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How do I let it go?

(19 Posts)
Barrow Tue 25-Oct-11 14:23:55

When my husband died recently one of my sisters in law was an absolute godsend, taking care of most of the arrangements for me. However, there is one thing which is getting to me and I just don't seem to be able to let it go. She is well known as a penny-pincher and it is a joke in the family that she has never paid full price for anything in her life. In my husbands family it is something of a tradition that at any gathering the brothers pay money "over the bar" to cover any drinks. Before he died, my husband told me he didn't want me to pay out any money for drinks (I am a very independent person and would probably have insisted on paying for all drinks if asked).

A week after the funeral sister in law rang to say rather a lot of money had been "put over the bar" and would I make a contribution towards it. When I asked how much had been spent she wouldn't tell me. I explained my husbands instructions and that I felt uncomfortable going against his wishes but that I would think about it. I later emailed her and said that I would contribution £150. She later emailed back to say "the boys" would cover it and not to worry about it. When I mentioned this to sister in law No. 2 she was furious and said none of the brothers would have asked for this money and that sister in law No.1 was probably trying to get back the money her husband had contributed.

Now my problem is that every time I think about it I start crying. I can't seem to let this go. I am very grateful for everything sister in law No. 1 did for me at the time my husband died but this is just eating me up. I haven't had any further contact with her since the funeral, although sister in law No. 2 is always ringing, emailing or popping in for a glass of wine or three and has been wonderful. I did suggest to her that perhaps I should send a cheque to sister in law No. 1 in any event but she told me if I did and the brothers found out it could cause a family split as they would find it hard to forgive sister in law No. 1.

So how do I let this go - I am crying even as I write this

glammanana Tue 25-Oct-11 14:43:16

Barrow How I feel for you at this sad time and am sending you a virtual HUG and thanks listen to your 2nd sil and ignore the request from sil no1 and if she has any further contact regarding the over the bar amount just tell her the brother's have told you it has been already sorted out and that is the end of the conversation,she is obviously not going to change the habit of a lifetime as that is her way,and no one will change her for the better sorry to say.Unfortunatly at time's like this we always find someone in the family who goes against the grain and have to rise above it if we can,and as you get stronger you will be able to deal with her.xx

gracesmum Tue 25-Oct-11 14:48:13

What is really upsetting you here? You know she is as tight as they come so you are not surprised. Is it that you feel she is taking advantage of your recent bereavement or is it that you suddenly have had it brought home to you that you are dealing with this without your husband? I suspect the latter - you have recently lost your husband, you are in as fragile a state as anyone could imagine and she is obviously really insensitive to even have raised the whole money thing. But I think you must put it behind you, recognise that you are grieving and will continue to do so for a long time, and when you are ready, tell her how much you appreciated her help at the time, perhaps send some flowers. It's not about the money, is it? it's about your feelings of loss and loneliness. If your husband had wanted you to meet the wake exoenses out of his estate he would have said so, so do not feel under any obligation. As a personal note, it would be a pity to even indirectly cause a split in the family as your borthers-in-law have also lost a brother.

Barrow Tue 25-Oct-11 15:07:14

Your right gracesmum, its not about the money. I did pay her any expenses she incurred sorting things out for me (she gave me an itemised account even down to the number of minutes she spent on the phone!). Both my husband and myself have always hated debt and I have a feeling that maybe I am letting him down. If she didn't have any money I could understand it but she and her husband are both retired (they are in their mid 50s) and own several properties which they rent out. I did take her and most of my husbands family out for a meal as a thank you for the help and support I received. I know she is mean with money, as I say it has become a family joke, but I just don't seem able to stop this upsetting me.

Barrow Tue 25-Oct-11 15:49:29

I would point out that I did cover all the other costs for the wake, hiring of the hall, caterers etc. Its just the bar bill that my husband didn't want me paying for and which, by tradition, has always been paid by the brothers (there are 5 of them). In the past my husband has willingly paid his share of the bar bill so it didn't cross my mind to even ask about it.

