My Mother-In-Law Has Passed And I Don’t Know How To Mourn Her [BLOG]
She and I were never close, and I don't know what I'm supposed to feel.
It's almost too cliché - a woman who doesn't get along with her mother-in-law. I never wanted that relationship with her; I wanted to be close to whoever my MIL ended up being. Who wouldn't?
But we can't pick our parents. And Pat's mom was bipolar, which affected her relationships with everybody she came into contact with. When I was trying to recall fond memories of her, I had a really, REALLY hard time. I could only remember the times that she was mad at me. A few that stuck out:
*she saw me curling parts of my hair before my baby shower and said, "You said your hair was naturally curly! Did you lie to me?!?!?"
*she was mad at me during our wedding because my bridesmaids were helping ME get dressed, but nobody was helping HER.
*she was mad at me because I wouldn't take our toddler to church on Christmas Eve when he had a fever.
Now, in retrospect, I can laugh about it. But at the time, I was hurt. What was I doing wrong? Why couldn't we be friends? I'm sure I'll be critical of whoever my son ends up with; that's just a motherly instinct to want the best for your kids. But this was extreme. Luckily, Pat assured me that she had been that way with EVERY woman he had ever brought home, including his first wife. It wasn't just me.
I always tried to remember that she had a mental illness, but it wasn't easy. Sometimes I just thought she was mean. As somebody who has a mental illness myself, I should've been more understanding.
Taking care of her in failing health for the last six years was even MORE difficult than I could've ever predicted. To have to be there for somebody who was always critical of you for the smallest things was a challenge. But, she was my family. It was my job.
When she passed on St. Patrick's Day, it wasn't a surprise. The doctors gave her five years in 2013, and she had been non-verbal and sleeping for a couple of months. I went into "work" mode - my jobs consisted of supporting my husband and our son, planning an out-of-state funeral, calling family members and friends and holding down the radio show until Pat was okay to come back.
I only cried once during her funeral. I was too exhausted to squeeze out more tears. I was too stressed about maxing out our credit cards to pay for it. I was too concerned about Pat to have any emotions for myself.
After we buried her, I thought I'd feel relieved - it's finally over. However, yesterday, on the way back to Flint, I lost it.
Now, Pat is fine and I'm not. It's finally hit me. And I don't know how to mourn her. I can't mourn our relationship because it wasn't good. And aside from her mental illness, she had a great life - she got to retire early and travel all over the world, build her own custom house, etc.
I don't know what I'm sad about - did I not do enough to help her? Was I too critical of HER? What could I have done differently? Did I comfort her in last few years, when she was too sick to dislike me?
Regardless, I can't stop crying. And I don't know what I'm crying about. More importantly, I'm writing this for those people who do NOT have great relationships with their in-laws - it happens. I, too, get jealous when I see my friends on Facebook chumming around with their in-laws and gloating about how wonderful they are. It's hard not to.
Sadly, I don't have a pretty bow to wrap this up in. This is just where I'm at. I'm grieving a relationship that was less-than-functional. And we'll all do it at some point.