Relations with in-laws hit new lows after man’s death

Published 8:46 am Friday, June 23, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: I was never close to my late husband’s family. He had two half-siblings from his mother and seven from his father. (He was the only mutual child between them.) At his funeral, his sister on his mother’s side wore what appeared to be a white wedding dress and had her three daughters dressed like flower girls. She had threatened me often with violence and stalked me at my job. I got a protective order, but it took three filings to get it because her father has friends in the court system. The order is for one year, but we’ll see what happens when it expires.
Everyone in his family has demanded a portion of his ashes. I refuse to divide them because he wanted to be buried with me, and I want to abide by his wishes. The other side of his family contacts me only if it benefits them.
For almost a year, I took care of my father-in-law, who has dementia, without any of the seven remaining children helping. I have since cut ties with all of them. They are toxic, and I know why my husband kept me away from them.
Should I feel guilty for not sharing his remains, or feel good for carrying out his last wishes? The family says we should be working “together,” but I never even met some of them until he had passed away. They think we should be family since he was their brother. I disagree. – MOVING FORWARD IN INDIANA

DEAR MOVING FORWARD: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your husband. The time for you all to have “been family” was long before his death. His sister appears to have mental problems, so resenting her for her and her daughters’ attire at the funeral is a waste of your energy.
As the widow, your husband’s remains belong solely to you, and you are legally entitled to carry out his wishes. However, if his relatives are as toxic as you describe, you may need the help of an attorney to enforce them.
DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship for six years. He’s a wonderful father figure for my daughter. He makes us a real family, but the two of us never have time alone. He also doesn’t show me any affection. I know he loves me, but am I wrong for wanting time for just us?
My daughters are 20 and 17, but our 17-year-old is autistic, so she lives in a world of her own like a 5-year-old. My boyfriend is good to her. Am I crazy for needing some “us” time? I am really lonely. – CRAVING AFFECTION IN OHIO

DEAR CRAVING: You are not “crazy”; you are normal. Because you feel starved for affection, this is something you should have started discussing with your boyfriend years ago. He may be a great father figure, but if he chooses to ignore having an intimate adult relationship with you, you’re looking at a lifetime of loneliness. Bear in mind this may be something you can compromise on with couples counseling, but only if he is willing.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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