Son’s Widow Remarried, Still Part of our Family?

photo credit: PRAVEEN VENUGOPAL via photopin cc
photo credit: PRAVEEN VENUGOPAL via photopin cc

Question: Hi–I will try not to be confusing, even though I am confused. My son was killed 5 years ago. He left behind his wife, that our family loved, and one grandson. I babysat this grandson for the 1st 9 years of his life, 4 of those years being after my son died. My ex-daughter in law (?) was always close until she began dating. Then she became distant & secretive. Last summer without notice she bought a house in another city and moved. She moved a man into her house and got pregnant. She married this man about 3 weeks ago and just had the baby a few days ago.

My question is this, when a widow marries, doesn’t she then belong to her new family? It seems like she has gone out of her way to “divorce” herself from us.

My grandson will always be family, but what about her, and her new baby? I say that since she has married, she is not our family any longer and that her new baby isn’t either. There has been a lot of discussion about this in our family. Please help us to figure this all out. Thank you.

Remarriage Expert

My condolences on your loss and my applause for the terrific effort you’ve made on behalf of your son and his child. Kudos grandma!

I think, as a woman widowed at a young age with small children, I can offer my perspective.

I think that “family” is more about feelings and relationships than it is about being related by blood.
Perhaps your grandson’s mother felt insecure abut how you might feel or what might happen to your relationship since she began to heal and to move on with her life. It’s a very confusing and awkward position, trust me. Since it sounds as though you had quite a nice relationship with the two of them, and you really seem to care about them, please speak to her about her feelings and your relationship. You may be feeling hurt since she moved (and seemingly moved on from loving your son – but I can almost guarantee you that has not happened since the love for a deceased spouse and child’s father will always remain as long as that relationship was in tact before the death of the spouse)and that could be where a bit of frustration, and maybe a little anger, may be coming. Discuss all of this with her, if possible, in person. Remind her of how much you love them and all you’ve been through together.

Don’t cut these people out of your life because you’re hurt. You could be gaining another “grandchild” and, who knows, with time you could come to love her new husband and child as family. There’s always enough grandma love to go around. Even if you never feel close to these two new people in your life, they will be related to your grandson and the new child is your grandchild’s half sibling so try to think of things in that way.

If you have trouble with these feelings I would suggest getting some family counseling to help you come to terms with all of these serious life changes. It can all be a lot to handle.

God bless all of you and I hope you’re able to comes to terms,

Reader Reply

Thank you for taking the time to offer your advice to our family.

There are some extenuating circumstances that I didn’t mention in my 1st post. One of them being that it was a drunk driver who was responsible for my son’s death, and the other being that the man his widow married is currently under house arrest (complete with ankle bracelet) for habitual drunk driving.

That has been really difficult to deal with, especially since my son’s widow was filled with fury at the time of his death, over the kind of man who killed my son. Then she married the same sort of man….Ironic.

This also concerns me because of the influence her new husband may have over my grandson.

Anyway, I just thought I would fill in some of the missing pieces.

I continue to pray for God to help me accept and deal with all this.

Once again, thank you! God Bless You & Yours!

Rebecca Black, Etiquette Consultant, Etiquette Now

I’m sorry it took so long to pipe in here, but she is still family. It sounds like she may need some too. We can never know what is going on in her head, but she may need someone who cares about her to tell her so. If this man has problems this deep, she may have been pulled into them. So, by you or another family member informing her that you still care (no blaming), it may help her.

Remarriage Expert

I agree with Rebecca. Sometimes when you loose your spouse suddenly, as your daughter -in-law and I had, you have feelings of emptiness that you have a need to fill. When you’re widowed with kids it’s much harder to date and to find mates willing to deal with the baggage. This may be the case with your daughter-in-law. If possible, try speaking with someone at your church or a local counselor to help get you, and maybe your loved ones, through.

Keep trying to make sure that you have as big a part in your grandson’s life as possible so he will be exposed to good behavior and role models.

Alyssa Johnson, The Smart Way to Re-Do Your “I Do”

Thanks for your post. I want to agree with what has been said thus far and add just a little…

Clearly your grandson is important to you. You’ve been a major caregiver for him throughout his life. If his mother is choosing to make some questionable life choices with the men she’s bringing into his life, it’s even more important that you remain rock solid.

You have the ability to talk openly with him about who his father was and hopes his father may have had for the man he wanted his son to grow up to be. You have the potential to be very influential in this boy’s life. You’re only going to have that influence if you remain present in his mom’s life. She’s the gatekeeper to your grandson.

You don’t have to agree with all of the choices she’s making right now and continuing to have contact with her doesn’t mean you condone them either. But access to your grandson is crucial.

I hope that helps! Best wishes!