 09:49:05

Before we got together, DH's DM died. He went completely off the rails for a month. He was devoted to his DM and I think that's why he took it so hard. Plenty of PPs have said that a dog is like a member of the family, maybe your BIL is reacting like this because he loved the dog so much. My DH had an experience which most on here would regard as woo so I won't go into it, it gave him the kick up the arse he needed. Who's going to give your BIL a kick up the arse?

DJThreeDog Fri 03-Jul-15 10:23:05

I find it completely offensive to compare a pet dog to a person's mother. hmm

YANBU he needs to pull himself together, or if this is indicative of additional issues, he needs to address them and get help.

LittleLionMansMummy Fri 03-Jul-15 10:28:21

And therein lies my issue DJ. Fil is battling cancer and facing the very real prospect of dying. He doesn't know what will happen. I don't feel i can continue to be a sympathetic ear and may have to say that. I've lost dogs, cats and people. I truly understand grief and bereavement. But my patience is wearing a little thin because he refuses to help himself.

kissmethere Fri 03-Jul-15 12:13:57

I too was prepared to yabu, we have our little kitty's ashes here and we miss her so much, very empty feeling without her. However, this sounds really serious.
To not go out because the dog is buried in the garden? This is a turning point for him especially as he has his family to think about too. He has to seek help in some way to lift him out of this.

patienceisvirtuous Fri 03-Jul-15 12:24:25

Mind your own business. Last thing he needs is you poking your nose in and telling him to buck up. How long ago did he lose the dog?

You sound a bit heartless tbh.

gardenerofdelights Fri 03-Jul-15 12:30:24

OP doesn't sound at all like a heartless bitch - she just sounds like she has priorities.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 03-Jul-15 12:37:36

Well the show for his 50th is not his highest priority, is it? He is presumably dealing with his father's imminent death. Again, that's not your loss, is it, it will be your husband's? I get a bit sick of people trying to insert themselves somewhere into the 'pecking order' of grief and it actually isn't your call to decide what's what and when - and you were out of order with your SIL.

Perhaps think about the way you interact with people supposedly close to you because I wouldn't be attending anything with you anytime. You come across very much like Reese Witherspoon's character in 'Election', all knowing and manoeuvring, deciding just how things are to be.

Maybe take the lead from your husband on this one and keep quiet because your words are obviously hurtful at the moment.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 03-Jul-15 12:38:57

Realise that I have the relationships wrong, BIL is related to you only because of your sister. Ignore reference to your FIL then, sorry.

BarbarianMum Fri 03-Jul-15 12:41:09

No, I take back the 'heartless bitch' in light of subsequent posts. Sorry, OP. Telling BiL to 'pull himself together' is still totally unhelpful, though again to be fair, OP has already acknowledged this.

OP all you can do is support your sister and suggest she deals differently with your BiL (insisting he seeks help, fi).

Fizrim Fri 03-Jul-15 12:42:40

It does sound more like a mental health issue tbh, has he had other obsessions before the dog? I suspect he fixes on an issue and uses that as an excuse to avoid dealing with stuff. Or drinking. Tough on your sister if he won't seek help, though. Is he on any meds that you know of?

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