Dear Annie: Our only child died of a quickly moving cancer. She left a husband and four teenage children. Less than one year after her death, our son-in-law, "Ben," was captured by a woman less than 10 years older than our eldest grandchild. This woman, "Meredith," was married at the time and has a very young child of her own.
Our grandchildren have no choice but to accept her. They love their dad. He wants to pretend everything is as it was. If I am not nice to her, he gets angry, so we sit with them at the kids' sporting events. I do not go to the house, as he has had her sleeping in our daughter's bed. Meredith is now divorced but shares custody of her son. She obviously did not want to completely parent her child; meanwhile, we cannot see ours. I am angry. Yes, I am in counseling.
Please ask any of your readers who have recently lost a spouse to consider being gentle with the shattered feelings of their in-laws. Ask them not to force continual socialization with someone who has been put in the place of their dead child. No one can take her place, certainly not in a period of less than two years. — Still-Grieving Parent
Dear Still: Thank you very much for this letter. You are bringing awareness to the pain and grief you are feeling. I am so sorry for your loss.
It does sound as if your son-in-law is being incredibly insensitive, but perhaps this is how he is dealing with his grief — suppressing it, pretending nothing happened. It's not healthy, and just because he is able to do that does not mean that you should. If you don't want to sit with his new partner at social settings, don't! Tell him that you are just not ready yet. Be patient with your grief. It will take longer to heal if you are constantly being bombarded with the reminder that your daughter is no longer there.
Additionally, ask your son-in-law whether you and your husband could have some quality time alone with your grandchildren. Make sure you don't attack his new partner; rather, say it's more a matter of missing your daughter.
Dear Annie: I recently had some family members on holiday staying at my house. A day after they left, I received a text message that they had forgotten an item that they wanted. I found the item, took it to FedEx and, for $48, had it shipped. It arrived safely, and they were relieved. Should they offer to reimburse me the $48? — Holding the Bill
Dear Holding: They should, but that doesn't mean they will. My guess is they have no idea how pricey the shipping was. Perhaps you could send them a note saying something to the effect of, "So glad it reached you safely! I've included the FedEx receipt. Thank you!" If you'd like to be reimbursed, you'll have to take the initiative.
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