family fighting after a death

When Death Brings Out the Worst: family fighting after a death

“Death brings out the best and the worst in families.”

This is a phrase you have probably heard or used time and again if you work in the world of end-of-life/grief and loss.  If you have been through a personal loss you’ve probably experienced it first hand.  Working with patients and families at the end of life you do see the good – reconciliation of relationships that were on the outs, friends and extended family supporting each other in unimaginably selfless ways, and sharing memories at the darkest hours.  Though I could write a really inspiring post about the incredible ways I have seen “the best” play out, it is far more likely you found your way here because you are a member of one of those families in which “the worst” has emerged.  You are probably wondering if this is normal and what you can do about it.

So today we’re talking about the worst.  When sweet little Aunt Suzie suddenly becomes a crazy person and your brother, who was your bestie, is suddenly fighting you about everything, it can feel like your world is crumbling. Suddenly you’re trying to cope with the death and your support system is no longer support, but a source of additional stress.  You are grieving the death, while feeling like you are losing your family as well.

First let me be clear about one thing—you are not alone.  Not even close!  So many people can relate to family fighting after a death.  What’s the number one source of conflict?  Anyone want to take a guess?  Belongings and money.  As hard as it is for many of us to admit, countless families who never imagine there would be conflict over material things are suddenly overwhelmed by disagreement and power struggles. Though this can take countless forms, some of the common material conflicts are:

  1. When to begin sorting through belongings.  Some people are ready right away, some people want more time before sorting through items.
  2. Who gets what.  Even with a will, there are often many household items or sentimental object that are not accounted for. Not to mention the many people who die without a will.  In these cases there can be much conflict around which relative will get which belongings.
  3. What to keep and what to give away.  Attachment to objects can vary greatly from person to person.  While one person may want to save every Tupperware container and tube of chapstick that mom ever owned, other family may be quick to toss those items in the trash.
  4. Whether to keep or sell a house.  Houses can have tremendous sentimental value, making them something many family members don’t want to part with.  Houses can also hold tremendous value, making them something many family members may want to sell right away.
  5. Money money money.  Whether it is scraping together money to pay for a funeral, or dividing up bank accounts and investments without a will for clear guidance, money can quickly become a sore spot.

There are many other sources of strain and conflict that can arise for families.  There is no way I could cover them all here, but some family fighting after a death textother common conflict that arise are:

  1. Treatment at the end of life.  Conflict can begin even before a death, when families disagree about goals of care, withdrawing support at the hospital, and caregiving responsibilities.
  2. Arrangements.  Questions like whether someone will be buried or cremated, where will the service be held, where will they be buried, etc. can bring surprising strife between family members.
  3. Relocating.  After a death it is not uncommon that people may move, either by choice or out of necessity.  This can split a family geographically and be devastating for those who feel left behind.
  4. Custody.  When a death results in children who must be cared for, conflict can arise around who will get custody of the children if this was not predetermined.
  5. Grieving differently.  We all grieve in different ways and on different timelines.  When people are grieving differently this can be a major source of conflict within families.  This is especially common if one family member thinks another is not as impacted by the death or they are ‘moving on’ too quickly.

I am sure some of you are screaming, “Yes! Exactly! Now what do I do to fix it?!?”.  I wish we had an easy answer for that, but if we did we would probably be busy making the rounds on Oprah and Dr. Phil.  There is no magic pill.  What we can do is provide a little insight into why these conflicts may arise and a few suggestions to cope.

The Brain
There are many reasons that death can bring out the worst in people.  But one important thing to know is that when we are under the stress and crisis of a death, our brains actually work differently.  For real.  I am not going to get us bogged down in the neuroscience.  All you really need to know is this: there are parts of our brain that think rationally and there are parts of our brain that think more on impulse and emotion.  When we are in a heightened state due to a death it is harder to think with that rational part of the brain. We default to using the emotional parts of our brains – parts of our brain that struggle with reasoning, memory, and long-term thinking. When we have multiple people all acting from a place of emotion, it is no surprise that conflict can arise.

Control
One thing that is important to remember about death and grief is that it typically means a total loss of control.  We all want so desperately to be able to control and change what has happened, but with death control is lost.  As CS Lewis said, “No one ever told me grief felt so like fear”.  This change, loss of control, and loss of stability can be terrifying.  During this time certain family members will be seeking any way they can to regain a sense of control.  This may take shape in immediately trying to plan the funeral without getting anyone else’s input.  It may mean immediately sorting through belongings or trying to take charge of finances.  Understanding if desire for control is a factor in behavior can be important in how others in the family respond.  Helping another family member to have a sense of control, while communicating how their actions are making others feel, can be helpful.  If control seems to be a driving factor, other family members may be able to help guide this person’s energy into things that would be useful and that may cause less family strife.

