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AIBU to think that grief can only explain behaviour not excuse it?

88 replies

InvisabilityCloak · 26/04/2011 16:29

I've namechanged just in case i'm recognised.

My DH's SIL has been really awful to me over the last few years because i could have children and she couldn't. I seemed to become her family punchbag and she seemed to go out of her way to hurt me and spoil every happy occasion we had.

Some examples are:-

  • Telling me i should have kept my 1st pregnancy a secret and emigrated.
  • Saying she wanted to slit her wrists and she'd done nothing but cry since she'd heard our news.
  • Calling me a fat cow and making lots of snide comments about my appearance whilst pregnant.
  • Deliberately telling us the a later time for a family celebration and not explaining that everybody else was meeting somewhere else first so we missed the b'day gift we'd paid for. This also made my FIL cry and shout at us for being late.
  • Sitting at my DS2 christening with a face like thunder and literally ignoring people who spoke to her after running out of the church sobbing.
  • Ignoring my children and ignoring their birthdays etc

I could go on but i've probably already outed myself if somebody who knows us reads this.

I should also add that this SIL has had alot of IVF attempts, has been pregnant twice with twins losing both pregnancies around 20 weeks, during one of which i was also pregnant.

Everytime i have been pregnant i have felt guilty, tearful, ashamed of my bump and it has been the elephant in the room (Or maybe i was Grin ). My pregnancies was never talked about by the family, no exciting announcements, no cheesy baby showers, no talk about things we would buy and names we might use. Every christening or birthday for my children was spoilt or ignored.

This story has a happy ending as after a long hard road she finally had a DD and is planning a huge 1st birthday party this weekend. [happy] [happy] [happy]

I am left feeling sad and bruised by the whole experience, i'm supposed to just forget everything she has done because they now have a baby.
I will never get those happy times back now and if i'm honest i feel bitter about it. I'm over the moon for them and my niece is gorgeous but everytime they have a big celebration i feel pissed off. They did the big announcement, emails of every scan sent to the family, big baby shower, non stop baby get the idea.

I have never discussed her behaviour with her or addressed it because to be honest at the time she was in pain and it wasn't the right time.

Just to clarify i have always been supportive, acknowledged the children she has lost, and been sensitive to her feelings. I completely get that this situation just have been hellish for her and i can't ever imagine how hard it must have been but does that mean it was ok for her to do what she did to me?

Is a person's bad behaviour ever excused by grief?

I'm going to press post now....
OP posts:
DontdoitKatie · 26/04/2011 23:41

I missed this:

"My own PIL felt said that they'd wished we'd lost our baby because at least we already had one and they deserved their baby more because they'd tried harder to get it through IVF."

They wished a baby dead? They wished a baby dead?

Who are these people? That is an evil shocking thing to say. I am absolutely astounded. At least you can see where your SIL gets her evil personality from.

Seriously I think you should distance yourself from these people, because they have wished ill on your children. Absolutely and completely unforgivable.

I'm quite shocked that people are pussy-footing around here. The PIL were mad with grief too were they?

jellybeans · 26/04/2011 23:59

That is terrible. My MIL tried to convince me to abort DD1 (her 1st GC) and she offered to pay 'halves' with my parents!! But when DD was born, she was all over her! So it took me alot to get over the fact she never wanted DD at first but she has been a good GM overall, shit MIL though lol!!

Becaroooo · 27/04/2011 07:31

I have lost babies.

I still think she sounds evil.

I would never ever wish bad things for anyone who is lucky enough to get pregnant.

If she was so upset, why did she even come to the christenings of your dc???? why not jusy excuse herself...people would have understood! Why go and then run out in tears????

What your PIL said was unforgivable. What did your dh say to that????

Am really saddened by this thread Sad I am so sorry you and your dc have been treated like this.

