Betrayed by the In-Laws

Edgar Allan Poe

One of most hurtful moments in my spouse’s passing, was the betrayal by his family that followed. My spouse died by suicide. This changed me. I was 23, young, and shocked. I didn’t know how to respond. My natural instinct was to be as transparent, honest and kind as I could about everything that happened. Part of being transparent was telling his family I had wanted to get divorced. The only thing I remember lying about was positive things my husband had said about his family members. I wanted them to hurt less.

I didn’t see it then, but during the funeral his family didn’t acknowledge me as his wife. Instead, I was the cause of death. I became the scapegoat. In their eyes I must have known he was going to do it and even pushed him to it. I look back know and realized they wouldn’t have let me talk at my own husband’s funeral if I hadn’t pushed and my parents hadn’t been present. It wasn’t until I saw the police report openingly saying his mother blamed me and receiving a letter from his mother’s lawyer demanding I give them everything of his, that I understood how I wasn’t a part of his family. I should have known this when they didn’t even come to our wedding. Instead they slandered my name and drug me through the mud while accusing me of trying to steal his life insurance money from them- none of which I received (also if any of you know anything about SGLI this is ludicrous and completely impossible). They left me with all the primary next of kin responsibilities of closing out a life. I was left with shutting down his accounts, from social media to financial. I was left to pay off all his debt (I never fail to see the irony of this since his family received his life insurance). I paid for his funeral and fought for his legal rights after death. I informed his employers, his friends, everyone. I was left with the painful process of closing the remnants of his life while his family took all the moments of closure. They talked at his funeral and took the flag from his casket. They did his temple work (religion) without even acknowledging me or receiving my permission. They put a tombstone on his grave without my input, permission or providing the option to be next to him, to be together when I die. The hurt and deliberate infliction of it were endless. Never in my life did I realize or understand how death brings out the worst in people.

I am sure I made mistakes and wasn’t always the kindest person, but I didn’t expect the unadulterated hatred and animosity pouring from his family. I had never experienced being blamed for someone else’s actions as much as his family held me accountable for his. It made me physically ill- it still does. The accusations and slander were heartbreaking. Even to this day I won’t go to his grave because his family was so hostile and going to visit him would be going to a plot they own. I’ve considered moving his body, I have the rights to his body, but the reality is it’s not worth the hurt it would cause to me or them. Instead I’ve settled for laying flowers where he shot himself.

His family is dysfunctional. To survive they need someone to blame. They would be destroyed if they had to take responsibility for any part of his action. To acknowledge that they had some part in it- we all did, but in the end it was his choice and his alone. Understanding his family’s dysfunction helps me understand my husband’s pain and in part his decisions. It doesn’t make it hurt any less or justify any of it, it just makes it more sad. In the end blaming someone simply causes more hurt. Being angry with someone only causes more hurt. Yet, we can’t control how someone else feels and reacts. We can only control ourselves. Holding others accountable for someone’s actions doesn’t make anything or anyone better. All we truly have in this life is relationships. Spending time making them miserable isn’t worth it. Love, forgive and move on.

9 comments

  1. WOW- I love reading and I love that you are so open about such a hard thing in your life. It really opens my eyes. Keep writing and thanks for sharing. You are such an amazing woman.

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    1. Thank you. I try to be as open as possible to allow others know what to expect or that they aren’t alone in their struggles. Most importantly there is always potential to heal.

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  2. As I was thinking about it I couldn’t help but put myself in his shoes for a moment. He loved you, clearly he loved you beyond words at times when you were together. The last thing he would have wanted before deciding to take his own life would have been to hurt you or see you get blamed. In the moment he might have wanted to cause pain, or during some of your down times. But during those times when he loved you, it would have been the furthest thing from his mind. I’m just speaking from my perspective here. I hope you remember those good times cause I’m sure they ran through his head often.

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      1. Yeah everyone had some part to play in it who was in his life, but no one is to blame. It was his choice and his alone.

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  3. Oh honey, it was very similar for me. I am so, so sorry that you too have been betrayed. It bloody hurts.

    I was 27 when I was widowed. We had relationship problems, my wife took her own life and my in laws haven’t spoken to me since. They blame me. I too was transparent about my situation, but shielded them from much of the truth of how hurt my wife was by them. Even their lawyer outright blamed me in a formal letter. I wasn’t acknowledged at the funeral, even by the minister who had also been poisoned against me, got kicked out of the wake, didn’t receive any of the sympathy cards, and they took two thirds of the life insurance. I have no idea where her ashes are and I am not entitled to them despite the fact I am next of kin. I have a lock of her hair and I have settled with that – it’s a real piece of her.

    Who ARE these people? Cruel, eaten up by hatred. Mine are also eaten up by homophobia. It will take them to an early grave.

    Thank you for writing this. You are right – it’s so important for other people to realise they are not alone in these struggles.

    The shit thing is, I still love them and I wish I didn’t, but the fact remains that I am a nice person, despite this horrific loss of my love.

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    1. Thank you so much. This is beautiful and sad at the same time. It hurts to love and receive hatred back. I am grateful to not be alone in this so thank you for sharing your experience as well.

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  4. I’m very grateful to have happened upon this post. I sadly am in the same club with both of you. I was widowed just 3 months ago when my husband took his life in front of me (we are both 28), and my in-laws have turned on me. I’m dealing with a lot of hatred from them and they are using social media as a platform to not only take public digs at me and discount our marriage and their statement are simply not true. They are also using social media to advertise how he died and promote a foundation in his name requesting people send them money and I have nothing to do with it. It’s a hard road to walk, but I continue to respond to them with love and grace and I hope I never waiver from that.

    It is comforting to hear that I am not alone in this sinister sentiment from people that I used to spend holidays with and that referred to me as “daughter”.

    Love to all of you!

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  5. I am so sorry first of all for your loss. I’m also sorry for the abuse you had to endure at the hands of his family. To try to understand why people act the way they do is a waste of energy. We will never understand unfortunately. I sympathize with you as I am going through something similar with my in-laws. My husband passed away on the 5th of Sept and their are a lot of similarities in our experiences. I know that you didn’t deserve to be treated the way you were. No one does. Just do what you need to do to get yourself through and know that there are people out here that do care about you and as for myself, I will be praying for you.

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