Communication
Communication (or lack thereof) can be a key issue that leads to conflict.  If a plan isn’t made for who, when, and how certain things will be handled, it is not uncommon for one person to go rogue.  Communicating isn’t always easy, but it is crucial to reducing conflict.  If at all possible, make a plan right away for how and when things will be handled.  Agree on a time frame to all sit down together to go over the will, discuss next steps, and ensure everyone is on the same page.  Make a plan for regular updates and communication between family members.

If it is too late for that, focus on giving feedback to get back on track. Keep in mind that emotions are running high, so it is especially important to communicate effectively.  Try to avoid accusatory statements.  Instead, focus on expressing your own experience.  This is the old “use I statements” instead of “you statements”.  So, for example, instead of saying, “I can’t believe you threw away mom’s clothes without talking to me first.  You are so self-centered and thoughtless”.  Instead you could say, “I was really hurt when you threw away mom’s clothes without talking to me first.  It made me feel like you didn’t care about my grief or my attachment to those things.  There were some items in there I really wanted to keep that are now gone”.  By focusing on the behavior, how it made you feel, and the impact you can hopefully open a dialogue without making the other person defensive.  Also, be open to their feedback.  You probably haven’t been perfect either, so try to openly listen to what they need from you.

Generalizing the Negative
This brings me to a final consideration – extending behaviors of a griever to represent who they are as a person.  For example, you and cousin John have been close for 35 years and you think he is a great guy.  After the death of your grandmother, he does some shady manipulating to try to get her car.  You are outraged and appalled, so you think to yourself, “wow, I always thought John was a good person.  Now I see him for what he really is.  I can’t believe I never realized how greedy he is”.  All of the sudden everything else John does around the death is clouded by your new-found realization that John is a shady, greedy troll.

Timeout.  Let’s take a few steps back here.  Grief makes us all do crazy, sometimes crappy, things that we often regret.  It is important to cut people (and ourselves) some slack.  People do all sorts of awful stuff when they grieve, so view these things as poor choices due to an impossible time in life.  It doesn’t override the 10, 15, 35, or 50 years of wonderful things you know about the person.  Try to remember that this may be the exception in their behavior, not the rule.  Just like you need to be gentle and forgiving with yourself, you need to be gentle and forgiving with others.

Mediation
If there is truly no managing the conflict on your own, keep in mind that there are professional mediators who can help.  They can work with your family to get through the basic logistics. They are trained professionals and you may just find some time with them can help you better understand each other.

I have no doubt many of you have experienced these tough family conflicts.  Please leave a comment to share your experience – the good, the bad, and they ugly.

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COMMENTS

griever

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 8:16 am

Aagghh! So true! The vultures circled and swooped in, cackling as they picked through the spoils of his (and to a lesser extent, my) belongings in our home. See my comments in the National Widows Day post.

As a preventive measure to alleviate some of the confusion before illness or death occurs, please do some legal paperwork immediately. This includes powers of attorney (can be general to cover everything or specific to one category such as vehicle or finance), medical power of attorney, HIPPA privacy restrictions, directive to physicians, out-of-hospital do not resuscitate. Had my sweetie done his homework, he (and we) would not have suffered as much trying to make serious decisions when he was delirious from IV drugs and almost gone. T

Each state has different requirements. Some hospitals or clinics provide forms for free, as part of the admission process. But if you don’t do anything at all, you are at the mercy of the government, the law or the insurance company. And discussions of treatment among family members will not be fun.

I thank God for the doctors we had who truly put his needs first in the most compassionate way possible.

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griever

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 4:43 pm

P.S. The will! Don’t forget the will. And update it yearly or if there is any change of status in beneficiaries. A 45-year-old will does not address current situations.

Even a handwritten document can be valid. Some need a notary to validate it. It’s very easy but please check what is acceptable in your state.

Bless you all.

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tracy stone

Posted on October 4, 2014 at 8:09 am

This helped some, but this isnt what made us fall apart, ours was not respecting each others different grief. A sort of in their eyes, trying to prove who loved him the most. I sat and cryed trying to figure out why and I think I found the real answer, we all loved this little boy deep, I think for me, I am grieving more, not because I loved him more, but because I had more time and memories with him. Enough to fill my heart so that the pain is crazy. They think I should grieve just like them and I cant, therefore,,,, a torn family. I struggle with not there sympathy, but the lack of their understanding and compassion of what my grandson was to me.

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Nancy

Posted on December 7, 2014 at 6:41 pm

The article helped a little but after 9 yrs our family is still torn. While Mom was trying to deal with her cancer my Dad was falling apart and in his grief making absurd accusations about my sister and especially about me. He passed these lies onto my brother and his wife, who continued the negativity to my other brother. These were then passed to my mom who had to suffer enough with cancer and now had to realize the poison going on in her family. Luckily she called me and we talked and cried for hours finally getting the truth exposed. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of it. I am closer to my sister which made my Mom laugh because we were never really close before. Today my brothers and their families are not in my circle. Dad is “gone” with Alzheimers. When there is a problem with our father I eventually am contacted by my brother. For years I felt guilty but after seeing a psychic was told I could let it all go; it was meant to be. To my Mom, her family was everything and to see it split apart continues to be sad. To lose my Mom and my family at the same time was so confusing. The lies told about me were so confusing because all I wanted was to help my Mom through this last phase of her life. I worked with hospice and helped my Dad with her medicines. He seemed to appreciate my help to my face, then trashed me behind his back. Anyway….that was 9 yrs ago and long past time to get on with my life. Still, thanks for the article. It’s nice to know torn families exist. As Mom would say, that’s life!!!

