I'm struggling and hoping someone can give me some perspective so I can move on.
My sister was killed in an accident last Thanksgiving weekend. We were all in shock, of course, and even moreso because my mother died unexpectedly 8 months earlier. All of a sudden, we went from a nuclear family of 4 (my dad died many years ago) to just my other sister and me.
The three of us lived in the same town and we saw each other often. My late sister and my brother-in-law were married for 32 years. It was a second marriage for both and my brother-in-law had two children from his first marriage, who were 6 and 8 when he married my sister. They had one child of their own who is now 30. All of the kids are married and have children. My sister's daughter lives about 1 1/2 hours from us and her stepchildren live plane rides away.
My brother-in-law (husband of my late sister) was very lonely and we fully expected him to start dating. Here's where I'm struggling. He met a widow in town and started dating seriously almost immediately. (about 6 months after my sister died) He has invited her to Thanksgiving, which is the last day we saw my sister alive. I have nothing against this woman, but I really don't want to be in her company on that day. Fortunately, since there are so many people who are going to be around this Thanksgiving, both my brother-in-law and my other sister are having dinners at their houses and we will only get together for dessert so I will not have to interact much with his girlfriend.
But, I'm having a real problem with the fact that this woman is now living my sister's life. It seems like my sister has been deleted and the new woman has been inserted. It seems incomprehensible to me that after 32 years of marriage, she appears to have evaporated. My brother-in-law is not a bad person, but he dealt with grief very differently than we would have expected. One week after my sister died, he had emptied all of her clothes and personal belongings out of his house. One month after she died, he had taken apart her home office and turned it back into a bedroom.
I know my sister is not coming back and I am glad that my brother-in-law has found someone to share time with, but I am resentful about how quickly the relationship is progressing. Now when we see him, he has a pep in his step and is obviously done grieving. My other sister is not happy about it either, but she keeps telling me she has seen other men do the same thing. That doesn't help me.
I am also surprised that my sister's daughter does not appear to have a problem with the new woman, either. She agreed to have her there on Thanksgiving, sitting in her mother's chair, and that was the last time she saw her mother alive, too. It just feels like my sister is being so easily replaced and it grieves me. My sister was a good wife, a good mother, and a good stepmother. Shouldn't the weekend of her death be about her?
For me, each day reminds me of how close we are coming to the year-anniversary of her death and I am grieving her loss again. While I didn't want Thanksgiving to be morose, I did think that we would celebrate her life by remembering her on the last day she lived. Much harder to do with the new woman there. The new woman is not insensitve to us, but obviously is taking her cue from my brother-in-law.
I hope I don't sound like I'm whining, but this is really bothering me and I'm hoping someone can give me some thoughts on how to cope.
You are not whining just feeling normal all consuming grief over your sisters death. I am sure most people would feel as you do within a year of her death.
My friends mother died ( the mother was also a close friend of mine as well) and within 6 months her father was dating. My friend just could not handle this at all and felt much more violently about it than you do. It is now four and half years since her mothers death and only now can she accept someone else in his life. She refused point blank to see the other woman as she called her until very recently. With hindsight my friend says she caused herself huge amounts of anguish and strain but she doens't feel she could have felt any differently at the time. She now accepts that men just cannot be alone like women can and I think this is the fundamental difference between the sexes.
All I can say is you remember your sister, she will never be forgotten but it may save you heartache if you can accept that your brother in law is a lonely man but this does not mean he loved your sister any less.
While I know I would miss my sister tremendously - it's just her and me now - I would fully expect my BIL to move on rather quickly. Not that they don't have a great marriage it's just that he wouldn't do well without a woman to take care of him. Most men who've been married a long time are like that. Also, as Dear Abby often says, you can't replace a parent or a sibling but you can a spouse. I speak from experience...I lost my father in 1983 and my first husband in 1972. While I loved my husband, it was much easier to move on from his death than my father's. I can never have another daddy, but I can have another husband. I hope this helps. And remember, the girlfriend is the "innocent party" here...she deserves, at the very least, your politeness. I'm sure she's a very nice woman...if your BIL loved you sister for so long, he wouldn't pick a bad one! And, if everyone wants, you still should do or say something in memory of your sister...I doubt the new woman would expect less. I wouldn't if I were in her position. Hugs!
First, please accept my sympathy on the loss of your dear sister. It sounds like you loved and respected her very much.
As I'm sure you've heard, we all grieve differently. It does seem surprising that your BIL moved forward so quickly, but that may be his way of coping with the loss. That said, I think that it is in very poor taste for him to invite his new "friend" to a Thanksgiving dinner on the anniversary date of your sister. The "first" holidays after a loss are the worst and, while we don't want to upset others, we should openly acknowledge the loved one's absence from the table....in whatever way. That is also part of the grieving/healing process.
I'm sure his daughter has accepted it because she feels bad for Dad and wants to please him. However, I totally understand your being upset that a stranger will be at the table where your beloved sister once was.
The family dynamics after a loss....particularly a sudden, tragic loss....can be extremely confusing as everyone is in a different place with their grief. You are in the right place....wanting to honor and remember your sister.
I have lost all of my immediate family....including my only son, my beautiful boy.....except for my daughter. Every few years, there'd be a new, empty seat at the table. Now, with Matthew gone, it takes every bit of strength and courage I have to cook a holiday dinner and see someone else in the chair where he should be. I dread the holiday season and have for years.
Maybe, when you meet the rest of the family for dessert, you could read a poem or, better yet, have some helium balloons on hand to release in your sister's memory. Someone needs to acknowledge that she's missed and loved and it should be you. Nothing morose.....just a gesture of love. You need to do that for you, too.
Hope, you have my sympathy on your loss. I know this is too late for thanksgiving, but two things...
One, you don't know what your sister and bil decided in private. I know that my parents had decided that if my mother died before my dad, she would want him to find someone to be with. Because, as my daddy put it, "God didn't intend me to live alone." That and the fact that he couldn't boil water, much less cook a meal.... They may have decided that it was OK with both of them for either spouse to date as soons as they chose to after a period of time...
Two, if he married your sister, he obviously had good taste the first time around, so try to accept his choice and be at least polite to the lady, Your sister would expect you to have good manners if nothing else, right?