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Controlling daughter in law regarding the death of her father

(238 Posts)
Mal2 Sun 04-Sep-22 23:26:43

am a 66 year old single woman. I have 1 married son and 2 grandchildren.

I am writing this to try and understand why my daughter in law (DIL) is bitterly angry with me regarding the passing of her father.

I want to make this as brief as possible but it is a very sad and convoluted story…

I went to see father of my DIL who has been battling cancer after a bone marrow transplant.

I have 35 years of medical experience and upon seeing his condition I knew he needed to be in the hospital. I told his wife what I thought and also called my DIL to suggest admitting him, as I felt he was very sick.
5 days later he falls at home and both his wife and DIL are able to lift him up and drive to the hospital.
Once there, he was immediately admitted into ICU. His confirmed diagnosis was Sepsis.
From that point on, his condition deteriorated. He was intubated, given several antibiotics was in Septic Shock and finally passed away 19 days later.

This man was a wonderful human being and good friend to me.

4 days prior to his death, his family decided to have him extubated and placed in Comfort Care where he would die comfortably.
On this day the family said their goodbyes, fully expecting him to pass away within hours.
Because they all assumed that he would pass away quickly, my son and DIL told their children 6&8 years old that their grandfather had passed away.
The family was awaiting a call from from the hospital telling them he had passed. No call came. He was still alive and breathing on his own.

The prior evening I talked to my son who was tearful and told me they had said their goodbyes.
I was grieving as well and called the following day to see if I could join them as I wanted to see my son and comfort him. I was told no. My DIL and her mother were not wanting any visitors.

I had made plans to go and see this man on that Thursday. I work Monday thru Wednesday and Thursday was my first opportunity to do so.
I called the hospital to confirm that he was allowed visitors and was told yes.

I was relieved he was still alive as I needed to see him to say my goodbyes to help with my grieving and to gain closure.

While in his room a nurse came in and told me they were moving him out of ICU.
Thinking I was being helpful, I texted my son and let him know.
The following is the text I received. I have omitted titled all names with * symbol

“I am utterly shocked. I am asking that you never, ever tell ***that you visited him today. *** and * explicitly planned to be the last ones to be with him. *** is now not only painfully grieving, but now extremely angry. I am asking that you please do not contact either of them, and please leave now. **** already called the hospital and is taking ****back now. Again, * is not aware that anyone visited today and *** and I are asking that it must remain that way.”
I received 2 more texts asking for confirmation that I had left the hospital and ordering me to not contact them as they needed time and space due to the difficult position I put them in.

I was in total shock…
This angry text from my son is when I learned of his wife and mother in law’s “plan” to be the last ones to be with him.

I left the hospital sobbing. I was so confused.
By the time I got home, my confusion had turned to anger. Number one I was shocked to receive such a hateful text from my son and number 2 had no reasonable reason why…

I honored his order of not contacting him but not because he ordered me to but because if I had spoken to him I would have cut him to shreds with my tongue and knew that doing so would only compound the stress he was under.

My DIL’s father lived 4 more days.

I waited 2 weeks to contact my son and asked him to make arrangements to come and talk to me. He came yesterday and I finally had the answers I was looking for…

He told me that he and my DIL think that I overstepped my bounds and deliberately “ inserted” myself in the dying process and grief of her father…
He then told me that my DIL accused me of being selfish, self absorbed and was only thinking about myself…
I told my son that I only agreed with her 3rd accusation because , yes, I did go to see him because I needed to see him to say my goodbyes ease my grieving heart and to have closure. I then asked my son if he believed that wrongly inserted myself in their situation and he said yes. I asked him if be believes that I am selfish and self absorbed and he said no.

He told me that I should have called him and inform him of my plan to see his FIL. At this point I knew exactly what they wanted from me. I again told him I didn’t understand( even though I did) and decided that he was going to have to look me in the eye and tell me exactly why… he told me that I should have “asked” them if I could visit him. I asked him if they actually believed that I needed their permission to see him and he said yes…

I told him that I do not need anyone’s permission to do anything, including this. I told him that my visit with his FIL was between he and I only.

My son told me that he and my DIL assumed I had enough common sense to realize that when he told me over the phone that they said their goodbyes I was to understand that they were to be the last ones to see him…

I was dumbfounded and asked my son to explain to me just how I was to figure that out after only being told they had said their goodbyes…

He immediately admitted that it was wrong of him to assume I would figure it out.

I told him that his wife and MIL should have planned their “plan” a little more thoughtfully and made sure that anyone who wanted to say goodbye would not be able to. A sign on his door stating the family wanted no visitors…informing the hospital phone operators that for anyone who called was to be told that he was not taking visitors. I did call the hospital to make sure he was allowed visitors and I was told yes.