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Elaine

Posted on July 7, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Wow, this article is true. I am beneficiary on a good friend’s insurance policies. Although I was surprised by this fact, I took on the role of handling her final affairs since her family (from whom she was estranged) didn’t. At the viewing before the service, the family members started trying to find out how much money was spent on the funeral. At the repast (reception) after the service, they tried again. one of them approached me and demanded a meeting with me to discuss what I had, what I had spent and what I knew about her finances and belongings. No mind you, these individuals were not involved in her life. Her friends, me included, have known her for 30-40 years and never heard of these people — all of which are cousins because she doesn’t have any immediate family like parents, spouse, siblings, children or aunts and uncles. Now the real crazy part… They are after her house which is valued about about 500K. I’ve never seen anything like this. They didn’t speak at the funeral. They didn’t ask me if I needed any assistance. The didn’t offer to help write the program. They didn’t even write the acknowledgements…I did. And now they want to meet with me? For what? Is that grief or is that greed. I’m trying to be understanding, but my friend was ill and hospitalized for a long time and they never showed up even though I called a couple of them. People can be really interesting.

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MSparks

Posted on July 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I am dealing with “rogue” family members now. My mother is ill, there are end-of-life issues. It is just a matter of time before she is put on hospice care. In the beginning (she broke her hip and was also just recently diagnosed with cancer for which she would not tolerate aggressive treatment) we were sharing some responsibilities, but they all slowly stopped returning mine or her calls, don’t come to see her. I work full time and 3 of the others don’t work at all and even live closest to her. The other 2 are in complete self-centered denial. It is the purposeful non-communication that really has me at a loss. My resentment is becoming so severe that when she passes, I don’t care if I ever speak to or see any of them ever again. When it come to money — there is none — but if I am even approached in regards to any, some big beads are going to be read before I exit the family altogether.

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PMD

Posted on July 13, 2015 at 6:36 pm

When you bring a stepmother and stepchildren into the mix it is even worse. My stepmother (actually I refer to her as my Dad’s wife…….she was never a stepmother to me.. She ordered the medication that killed my dad. When my brother was killed in a car/train accident the Dr. gave that medication to me dad to settle him…. This was the medication that was ordered for my dad. My sister is a nurse and she informed me of the records that are kept. I would never had guessed that things like that can happen. Because I was one of the executors (until I was removed) of my dad’s will I was able to get copies of dad’s medical records from the hospital. (This was shared to me by my sister. ) This is when we found out for certain (in black and white) that she had ordered the medication that killed our father. 15 years later we are still feeling angry that this could have been done. Please read all of your loved one’s records in the hospital. Do not assume!!!

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SS

Posted on March 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm

PMD, I am so sorry for your losses! Your story touched me as I had a very very similar story happen with my Dad just two months ago. For me it’s not only the grief of losing my Dad and the ordered medication by a recent marriage, I also call her my Dads wife, but also the trauma of dealing with her greed and theft in his estate. This is truly a heartbreaking nightmare!

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elka

Posted on May 12, 2016 at 12:39 am

You sound like the crazy adult step daughter I’m saddled with. She made her fathers life a living hell, unable to accept her father was happy in remarrying me. The scheming little psycho wrote letters accusing me of trying to kill her Dad(because she’s insane).Then, she disowned her father while he was receiving radiation/chemo. She’d only welcome him back if he divorced me. Her insane obsession with me continues to this day, after his death. I have a restraining order in place against her. She also broke into our home while he was in hospice, helping herself to items she felt she `deserved.’ While he was in hospice dying she pestered me about the will. You sound just like her. I doubt your step mother killed your Dad. I think you’re mad because you wanted everything left to you

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Eleanor

Posted on May 12, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Elka,

I’m sorry for your husband’s illness and death and for the turmoil you’ve experienced with your step-daugther. I don’t doubt this has been traumatic, but I don’t think it’s fair to assign your step-daughter’s characteristics and motives to the above commenter. Although the situation you described can and does happen, so does the situation she described. Though a grief website like this lends itself to support and advice of one another, it’s also limiting in we truly have no way of knowing what anyone else has experienced or been through.

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Anna

Posted on July 19, 2016 at 1:53 am

Absolutely!!! My step-mother died before my dad, but from what I read, she doesn’t seem like a very loving person. I wonder………who really was the greedy one?

