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Can his family really hijack my husbands last wishes

UKLady's picture
Posts: 85
Joined: Jan 2011

Apparently they can.

Hello- to those that don't know me- my husband passed last Tuesday May 24th, with lung cancer and mets to the brain. His family were totally absent during this time even when my daughter came from the UK every month to Texas to support us when they found it unbearable to come from one hour away.
Less than 24 hours after his passing I was told *we do things differently here*. My husband had set out his wishes for a wake, and what was even to be used for his toast. He even put in his will a statement: *to my siblings: do not interfere with my wishes or Lyndsey's actions now as she acts upon my authority*- he clearly realised ahead of time -trouble with a capital T.

I was *told* they were going ahead with a memorial and I could *go along* if I wished.Not even at the family time mind you- but the *everyone else time*.

My husband and I were together 7 years- they don't even want photos of us traveling the world together-they say they have all they need thanks very much but would I *send over* a b and c for it. We were only married 17 months and I looked after him all but the first three weeks alone up until his lifestyle choice of Hospice at home in early April. I feel airbrushed out and completely lost.

Can you imagine how I feel? Do I not need closure too? They did not ask for a list of his friends or colleagues nor mine.Like the last seven years were of no account. I don't even feel Steve or Lyndsey count in all this. I told them it was like a wedding without a bride or groom! Steve's mother is not well but I visited her on Friday to show his will- she just spat out that people needed to pay her respect. I am wondering where the family respect for me and Steve are. I told her I understood if she needed spiritual support from her friends but to have an alternative memorial seems beyond the pail to me.

People have advised me to go ahead on my own- but it seems so divisive for family to have an event without Steve's or my blessing and me deal with well- what appears to me- people they don't care about- who gave me and Steve all the support they could. Is this D for dysfunctional or what?

Apologies for the long post- but i sooooooooo needed to write this down!


Posts: 358
Joined: Aug 2009

I think I would go with your husband's wishes. When my husband died, he specifically said he did not want a wake. I had alot of questions and advice about this but I knew it was what Terry wanted and that was all that mattered. I think it is important to take his family's feelings into consideration but the final decision should be based on what he wanted.

Posts: 1862
Joined: Aug 2010


Proceed with Steve's wishes regardless of what his family does. A memorial on their part does not require your input, although they should certainly involve you, and, indeed, you should have the lead unless you choose to relinquish.

Whatever Steve told you he wanted, do it. Etiquette says you would tell them when and where but nothing more is required and if you think they are going to screw with your plans, leave them out completely.

This is about Steve's last wishes, not how they "do things differently here".

How utterly rude, thoughtless and inconsiderate of them.

Hugs, Lyndsey. You will make it through this with fortitude and resilience because, all that really matters, is what you and Steve want.

mswijiknyc's picture
Posts: 421
Joined: Oct 2010

Before I start in on anything allow me to say this - wills and POAs are fairly ironclad unless proven otherwise. The burden of proof lies on the family or other upset party that feels slighted. So whatever Steve put in his will IS TO BE FOLLOWED WHETHER THE FAMILY LIKES IT OR NOT. (go ahead and say it - ha ha :))

That said, I made sure that Patrick's will and POA was ironclad so no one in his extended family would try anything. I left them out of all planning and told them nothing of his service and very little of when he passed. About a month after I got a very snotty letter from an aunt of his I never met that never bothered to get involved in our life together berating me for not including them.

Excuse me, where the F*** WERE YOU?!?!?!

So who was at our service? Our real family - friends new and old who stuck by our side. It was great and both Patrick and I were very happy with how the day went. Somehow I just know he is even with out him telling me so.

So plan the event and exclude them. They want to have a different service that's on them. You tried and extended the olive branch as best you could. If the two of you didn't spend a lot of time with them, now you know why. Let them hold on to their bitterness on their own. Celebrate Steve's life with family that counts, doesn't matter if it's blood as blood relatives sometimes leave much to be desired. Keep in mind this decision is THEIR CHOICE. They have made it - let them suffer the consequences. I imagine most people will choose your side over family that excludes the widow for no apparent good reason.

This is your last public day together, at least that is how I looked at Patrick's service. This is about you too - be strong keep your head up hun.

zinniemay's picture
Posts: 534
Joined: Mar 2009

Lyndsey, I think stand your ground, that is what Texan people do, since your husband made wishes then you are honor bound to them, not his family. After all this his family will not have anything to do with you so what does it matter. As a wife you are intitled to respect. They have not given it to you. I say you do what you know Steve wanted and to Hell-o with what they say. He was your husband ,your friend, he was your everthing. So do what YOU think is right. and Tell they to take a flying leap of faith.
I say do what you know is right and you will feel good inside.
Love you Friend

Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2010

Lyndsey, You do what you know is right to do in your heart and in your mind; follow Steve's wishes. I had a similar issue with my Mother-in-law when Mike passed away. For years, they had not spoken (long story) but she wanted things her way for the service, which were quite different than what Mike wanted (including that she was very opposed to Mike being cremated). To make a long story short, our family and friends 100% supported my following Mike's wishes and I felt (and still feel) very good about having done that for Mike. And since then, Mike's Mom and I have actually spoken on a number of occasions; she actually has told me that now she appreciates that I did follow Mike's wishes.

