It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “What to Say?” whose sister’s SIL, a drug addict, was on life support in the hospital after OD’ing again. She wondered what she should say to her sister’s in-laws when she saw them again: “[they] are good people, they tried their best and will spend the rest of their lives wondering if they had made different choices whether things would have been different. I didn’t often agree with their choices, but I also recognize that in the last several years they didn’t really have many options.” Her update below:
The family made the very, very difficult decision to remove her from supportive equipment. She languished a few days and then they moved her to hospice. In doing this, she could no longer donate organs. She passed away peacefully. Her parents and her husband were understandably devastated.
The parents brought the husband and stepson up to their northern state for the funeral. One of the long time rabbis spoke very kindly about her but didn’t really touch upon the last 10 years of her life. One of the newer rabbis speaks fluent Spanish, so he translated the rabbi’s eulogy for her husband and stepson. I watched remotely via Zoom. I sent a note to the parents and to my BIL.
At this point, I believe the husband and son are still living in the apartment the parents own. If he made her happy in her last months, that’s reason enough to let him stay. The son graduates in a year or two, and at some point the husband will start dating again and they’ll either give him the apartment or ask him to move so they can sell it.
In its own way it does provide a little peace of mind; I know the parents were worried about what would happen after they were gone and they knew that my BIL and my sister would not be financially supporting his sister. It was never discussed – that family does not discuss things like that, but it was tacitly understood.
The whole mess reinforced that my BIL’s parents simply don’t treat him the same way they did his sister. I won’t go into details. Money is definitely involved as is just general emotional support and encouragement. And honestly, I don’t think this horrible situation is going to change anything.
Can’t say I blame anyone for the proverbial bitch slap I received, but I’m not sorry that I told the tale I told. I’m sad for her parents, I’m sad for the people who loved her. But I’m not sad that she is gone. It’s a hard truth and I own it.
That’s a fair and understandable response. I wish your sister and her husband and their family peace. Thank you for sharing the story.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at email@example.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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