Looking for advise not criticism

hoakie2601June 5, 2007

My husband and I are leaving this weekend to spread or bury the ashes of his deceased wife. I am feeling very uncomfortable about this. If I could get input on this it would be great.

We are traveling out of state to take care of this. We are traveling with his deceased wife daughter and 2 teenage daughters. When we arrive in MS we are going to stay with his deceased wifes sister and her family. I have never met these people.

I am uncomfortable about this because. He considers this his family also. I am so going to feel like the 3rd wheel. I do not feel this is a place for me to be. My husband on the other hand seems to think all will be OK and they will accept me. He wants me to go to the memorial, I did not know his deceased wife and will not have any emotions in this. I know my husband wants my support and this is really the only reason I am going.

But he will not see that this is very uncomfortable for me. I keep asking him for a back up plan in case things go crazy. He thinks the only way it will go crazy is if I do something to make it that way. He knows that these people will accept me with open arms. I just dont see it that way. Maybe people could kindly give me their feelings on this.

We are going up there without our car with no backup hotel to stay in. I feel like I am going to be trapped. And I am not looking forward to the trip. Sorry if I repeat myself.

Thanks for reading and advising me!

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Hey there, Hoakie.

Off the top of my head...

1) I don't blame you for feeling anxious. New people and a very intense reason for being together, with, no doubt, intense emotions that are bound to be around. I think you're smart to realize that this may not be an easy trip.

2) You don't say how long you'll be gone...a couple of dayss? A week? If it's only for a few days, you'll probably be able to manage OK. If it's for a week or longer, perhaps you could see if your husband might be willing to stay at least part of the time in a hotel/motel. Either way, I'd pack some good reading material.

3) If it were me, I'd try to get a "read" on how his family feels about me early on. Of course, I wouldn't blame them if they felt discomfort with the "other woman" showing up. But they also may be just fine with you. Your husband does know them better than you do, and he may be right about them embracing you. You really can't know until you get there, so worrying about it now may be needless anxiety for you. If I sensed a lot of discomfort from them, I'd just keep a low profile (hang out in my room and read, or take walks) and give them space to do the grieving they need to be doing on an occasion like this. Be kind, be sympathetic, and be unobtrusive.

4) You say, "I know my husband wants my support and this is really the only reason I am going." That is a very kind thing you're doing for him. And it's a good reason, in my opinion, to go. I think it speaks greatly of how much you mean to him. This may be one of those moments when you put your own feelings of discomfort aside for the sake of showing your husband love in a tangible way.

5) Perhaps you could talk together before you get there about what you each feel you'll need from each other when you get there in order to feel good on this trip. Ask him what he'll be needing from you most, and do your best to respond. And, likewise, let him know something he could do for you that might lessen your anxiety (e.g. check in with you at the end of each day to let you share your feelings, let you have a little space if you begin to feel too uncomfortable, be open to a night or two in a motel, etc.) That way, you're both able to support each other and feel supported by each other.

Hope it goes well...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 4:02PM
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"He knows that these people will accept me with open arms. I just dont see it that way. Maybe people could kindly give me their feelings on this."

Unless you are responsible for the break-up of the marriage, there is no reason to assume everyone there will be against you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.... they just might be wonderful people.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 4:24PM
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Insufficient information about when previous wife died compared with when you entered the picture. Are you fearful of family's response to you because of the time frame? Seems strange to me that burial would take place after his re-marriage. Something I'm not understanding in this.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 6:15PM
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asolo - CF the post a little ways down, entitled, "How Long Does it Take?" I think that's kind of Part One of Hoakie's story...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 6:30PM
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Thanks Halfdecaf...

His prior wife expired 20 months ago. I met him 6 months after her death. We married 12/31/06. Yes for all of you reading this, that all happened quickly. I am not here to be judged on that. I am looking for your input on the matter at hand.

I was not involved in his relationship while his wife was alive. I also was not his first relationship post her death.