Grief is no excuse for hateful behaviour.

saffy85 · 27/04/2011 09:03

YANBU your SIL's behaviour is shocking. However, what is more shocking is that it sounds like her family allowed her to get away with acting like this. Did no one take hr aside and say to her that she couldn't treat you that way? Ignoring that behaviour wasn't doing your SIL any favours at all.

She's grief stricken I'm sure, but her behaviour screams jealousy and that is an ugly feeling and should have been dealt with by a more diplomatic member of the family at the time.

HerHissyness · 27/04/2011 09:59

Why would you allow all these people to treat you like this? seriously?

Not even your worst enemy would wish a MC on you.

I'm sorry, I'd bin the bloody lot of them. HOW DARE they wish one of your children dead, and others just ignore birthdays.

You don't have to put up with this, putting it in box is just allowing them to belittle, abuse and beat you down.

catsmother · 27/04/2011 10:33

I've lost 3 babies from 5 pregnancies .... and yes, at those times, and for quite some while afterwards, the anguish I felt was primeval, it tore at my soul and I've never felt so angry in my life. I wanted (totally irrationally) to scream in the faces of other women I knew how unfair kept their babies how unfair it was, what made them so special. I wanted to tell them (again completely irrationally) how smug they were with their perfect lives and perfect pregnancies, and when I saw apparently skanky mothers dragging their unwashed and undisciplined kids along behind them as if they (the children) were an incumberance I wanted to howl at the unfairness of it all.

BUT ..... in real life, I never once took my grief out on anyone I knew. Whatever uninvited and nasty thoughts popped into my head, that's where they stayed because I knew the people I (then) resented and envied had absolutely nothing to do with my bad luck and had they not become pregnant, had they not gone on to have healthy babies, it wouldn't have made a jot of difference to my situation. So ..... I made all the expected and right noises when pregnancies were announced, and I showed a polite and compassionate interest in those pregnancies even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. I sent congratulation cards, and bought gifts ..... etc, etc, etc. In other words, I made the effort to act as normally as I could, though, as others with similar experiences have mentioned, there were probably times when my face slipped .... I am human after all. However, I never made it personal and was never nasty to people I knew.

As previous posters wisely said, nasty things happen to nasty people as well as nice people. I agree that she probably chose to act the way she did towards you and that was downright spiteful and vindictive. I don't doubt for a second that she must have felt distraught, and quite possibly clinically depressed as well but for me, the measure would be how she also behaved towards other people. If she'd had more or a less a breakdown for example, and was behaving unacceptably to several of the people closest to her, then I might feel more sympathetic but if you were singled out as effectively her whipping boy then rightly or wrongly, I feel you are justified in feeling bitter at the unhappiness deliberately imposed upon you. That's another thing .... when I was feeling like I wanted to shriek and scream at others, I kept telling myself that my unhappiness was as a result of dreadful bad luck ..... it wasn't personal. Yet had I set out to make other people feel bad as some sort of "revenge" it would have been deliberate - and therefore a very wrong thing to do. Don't get me wrong it was at times incredibly hard to keep it together and put a face on, but as adults, you just have to sometimes don't you ... you can't perpetually bring everyone else down.

I don't blame you at all for feeling bitter at all the happy times she set out to spoil. Times that can't be recaptured, and what a kick in the teeth to see her now enjoying all the milestones and joy which you felt had to be low key out of consideration for her. You'd have to be a saint not to wonder why she thinks she's entitled to experience, without fear or without restriction, the things which were ruined for you - by her. I'm afraid I think that deep down she must just be a very nasty person incapable of thinking about anyone except herself, regardless of what she went through. I also feel you could have been supported more by your DH's family who also, from a few things you've said, seem to have bought into the idea that your normal family life was somehow planned to make SIL upset. What they said was also unbelievably cruel and nasty. Makes me wonder if SIL was a spoilt, favoured child ?

