My ex-brother-in-law passed away. How would you handle this?

@mentalward (14716)
United States
May 8, 2009 8:09am CST
My first husband's oldest brother passed away recently. I don't know any details yet, other than the fact that he was only 54 years old at the time of his death. Admittedly, I did not know my first husband very well when we were married. It was a stupid, impulsive move. He turned out to be a drug addict, he was violent and he cheated on me many, many times. His brother was no better. When I was pregnant with my first son, my brother-in-law came over to our house with his girlfriend and, before I knew what was happening, this guy shoved cocaine under my nose to try and get me to try it. I was appalled! I was totally disgusted! How could anyone, in their right mind, even THINK to hand a pregnant woman such a harmful drug??? Needless to say, not only did I push it away, but I left the room, refusing to "entertain" our guests. The last I knew about this guy, he had moved to St. Croix, Virgin Islands, because of the huge drug trade there... at least, until today. I received an email from my ex-husband (who has since cleaned up his act, no more drugs or alcohol, remarried, and has tried to "make up" for all the bad things he did to both me and our son) with the obituary notice about his brother. Our son resembles his uncle a LOT, both in body and face. But, my son in no way acts like him! My son wears his heart on his sleeve. He cried when his pet goldfish died! Okay, that was a couple of decades ago, but still... a goldfish! Anyway, I'm thinking of sending a condolence card to my ex-brother-in-law's parents. His mother never liked me; she never liked any female her sons got involved with, although I tried to be nice to her and never deprived her of seeing her grandson whenever she wished (after my husband and I were divorced). Would you send a card? The funeral is in Georgia, so there's no way I could attend, even if I wanted to. I think sending flowers is a bit much, considering the relationship I had with my ex's brother and his mother, but would a card be out of the question? Maybe send a card to my ex-husband since he's really done a great job of turning himself around? What would you do?
8 people like this
20 responses
• United States
8 May 09
I would send a card. You were once part of the family even though it may have ended with a divorce. Your son is still part of that family. I probably would not attend the services or send flowers but a card shows that you are thinking of the family in their time of grief.
5 people like this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
Thank you, Brandie. You are right. I don't care if my ex's mother throws my card right into the trash; I want her to know that I sympathize with her. If she can't handle that, that's her problem. It will ease my mind to send the cards because I do feel sympathetic to their grief, no matter what happened in the past. I know that my ex will appreciate a card. I'm going to have our son sign both cards as well. He holds no ill-will towards the family, either. He's as forgiving as I am.
@commanderxo (1497)
• Canada
8 May 09
Send a card if you wish to, but definitely, no flowers. If it were me in this situation, this is probably all I "might" be prepared to do, and nothing more. Truthfully, you're under no obligation to do anything. It's up to you. cdrxo
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
You're right, I'm under no obligation, except a personal one. As a human being and a mother, I can identify and sympathize with the pain this family is going through. No matter what happened between us in the past, it doesn't change the fact that they are going through a hard and painful time right now. Also, seeing has how my son has their blood in him, I thought it would be a nice gesture to send them both cards, with my son signing them along with me. Who knows? It might even soften up the old bat's heart a tad! If not, it won't hurt me any. She hasn't even tried to communicate with her first-born grandchild in all these years, even after my ex apologized for his actions years ago. I know how good it made me feel when I received sympathy cards from people I hadn't heard from in centuries (okay, decades) when my sister passed away at the same age, 54.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 May 09
Yeah, I get that way too. Go ahead then, send the cards...and yes DO have your son add his signature along with yours. Hey, it might just BE the thing to soften her, as you say. You know my dear, I've always been impressed by the kindness of your heart, no matter what the circumstances. You truly are an honorable person. I thank you for bringing me back into perspective, and am grateful for the opportunity, to continue to learn from your experiences. cdrxo
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
15 May 09
Thank YOU!
@Grandmaof2 (7605)
• Canada
8 May 09
You are such a loving and caring person. Good for you that you are still offering condolances after all you were put through. Who's to say what would be right or wrong but I'm totally with you on the flower thing, that may be over the top. Regardless of what the ol' battleaxe thinks it shows your character and it shows others of what your personality "Really" is. If it were me I would indeed send your ex husband a card and just because I would also send the battleaxe(his mother) a card also. Take care and whatever you do feel good about your decission!
3 people like this
• Canada
10 May 09
Oh good for you and your son, you're the better people at the end of the day!!!These losses are never easy and I truly respect you for your compassion.
@ElicBxn (58155)
• United States
8 May 09
Cards, good, anything else - nope, anything else is a waste of your money on a relationship that really never existed
3 people like this
@ElicBxn (58155)
• United States
9 May 09
Honestly, she may not appreciate it, but it would count against you if you didn't.