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Anna

Posted on July 19, 2016 at 1:48 am

Elka,

I read her statement, and then read yours. Actually you sound much more vindictive and greedy that your late husband’s daughter. Maybe you should read what you wrote again. WOW!

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elka

Posted on May 12, 2016 at 12:55 am

As to your search to prove your step-mother killed your Dad via medications. I can assure you even if you get the list the nurses will be rolling their eyes in disgust. I learned from hospice nurses it’s not uncommon for adult children who hate their step-mothers to pull this stunt. It’s that cliché. My awful adult step daughter also blamed my 86 year old father for `plotting’ with me to ‘turn my father against me.’ I loved my husband more than I’ve ever loved anyone and I cannot imagine ever feeling that way again about anyone.BTW, over the two year course of his illness , I was with him every day. I never stopped viewing him as handsome. Or the most perfect person in the world for me. She called him ugly. She chose hating me over loving herfather and as a result she robbed herself of spending time with him. Her obsessioj with `getting to me’ was and is so all-consuming it’s also robbed her of living her life. What a tragedy. To have hurt her fathrer by hating me and by continuing to hate me she has no time for anything else. What a terrible self-imposed emotional prison she created for herself.

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Mel

Posted on July 14, 2015 at 6:51 pm

I just lost my 14 year old daughter a month ago. Her father and I are divorced. It was nice to see both sides get along until the “gift box”. All I have to say is this article hit me. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one going through this. I wish you could do more articles so I could understand the grandparents side and understand people. I’m sad and angry. Never thought this would happen in our family.

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Denise

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 8:49 pm

I am going through the most right now, my grandmother is very sick and my uncle is made because me and my brother are beneficiaries right along with him and wants to know why his kids aren’t, my grandmother adopted me and my brother when my mother passed while we were kids. He’s thinks we’re keeping insurance papers from him. I have power of attorney and a joint account and have been helping her with everything. Now he’s trying to get her pension and make funeral arrangements already. Though he was go be my support but boy was I wrong, his mother isn’t even dead and he’s acting like this.

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Ann

Posted on October 8, 2015 at 6:13 am

I recently lost my mother and went through what I believe to be the worst experience with disagreements and fighting. I was at a loss as to what caused the disagreements but after reading the article, realized it was about control. Though I felt there was communication among us and joint decisions made, accusations were thrown about me doing things “my way”. That for me was very hurtful as I consulted and communicated information each step of the way and got input before finalizing. I now realize that family members needed to try to regain that control that was taken from them through the death of my mother.

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Kathi rodden

Posted on June 16, 2016 at 8:40 am

I am going through the same thing right now. My sister who I was closest with committed suicide. I have planned and paid for 99% of everything because none of my family can afford too. I want her to have a beautiful service. I have got hell from my mother and 2 of my sisters. I had her belongings sent here to my house and I have caught hell from my them all week. It has made this whole process twice as stressful. I’m appalled at my moms behavior. She is so afraid I will open the boxes and take something. She doesn’t even want me to to open it so I can take some of her things to the funeral home to lay out in her memory. It sickens me, the whole thing.

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Litsa

Posted on June 17, 2016 at 9:33 am

Oh my gosh, Kathi, I am so incredibly sorry for the death of your sister and what you are going through. Grief can bring out so many complicated emotions and behaviors for families and this can be even more complicated when a death is by suicide. We have a post on suicide loss which may also be helpful to you. Please take care and I hope you find our site to be of support.

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malaga6

Posted on October 12, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Thank you so much for writing this piece. I found it very helpful. I am the oldest of six siblings who lost both parents within six months of each other in 2014-15. All of us are on the same page regarding our parents’ trust estate except one brother, who is abrasive, insensitive and outspoken about what “he” thinks our parents’ trust and will says, and what it actually says. His comments started before our remaining parent (father who is was never close to) died earlier this year. As I am the successor trustee, he complains and criticizes what I do regarding the estate despite the fact that the estate lawyer told him I was doing everything in order, and in a timely manner. He wants me to sell and liquidate all of the estate’s assets and divide it six ways, but that would effectively make two of our siblings homeless. So anyway, reading your essay helped be make some sense of out his behavior. Thank again.

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Eleanor

Posted on October 14, 2015 at 10:19 am

Ugh, I’m so sorry that this is your experience. I cannot tell you how often we hear stories like this. I hope your brother is able to find away to be a little more at peace with the decisions that were already made and which are being made. Good luck with everything.

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Amrita

Posted on November 19, 2015 at 2:13 pm

My grandma has died since September 2014 and my mum, dad and granddad has been fighting since and my grandma was the one who didn’t let them break apart!!!

