Death in the Family - Houston,TX

Updated on November 18, 2017
K.B. asks from Houston, TX
11 answers

My stepdad has been sick with cancer for about a month & he passed away last night. I feel helpless, because I recently moved to another state with my husband and 2 young children. I asked my mom when she would like me to come & she said to wait for the funeral. I’m going for sure, but if I lived nearby, I could do a lot more, and stay with her longer. I’ll do as much as I can possibly do from home, but I’m really torn, because I can’t leave my kids. I have a really hard time being away from them, especially since I would be flying. Also, my husband would have to take off work to be here for the kids. It’s just a lot more complicated since I have 2 children. I don’t want my mom to think that I don’t care, and I am really worried about her, because she doesn’t have many family members or friends. Has anyone been in this situation? I really need help!! Thank you in advance, and please, kind advice only. This is s very sensitive topic.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

I am so sorry you are going through this. I hope my experience can help you gain some light on what you should do. Remember, you and your family are your number 1... you can only do so much and spread yourself so thin. You have to also remember that it is OK to leave your children sometimes.

I'm not sure hw long you've been on the site but in 10/2015 my husband of 27 years died suddenly from a heart attack at home with me. My emotional state and everything else has been very hard for 2 years. We ran our company from home and I picked that up and I do it myself now as well as continue to substitute teach, my 17th year.

Fast forward to 10/15/2017 (2 years after my husband's death and an emotional week).... my stepdad (83)who had been treated for cancer died. He and my mom (75) had been married 21 years. My mom, of course is devastated.

I am not in the same situation as you... my daughter is 22 and lives on her own and goes to college. She lives less than 30 minutes from me and we are very close.

I drove to AL to be with my mom (my hubby never would have allowed me to do that but I couldn't fly and not have a return date) and I was at her side for the small service in AL where they had retired and then I drove her to SC where he was to have a military service by her side, back to AL and then eventually back to TX. It was a grueling week. My body is still paying for it.

The ONLY way I was able to do this was because I run our company and I can do it as long as I have my phone and internet. My daughter and her bf took care of my house and dogs which saved me a lot of pet sitting money.

I felt like I had no choice to be there but at the same time, even with a strained relationship with my mom, I wanted and needed to be there. Unfortunately, I KNOW how she feels, I KNOW the heartache and the emotional spiral that happens because I am still adjusting to my new normal.

Does your mom live in a community where she has friends, church family, neighbors? I was amazed at the people who were there and still are (even after her recent hospitalization).

When my husband died, no family was here It was sudden and it was mostly friends here. The service ended, daughter and I just sat there, looked at each other and said WTH just happened? We live in an area that is not like some more rural areas where neighbors care and show concern. We were on our own. I do suggest grief counseling.. that helped.

Everyone goes back to their normal while you adjust to your new normal.

Even if you can't go to her, you can support her.... CALL, make sure she eats.. My mom stopped eating and just got out of a weeklong hospital stay.

Your mom, although through her pain... knows you have a family and children. I bet she would understand BUT........

It is OKAY to leave your children for a while. They will be ok and I know it would hurt financially possibly a bit but it won't hurt hubby to care for them 24/7 a little while. Think about the modeling you are doing for your children when they see you go take care of your mom. They would likely drop what they are doing and come take care of you when they see you being compassionate and caring for your mom. A little break from children is not going to hurt you.. they will be ok.

I hope you come to a decision that gives you peace and I am sorry you are going through this.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I'm very sorry for your loss.

Personally - if it were me, I'd have my husband take the time off work and I'd fly and be with my mother. Is that possible?

You don't mention when the funeral is or if there is anyone else there with her. If there is anyone else there with her at this difficult time, then it isn't quite so necessary.

I have never regretted being there for someone I love in their time of need. I get you are torn. My husband is wonderful in situations like this (not saying yours isn't) but he would make this easy on me - he would have called in to work and taken the time off and booked my flight for me. He'd have taken my suitcase out.

I would be like you - torn. So sometimes you need someone to say - go. If she's alone and you can go - I say go. If she has someone, and it's not easy to go - then I think it's ok not to.

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R.R.

answers from Seattle on

Iam so sorry for your loss. I was in this situation 2 months ago. It was my dad's 1st death anniversary. I knew I was going but was torn just like you. I had to fly to India for a week. I have 2 kids 5 and 12 and hubby took off from work for 2 days- the rest of the days they managed. I cooked for 10 days, did laundry for a weeks worth. It's never enough- mind you my kids are totally close to me. Turned out to be the best trip ever . I could completely focus on my mom- help her- dad had passed away suddenly so we were in shock even after a year. My kids and hubby were fine. These trips in life are really important and kids will understand. It's a learning lesson for them too. Funny every time kids would call mommy- in India I would turn back to see...all best in any choice you make...,,

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

If it were me, we would all be going (unless we couldn't afford the airfare). Your stepdad passed away. This is a time to be with family. This is a time for a grandmother to see her grandchildren.

If you can afford it, you should all go. Maybe you could go early and/or stay later. Your husband should absolutely take care of things for you for a time. That's what family does!

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

Well you can only do so much from so far away. She's telling you to wait until the funeral which is only a few days so wait until then to go out. You don't mention what ages your children are but if they are preschool age then just take them with you and stay a little longer. She may enjoy the distraction of having the little ones around. If they are school aged then use your friends and neighbors to help out with child care (or hire a sitter) and have your hubby adjust his schedule so he can be there.