She was cremated when she expired. With her final wishes to be placed at her mother grave site in MS. He has not been able to get her entire family together until now to take care of that.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 6:42PM
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OK, then. Sounds like "clean slate". Also sounds as if he may already have prepared his family placing you in complimentary light. This is going to be your family from now on so I'm thinking this might be excellent time to demonstrate just how classy you are. Understand awkward feeling, but perhaps should be looked at as opportunity. No need to be "unobtrusive". Just be who you are -- his loving, supportive, understanding, personable wife. A lot of time has passed. Bulk of their grieving already past. This is a new beginning. Suggest making it a good one for everyone...including yourself.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 7:12PM
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Agreed -- I can understand why you'd feel uncomfortable, but remember -- You did nothing wrong, and neither did your husband. If you sense any discomfort or resistance, simply mention how many wonderful things your husband said about his late wife and that she must have been a wonderful woman. That's probably very true, and will be just the thing to break the ice. Another option would be to add how you want to be there for your husband since you know this will be an emotional time for him. That should take care of anyone who has the audacity to wonder aloud why your there.

But do try to relax and trust your husband's judgement on this. It might not be a bad idea to find a backup hotel and rental car in the area -- Don't make any reservations - just get the numbers handy in case you feel the need.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 8:02PM
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You know everyone is right. I really think there is nothing to fear with his in-laws and that all will go well...

but... I can't help thinking that maybe this really is something your husband should be doing by himself. I know you have a unique relationship, time period wise, but it really is a little odd to be at your husband's side while he is 'burying his wife.' I know, I personally would probably not like to watch it and although, I believe you should always be there for your husband, this may be better handled just by him and her family. Having to watch your husband have present feelings for another woman, even if she is dead, is never easy. I guess you will be there to support and comfort him, but how, and who will he be thinking of while you are comforting him? It just seems too fresh to be a part of.

If I lost my husband and remarried and then had to spread the ashes or something, I would really prefer to do it on my own. Obviously, your husband thinks otherwise, but you should have some sort of say in it too. I have a feeling that maybe you may have more of a problem with having to go through this with your husband and to watch him have such strong feelings for his first wife. Maybe that's what you are really concerned about.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 9:21PM
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asolo, I think you make a good point that the pump may already be primed, as it were, by hoakie's husband for his family to be embracing and welcoming of her, and that she has a great opportunity to show them what a good person she is. I do think, though, that this particular event is pretty significant in the family's grieving process, and I wouldn't assume that there won't be any ambivalence on their parts. As receptive as they may want to be, it wouldn't be unusual if awkward feelings were to come up. But they may not, either. I just think it's prudent to be sensitive to the family's situation, and to give them space if it seems that they need it...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 9:32PM
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If I were you, I would feel that this is something private and personal and I would not want to go. They were a family and would do best to do this as a family and I think you might make them feel uncomfortable. I would not go out of respect for their privacy. Surely they would be reluctant to talk about those "remember when" moments with you there. I'd stay home and give DH my blessings.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 10:35PM
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Your husband wants and needs your support. I understand how awkward this must be for you. However it is important to him that you be there. I would ask him if you could stay at a hotel. You need a place to retreat at the end of the day and being in someone else's home make this even more stressful. Let him know that a hotel will benefit both of you. At the end of the day he may also need some quite time to clear his head.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 11:53AM
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I can understand your discomfort, about this impending trip.

But, as others have said, the family wants you there, or at least your husband does. Just do it for him, and his daughters, don't know how close you are to them.

Look at it this way....it will be a highly emotional situation, and you will be the only one of the group who is not griefstricken so you can be the one that holds it all together, that deals with the necessities, like making people coffee, and lunch, or doing the driving. Its important to have someone looking after those details.

In some ways it will bring relief to your family, they can move on...because it is so symbolic, spreading the ashes, and will give closure.

Tough w/e for you, I wish you well, just relax, you will get through it.

Let us know how you get on.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 7:55PM
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Disagree with popi.....

The emotions will likely be short-lived and light. Too much time has gone by for real intensity unless these people are psychotic -- which is something OP will want to know, too. Understand this may be first time all concerned could gather but its been almost two years since the event. This is symbolic. I wouldn't expect much more than symbolic grief at this point.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 8:43PM
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I don't think you should go. I don't think your husband is thinking clearly about the effect your presence will have on the family and the occasion. I think he really believes it's ok, because *he* feels it's ok, or at least *wants it* to be ok.

I mean nothing against you, I think you know that, because you are intuitive enough to know this is inappropriate. Not that you are the 'other woman', but that this occasion is simply not the place for the 'new' wife, especially since you have not met the family. Just my opinion. 20 months is not a long time to get over a family member's death. Even if a person is coming to grips pretty well, the burial of the ashes will bring all sorts of emotions to the surface. I think it is a very intimate and private thing, and should be reserved for family in this case.