So D for dysfunctional? Absolutely. You can't change that, but you can continue to support Steve as you are. Don't let them stress you out any more than what you already are; you have way too much on your plate to do that. Vent away as needed as we are here for you. Take care and here are many cyber-hugs!

lovingwifedeb's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: Aug 2010

Lyndsey... I've learned as a caregiver time spent with our loved one gave us a special advantage that no one else will ever be able to take away from us, the ending of a life. How much closer can one person be with another? How stupid for others not to recognize or thank the caregiver when it's over? Yes, we know fist hand the dying wishes of those whose hearts could no longer stay with us. Family and friends are just second guessing from their own emotionally based not ready to let go when we as caregivers have had to watch our loved ones suffer or linger more than our hearts could take.

Let Steve's family do what they will.

You do what Steve wanted you to do.

Peace to you.

grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

His wishes are what count. If some family members chose to do there own thing, ignore them. You know what your husband wanted. I agree with those who have told you to go ahead on your own. The family is already divisive. That's not your problem. You are following the will and Steve's wishes. It's unfortunate that others are choosing to ignore that. We really don't do things differently here if we have any manners. We follow the wishes of the deceased especially if they are spelled out in a will. I'm sorry you are having to deal with this now. You deserve better, and you deserve greater respect as Steve's wife. Fay

UKLady's picture
Posts: 85
Joined: Jan 2011

Thank you all for your wonderful support. I (barely) survived the alternative memorial for Steve's mother sake but intend to go ahead with Steve's wishes for a wake. I went down with a fever this week so I am treading water and taking your advice to rest.
The one thing about a good wake is -it need not be sooner as opposed to later, and will be better for the planning and some distance. As Deb said, we have already experienced the privilege of looking after a loved one. Since I was sole caregiver, in some sense- I don't need closure after such a long and painful goodbye when we had barely said hello and so much is demanded of me, not being a citizen of the US to get through the next weeks with our Homeland Security friends as well, it makes sense to take stock and do nothing hasty. His memories from his true friends will still be there and I would very much like to wait for my daughter to come back from her Asia trip. I rather suspect that I am waiting to exhale for just that very thing :-)

Peace to all


Posts: 131
Joined: May 2011

My wifes funeral will be in her home town (and mine too)when her inevitable passing occurs. But I can bet anything i like the inlaws will hijack the ceremony to suit themselves and exclude me her husband. I really need this to work well as well.

UKLady's picture
Posts: 85
Joined: Jan 2011

I read about Grace and I am sincerely sorry, especially when you had so little time to prepare.

I may have attended a memorial that was hijacked by relatives, but they could not take away from me the memories me and Steve had these last months because they were simply not there with us. It was just their way of ticking their box and I was not there to give credence to it but as a reminder. I was devastated at the time but you know I still intend to hold the wake he wanted. I walked away from it, head high and so shall you-if it happens but I hope with all my heart that you get to do what you want and if not at this time- perhaps in the future something will come to mind for you and Grace and your loved ones that gives you what you need just now- peace of mind.

My heart goes out to you


Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

Family relations. Oh what a joy! When my family starts doing crap like that, I just make the decisions and inform them later. Kind of like planning a wedding without everyone's input. I get less issues.

ButterflyLake's picture
Posts: 44
Joined: May 2011

Girl, you are not alone on this one!

First, let me say that I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that your burdens are a little lighter today.

Now, let me tell you my Crazy family crap, because it will make you feel (just a bit) that we are all out here doing the best we can.

My mom VERY specifically laid out her wishes before she passed (about four years ago really, but she planned her own funeral services in a detailed way after being diagnosed a year ago). She had a lot of foresight. And, during her cancer journey, she and I spoke frequently about what she wanted, and she had really great legal documents drawn up to make sure that everything would happen the way she wanted. She warned me that some relatives would get nutty and that I should do my best to make sure to make sure that I could just make her wishes happen.

And....it didn't.

Here's the long-and-short of it: Her brother purchased a funeral plot for her (without her knowledge), then sent certified letters to distant relatives asking for money to pay for it. He went to the funeral home from which she asked me to purchase a package, and told them that I forged her signature on her documents. He made a recording of her funeral (she warned me this would happen...so bizzare). He made a really odd photo collage and put it in the middle of the sanctuary, which was elegantly set up by the funeral folks per her direction. He planned a separate service for "family only." When the funeral director asked me if I wanted any of that stuff at the funeral stopped, I said no. My feeling is that it will be his karma with her and what he's chosen to do, because he knew her wishes just as well. If I interfered, it would become my problem.

He also made comments REALLY loud during the sermon that my husband wasn't family and neither was I, and that the pastor's wife shouldn't have been seated up front. Keepin' it classy!

And, that, is just one relative! There's more, but you're not my diary. I just wanted to commiserate.

I know it can be infuriating, but here's what's helped me: if you had done everything you could to do what you know your husband wanted, and were met with resistance, it is NOT your problem. You fulfilled your promise, and that's the most important thing for you and your husband.

If you have any words of wisdom or advice for me, I'd love to hear them.

Bless you in your journey.

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