Don't beat yourself up over moving and not being there to support mom as much as you would have if you still lived closer. When you moved things changed. That's how life works. Things always change.

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

I’m so sorry for your loss.

I know i if it were my mom she would want the grandkids near her too.

I’m not sure if your kids are school age or not but perhaps consider taking them with you. Of course you’ll be busy with them too but your mom may appreciate having the kids in the house. You could ask her.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Go for the time that you can.
Beyond that, can you invite her to come and stay with you for a week or two next month?

I'm sorry for your loss.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. If your stepdad was sick for a month, it was a very fast decline and it must be a terrible shock for your mother. Her world has been turned upside down. I know you feel torn

You don't say how old your children are, but I checked your prior posts and it looks like you have one born in 2007 who is in 5th grade. So that child is perfectly able to be without you for a few days. If the other one is at least in school, there shouldn't be a problem. Even if the 2nd child is younger, with good care and modeling from your husband and the older child, Children learn resilience and confidence from being able to manage, and from learning that their father is perfectly capable of caring for them. That doesn't devalue your contribution at all - in fact, it is a testament to your building their character. Your husband's company probably has bereavement/funeral leave - and even if they don't, surely the death of his wife's stepfather would be an important time to support his family and step up. Perhaps you have a few friends who can pitch in as well. It seems that this may be harder for you than for them, because you say, "I have a really hard time being away from them." Is there also flying anxiety? You say, "...especially since I would be flying." Or is it about being farther away in miles than if your mom lived a few towns away? Is it because you feel you can't get back to the kids in an emergency? I get that, but I also see that your mother is having an emergency that's real, whereas with your kids, it's only that hypothetical emergency that all of us parents worry about.

With Face Time and Skype, couldn't you stay in daily contact with your kids? Maybe they could really step up and be fine if you gave them this chance. And isn't it important for them to see you model the character traits you probably want them to develop - namely, helping out in a time of need, learning a little bit about funerals and mourning, reaching out to Grandma?

I'm sure your mother felt that she could manage in the blur of the first few days while you make arrangements, and having you there for the funeral would not only help her, but also would allow you to be surrounded by the supporting arms of other family and friends. Once the funeral is over, people tend to move on with their lives, and that may be when your mother needs you the most. In the initial days, there is a flurry of calls and cards and meals made by others, but afterwards, she will be alone and struggling to know what to do next. There is paperwork (for insurance, Social Security, pension funds, and many other things), the reading of the will, the disposal of things like clothes, the distribution of his personal items to family members (not that she may be ready to do this immediately), and the settling in to live alone. Read TF's remarks below - so wrenching. The funeral is over, people go home, and the widow sits there saying, "Now what?"

You seem to really want to do what she needs, and you're willing to stay with her. So do have confidence in your children's ability to survive for a few days without you, and take this time to bond with your mother and be the support she needs. Ask yourself how you will feel if you stay home, vs. how you will feel if you go. How will your husband feel if you stay home because you didn't trust him to manage the home front or be bothered to take a few days off?Will this come between you later on if he could not be there to support you in your mother's time of great loss?

Both options will be difficult in some ways, of course. Look long term and make the best decision you can.

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

I'm sorry for your family's loss.

I realize that it's often quite difficult to make emergency plans when a loved one passes away. There are so many arrangements to make (where will guests stay, the service details, choosing floral tributes, the viewing or wake, etc), and it all has to be done in a short amount of time, and while grieving!

So you may be a little flustered, understandably, by having to make travel plans so quickly.

Perhaps you can go in another direction. Right now your mom will be so busy. It's often after the funeral is over, after the meals have stopped being delivered, after the last bouquet of flowers has been received, after the funeral home arrangements are all made and all discussions with the funeral directors and any religious leaders are complete, that the real loneliness sinks in.

Could you go spend some time with your mom in about a week or two? Sit with her, go through your stepdad's belongings if that is what your mom wants to do, go for walks, help her cope with her new life, maybe plant a tree or rose bush together in honor of your stepdad. She'll have your upcoming visit to look forward to.

This way your husband will have time to prepare for taking some time off. It doesn't sound like your kids are toddlers or babies. They often are more resilient and helpful than you would think! Your husband can still go to work during the day - he just may have to come home earlier than usual or go in to work a little later. Take some time to make some freezer meals and to prepare your kids for being on their own for a short time. Make up schedules for getting up, getting ready for school, taking over some simple chores (feeding the dog, emptying the trash, loading the dishwasher).

I know that it can be hard to be away from our kids when they're young, but right now your mom needs you and she'll need you even more in the next week or two. Being strong for your kids doesn't necessarily have to mean that you're right by their side. You can show them strength by showing them that you're going to take care of your mom for a little bit.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

I am sorry for your loss. But in "logistical terms", everyone loses a parent at some point and many people on this site have two children. You do not explain *why* your situation is "just a lot more complicated since you have 2 children". If your children are school age, hire an after-school sitter...why would your husband need to take time off work? If your children are younger than school age, bring them along to visit grandma!

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I get the impression that you are the only person in your home that can manage to take care of anything...you know that's not true. Your hubby can put your kids with a friend after school or take them to a babysitter all day while he works. Millions of mom's have to get up and go to work every single day. Their kids turn out just fine.

I understand you feel you can't be away from your kids but they will be perfectly fine. You need to go help your mom and then come home in a week or two.

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