@leenie50 (3992)
• United States
8 May 09
Hi Marti, If sending a card would make you feel better or at least good, then maybe send a card to your ex. If the ex Mother-in-law disliked you then, she is not likely to have changed. If it were me, I'd probably send my ex an e-card. Just to acknowledge his loss. I know my ex has a lot of guilt the way he treated me in our marriage. He takes good care of my Son who is 29 and has Bipolar Disorder. He too has change immensely over the years. The difference is his Family loved me and so I would be there if they didn't live in Calif. Honey, just go with your Heart and you won't go wrong. Hugsssssssss leenie
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
Excellent advice, leenie! Go with your heart. I like that... thank you. My heart is telling me that here is a woman who just lost her first-born son and I know that has to be one of the most painful things anyone could ever experience. No matter what she was like in the past or how she made me feel, I still sympathize with her as a mother. I put the past in the past. If she hasn't changed, that's her problem. Personally, I honestly do feel for her and would like her to know that. If it eats her up with guilt (although I doubt it will), that's not my fault. Since my ex has truly turned his life around, I feel even worse for him. I lost my sister at that same age, so I know his pain, personally. I know he'll appreciate a sympathy card from me and our son.
1 person likes this
@leenie50 (3992)
• United States
9 May 09
Good Girl,
@Pose123 (21677)
• Canada
8 May 09
Hi mentalward, Since your ex husband has cleaned up his act and tried to make up for some of the wrongs that he did, I believe you should send him a card. I would not send one to the mother as you didn't have a good relationship, however there would probably be nothing wrong with it. No flowers though, that would not be necessary. Blessings.
2 people like this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
I'm sending cards and nothing else, Pose. No long letters to go along with the cards, either. Just a short "I'm sorry for your loss" sort of thing. My son will be signing the cards, too. Who knows? It might just make my ex's mother realize how wrong she's been all these years by not keeping in touch with her first-born grandchild!
1 person likes this
@TLChimes (4883)
• United States
8 May 09
A card sounds great.... a nice go between. If you were close to the brother then that would be different. I would go to the service in that case. A flowers is a bit much considering.... A small donation to a cause in his name... maybe but no, again if you were closer to him.
2 people like this
• United States
9 May 09
I think sending a card to your ex-husband and even sending a card to your ex mother in law would be fine. I am sorry for your ex-husband brother dying. I am glad to hear that your ex-husband straightened his life up after you & him were divorce.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
Thank you, sharla. It took him quite a few years and another divorce plus a few girlfriends in there somewhere, but he did finally turn his life around. I'm very happy for him.
@springs (892)
• India
9 May 09
What can we do if ur ex-brother-in-law passed away.The best idea comes from ur mind not from others.Because to do something we should know the previous happy or sorrowful moments so that we can think ur place.Feel it in ur heart and do something what it says.
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
Thank you, springs. I will be sending both my ex and his mother sympathy cards. I feel it is the proper thing to do. I lost my own sister at that same age and can understand and sympathize with the pain that family is going through. I think a card would be a nice gesture.
@dragon54u (27584)
• United States
8 May 09
I would definitely send a card to your ex, and good for him for cleaning up! It wouldn't hurt to send one to his mom. She may not like you but the fact that you sent a card tells her that her other son is liked and respected even by people that are no longer a big part of his life. Just be sure it's a simple card, not to flowery but very sincere.
1 person likes this
@moujha (86)
• Mauritius
8 May 09
I sincerely believe you should send a card to their family. In times of grief, one should forget everything because the opposite party needs consolation.i Think you should send some flowers too. In situations like this, its always nice to do so because this is a humanity act.
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
You are very right, moujha, and thank you. As a human being, I am saddened by their loss. I understand what they are going through because I lost my only sister at the same age. No matter what they've done or who they are right now, I know they are hurting and, since they ARE part of my past, I feel the need to let them know that. I will send them both cards because I understand and identify with their loss. By the way, welcome to myLot! I hope you enjoy it here.
@mariposaman (2968)
• Canada
8 May 09
Send a card. Not for the family necessarily, but for you. The sending of the card will assure yourself that you did something appropriate and can now put that bad influence to rest. There is nothing wrong with being the bigger person and send a couple of condolence cards to your son's grandmother and father. Whether you like it or not you are connected. Do not however use this or let anyone use this as an excuse to reconnect, too much damage has been done and some things are best left in the past. Two condolence cards at the dollar store and a couple of stamps. No flowers, no phone calls.
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
I've decided to do exactly that, mariposaman. Just the cards, nothing else. Oh, I took your suggestion and bought the cards at the Dollar Tree. No reason to spend $4 or $5 for each card. It's the thought that counts, right? I agree that too much damage has been done. I know my ex's mother's attitude hurt our son and he probably still feels hurt by it. I wouldn't want her to try to wiggle into my son's life now, but that's really up to him. His father, my ex, has talked to our son and apologized to him as well as to me. My son is a very forgiving person, also, and has forgiven him, although I know the scars are still there. But, as a human being, a mother and someone who lost a sibling at that same age, I feel their pain and sending them cards is a gesture I want to do. How they take it is entirely up to them.