I think a good compromise would be to go with him on the trip, to show support, but stay at his sister's house during the actual burial/memorial.

I lost my sister in 2001. I'm just saying how I would feel.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 10:21PM
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I re-read your original post "How long does it take" about your husband. I really hope the best for both of you. I too would suggest that if you feel you must go, you try to bow out of the actual service itself.

I think that more hurt can come to you than support can be given to him. I think you have been more than kind about his love towards his deceased wife. Maybe once his deceased wife is buried, he can really get on with his life with YOU as his wife. Good luck with the trip.

Here's the OP's other post with backgrd info. for those that didn't read it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Other Post

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 11:35PM
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I think it is awesome that you are going. I am a widower. The death of my first wife (of 21 years) still haunts me from time to time.

I am engaged. I love my fiancee as much as I possibly could also. I leave her out of my feelings with my first wife though. I have brought her into my thoughts from time to time and I can tell she does not know how to react. So, I stopped. When I am having a hard time with it, or when my kids are, it would be awesome to be able to turn to my fiancee for support without letting her think that I am not happy with her. It is a very tricky situation.

Your anxiety is well warranted. I would suggest that you lay low, be there for him. Be supportive. The family of his first wife will get upset at the spreading of the ashes. You may even get some looks. Brush them off and just focus on your husband to be and his kids. Just be there as a rock for him.

If there are things you want to talk about, save them for when you return from the trip. I would make sure that you voice any concerns you have, but wait until you are alone.

Your doing this for him is a great testimony of your love for him. I hope he can see this as a gift from you to him.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 3:00PM
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Wow Rough. Thanks

Thanks to everyone for the post. I will let you know how things work out. I am going on the trip. I am still leary of going to the memorial because it is something I think he needs to do on his own with the family. I am not trying to be selfish. It's just tough since I do not know these people. I have never spoke to them or have I ever even seen pictures of them. I have been told things about them that have nothing to do with my post that also make me worry! His step children I think put up with me, but they dont really like the idea of him being married again.

The latest thing that came up has me in a tizzy also! Seems to never end. The idea of renting a van and traveling together was presented to me orginially with the intention of all going together and taking her cloths and acessories up so that her sister could have them. They where the same size women. She requested her sister have her cloths if something happened. I'm told last night that he is not going to take the cloths up to her because we will not have the room. Maybe this has to do with him not be ready to let this stuff go. I know some people let things go in stages. Maybe spreading the ashes are the first step and than giving away the other things will come next. But from my point of view I would like the stuff given to her sister so that we can move on. Other post that I have posted got responses like this stuff should have been gone before I moved in but I wanted to give him the time that he needed to move on. So my pickles never seem to end in regards to this!!

I told him that when we met he could wear his wedding ring with her on his right hand forever if he wanted to, that I would never take that away from him. He has taken that off. I told him also that the photo of her in the hall could stay as long as he would like it to stay because she was his wife. I'm starting to think that I may have been to easy on this since he is in no hurry to give away the less meaning full things now.

Sorry for all my laundry!!!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 3:13PM
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They'll all come away thinking: "....well, alright. If I'd known somebody like that to introduce ____ to, I surely would have done it. What a great gal he found! What a great couple!"

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 9:40PM
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I wouldn't go. If my father's wife/girlfriend expected to attend the scattering of my mother's ashes she would not be welcome by me or my sister.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:33AM
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You know, it might not hurt for your husband to actually *ask* his late wife's family if they would object to your attending the service. If they would -- and it isn't logical, but it happens -- their resentment could be long-lasting. It they wouldn't mind, asking shows sensitivity -- so no downside.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 7:18PM
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What a tough situation. I totally understand why some family members might find you being there hard - and yet I can understand why your new husband would also want you there.

He's still grieving - as it appears that he never really grieved beforehand. He sounds a bit like he doesn't or didn't know how to be alone to me - and this is carrying over to his grieving process - which means that YOU'RE in his grieving process (whether you want to be there for all of it or not).

Like I said, what a tough situation.

Make sure that you go and hold your head up high - don't send his family the message that you're uncomfortable with the shortened time-frame - they may pick up on that and project that back onto you, which would only make you uncomfortable.