HildaW Tue 25-Oct-11 15:54:08

Barrow, Oh I am so sorry you are going through this. I suspect that she has caught you at a very low time and in the months to come you will begin to get back your equilbrium and see this silly woman for what she is...her own worse enemy. Its a shame that she has 'polluted' all the good she did for you by resorting to underhand tricks. Try not to let it upset you. You know what your husband wanted, you were the one he shared his life with, let his memory be your guide. Its a shame the rest of the family see it as a joke because I, like you would find it very distressing. Its a shame that they also seem to think that you would be in the wrong if you aired this matter a bit more publicly. Talk about a rock and a hard place.
Let it go, move on, just see this silly woman for what she is and try to focus on those who are genuine friends. Perhaps widen you circle a little more. Are you a member of a church or perhaps the WI or similar? Find some likeminded folks, perhaps through some volunteering for a cause you hold dear. Good luck.

gracesmum Tue 25-Oct-11 17:02:14

Given time, Barrow, I hope you can out this behind you - this is all too recent and fresh for you to be able to step back and brush it off for now though. One day perhaps you might even be able to laugh, but for now others and you need to respect your bereavement and let you grieve without extra stress.
You can't change this woman and she is clearly kind at heart but with a funny attitude (a bit like my sister, but that's another story) - so try your hardes to let it go by focussing on the good things, her kindness in the past, the nig family that you are part of and who will also be grieving. You might even like to talk to a bereavement counsellor as I think this is not really to do with the money but your own fragile emotions. Hope I am not speaking out of turn - if so, please put it down to ignorance and tell me to mind my own business.thanks

gracesmum Tue 25-Oct-11 17:04:38

Should read "put" this behind you;"hardest", "big family" - sorry guys- I never spot typos until just after I have pressed 'enter'. There should be an "oh s**t" key!

JessM Tue 25-Oct-11 17:05:41

Oh Barrow - words are inadequate to express sympathy aren't they.
This reminds me of the time I was diagnosed with breast cancer (in my early 40s). For quite a while i felt irrationally upset with my boyfriend's family. Really really angry. (I wont bore you with the details).
In retrospect this was just part of the emotional upheaval i was experiencing and I think your upset about this is part of grieving. It is not a rational process.
Many women cry when they feel angry and grieving can be a mixture of sadness and anger (I think you are angry with her?) But crying, whatever the cause is a release.
Your sil has a problem with money. It is her problem and sounds like it always will be. That's all it is. In time you will look back and wonder why you found this so upsetting.

Annobel Tue 25-Oct-11 17:29:17

gracesmum, there's a 'preview message' box to tick at the bottom of the message box. Useful if you want to edit.

Barrow - I guess it's all been said. You need to put this ungenerous and insensitive woman's behaviour behind you. Her siblings are worth ten times more and obviously you still have their support. thanks

bagitha Tue 25-Oct-11 17:33:06

There is another way you can look at the sister-in-law's tightness with money. Anyone who is that tight (dare I say grasping?) about money has a problem, almost an illness. The insensitivity is part of it. You can feel sorry for people like that without giving in to their demands. I know this is a very detached way of looking at what is troubling you, barrow, but it's just another angle. If you can 'use' it at all as a way of distancing yourself from someone else's problem, it might help. Sending you good wishes in your grief. xx

HildaW Tue 25-Oct-11 17:39:47

Bagitha, wise words. When we are in a highly emotional state its often difficult to see the wood for the trees. I've gone through a lot in the last couple of years and know its affected my judgement, the trouble is we just dont see it at the time. We have to get through it to see that we have not been as well balanced as we know we can be.

Carol Tue 25-Oct-11 18:06:36

Barrow you were right to act in accordance with your husband and the brothers' wishes. If she cannot see that, it is her problem. You may find she is also struggling with how she has behaved at some point in the future. Give yourself permission to let it go, and should she feel able to apologise to you one day, you will be able to advise her to let it go, too.