@Ithink (1973)
• United States
8 May 09
Although with all that you were put through being married into that family, a card would show that they are in your thoughts during this time of grief. I would definitely send one to the ex and I would probably send one to his mother just to say I'm sorry for your loss. Even thou she didn't like you and things weren't good between you, it is alright to let them know that you are thinking of them.
1 person likes this
@whyaskq (7553)
• Singapore
9 May 09
Regardless of what he is, he has already passed on. What you do next is, in my opinion, showing your sincerity to his dependents, and nothing to do with the deceased, except paying him a last respect to acknowledge that you once knew each other.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
True, whyaskq. Even if I never knew him, I did know his brother and mother. They were once not nice at all towards me but that is in the past and the past is gone. I will show my respects and sympathy with cards for both of them.
@Chevee (5915)
• United States
9 May 09
First I would like to say the family have my deepest sympathy for the lost of their love one. I would definitely send a card either to your ex-husband or to his parents. It is the thought that counts. Just like you said your "son wears his heart on his sleeve" so do you. And a card is a gesture that will speak a thousand words. Even if the family didn't appreciate you when you were a member you don't have to stoop to their level show them that you care and you are a much better person and didn't deserve the past treatment you were given. Don't miss your blessings for the actions of others. God Bless you and the grieving family. Your cyber friend.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
Thank you, Chevee. Your response is so thoughtful and understanding! I've decided that I will be sending both my ex and his mother each a sympathy card. As a human being, a mother and as someone who also lost a sibling at that age, I can understand and sympathize with their grief and pain. I am the type of person who wishes to express my sympathy in a case such as this. Whether or not my ex-mother-in-law appreciates it is of no consequence to me. I will show her that, even though she treated me like scum, I am a caring person. I know my ex will appreciate it, because I know he's changed. Whether or not his mother has changed I don't really care, but I will show her that I sympathize with her, as a mother.
@prinzcy (3068)
• Malaysia
9 May 09
Like others, I would suggest to send a card, just that, no flowers. Regardless how bad they are, they still your family. Your son has their blood. You don't have to visit them if you don't want to (I know I wouldn't too) Still, your son has a right to know them. Talk to him about this and explain the situation. He can refuse but he has a right to know.
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
Yes, you are right about my son making up his own mind about how he feels about this and what he wishes to do. He'll be signing the cards I send. He has forgiven his father but his grandmother has never once tried to get in touch with him in over 20 years. I know it has left scars on my son, but he is a very forgiving person. So, it's up to him.
@Opal26 (17694)
• United States
8 May 09
Hey mentalward, This is a tough question! I am assuming that your son and his father don't really have much of a relationship? That is the deciding answer! If you feel that you want to send just a card and it will make you feel better, then go ahead. But, that would be all that I would do! Nothing else! Nothing to his parents or anything. They didn't treat you well, you are long since divorced, no need to bother with them! They wanted nothing to do with you then, you needn't be nice to them now!
• United States
8 May 09
You should definitely send a card to your ex (if you feel comfortable communicating with him- you don't say if your okay with him trying to make up with you)and seding a card to his mother isn't a bad idea either though she wasn't nice to you she is you sons grandmother and she is a woman who is grieving for her child I'm sure that she would appreciate all the support she can get. Good luck!
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
9 May 09
You're right. I didn't mention how I felt about my ex's apology. Sorry! I'm fine with it. I am not one to hold grudges and, as I could see that his apology was indeed sincere, I've forgiven him for everything he put me through. Our son has also done the same. Also, I've thought about this and it's something I want to do, to send cards to both of them. Even if she is still a "monster-in-law", it doesn't change the fact that I feel her pain and would like her to know that I am deeply sorry that she has to go through this. I know that losing a child, no matter how old they are, is a very hard thing to go through. My own sister passed away at 54 and I know how totally devastated both my mother and step-father were. So, I will send those cards. Thank you for your input... it has helped me. Oh, and welcome to myLot!
@CatsandDogs (13964)
• United States
10 May 09
They say turn the other cheek so that's what I would do. It's up to your ex-mother in law to take it the right way but it'll be her problem if she doesn't. And I'd send one to your ex-husband as well since he did turn his life around and become a better person. That says a lot about any one.
@Barb42 (4225)
• United States
10 May 09
I probably wouldn't do anything. You are under no obligation to since he isn't part of your family now. If you had been close, it would be different. I don't think I'd send his parents a card since his Mother never liked you. The only thing, if you feel you should do something, and your ex-husband has cleaned up his act and let you know about his brother, perhaps sending him a sympathy card would be in line. But, me? I'd do nothing.