My son responded with this”. With all the stress they were under how can you possibly think that they would even think of doing that”
I told him that if their “plan” was that important to them, they should have thought it thru and took the proper steps to insure the plan remained uninterrupted.

My son then tells me that his wife and her mother decided ahead of time who they would or would not allow to see their dad and husband..
I told him that obviously I was one of the not allowed persons. He immediately regretted what came out of his mouth…
I laughed a little and told him that after learning this I am even happier that I went to see him and that I will NEVER regret my decision.

I was told that his wife does not want me to come to there house as her anger toward me is palatable. I told him I was just fine with that as I had no desire at all to see her but that I wanted and needed to see my grandchildren an he agreed to bring them to me.

I told my son to make sure his wife understands that I will NEVER compromise who I am and what my beliefs are to make her feel better. I told him the burden is on her to contact me.
I told him this will remain a situation where she and I will have to agree to disagree. I told him I have moved on and that If she wants to live in anger she owns the problem, not me.

I asked him if his wife is actively trying to ban me from their lives and he said no. That she told him she wants me in their lives and wants me to be a grandmother to their kids….
Not too sure I believe her though…

My son told me it is very hard being in the “ middle”. I went to him and hugged him and told him I loved him and he broke down and cried.

I posted this looking for answers as I truly believe I was within my rights whereas my DIL believes I was not…

SueDonim Mon 05-Sep-22 00:04:14

Im sorry for your family’s loss.

However, I think you over-stepped the mark. You should have checked with your DS/DIL/DIL’s Mum that it was ok. Heavens, we have friends, one of whom is far advanced in his dementia journey but I wouldn’t dream of visit him without running it past his wife first. flowers

Whatever your actual thoughts of who is right and wrong, you need to put aside your feelings and acknowledge to your DS & family that you have caused them great distress. They hold all the cards and you’re on a hiding to nothing if you want to ‘win’ this battle, because you could well lose the war.

Blossoming Mon 05-Sep-22 00:06:39

I’m with your DiL and her mother. You have intruded on their grief.

imaround Mon 05-Sep-22 00:11:38

Your DIL just lost her father. She is likely thinking irrationally. She is not ready to "move on" over the anger over her father's death.

I can see why they have thought you put your own grief over hers. But I can also see where they made mistakes. I dont think anyone was right or wrong TBH.

I think the biggest problem right now is that you are ready to move on and she isn't. You seem to be pushing her to be ready to forgive and forget and move on. Her father died. She needs time to process ALL of her emotions.

But it was your son who sent you that text. Even if DIL agreed, it was him and not her. Please remember that.

Hithere Mon 05-Sep-22 00:21:31


You made all this about you and your grief.

Your poor dil - having to deal with this while her father was dying.

VioletSky Mon 05-Sep-22 00:24:10

I too think you have seriously overstepped boundaries.

I am concerned about your anger and determination to be right here.

You may have been friends with this man but that doesn't give you the right to intrude on their grief in this way.

The way you talk, that you advised he go to hospital but they did not listen and he fell... that made me so uncomfortable, I hope you will never bring that up to anyone else. It was not your place to make or advise on those decisions, it was his and his families.

I am also concerned that you have chosen not to believe your DIL saying she wants you to have a good relationship with your grandchildren. Why would you assume the worst? By assuming the worst of others it directly impacts that relationship in a negative way. You may inadvertently prove yourself right by creating a bad atmosphere yourself.

They had their own grief to deal with and I am sorry to say you have placed yourself at higher importance than you should have here and actually made things much more difficult for them.

I really think you need to take a step back and understand that their feelings are real and your DIL and mother have lost a husband and father. You need to rethink your position and give them space to grieve until you are ready to offer a genuine apology.

denbylover Mon 05-Sep-22 00:41:16

Can only echo what’s been written above. In my opinion you have and did overstep the mark, reading this you have made it all about you and your feelings. I believe you owe your DIL and her Mother an apology.

welbeck Mon 05-Sep-22 00:59:25

i am shocked by your attitude.
you appreciated him as a friend, but they have lost one of their closest family members.
there really is no comparison, and trying to stand on your so-called rights to be yourself in relation to all this is totally inappropriate.
you made a mistake, let us say innocently.
but your reaction now is just wrong.
and your language so violent, that you might tear your son to shreds with your tongue, as if we should be impressed by such strong of feelings.
you really are off base and need to eat some crow.

Norah Mon 05-Sep-22 01:10:29

WOW, Self centered and self absorbed don't even come close. Wait until your son resolutely invites you to give his wife an apology.

