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Advice needed about bereavement and family fall out

(159 Posts)
ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 15:42:50

I've name changed for this as some details are quite identifying.

My fiancé and I have been together for 3 years. His home town is 350 miles away and his parents and sister and family live there. Up until last year I had met his parents and sister once when we made the trip so I could be introduced to them. I know he's not particularly close to his parents and his relationship with his sister isn't' good as they just never really got on and he felt that his parents would always 'take her side'. She lives 5 minutes away from their parents and always feels the need to point out that she has a better relationship with them and does everything for them.

Last October we got engaged, two weeks later his mother was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was poor. At the time I asked him if he wanted to just have a quick registry office wedding in his home town so she could be there, he said he didn't want to do it like that. Plans for the wedding later this year went ahead. We visited again just after her diagnosis. I was very conscious that wedding plans were forging ahead and I didn't want her to felt left out so I casually dropped into conversation that we had found a venue, his mother changed the subject and I left it at that. I appreciate that she had other things to think about than our wedding. His father did ask to see my engagement ring on the way out but that was it.

In December my fiancé had to make the trip down to near his home town for work. He spoke to his father and said he would try to get over to visit and would ring him to confirm. As it was meetings over ran and he was unable to make it. He didn't ring to let them know, but in his mind as he said he would ring to confirm there wouldn't be a problem. (He has now admitted that he was in the wrong and should have called, he has since apologised for this.)

Following this things have become very frosty between him and his family. Three weeks ago we received a text from his father to say that his mum had gone into a hospice. My fiancé immediately tried calling his father a few times but got no answer, as thought he would be in and out of the hospice and unable to asnswer his phone he sent his father a text to say he would like to visit this weekend. He received a very curt reply saying that his father and his sister had worked very hard to make his mother comfortable and any ciosit would have to be short, so as not to upset her. My fiancé made the trip and had a chance to really talk with his dad and was pleased that they had cleared the air and very positive about their relationship. Following this visit my fiancé texted his father everyday, sometimes he received replies, sometimes not. Again we thought that this was fine as he had other things to think about. Last week my fiancé received a text to say that his mother had died, he tried to call his father but could not get hold of him. He has texted daily asking his father if he wants him to come home, or if he can help in any way. He has received no replies. Then his father texted him and said that he didn't understand why he hadn't heard from him in a year but had received 55 texts in the last 18 days. He said he hadn't spoken to his mother in over a year and this was "too little, too late". The reality is my fiancé and his mother had been in contact almost daily over whatsapp.

Today my fiancé had received a typed letter in the post informing him the date and time of the funeral. There is no mention of him coming in the cars to the crem or anything else to do with the family. Just the dune, date and time, signed 'regards'.

Fiancé is now saying he is not going to the funeral. He doesn't want there to be a scene and he thinks his sister will cause one. I've tried to encourage him to go but he won't entertain the idea. Should I be doing anything else?

Phew, that was long. Thanks if you made it this far.

StillDrivingMeBonkers Sat 18-Mar-17 15:51:33

He will regret not going to the funeral if he doesn't attend.

I have to be honest here - all this texting? Is no one incapable of picking up the phone and speaking?

TBH he should have gone home the moment he received the text to say his mother died (text ??).

DrippyWet Sat 18-Mar-17 15:51:57

What a difficult situation. Are there other family members that you could lease with about the funeral?
I think I'd encourage your DH to go and to be as low key as possible. If his Dad wants to be unfriendly and cut him out then I'd let him get on with it. Grief does weird things to people so difficult a it is I might try and ignore your FILs behaviour. The only thing that might be useful is to let your FIL know that your DH was in contact via WhatsApp.

ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 15:53:33

StillDriving He has been trying to call but his father will not pick up. Which is why the texting. In the text to say that his mother had died his father told him not come.

daisychain01 Sat 18-Mar-17 15:54:13

I would encourage him to go to his DMs funeral. They will all have to put aside their differences, that day is about saying goodbye to their DM, DW etc. Give him that perspective, that h should rise above all of it because once the funeral is over he won't have the opportunity again, and he has a right to attend.

If his family create a scene it is unlikely to be at the service, so if he feels uncomfortable then he can always spend 30 mins talking with other family members then make his apologies and head back home.

IME emotions run very high and people act in strange ways after losing someone. He needs to keep a cool head and do the right thing in his DMs memory.

ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 15:55:30

Drippywet Unfortunately I don't know anyone else in the family to speak to and my fiancé won't as he thinks his sister will have been busy trying to turn the entire family against him.

daisychain01 Sat 18-Mar-17 15:56:03

If they start raking over old coals, you should have done this, or you could have done that (tedious), he can say we are where we are, let's stop trying to change what "could have been" it is not helpful!

ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 15:57:31

I've tried to tell him he'll regret not going, but he's not budging. He only received letter this morning and the funeral isn't for a couple weeks so I'm hoping he'll change his mind.

welovepancakes Sat 18-Mar-17 16:03:36

I think he would regret not attending the funeral

would be helpful for FIL to know that DP had been in touch with his mum daily (but doesn't he already know that?)

Crispbutty Sat 18-Mar-17 16:05:35

Give him a couple of days to get his head round it. It sounds a very upsetting situation for everyone and whilst if it had been me, I would have got there as soon as I could and tried to spend as much time as possible with my mum knowing how ill she was, sadly it's too late now and I think that is also something that your fiancé is dwelling on and regretting.

Do you think his dad would talk to you if you rang?

In honesty I think he should get time off work, (employers will surely allow this given the situation, even if unpaid) and go up there to try and build some bridges with his family during this time.

Phone calls and certainly texts are not enough.