Good luck and it's good that you're supporting your husband. I wish you didn't have to go through this process with him... but as he didn't 'finish' his grieving before... well... unfortunately it has to be done... in the end, though, it will benefit your marriage and you'll be grateful that you supported him and he'll be grateful that you supported him - I think his family (most of them) will too.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 6:19PM
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Sounds as if the husband may still have some emotional attachment to deceased wife or may have issues with being alone (given your marriage is not first relationship after having become a widower). Would be important to ask yourself if your feelings are respected by him around this issue?

Hope all works out

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 4:22PM
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Well I went. It was not that bad. During the service he held her ashes in front of everyone until it was time to place them in the ground. I stood next to him until they started the service. At that point I worked my way to the back of all the people, but still in eye sight of my husband. I felt that was the thing to do. Seems there was a lot of attachment before but I was able to see that he is getting through it. He did not shed a tear through the service until his grand daughter started to cry and talk. I dont think he actually shed tears at that time he was just trying to console her.

They had a family get together after and I felt more uncomfortable there than any place else. Anything that was said to me was short and sweet, but their was one relative that was sitting at my table that would not even look my way much less talk to me. I was told after the fact that her family was on the weird side. Indeed they where!

I'm glad it is over. He was talking like he wanted to go to visit again sometime. I dont know if I could do that. It was a strange enviorment that I dont plan on getting myself into again!!!

Thanks to everyone.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 9:39PM
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"He was talking like he wanted to go to visit again sometime."

Oh, no! NO!!!!

That's the one he'll do alone. This was closure. This was the end. Or at least it better have been!

You've been a saint. Respects are nice, but life prevails. Beyond this, you have no dues to pay.

Wait a few months, but if he's not moving on by then get the hell out of there.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 10:03PM
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My sister and her ex have been divorced for 18 years. She still has a relationship with his mother, sister and her family. Her husband, whom she has been married to now for several years also goes along for dinners, recitals, etc. Relationships with extended family don't necessary end with divorce or death.

Yes, the situation for you was ackward, naturally, but that doesn't mean it has to always be so. Not if they're good people and treat you with respect. If not, I wouldn't put myself in that position.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 12:31AM
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I agree - extended relationships do NOT end when someone dies... that's ridiculous to think and actually very detrimental to think. I have family that I STILL keep in contact with after a divorce. I have aunts that I'm closer to than my uncles who married them and then divorced them... but I also never exclude any new 'aunts' that my uncles marry after the fact... I'm just happy to extend my family.

I think that maybe you yourself should go and see a counselor... the reason I say this is because you said: "He did not shed a tear through the service until his grand daughter started to cry and talk. I dont think he actually shed tears at that time he was just trying to console her."

It kind of made you sound as though you think that if he does cry over his deceased wife that it means he isn't getting through the grieving process. But if you make him feel like he can't grieve naturally, he will eventually resent you for it. (look, I know you guys are married - but he still needs to grieve if you want a good marriage - it sucks but that's the situation you guys are in). You are going to need a lot of patience during this time and you are also going to have to recognize that he'll always be tied to her through their children and the extended family. but does NOT mean that he doesn't love you and isn't thrilled to be married to you.

Maybe go and see a counselor to help you come to grips with the situation you are in rather than trying to force the situation to be exactly how you want it to be? What I mean is that he's gonna have to grieve - better to let him do it now. It sounds like you have some feelings of insecurity too - a counselor could help you with that.

It just sounds like you think "okay, well he's scattered her ashes - that's it. He's done with grieving or thinking about her. He should have closure. The end." ... and I don't want you to be hurt or disappointed when/if it turns out that he's still got some grieving to do in order to put his past with her in the proper slot (meaning a past slot).

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 12:43PM
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He told me himself this would be closure for him. I guess I came across snotty in that regard. We talked about how that needed to be a time to celebrate her life not mourn her death. The mourning part was done when she passed. I know he grieves from time to time and that his normal. When I say he did not cry no one at the service cried except his granddaughter. We have talked many times about how I am unable to understand what he when through that all I can be for him is a shoulder to cry on and ears to listen to. I have been both many times and Im sure I will contine to be in the future. Its just nice to know that those times are happening few and few times.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 3:47PM
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