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Jamie

Posted on December 12, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Im going to start off with a little bit of background to try and bring everyone up to date. My grandmother passed away less than a month ago. She was a strong amazing woman with a heart of gold and open arms. She left behind 5 living children all over the age of 50 along with over 20 grandchildren, over 30 great grandchildren and even a couple great great grand babies. My mom (the baby of the family according to grandma) has been a permanent fixture in my grandparents house as a caretaker, a companion and a best friend to her mom for the past 10 years. They did everything together and lived within their means while relying and leaning on eachother to make ends meet. They didnt have much, they shared a small trailer worth less than $5000 and everything they have in it thwy purchased together they were more than happy to have eachother and proud of what they have accomplished as a team. Now she has passed and my mom is all alone and to top it off her siblings are being very cruel. Grandma died suddenly and unexpectedly and did not leave a will. The only thing she left was words of her last wishes to my mom and i. We have been accused of stealing and hiding valuables that dont exsist and a living will that was never written. Mom is the only one of her siblings that has ever worked for her money (though it isnt much) and is also the only single sibling of the family. She drives to and from many clients homes on a daily basis in a car that barely runs and is now trying to make ends meet on her own small income. My aunts and uncles showed up a two weeks after her passing and tore through grandmas room like it was a rummage sale leaving nothing but a bed and night stand and now they are trying to take the trailer and car that has been signed over but never transferred to my mom so they can sell them for less than $6000 leaving my mom and the 2 dogs she inherited completely homeless and without a vehicle. As i said before they are all married with their own cars and houses. The funeral costs were taken care of with donations and there are no final bills. They just want the little bit of money. They have all had great relationships with eachother until the day she passed. I love my family and all that they are but im finding it hard to forgive their cruelty and selfishness. I cry for my moms heartache everyday and just keep thinking to myself grandma will be home soon to straighten all this out knowing its not true. I apologize if this is not the place to share this story but i feel as though it needs to be told and i appreciate the open ear.

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John

Posted on December 18, 2015 at 9:43 am

Our brother Patrick died suddenly of stomach cancer in June of 2014, after we lost our sister Mary in January of the same year, also of cancer. Perhaps is was the shock, but our older sister Donna, who had promised to help me and our remaining brother with the funereal expenses, has not contributed one cent as of December 2015. She is retired and on a fixed income, but so are my other siblings. Her adult children support her, so money is not the issue… To top it off, she is an extremely fervent catholic, and doesn’t hesitate for a second to criticize loudly any one who doesn’t follow the catholic doctrines. Her hypocrisy boggles the mind! You put a dollar sign in front of my sister, and those strong Catholic “values” go out the window..The part of the article “Generalizing the Negative” is true, but as I look back on our adult relationship( I am the youngest of 7 kids and my sister Donna is 19 years older than I), she has never reciprocated any act of sibling affection. We all have treated her to lunches, dinners, movies, even vacations, and barely a “Thank You” is offered. I know you don’t give in order to receive, but all I ever asked was to have a sibling relationship where you don’t go months without hearing from a person, or that your calls and e-mails are ignored.. As I write this , I have officially given up on her…I don’t reach out to her any longer, because the deafening silence is too hurtful.. I n 2014, I lost 3 of my adult siblings..2 of them, Mary and Patrick, from cancer, and my sister Donna from selfishness..

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Deb

Posted on December 27, 2015 at 5:41 am

My husband’s mother died unexpectedly in January 2015 after a short illness. We were traveling. The widow and his daughter (my husbands sister) tried to make the funeral arrangements (2 days) so quickly that we were not able to get home to attend. A phone call was made to the father and he said that is the way it is. The funeral home, however, was not able to make the arrangements that fast and we could attend the funeral.

After that, the sister convinced the father to give her his house. She then mortgaged it to the hilt and took out large sums of money. The sister then gave away the mothers belongings without asking if the brother or his children would like anything.

The father has given the sister free range over his life and decisions. Of course, that means he has only her influence. That is purely his choice.

There have been told many lies and untruths told by the siblings to the father and all other relatives to blacken my husband, the brother. It appears to be to character assinate the brother and his family. Maybe even to assuage guilty consciences.

In December 2015, My husband put a small decorated tree by his mother’s grave. He has decorated the graves at Christmas for many years. Other relatives decided to desicrate the decorated tree.

Guess there is no choice but to cut them all out of our lives to avoid constant hurt. We just can’t, and chose, not to deal with the family’s chosen path of meanness. We will have nothing more to do with them. This may be the sisters plan, but the dad made it very clear that this is his choice.