Anyhow ....... you are NOT being unreasonable. Sooner or later we all suffer grief in our lives though perhaps arguably, losing children/babies is hardest to bear as it's not the "natural order" of things. If all the people in that position automatically behaved as your SIL did, the world would be a very sorry place. As previous posters have said, I would remain polite and civil towards her but personally, that's probably as far as I'd go (for my DH's sake) - and the same goes for the PILs. This wasn't a single incident in the heat of the moment but what sounds almost like a sustained campaign of nastiness towards you .... with the PILs doing nothing to help. I'm sure it didn't help her - how could it make things any different for her ? - and therefore it was pointless. I don't know what she expected you to do quite frankly ..... admit some sort of "guilt", wear sackcloth and ashes maybe ? And yes .... if she ever behaves badly again, if she ever plays a stupid game designed to make you look bad, call her on it straight away. Previously, you obviously felt your hands were tied because any remonstration would have been seen - apparently - as "lucky" you picking upon "poor" SIL, but that's no longer the case, and, in all honesty, though I understand why you bit your tongue before (and you are to be commended for that restraint and compassion), I do also feel that grief does NOT give people carte blanche to behave disgustingly. It's quite possible of course that she played on this and used her losses as a screen to indulge whatever spiteful feelings she harboured towards you. Who knows, but it does sound as if your behaviour in all of this has been beyond reproach.

oldraver · 27/04/2011 12:36

OP... How does she behave toward you and your DC's now ? Has she acknowledged their birthdays since her DC was born ?

I do think you need to draw a line and move on but after you have sat her down and told her how much she has hurt you. This would be the ideal opportunity for her to appologise. Frankly myself I would distnace myself if one was not forthcoming but thats me

The fact she singled you out and not her own sisters (they have had DC's ) shows she was in control of her behaviour

DontdoitKatie · 27/04/2011 12:48

Catsmother, your post made me cry a little. I'm sorry you went through all that.

What you say shows there is a clear distinction between grief and spite.

PlopPlopPing · 27/04/2011 13:02

the thing that stuck out to me was -

My pregnancies was never talked about by the family, no exciting announcements, no cheesy baby showers, no talk about things we would buy and names we might use. Every christening or birthday for my children was spoilt or ignored.

I can understand you SIL being like this but the rest of the family should have made a fuss over you/the baby/these events/talked about names etc. (not in front of her)

plusRoyalisteQuUneEmigree · 27/04/2011 13:05

The trouble is that the SIL - and some of the other people mentioned on this thread - has had the illusion of "making someone pay", a very poor satisfaction, but something, possibly a very precious measure of satisfaction (or distraction). She won't be at all willing to let go of that, nor admit that it was wrong.

hester · 27/04/2011 13:13

I burst into tears when my best friend told me she was pregnant Blush Sad

I feel mortified to this day. But I did have the grace to know, the second it happened, that I had to instantly apologise and tell her how thrilled I was for her, then spend the rest of the pregnancy being a lovely supportive friend.

Lots of us have struggled with infertility, miscarriage or losing children - some on this thread way more than me. But the dividing line is clear: opting out of certain social occasions because you can't contain your grief is ok, though regrettable. Projecting your anger and distress onto an innocent bystander is not ok, ever. If it happens, you have to pull it back - not continue to indulge it, aided and abetted by family members who should know better.

Poor you, OP. I'm not surprised you're struggling with this.

hairylights · 27/04/2011 13:21

As upsetting as it is when we have pregnancy losses (believe me, I know), there is a big, big difference between finding it hard and upsetting and not attending family ocassions (which I think is totally understandable), and engaging in hateful behaviour.

PlopPlopPing · 27/04/2011 13:28

I don't know why she just didn't come to these occassions? No one would have blamed her for not coming to the Christening would they?

I remember having to avoid seeing my SIL for a while and that was just because I had started to feel really broody (pre kids) and I found it actually painful to be around her and her baby. So I can't imagine the pain if you have just lost a baby! Why would you put yourself through that!?

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