Walk on eggshells regarding the GC. People get CO for 90% less than this. There's no support for your "need to see your GC" let that go.

Teacheranne Mon 05-Sep-22 01:33:03

“I was relieved he was still alive as I needed to see him to say my goodbyes to help with my grieving and to gain closure.”

I thought this was a rather odd thing to say as even if you like him, he is not a member of your family and it was intrusive to visit him when he was so poorly and at end of life.

CanadianGran Mon 05-Sep-22 04:31:15

I feel for you. You went to sit with a dying man who was a friend, and it is being held against you. I don't understand their point of view of wanting to be the last ones to visit him. If so, they should have been sitting by his bedside until he passed away.
Even though your son said they had said their goodbyes, he didn't imply that they wouldn't be back, or that anyone else shouldn't see him.

Hopefully in time they will calm down and thank you for spending time with him.

Zoejory Mon 05-Sep-22 04:47:51

Oh how awful. I'm sorry but I'm totally on your DIL's side. Losing a loved one is very traumatic and you're action was unnecessary

Sara1954 Mon 05-Sep-22 06:38:01

Well, maybe you made an error of judgment, but I think your daughter in law’s behaviour is a bit much, and your sons text is really unpleasant.
It appears that you had a friendship beyond the usual relationship between in-laws, and therefore it seemed natural to want to say goodbye.
Emotions are running high, let it settle, and then maybe try and have a conversation.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 05-Sep-22 07:09:24

I wish this had been posted under ‘am I being unreasonable’

Goodness, you are.

This wasn't about you and your grief, it was about their family and their grieving process. I can’t begin to say how shocked I was when I read your post.

LovelyCuppa Mon 05-Sep-22 07:17:51

Surely this isn't real. I can't believe anyone could be so selfish.

BlueBalou Mon 05-Sep-22 07:19:58


Surely this isn't real. I can't believe anyone could be so selfish.

Nor me ☹️

Sara1954 Mon 05-Sep-22 07:31:52

I have just re read this incase I am missing something.
I take it your daughter in law and her mother were the last to say goodbye because he lived beyond their expectations.
I’m wondering what your relationship with your daughter in law was like before all this, have you perhaps overstepped the mark before.
Reading it again I feel your daughter in law has a point, but I think your son could have handled it a lot better, but at the moment his wife is his priority, not his mother.
I can’t help feeling this is all about your relationship with them, if it was close and amicable I don’t think it would have come to this.

Jackiest Mon 05-Sep-22 07:36:11

I do hope that if I am on my deathbed people do not start making decisions of who I can see and who I can not. I will see all who wish to come and say goodby.

HurdyGurdy Mon 05-Sep-22 08:28:16

I can understand the misunderstanding that led you to believe it was OK for you to visit him in hospital.

What I cannot understand is your attitude when the man's family's feelings were made clear to you, after they became aware that you had visited.

Yes, maybe they should have made it clear that after his wife and daughter had paid their final visit, their wishes were that no other visitors should be allowed. But we don't always think straight when we are grieving, so I don't think it is reasonable to hold them accountable for this oversight.

But your current stance is appalling. Once you were made aware of his family's distress at your visit, you should have made a grovelling apology, explaining that you hadn't realised they didn't want anyone to visit following their final visit.

You have made this man's death all about you and your feelings, and you don't seem able to see his family's point of view.

It may be too late to repair the damage to your relationships, given your conversations with your son, but I think you should apologise profusely to the family, saying that on reflection , you can see how your actions were inappropriate, even though at the time, no disrespect was intended.

HurdyGurdy Mon 05-Sep-22 08:31:44

Would also add that I find it strange that the family would leave him to die alone in a hospital. If they expected him to die within hours, why didn't at least one of them stay with him?

notgran Mon 05-Sep-22 08:36:55


Surely this isn't real. I can't believe anyone could be so selfish.

Exactly. I hope it is just another of these Gransnet spoof posts. If not what a horrible person Mal2 is.

DerbyshireLass Mon 05-Sep-22 08:44:07


Would also add that I find it strange that the family would leave him to die alone in a hospital. If they expected him to die within hours, why didn't at least one of them stay with him?


I found that quite shocking.

eazybee Mon 05-Sep-22 08:47:29

I find it hard to believe that someone could post on a public forum such a detailed account of a highly personal family matter.

Nannagarra Mon 05-Sep-22 08:53:18

Stop thinking merely about yourself, your wants, your needs and stop bulldozing your way through life.
To put your son in such an awful position is unforgivable.
You owe them all a sincere and heartfelt apology.

Oldbat1 Mon 05-Sep-22 08:59:14

Can’t be a real post.