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rachel

Posted on January 18, 2016 at 10:42 pm

I never knew what people could be like after a death of a family member. I am the common law wife of a beautiful man who died suddenly and much too young. The two brothers…one who hadn’t seen him in 30 years, except for a few times (the latest times at my urging him to re-connect with his brother- now I understand his resistance) had started planning to steal his woodworking tools and anything else he thought he wanted two days after he was found. I learned this when I offered to have my husbands cousin over to use the tools, since the guy doesn’t have much. My husbands mother said “— has voiced an interest in the woodworking tools..” when you’re ready”… Well, — called dibs on my husbands truck on the second day too…in the guise of giving it to his son .. (They all think I have no rights, apparently). My husbands other brother literally found out the beneficiary info on the FIRST day he was found, through an old friend of his who had access to the computers at my husbands place of work…not legal. They all know what I’m getting- but no one has told *me*. To boot, now I’m single with no income and rent to pay… and they expected me to offer up a % of the services- payment. (After they froze his bank account with two months rent in it. Gone! & Even though the two brothers live extremely well)… The ex who has always used his beloved son to manipulate my husband into getting everything *she* wanted… literally wanted me to give her his favorite clothes so that she can have her friend CUT THEM UP and make a quilt for her 17 year old son (who was given a 1,200 guitar and everything he wanted by me and who expressed NO interest in the quilt) .. ON THE SECOND or THIRD DAY my husband was found. The ex still pushed for another guitar too…again, his son had no interest.
These people are truly sick in my opinion… and I have threatened them all with arrests if they come to my house. Good luck to anyone who’s going through this Bulls–t! You’d think losing the love of your life would be bad enough to deal with.

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Marie

Posted on February 7, 2016 at 10:12 pm

My family is doing this right now,and my aunt is still alive.The family members that are acting like vultures,did this when my grandmother passed away,they took everything from her home,when we were told to come up and take what we wanted,everything was gone,even personal items that were given to her, when asked where they were they did not no.My aunt now in the hospital, suffering from possible cancer was told by these family member that stuff is missing from her apt.,why even upset her when she is ill.I was told by her to take her items back to my home for safe keeping,as she knows what they did to my grandmothers belongings.Terrible thing to have to lose family members,becasue they want stuff from her place.shame on them.

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William

Posted on March 11, 2016 at 6:06 pm

I am horrified by the way some of the family members acted after my mother passed away. Thank God we have a Personal Representative! It was NEVER a close family, but I was particularly appalled at the reading of the will. Mom liked control over everything and everyone, and when that went away, the result was chaos, confusion, finger-pointing, bitterness and a lot of hurt feelings!

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Michelle

Posted on March 15, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Greedy , heartless aunts

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Michelle

Posted on March 15, 2016 at 7:26 pm

I lost my dear aunt last summer. She was 74 and never had children. My greedy aunts took all her Rolex watches and her savings and went on vacations..I went to her gravesite yesterday and there is No headstone…only a small aluminum grave marker. Shame in them… They will rot in hell

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Helen

Posted on April 5, 2016 at 7:32 am

It can be amazing the positive support you may feel and have when someone has just passed away but it’s months later when things calm down, when your mind isn’t as busy after sorting affairs out and other family members get on with their own lives and don’t keep that close contact. This is when you feel alone and lost the most.
Communication is a two way thing and when that is broken and you are constantly keeping in touch with no thought from the other side to pass by on their own accord to say ‘How are you today?’ you feel isolated and forgotten.

I would give this advise, it takes less than a minute out of your daily life to see how someone is when family has passed away. The effort needs to be equal from both parties and never assume. Step into the person, affected shoes and try and walk in them…. No one is never too busy that’s just an excuse.

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Steve

Posted on April 6, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Here’s my problems, my mother was seriously ill for some time. Back in December well new yrs eve to be excact, I stayed with my mom of 66′ knowing this is more than likely going to be her last new year. We spoke of death, she seemed to have come to terms with it. Any way during our conversation I said don’t worry mom were all on the same path, and me being a believer in the afterlife also gave a little comfort to us both.she told me what she wanted, I said I know you want to be cremated, she said, and also said she would like a whicker effect coffin. I said how about horses and carriage mom, she said you won’t be able to afford such things, I said watch me. My mom loved horses, we planned prior to this news years eve, to go to a farm and see some horses as shed never been so close to one., unfortunately mom got worse and passed away on Sunday 2nd April, yes 3 days ago, I’ve had a couple of days to think, yesterday I went to a well recommended funeral director, payed for the horses and carriage, and the coffin she wanted.this leaves an outstanding amount for all other arrangements, I’ve been writing a tribute since yesterday for the vicar to read, I asked my sister for some input, she said mention that mom liked to bet on the horses. By brother informs me that my sister doesn’t agree with the horse and carriage, she thinks it’s tacky, and doesn’t want mom on display. She’s getting at me with snidely remarks, hel!!. Can anyone see a problem here. Everyone I spoke to thinks I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s my moms final journey,

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Rachel

Posted on April 29, 2016 at 2:03 am

I had this problem with my husbands family he passed away July 13th 2015. They are the type of people that are always mad he had been in jail for 5 months prior they didn’t speak to me the whole time cause if something they were mad about, when he passed I told them I wasn’t going to make a final decision without them because I felt like it was the right thing as soon as we started the arrangements I make sure what I wanted was OK with them they were all in agreement with what I wanted but when it was all done and over with they had a problem with everything that I chose now it’s been almost a year and they want nothing to do with my children which is fine because it’s their loss these are my mother-in-law’s only grandkids of her sons they didn’t even hug them at the funeral my children did nothing wrong they lost their father and his entire family

