My mother-in-law is mad at me – AGAIN. Her husband has been dead for 9 years. Last week was the day. I didn’t call her. I thought of it early in the day and then I got busy. So, shoot me!
My husband, (obviously, her son) stopped by her house (she lives 3 blocks
away) that morning to have coffee with her. She told him that doesn’t count
because they meet up every Tuesday.
Also, he doesn’t represent me, she said. How long are we supposed to acknowledge a death day?
Frustrated in Pennsylvania,
Dear Frustrated in Pennsylvania Joyce,
Are you kidding me? You haven’t figured out yet that you’re expected to
acknowledge your father-in-law’s death day until your mother-in-law dies? You
don’t mention how old she is, but if she lives another 20 years you’ll be
acknowledging his death day 29.
Sounds ridiculous? Well, that’s because it is. Still, from what you tell me she
can never be satisfied. It’s obvious that this is not your only issue with her.
Come on, though. It’s one day. It’s not like she’s expecting you to remember
the day he was diagnosed, then the first round of chemo or when they brought
the wheelchair home – you get my drift?
Personally, I was acutely aware that my widow perks would taper off at the end
of the first year. Sure enough, as the anniversary issue hit the stands, I was
expected to help out in the kitchen again and clear my own plate.
No more, “Oh, you sit. We’ll take care of it.”
This snap out of it attitude by friends and family helped me to heal, though.
I noticed that the amount of concern and outreach from friends were fairly in
line with my “recovery” (for lack of a better word I’ve made myself sound like a drug
When people surround us with long soulful hugs and teary eyes it’s nearly
impossible to resist snuggling up to them and purring like a kitten. Our
emotional growth is stilted when we’re surrounded by so much sympathy.
Some widows regress to sucking their thumbs while others continuously sigh.
We, the recent husbandless, are forever apologizing for waking up with our head
resting in our co-worker’s lap.
As much as I like a good foot massage and a pass from buttering my own toast
it’s a relief to me to finally hear, “Get your ass off the couch and help out!”
Your mother-in-law is not of that ilk. She doesn’t want to lose her “widow
status.” It doesn’t matter why. It’s sad. She needs the attention. Give it to her.