Sbagran Tue 25-Oct-11 18:20:48

Dear Barrow - I am sending you a huge (((((hug))))) as I know only too well how insensitive relatives can tear you apart at a time like this - I had it with my brothers when our Mum died but that is another story.
The only way to deal with it is to give yourself time. You were more than generous with what you did for the funeral etc so you have absolutely no reason to feel guilty. You followed your dear husband's wishes and that is what matters and what will matter to you in the future.

Give yourself time my love and you will see that poor woman in a different light - as she really is and known to be, but at the moment you are so very vulnerable. She is to be pitied but not now! You give yourself time and give yourself a bit of pampering and yes, perhaps consider a bereavement counsellor if you wish.
Meanwhile here is another big (((((hug))))) - lean on your GN friends as one or more of us are always about! God bless you. thanks

Just had a thought before posting this. The students at our local college beauty dept need experience and offer aromatherapy massages etc at much reduced prices. I used to 'treat myself' when I was going through it when Mum died. It was a wonderful relaxing experience, the students were delightful (I always felt maternal as some were so nervous) and it wasn't dear. Why not give your local college a ring and see what they offer?

Carol Tue 25-Oct-11 19:09:41

Wise words Sbagran

crimson Tue 25-Oct-11 20:06:36

Although it was unfair what SIL 1 did, I think SIL 2 is making it worse by stirring it up all the time. It's like situations where someone tells you something that someone has said about you..I always think the person who tells you is worse because they tell you knowing that it will hurt you. At the end of the day, they've both been there for you in their own way and that is kind of them. Don't even think about paying anything towards it because you must do what your husband would have wanted. I know when I lost my mum a long time ago I found comfort in dealing with everything as I know she would have wished. Important as it is to put it behind you and move on I can understand why you can't, as I tend to dwell on things. Keep talking it through with people on here. It's a good place to be at times like this.

grannyactivist Wed 26-Oct-11 00:30:16

Hello Barrow, I'm so sorry for your loss and for the difficult situation you find yourself in now. We all grieve in different ways but your comment that you can't seem to let this go is one that grief counsellors have heard many, many times about a variety of incidences following a bereavement. It's as though the incident or circumstance becomes a focus for all that's wrong and if it could just be put right then life would feel better. From your post you seem to accept that the difficulty is yours and not your sister in law's - she is as she has always been - and was as helpful as her nature allowed her to be when you needed her.
One strategy which may help is to keep writing down your thoughts - about your sister in law and anything else that's going on in your life; you're obviously a natural writer and it can be helpful to get things off your chest without actually saying them to anyone.
I think crimson has made some valid observations about both of your sisters in law and I echo her advice to keep coming back to Gransnet - it's been so helpful for me to have the support of other Gransnetters during our recent bereavement.

Barrow Wed 26-Oct-11 09:57:38

Many thanks for all your replies and supportive comments. Yes grannyactivist I do recognise that the problem is mine. Sister in law No 1 has always been that way and in the past I have teased her about it along with the rest of the family.

I think if I felt able to discuss it with the family it might help me move on but if I do that, as I say, it may cause a split in the family and that I certainly wouldn't want to do. I have no immediate family of my own (only some distant cousins who I have no contact with) so have been very grateful for the support of my husbands family.

I did find writing it down in my original post was quite cathartic, although I do still get upset, and knowing I have the support of fellow Gransnetters is a great help. So thank you all

Mishap Wed 26-Oct-11 11:12:33

Many sympathies Barrow - you have had such a hard time.
It is funny how when we are feeling low, our minds latch onto some objectively quite small thing and will not let go of it. It is really just a focus for our general feelings of sadness. I hope that these will pass soon - I am sure that they will - and talking to people online is often quite a good way of dealing with some of this - so stay tuned. I think that "least said, soonest mended" is the order of the day as regards SIL, hard though that may be.