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Eliza

Posted on May 6, 2016 at 12:12 am

My 17 year old niece was just killed by a drunk driver a few months ago and we are a very close family. It was my sisters daughter and my 16 year daughter were inseparable since birth. My sister has literally gone crazy…she is 37 and started hanging out with the 25 year old coach at our daughters school non stop and text around the clock. Nobody in my family can even talk to her anymore without her texting or talking about her new friend. Her remaining daughter and my sister fight over who gets to spend more time with the 25 year old and her husband seems fine with it. They have forgotten all of us and won’t even talk about their daughter who was killed only a few months ago!! I am furious with her bc she has completely emotionally shut down and reverted to being a teen! My heart is broken and my daughters can’t understand how their aunt and remaining cousin aren’t even grieving or talking about this huge loss.

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Eleanor

Posted on May 6, 2016 at 9:43 am

Eliza,

Gosh, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss and for the turmoil they are now going through. While it is certainly normal for people to act different or for their priorities to change after a death; you do describe a very unique situation. Unfortunately it is just impossible to know specifically what’s going on with your sister and whether her behavior is helpful, self-destructive, or neither of the above.

I guess the question I would ask if I were you is, what need is this 25 year old filling for your sister? Does he somehow, either personally or through her relationship with him, help her feel closer to your niece? Does her involvement with him help her to escape or avoid reality?

As frustrating as it is, if this relationship is a way to avoid grief (and it may not be) it makes sense that she would shut her family out. You want and expect her to grieve, so at this point being around you might threaten her as it would force her to face realities and emotions that she doesn’t want to face, or cause her to feel shame for avoiding her grief. On the other hand this 25 year old is maybe allowing her to be someone different entirely, allowing her to look at life differently, and maybe allowing her to feel closer to both her daughters. Have you had a candid conversation with your sister about what’s going on with her and about your own feelings? Is she receptive? Responsive? I’m sorry we can’t offer more. I hope you’re able to find a way to connect with your sister. Hang in there 🙂

Eleanor

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Keirsten Taylor

Posted on June 9, 2016 at 11:49 pm

Oh my word, wish I had read this a few months back! It might have spared me some of the countless restless hours reliving the shock and anger at my sister’s behavior when my Mom passed away suddenly. There were awful scenes that seemed straight out of a movie. My sister forged ahead with planning a funeral without asking me or my grandmother. She ignored my grandmother’s pleas to have a catholic funeral since that was the only religion Mom ever practiced and the man who was like a brother to her was a Catholic priest who had taken her to Rome and holy sites in the middle east. She facebooked my mom’s death, then called my grandmother to tell her she lost her only child a few hours before any other family could be with her, never once contacting family nearby to be with her. She refused to pay for my mother’s body to be embalmed for the wake so my grandmother wouldn’t have to view her week old corpse. My Mom also wanted to be cremated and she said it was an unneccesary expense, calling me the worst word you can call a woman and demanding that I pay the interest on the credit card she was using to foot the bill until life insurance came through. During the funeral she refused to sit with the family, instead prefering to sit across the isle with her best friend. The sad thing is these moments as well as really ugly scenes with my sister prior to my Mom’s death likely fueled by her processing grief around my father’s death 7 years earlier have left me with such awful memories and the feeling that I no longer have a sister. She has never apologized to my Mom or myself for her screaming, profanity-laced tirades and probably never will.

