Am I terrible person for not wanting to see my grieving mother-in-law?

My mother-in-law has been rude ever since her husband died and I don’t want her around at the moment – am I a terrible person?

  • UK woman revealed her mother-in-law has been rude since death of her husband
  • She asked Mumsnet users if she’s being unfair to avoid spending time with her
  • READ MORE: My family forced us to change our child-free wedding plans 

A woman has divided opinion after revealing that she doesn’t want her mother-in-law to visit as she has become unpleasant and rude due to bereavement.

According to the anonymous woman, who is believed to be UK-based and posted on Mumsnet, while she feels sorry for her mother-in-law, visits have left her children confused due to their grandmother’s rudeness.

As a result, the poster now does not want to have long visits from her mother-in-law, admitting that while this makes her ‘feel like a terrible person’, she also struggles to cope with the additional stress.

Her admission provoked many mixed responses, with some saying the poster was not a terrible person, and noting that she was under strain. Meanwhile, others pointed out that the mother-in-law is naturally grieving and requires patience and sympathy.

A woman has revealed that she feels terrible as she does not want to see her mother-in-law who has become ‘rude’ since the death of her husband (stock image)

The post said: ‘This is probably going to make me sound like the worst person in the world but here goes.

‘FIL [father-in-law] died eighteen months ago, it was quite sudden and he was relatively young (65).

‘MIL [mother-in-law] is now very depressed. I do feel very sorry for her because FIL was basically her whole world. She doesn’t have any other family, doesn’t have many friends, doesn’t drive, and is retired. She used to spend most of her time with FIL. So it is really sad.

‘She recently came to stay. This was actually my suggestion as I know she is bored and lonely and I thought it would cheer her up. Unfortunately it was a disaster. She was in a terrible mood with DH because he asked her to get the train (he used to pick her up and drive to ours but it’s a six hour round trip). 

According to the poster, while she feels terrible for her grieving mother-in-law, the additional strain is difficult to cope with

‘So she barely spoke to him or me for the first 24 hours. She didn’t want to go out anywhere so she sat and watched daytime TV for six hours (this is not an exaggeration). She cried a lot of the time and turned most conversations round to FIL.

‘She is clearly depressed but won’t go to the doctor or have counselling. She is in a terrible place but she won’t accept any help and is very rude to DH. 

‘She refused to say goodbye to him, again because she was unhappy about having to get the train. 

‘At the end we were both completely exhausted and fed up and the kids were a bit confused by the whole thing. I had suggested to DH that we should invite her to stay again in March but I’ve just said I think we should abandon that idea because I don’t think I can face it again. 

A number of respondents felt that the poster should be more patient with her mother-in-law, who is still grieving the loss of her husband

‘However, I also feel like a terrible person because she is obviously very sad. I don’t know what the answer is really. But I have my own issues with work, family illness, kids etc and I just don’t think I can face this on top.’

A number of respondents said they felt the poster was being unfair, as her mother-in-law is grieving, which is going to take longer than 18 months.

One wrote: ‘Turn it around and imagine it’s you in her situation. Imagine one of your children who you have brought up telling you to get on a train when they have always picked you up. Imagine being grief stricken and needing support. 

Several Mumsnetters told the poster that her mother-in-law needs understanding, and that it’s a difficult situation to truly understand if you haven’t experienced that grief yourself

‘If you can truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes then you are better able to talk to them about issues and make compromises with them 

‘She isn’t going to be over the death of her husband in 18 months.’

Another agreed, writing: ‘I think you are being very unkind OP. Your MIL is grieving. She is showing you by her behaviour that she is in deep pain. Offloading her to counsellors or groups is not the answer. I think you need to try to behave with more compassion towards her.’

And third Mumsnetter said: ‘I had a sudden bereavement. At times I was a bit rude to people who were trying to “cheer me up” when I made of pretty clear I wasn’t ready. I realise they were trying to help but I didn’t want or need to “cheer up” on their timescale. People are allowed to be sad when they are grieving.’ 

While some respondents criticised the poster, others were sympathetic, and said they understood the difficult position the poster was also in

However, a number of other respondents felt that the poster was being fair, and that the poster is in a very difficult position.

One wrote: ‘Cancel March, doesn’t sound like any of you got much from the recent visit. You were trying to be kind and supportive and look what you got back for it. It’s really unfair on you and your DC to do it again.

‘She must be heartbroken but if she won’t try and get some proper support there’s nothing you can do.’

Another added: ‘This is very hard, but despite her grief she can’t repeatedly spend time with you and your family and be this rude. It’s utterly ridiculous that she doesn’t speak to you because she had to catch the train. I do think your DH needs to explain that to her for all your sakes. She has to take some responsibility for her behaviour.’

And a third respondent concurred, writing: ‘She sounds a bit like my grandmother. She wouldn’t speak to us for years as my parents wouldn’t let her move in. Her behaviour is not acceptable grieving or not.’

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