Catsize Sat 18-Mar-17 16:19:44

This is all rather bizarre. Who, or what, has given his father the impression that the two weren't in touch for over a year? Clearly untrue, given the visits, let alone any other type of contact. The texting this leaves me cold.

SanitysSake Sat 18-Mar-17 16:30:32

I know it's not for everyone, but the advice I was given by a counsellor when I spoke about any potential funeral scenes when my mother goes was 'you don't have to go - you could commemorate her in your own personal way'.

I kind of appreciated this - as it was better than the alternative - which would be a massive show-down.

SlB09 Sat 18-Mar-17 16:35:34

My father was in the same situation, long story but due to family dynamics when his dad was dying he chose not to go to see him (lived 300ish miles away). He wasnt going to go to the funeral due to anomosity between him and his fathers partner and he was never close close,to his father - but did go in the end and totally broke down. He was glad he went to say his own goodbye and everyone had the courtesy to not challenge anyone at the funeral. He said thankyou to his fathers partner for caring for him as he was dying and then left the crem along with our side of the family (who over the years had tried to build bridges and had a decent relationship with her). She was by no means an approachable lady but it just seemed that everyone respected that the funeral was not the place to bring things up. Given the distance it was 'easy' to go, say goodbye and then return home and not have to have anything to do with them if he chose not to.

Dont worry about the sister, your husband can go the the service and leave straight after without even conversing with her if hes not in the funeral car etc. Im absolutely sure that his father is just hurting.

Grilledaubergines Sat 18-Mar-17 16:39:02

How sad. Awful to receive the news by text.

I know you say that his dad didn't answer the phone, hence the texts but surely leaving a voicemail would have been better than a text. It just seems so impersonal.

I think if he doesn't go it will confirm what his dad and sister clearly already feel, that he has distanced himself from them and doesn't want to play a part in the family. I think he'll regret it.

And also sad that the likelihood of them coming to your wedding is probably nil. The longer you leave these things, the greater the void that is created.

Really there's nothing you can Do directly other than be there for your DH when he needs to talk.

Have you sent a card to his father and sister from you?

SheldonsSpot Sat 18-Mar-17 16:39:25

I think your fiancé has behaved appallingly, and if he does not attend the funeral he can kiss goodbye to any hope of a future relationship with his father or sibling.

sohelpmegoad Sat 18-Mar-17 16:47:18

Sadly there are always families like this where the huff seems way more important that the love that should hold them together.
When you dont come from a family like this its bewildering. I think you should gently encourage your fiancé to try and find whatever love there is in his family, and take it from there.
However my Dh's family is like this and we have missed more funerals that we have attended because of it, so good luck

ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 16:49:59

Sanitysake this is certainly something I've thought about. I'm starting to think that commemorating her in her our own way may be the best thing at the moment.

Grilledaubergines As these are practically strangers to me I don't feel quite right getting involved. I can't send a card to people who have behaved so badly. Also, my fiancé will not invite them to them wedding, and unless things improve I'm inclined to agree.

Sheldonsspot Can you please explain how my fiancé has behaved appallingly?

BackforGood Sat 18-Mar-17 16:50:01

How sad.
I would do everything in your power to get him to go. Also you should go to support him.
I think he will really regret it if he doesn't.
He would also show others he is worried about what they think of him, confirmation of the untruth that he didnt care.

ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 16:54:56

Backforgod conversely I've tried the "this will just confirm what they think of you" argument. His argument is that he actually doesn't care what they think. Yes I will be going if he decides to attend.

Timeforabiscuit Sat 18-Mar-17 16:56:59

There is no guest list at a funeral, he is free to attend ir not as he sees fit, he doesnt need to socialise.

I'd let it lie for a few days or even a week, just be supportive in his grief - it hits you like a train, you have anger you dont know what to do with, a lack of control which is just bewildering, so any attempt at persuasion will likely go very poorly.

Best wishes for you all.

ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 16:58:31

Timeforabiscuit Thank you. You're right. I think it's just a matter of wait and see.

daisychain01 Sat 18-Mar-17 17:04:24

I can empathise with your DH if towards the end of his DMs life he couldn't face actually seeing her and therefore kept in touch through whatsapp etc. Its all too easy to leap to criticise soneone and what they did and didnt do. Fact is some people find death and dying too difficult to get to grips with and they regret things they just werent able to do at the time.

I feel for him very much OP and its lovely that you are there to be his Rock.

ScentedCandle123 Sat 18-Mar-17 17:11:05

Daisychain I do actually believe that was the problem. As his grandparents died before he was born or when he was very little he's not really experienced the death of anyone close to him. He was quite badly affected when he saw her in the hospice.

wannabestressfree Sat 18-Mar-17 17:11:43

Sorry I disagree he really should have made more effort and he was so wrong not to see her. I can't imagine a situation where my sons won't just turn up to their home when I die (and this is something I have had to think about at length).

You have to talk him into this. It's his mothers funeral. He has to be the better person and pay his last respects.

spiney Sat 18-Mar-17 17:13:56

From the POV of your Dp's father and sister, your DP simply has not been around. Neither for his mother's death nor the sad time before it. It sounds like they have been deeply hurt by this and of course they are in the throws of mourning his mother also. But I think the fact that they have let him know he details of the funeral means something. With the minimal contact they have been having it would have been easy to just not tell him at all.

For himself I think he could commemorate his mother personally. But in terms of his relationship with his Father and his sister he needs at least to show up to the funeral. It is a once only moment in all their lives. She will never have a funeral Again.

Emotions are running very high and of course you wouldn't want a showdown. But you could be very discreet and unshowy and not hang around afterwards. I think it's make or break.

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