Hello. My sister passed away from cancer 4 months ago within 1 year of her diagnosis. During the time she was fighting for her life, my brother-in-law was communicating with an old flame.
During her chemo treatments he was very mean to her, I won’t go into details but he made her very sad and wasn’t very supportive of her recovery. It hasn’t even been 5 months since she died and he is already re-married. He claims to be ‘saved’, and goes to church, and admitted he committed adultery. Now this woman is moving in with him (in my sister’s house). My sister’s life insurance policy designated her 2 children to be the beneficiaries, however, 2 weeks before she died, it was revised and he was named the sole beneficiary and the kids got nothing. I am so torn by all of this and not quite sure how to handle it. He sent me a cold email explaining he thought that was the best way to communicate with me (coward), and how he has found the Lord and his soul mate (he said my sister was his soul mate before) and that he is happy and moving on, he asked what items I wanted of my sisters. I have so many things I want to say to him but it hurts too much. Please give me some insight on how to handle this matter with tact and dignity. Thank you.
Kay and Dennis Flowers
Authors of Catholic Annulment, Spiritual Healing
Our deepest sympathy is extended to you on the loss of your sister. She was obviously very dear to you and the insensitive actions of your former brother-in-law have hurt you in numerous ways. He sounds like a class-A jerk who sees nothing wrong with what he did.
There is no way to un-do the past. He has moved on with no regrets, even though he leaves a wake of destruction in his path. Anything you say to him will likely fall on deaf ears. The best thing you can do is set yourself free from the emotional baggage you’re carrying. Let go of any right you may feel to get even.
He hasn’t gotten away with anything. Some day he will stand before God to give an account of his life and the whole world will know what he has done. In your mind, place him at the foot of the Cross, where Jesus is dying for his sins–and for yours. Step back and leave him there for God to deal with in His own way and in His own time.
The power of forgiveness is real and completely liberating for you. You can forgive others the same way God forgives you–not because it is deserved but because it has been paid for by the very Son of God. Rest in that assurance. God is loving but also just; He will take care of it all.
As you heal from your grief, go through your sister’s things and take whatever will comfort you and bring back pleasant memories of her.
May God bless you and give you wisdom.
Dr. Meredith Hansen, Clinical Psychologist & Relationship Expert
Helping engaged and newlywed couples build lasting marriages.
I am so sorry for your loss and the emotional pain you are currently going through. It seems clear that your brother-in-law did not process, deal with, or handle his grief about losing his wife. I agree that speaking to him will likely not help right now, but I also hear that you are hurting and hoping to protect her children.
My recommendation for you right now is to take time to focus on your grief. Death and loss can be very complicated and if we do not take time to process our emotions and go through the stages of grief, our pain will emerge in unhealthy ways. You have lost your sister rather quickly and you must acknowledge and process this loss. As you work through your feelings with a trained professional, you will find ways to address the situation with your brother-in-law.
All terrific advice, as usual.
As someone who has suffered a lot of loss in my life, I’d like to suggest that perhaps the diagnosis was too much for him to bear. You never know what happens in the mind during trauma. People have been known to do a variety of unstable actions during times of grief. As Kay mentioned, forgiveness will be key for your future.
As a widowed mother, I’d like to encourage you to keep in touch with the children, even if the father makes it difficult. They will need you even more now.
I hope he does the right thing by them, even if he isn’t doing the right thing by your sister.
Alyssa Johnson, The Smart Way to Re-Do Your “I Do”
What a difficult situation. Keep in mind that your emotions are going to be very high because of the betrayal of your brother in law on top of the loss of your sister. If your nieces/nephews or grown, then I’d suggest figuring out what you’d like and then not planning to have contact with this guy anymore.
If the kids are still little and you want a relationship with them, then tread carefully. He could easily bar you from that if things deteriorate between you.
In all honesty, what will saying anything to him help? The guy sounds very self centered and his actions cruel to your sister. But you screaming at the guy now, doesn’t benefit anyone. It’s not going to bring your sister back or make him sorry for his actions. But, as I said it could ruin your ability to have a relationship with the kids.
Take care of yourself and be careful with how you respond to him.