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Help/advice Re sister in law.

(44 Posts)
kittylester Sun 06-Nov-16 08:38:53

Dh is one of four boys and I have 2 brothers. One of DH's brother has children around the same age as our older children so his wife and I have always been close. She is an only child so we have been like sisters. Like real sisters (I imagine) we have been closer at times than others. She is 75 (don't know if that has any relevance at all)

Her husband has awful arthritis so she has had to curtail her volunteering which she loved, their beloved dog is on borrowed time and their elder son died last year.

I ring her once a fortnight or so (she doesn't do technology) but she rarely rings me. The last two times that I have rung them her husband has told her but she has been too busy, in the greenhouse, to talk to me.

Is it me, is she depressed or what? What do I do now?

thatbags Sun 06-Nov-16 08:45:11

Ask her husband if anything's the matter? Or ask your husband to ask him? Visit?

Just immediate suggestions. I don't know if they're any good.

Hellomonty Sun 06-Nov-16 08:47:51

That's very sad. She's having a terrible time - don't take her rejection personally (although that will be hard). Keep phoning once a fortnight whether she takes your call or not, that way she'll know you're there for her when she perhaps stops hurting so much that she's able to look to friends and family again. Sometimes people can be like an injured animal in the early stages of grief and pain and retract into themselves, lashing out at those who try and come near.

Lona Sun 06-Nov-16 09:03:10

Does she live near you Kitty? If not, I would try to ask her husband as Bags suggests. It does sound as though she's depressed and doesn't want to talk to anyone, but sometimes just a hug will bring out the sadness or worry. I'm sure you already know that so I'll shut up flowers

grannypiper Sun 06-Nov-16 09:14:25

Poor love, why dont you write to her or even just send a card saying you miss the chats you used to have.brew

Jane10 Sun 06-Nov-16 09:19:26

Are you sure that her husband is passing on the message that you've phoned?

kittylester Sun 06-Nov-16 09:51:51

Thanks for the quick responses.

They live too far away for a quick visit. Her DH is not very emotionally intelligent and is pretty tied up with his pain, the dog and the death of their son but I am sure he is passing the messages on.

She does occasionally respond to email but in a very perfunctory way A card or letter seems a step too far. - making more of it maybe. confused

Jane10 Sun 06-Nov-16 10:08:29

Oh dear. It sounds like a sad time in their house. Maybe just a nice card? Saying just a quick hello? To remind them that they're not forgotten or that they're still cared about? Things may seem particularly bleak to them as Christmas approaches.

Luckygirl Sun 06-Nov-16 10:12:24

I do think that all you can do is keep the channel open with the occasional call, card or email. You cannot force a response, even though you know how sad she must be and you are dying to do what you can. Very hard.

rosesarered Sun 06-Nov-16 10:19:21

I would send her a bouquet of lovely flowers, with a card saying that she is in your thoughts a lot and you wish you lived nearer.I did this for my sister a few years ago, and she was very pleased.I know it's quite expensive to do, but worth it.💐

Anya Sun 06-Nov-16 10:20:20

If she's a gardener (often in the greenhouse sounds like she is) then send her a little something for the garden. This is the time to plant bare- rooted roses. Perhaps send her one from someone like David Austin roses?

Losing a child is the worst that can happen to anyone. People often act oddly or withdraw after a bereavement, especially one as awful as that, it's their way of grieving.

Christinefrance Sun 06-Nov-16 10:27:25

Good idea Anya. Keep trying to reach out to your sister in law kitty, grief makes some people withdraw.

Judthepud2 Sun 06-Nov-16 20:05:28

Your poor sister-in-law! What a lot of losses she is having to deal with! I would agree that she sounds as if she is feeling the strain. All you can do really is to keep reassuring her that you are there for her when she needs you. It must be her choice when that is. A little card or some flowers are good ideas, just to let her know that you care.

thatbags Sun 06-Nov-16 21:15:20

Send a postcard once a month with some little chatty comment about nothing important and love from you smile

janeainsworth Sun 06-Nov-16 21:48:59

kitty I think it says a great deal about you, that your only concern is for your sister-in-law and not for yourself. So many others would be quick to take offence.
I agree with the others who have said just hang in there - keep phoning, maybe send the occasional postcard.
I hope you get some response soon x

kittylester Sun 06-Nov-16 22:17:30

Thank you for all your replies and advice.

As a start, I've sent her an email saying I'm sorry to have called when she has been busy and empathising with her regarding her husband's pain and the cancelled op and asking her to let us know how his rearranged op next week goes.

I'm going to leave it like that for now as DH will be ringing his brother before he goes in to hospital next week and I will ring her after he has had it done.

kittylester Mon 07-Nov-16 06:15:15

jane - in reality I have spent a couple of days chuntering about how rude sil was being as she is not known for her tact! blush

thatbags Mon 07-Nov-16 07:25:47

kitty, could she be a secret phone hater, someone who prefers phones to be used only for "conversations of purpose" rather than for chatting?

I am but in my case it took extreme determination, when I felt my mother was being too nosy and phoning too often, to implement my preference. And very few people understand. They just think you're being a recluse or rude or both.

I have yet to work out what's actually wrong with being a recluse but the idea was thrown at me like an accusation. The fact that I do get out and see people seems to be irrelevant.

Anyway, that was part of the reason I suggested postcards if things continue as they are right now.

kittylester Mon 07-Nov-16 07:33:09

She usually manages exactly 15 minutes on the phone bags, so you could be right. It hasn't always been like that though. She used to be very chatty.

I'll keep plugging away.

janeainsworth Mon 07-Nov-16 07:34:27

Ah! smile
Well in that case, perhaps next time SiL is 'unavailable' when you ring, you could specifically ask BiL to ask her to ring you back as its a long time since you had a chat.

Anya Mon 07-Nov-16 07:56:48

What a sensible suggestion Jane

cornergran Mon 07-Nov-16 07:59:18

kitty this may sound a bit odd but I wonder if your sil uses her greenhouse as a sanctuary and has given her husband a direct or unspoken message that she is not to be disturbed in there? If so your email is just right, maybe when your husband phones his brother asking when is a good time for you to phone could get a positive result? She sounds like so many of us, better face to face than by phone. Hope it works out, you sound worried about her as well as understandably frustrated.

kittylester Mon 07-Nov-16 08:03:45

I hope I haven't given the impression that she is being deliberately rude. She can be thoughtless but her behaviour is 'odder' than usual.

As I said before, she is the nearest thing I have to a sister and we have rubbed along for almost 50 years but she doesn't seem herself or she is just bored by my conversation!

kittylester Mon 07-Nov-16 08:05:59

She does use gardening as an escape but her husband did go and tell her I was on the phone. DBiL is not the sensitive type and it wouldn't register that she was unhappy.

DaphneBroon Mon 07-Nov-16 09:26:28

I was wondering if your BIL was being unnecessarily over- protective of her?
Perhaps also she is just finding it hard to talk about things, however close or caring the caller or welcome the sympathy. Some people are best with their plants, their dogs/horses, the open air or solitude. You are doing the right thing by trying and by not taking it personally.