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07/06/2005: "it's not about me, but I'm still involved"

Before people start judging me too harshly, let me clarify that the death of my mother-in-law is not all about me and my needs. I am fully aware of that and totally agree with it as well. That being said, this is my forum for my thoughts and feelings, and it is likely much more constructive to vent here than it would be to selfishly commandeer my wife's grieving process in order to serve my lesser needs. Thus, here it's all about me.

And sadly, there's some venting that needs to be done.

To put the whole thing into a nutshell, my wife has ceased to be my wife and mother of my kids, and has turned into her mother's daughter, with a small helping of mother of my kids on the side. My father-in-law and sister-in-law aren't all that much better; they seem to talk around me rather than with me. I only know what I know secondarily, have been involved in absolutely none of the service/memorial preparations, and seem to be here only to look after my children for as long as humanly possible before they need some mommy time.

Frankly, it's starting to piss me off.

It's a combination of small and big things, but it all centers around a total lack of communication. For instance, when I tried to set the table last night, I was going to use one set of placemats, but my wife simply scowled and told me not to. Only after pressing did she explain that they have special significance, which is why I should use the other ones. Fine, I can understand that, just TELL ME.

What seems to have rankled me most is the fact that plans are being made around me, in that I'm not being consulted or even looped in until nearly the last minute. Plans typically exclude me, so I can stay around and play babysitter. The only way I hear about what's going on is the discussion after decisions have been made: she's being cremated, we're dumping the ashes out in the ocean off the boat, we'll do a memorial service in Toronto in a couple of weeks. I'm really not feeling like I'm a part of the family, save being the father of my kids' late grandmother.

I thought coming down here that I might only have to stay for a few days, maybe a week at the outside. Now, it turns out, that the cremation won't happen until Monday, which means that Tuesday will be our sailing expedition out to scatter the ashes in the Pacific. This means that at best I don't get home until Wednesday, and that's assuming I can take the red-eye from LA to Toronto Tuesday night. That alone I could deal with, but when my wife has turned into someone that only shares a bed with me and doesn't talk to me at all, when it seems that she's divesting as much of her motherhood off on me as humanly possible, when I'm not able to contribute anything except taking up space and watching the kids, I really don't want to be around that long. It's only Wednesday now... how can I take another WEEK of this? I may simply ask to come home on Sunday, after the Saturday visitation at the funeral home.

Am I over reacting? I can't tell for sure. Perhaps it's simply emotions that are being channelled the wrong way, or maybe the observations on this family dynamic are correct. It certainly feels that I'm simply decoration around here. In any case, something is making me feel not only bad, but very very angry, and it's got to change. Whether I have to leave for it to change, I don't know, but right now it feels like a good start.

So, the big question - how do I bring this up with my wife? Chances are, I don't. I simply cannot bring myself to lay on her all that I'm feeling right now when she's still dealing with the death of her mother, and the impact that is having on our 4-year-old daughter. My daughter seems fine with it right now, but the visitation is a worry. (My wife decided that she just wants my daughter and her to go in alone.) So chances are I'm simply going to bottle this up, with the only release being to ask to be sent home this weekend. I obviously don't need to be around to scatter ashes (and other articles) into the ocean.

Feeling like this is not healthy. I need to find a method of relieving it (other than alcohol during cocktail hour here) before it does some damage to me or my marriage. Hopefully logging it here will help.

Replies: 5 Comments

on Wednesday, July 6th, Bob said

That's a lot to take in.

I don't think I can adequately address everything that you've mentioned. So I'll just throw stuff out and see if I hit anything.

Starting with the big question, how to bring it up with your wife. Does she read this blog? (Well, even if she does, I'd guess she's not doing so now.) I'd say your instincts are correct; Now would not be the time to unload your thoughts on her. Now, I'm assuming that your in-laws don't normally treat you like decoration. So my guess is that everyone is just intensely focused on what they're doing in grieving/preparing for the funeral. It is unlikely that you would be able to have a productive conversation with your wife about your feelings at this time. If anything, it would cause greater distancing as she tries to limit her emotional burden.

As for your anger, it probably stems from being treated like an outsider. Unfortunately, that's what you are in this circumstance. Your in-laws share a bond that doesn't include you. Not that your presence is detrimental to them (far from it, I'm sure), but there are probably things that *they* need to do. You're evidently a take-charge kinda guy, but in this instance it would be better to go with the flow.

As for wanting to feel useful - taking care of your kids while leaving your wife free to deal with everything she feels she needs to deal with is the most useful thing that you could do for her right now. I'm sure she appreciates it, even if she can't articulate it right now. Hang in there.

on Thursday, July 7th, Stu said

Hey warpfish...long time reader, first time poster.

This is all my personal opinion....i'd just suck it up for a while. Remember that you're the rock out there right now. Everyone grieves in a different way, and you'll have to be there now and in a month and in a year for both wife and daughter. This is definately not something to put a strain on your marriage over. Not to say that all of a sudden it will magically get better, but slowly things will return to normal.

Definately do not start drinking to deal with things....that has bad news written all over it. But i'm sure you wouldn't do that.

If you need to vent, give me a call. Mom and dad have my new number if you do not, and i'll e-mail it to your mr. ska account.

Hang in're doing a world of good for everyone else involved.

on Thursday, July 7th, Kevin said

Well said, Stu.
Ska, you have to be the hero here. Your family needs you now. If when the dust settles you're still put off by this then have a civilized conversation with your wife about it. Until then put your wife's needs first.

on Friday, July 8th, Robert Hahn said

ahem. I think this is a great time to say:


on Friday, July 8th, xhead said


(pronounced with English accent: "in-doo-bit-ably")

ah well. The phrase works better in person. Makes no sense on screen.


Hang in there, remember, it's a ska, ska, ska, ska world!

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