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Linda

Posted on June 11, 2016 at 11:50 am

My Mom passed away recently. , My Dad already passed a few years back. There was no will, In the state we live in our law states that when their is no will ( and also their was no house,no real property) then personal belongings of the deceased go to the surviving children of the deceased, Equally divided. My Mom just rented a apartment.) , My brother did not follow this law, He made all the funeral arrangements and paid for them( dont even know with what money?) Was their any in the estate, pension fund., life insurance, We dont know,, but He called us and left us a message that told us of Moms passing after everything was arranged and payed for so we couldnt have a say in anything regarding the funeral. As well as Church Arrangements. , Who was doing readings, who were pall bearers, We couldnt take a part in any decision making,because everything was done by My Brother. . The funeral home was nice and polite but sorry that their was nothing they could do because everything was already paid for by my brother who knew of Moms passing first and then put everything into action. , Then after the ensuing days, my brother cleaned out Moms apt ( we were not allowed in because only my brothers name was on the lease for the apartment with a phone and address info for contact information so the apt complex director would not let us into Moms apartment.. This led to My brother taking everything and did not divide equally between another brother and myself < Everything ( personal belongings, any money left in accounts, etc should have been divided one third) So because of no will, , My brother only, gave us a box of pictures of our family my parents had and of our children and some small gifts we had given to Mom and Dad thru the years, and some little trinkets, plaques etc we did not even ask for. ( We also noticed some expensive gifts we did give were missing) Other than that, He a emptied the entire apt and its belongings and kept them or gave them out to whoever He chose. . This is a sad situation, We asked my brother for certain keepsakes we wanted, ( copys of family genealogy in the Bible, and or the family Bible, and copys of old family pics of great grandparents and relatives on both sides of Mom and Dad and copys of parents Wedding album and some other personal Keepsakes we would have liked to have which He didnt give us. , We did not get one third of everything in the apt by any stretch of the imagination, . He wont answer texts ,phonecalls or answer letters, We were told we could bring it to court and have him document where all the money went and to follow the law and He should have split personal belongings three ways with surviving children. ( If you all cant agree on a item you can buy each other out) . At first I thought about court but then I found out you really dont need a lawyer and you fill out a administration form and it seemed like alot of work and all the belongings were already given out,, To get one third also some things may have had to have been liquidized.if you all cant decide on who wants what and before it is given elsewhere, You need to come to agreements. None of this happened. Its a sad situation that you have to deal with on top of death, I wish that Mom would have taken some steps to take care of this but she died unexpectantly and guess she thought she had time, But.My brother thought He could break State law and take what He wanted and not divide equally between surviving children. , He has gotten away with it, He will have to live with this on his conscience. ( if its working properly) , A Good and Holy Priest told me what matters is reconciliation took place with My Mother and myself before her unexpected death and that is very important. Our daughter encourages to look at Saint Francis with his poverty and think like that. You dont need material things, ( just memorys). Last I texted my brother saying He did not give us all the personal keepsakes we asked for and if He could ever find it in his heart to give us them to us one day we would be greatful. I doudt that day will ever come that He responds back, but the peace that I have knowing that I didnt break any laws and My brother was informed He did,, you cant put a price tag on , ( Having peace) Sure I would have liked the personal keepsakes we asked for but we cant get them now unless we go thru alot of trouble with court forms and its something that I just dont feel like going thru now even though it hurts and am trying to accept it , There are good days and bad days, Some days feel like should go to court and make brother document where all the assets went and that the surviving children are suppose to be the first people who can ask for certain belongings before it goes to relatives, neighbors, friends, goodwill or whoever my brother chose to give it to. Its a sad situation, It has taught us a lesson for our own family and children that this wont happen with our children and has opened up discussions, We dont want them to experience this. If I were in that position I could never empty my Mothers apt and keep everything or give it out without asking my other two brothers what they would like and whats important for them to remember Mom and Dad, So its hard for me to understand how my brother can do this. So we learn to live with this hurt and hopefully in time the hurt will diminish. I know Our God is a just God and sees everything, I will leave it up to Him to bring about justice in this life or the next regarding what my Brother did with this, Like the article stated, Now I believe it had to maybe do with control in handling grief. I never thought of it that way but it makes for a good explanation of one of the reasons of why my brother acted the way He did, Reading these posts helps and makes you feel you are not alone, and this seems to be fairly common in familys, My poor Husband and what He went thru with his family is also wrongful. His Parents had a note book that He didnt even know about, and all of his siblings wrote in the book what personal items they wanted, so at time of his parents passing all his siblings came with their trailers and trucks to take away everything they asked for in the house, while my poor husband didnt even know about this book that it even existed and He didnt get any of it as everything had already been claimed by his siblings. , He went into the garage and took some of his Fathers tools no one wanted. How terribly sad and awful. I think people alive and reading any of these posts should do all they can to learn from these experiences and take care of their affairs so children especially are not left with this heavy hurt at their parents death adding more to the grief they have. , Thanks for having a website like this, at least to share your grief and story is theraputic in some way and other people out there going thru this can understand your pain. . Praying for all people suffering from grief and situations they find themselves in with family members that just add to their grief and also for the souls of any loved ones that passed on and may be still suffering and need our prayers. Our family is of the Catholic faith and we are taught how our deceased loved ones need our prayers, Masses, Love and Charity towards them, I try to concentrate on that aspect, And I rejoice in knowing our God is one filled with Mercy as well as justice. . I will leave the wrong done to us for God to take care of. ( but it still hurts what was done to us) Time heals I keep hearing so waiting for time to pass. There are good days and bad days, You can be angry about it and then next day find yourself being forgiving and feeling sorry for someone to do such a wrongful act.to you and then you learn from the experience and its always better to have peace in your heart than carry around all the baggage, and pain. I know I am not perfect and have messed up many times in life but It just amazes me in a situation such as this that I can not comprehend how this was done and My brother did this.to us. Wishing everyone peace in your heart today and as many days as you can muster it up. Blessings, AveMaria . , . . . , .

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dave jacobson

Posted on July 28, 2016 at 9:08 am

My comment/question is simple. For personal reasons I do not want to be referred to as “beloved son/brother” on the family headstone. My family refuse to comply with my request – what canI do?

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