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reconnecting with step-MIL


d0nnivain

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d0nnivain

Last summer my step MIL's youngest son died suddenly. 

Upon hearing the tragic news I began making travel plans for DH & I to fly half way across the US on a moment's notice, rent a car & drive 2_ hours to a hotel near where the wake & funeral would be.  I called FIL to verify the locations.  I was told point blank not to come & that our presence would be a distraction; it would be too much work to have guests.  I assured FIL that we were not come to be in the way but rather wanted to help.  He said no. 

I was hurt & felt left out.  We didn't go because we certainly weren't going to disrespect the wishes of someone who just lost her child.  

Upon reflection, I did the same thing to them when my father died.  I told them not to come.  The circumstances were a bit different then.  Hurricane Sandy had just devastated the NY Metro area.   My house had no power or heat.  The airports were closed.  I couldn't get a death certificate because the government offices weren't issuing them.  The funeral parlor had no power.  There was a gas shortage.  There were no available hotels for 100 miles because they were filled with others without power & power crews who were in town to try to restore normalcy. I spoke with ILs daily through the ordeal & thanked them profusely for wanting to help.  

To date step-MIL has not reached out to me on any meaningful level.  I think she liked 1-2 posts I made on social media but no call, no text, no nothing.  Another family member recently told me she didn't get out of bed for months because she's been so crushed by her son's death.   I get that; losing a child is heart wrenching.  

But now that 7 months have passed, I don't know what to do?  How do I break the ice?   We sent Christmas presents but didn't get a response.  I don't want to push myself into a situation where I'm not wanted.   DH is no help.  He doesn't even feel a loss in his life from lack of contact.  If it was up to him we wouldn't talk to anybody.  

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Weezy1973

So this is your husband’s step mother? If he’s not interested in keeping that connection, then you probably shouldn’t push anything. Has the relationship always been strained?

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You're doing ok. Please leave this situation up to your husband and his family.

Even though you mean well, not everyone wants someone else to mend fences they aren't interested in mending. Take a deep breath relax, it's up to your husband. 

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d0nnivain

I guess but that sucks. I don't know that the relationship is strained. These are just people who don't talk.  When we 1st got married I reached out all the time thinking as the wife it was my duty to be the social connection.  They all told me they were grateful that I brought them together & made memories.  

I asked DH about it but he said leave it alone, they'll call when they are ready.  It makes no sense to me that the onus should be on a grieving mother.  

Do I really have to leave this relationship to die without doing anything to prevent that?   Doesn't somebody have to make the 1st move? 

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Oldenuff2know

During the 32 years my first husband and I were married, I was always playing the role of the peacekeeper in his family, so I understand why you want to do or say something to mend fences. While this familial relationship (or lack thereof) is ultimately up to your husband, perhaps it wouldn't hurt for you to send a card to his step MIL to let her know you are thinking of her. Then, if you make that move and are rebuked, then you have your answer and you'll know you did your best.

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ShyViolet
On 2/12/2024 at 1:59 PM, d0nnivain said:

Do I really have to leave this relationship to die without doing anything to prevent that?   Doesn't somebody have to make the 1st move? 

You've already made the first move, and the second move and the third move.  She is not reciprocating and not giving any indication that she's interested.  At a certain point, if you keep trying it will just come off as pushy.  You can't force a relationship where one party isn't interested.  I would really leave it alone at this point.

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d0nnivain
1 hour ago, ShyViolet said:

You've already made the first move, and the second move and the third move.  She is not reciprocating and not giving any indication that she's interested.  At a certain point, if you keep trying it will just come off as pushy.  You can't force a relationship where one party isn't interested.  I would really leave it alone at this point.

I haven't done anything, other than send a Christmas present.  I offered to come.  My FIL told me not to.  It's been radio silence since but she's a grieving mother.  For all I know FIL never told her that he told us not come.  

The last time I backed off, in 2017, we got a call in 2018 from the FIL saying that his SO (the step MIL) missed me & was wondering why I stopped calling.  It irked me that she didn't pick up the phone to ask directly 

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Given that you weren't going to be any sort of imposition to them it's odd that they said you'd be a distraction, that's extremely rude given that it was your DH's brother (?) and your BIL who passed and the two of you had just as much right to attend the funeral and mourn as other family members. Does their family have weird dynamics? I'm guessing it might be a yes given DH's apparent lack of concern. As Easter is only 6 weeks away maybe that will be a good time to send a card and just let them know you're thinking of them, maybe open the door to communication again? 

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d0nnivain

There's actually no official connection.  DH's father has been with his SO for 30+ years.  I call her my step-MIL.  This was her son.  He's not blood or marriage to my husband.   He did leave a small daughter & widow.  We wanted to be there for them but didn't want to impose.  I have spoken to the widow & the daughter several times since but never mentioned MIL's behavior; her relationship with MIL is something I was told I don't understand so I didn't want to push. 

I'm thinking an Easter card is the way to go & if that doesn't  get a positive reaction I'm just going to ignore the whole thing & chalk it up to what I have always viewed as their insane lack of communication through that whole side of the family.   I shouldn't care more about them & their connections then they do.   

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Agree.  You definitely shouldn't care more about them & their connections then they do. Just holiday cards are fine. 

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ShyViolet
4 hours ago, d0nnivain said:

I haven't done anything, other than send a Christmas present.  I offered to come.  My FIL told me not to.  It's been radio silence since but she's a grieving mother.  For all I know FIL never told her that he told us not come.  

The last time I backed off, in 2017, we got a call in 2018 from the FIL saying that his SO (the step MIL) missed me & was wondering why I stopped calling.  It irked me that she didn't pick up the phone to ask directly 

Ok well, I think there's been enough indication that she's not interested in a relationship.  But if you want to, it wouldn't be unreasonable to try one last time.... a holiday card, an email or maybe a phone call.  If you don't get a response, it's time to leave this alone and stop trying to force it.

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Alpacalia

My aunt and my cousin that I am VERY CLOSE WITH lost her son/brother (my cousin) in a car accident and I know for the things they shared with me they weren't even really showering or eating some days. Grief can be messy and from what I have heard, they didn't even respond probably because if you talk about someone else's "stuff" it can take your mind off of the 100,000 thoughts you may be having wandering through your mind-back to the funeral, back to the way they die, back to memories, etc.

It just hurts to feel the reality of it all so maybe she sees a text or card, and keeps telling herself she will reply, but she just isn't ready. Your message may be seen through her head like a big, blurred out word that she just can not focus on.  You kind of have to walk in her shoes and do your best to think about what life is like for her. 

Edited by Alpacalia
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