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.
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.