The web developer for the Open to Hope Foundation, Christopher Conlan, interviews the founder of the Foundation, Dr. Gloria Horsley. As the author of The In-Law Survival Guide, Dr. Horsley takes a unique approach to talking about in-laws—she doesn’t write about surviving your relationship with them, but rather the loss of your in-laws. A lot of people struggle with their in-laws, and it’s commonly problems that aren’t discussed. Talking about the loss of your in-laws isn’t common. The loss of a beloved in-law, who was like a mother or father to you, can feel just like losing a parent.

That kind of loss can make you feel like the biological family merges together. Suddenly, people you didn’t even know are in town, and you’re on the outside. Try not to get your feelings hurt, urges Dr. Horsley. Instead, get people who love you and support you to attend events with you. It’s up to you to create your own support network, even if it may feel strange.

New Challenges

The in-law from hell may be missed because the family has changed their patterns to suit them. Dr. Gloria gives an example of one patient who went to her in-law’s funeral—where everyone talked about how great she was. “She was a real tyrant,” the patient said. Nobody talked about how horrible she was, because that’s not what you say at funerals or when someone is gone. Now it’s time to put your energy somewhere else so you don’t take their place.

There are big issues when an in-law dies, starting with the beloved items. Who gets what? You have coveted things or even promised items, and out of the blue it’s all taken away from you. Biological families can take over, and you may not get your due. That’s not worth fighting over.


Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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