Category Archives: death/dying

Do’s and don’ts with grieving in-laws

1. If you must date within the first year or two of a partner’s death, please be thoughtful and respectful of other grieving family members. They will appreciate and love you for it.

2. Do not expect them to welcome or accept your new partner as a replacement of their son or daughter.

3. If you live in a small town, let your in-laws know that you are dating. Indicate that you want them to hear it from you, rather than someone else.

4. Do not go into details or introduce the new partner, unless the family asks questions or indicate that they’d like to meet your significant other.

5. Your need for acceptance and approval is NOT more important than a family’s need for time to grieve.

6. Do not bring your date or new spouse, to an in-law family gathering, unless 18 months have past since the death, or he/she has been invited.  If in doubt, ask the host.

More reading:  grieving in-laws

Grieving in-laws


I will be leaving soon to travel out of state to be with my mother for memorial day weekend. Monday is the first anniversary date of my sister’s death. My sister and I were the closest we had been in a long time, in the last year of her life. For most of our adult lives, she and I lived thousands of miles apart. During her last year, we had more opportunities to visit, reminisce and laugh a lot.

Except for the last year, I can’t say that I was really close to my 49 year old sister. However, when her husband announced six months after her death, that he was seriously dating someone, feelings of loyalty and anguish came gushing to the surface.

Feeling close to my mother, my former brother in law wanted my mother to meet this new woman that he was growing fond of. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, my mother agreed to let him bring her over. I am not sure if you can imagine how difficult this must have been for a grieving mother.

I can’t tell you the anger that I am still feeling when I heard he did this. He normally is a sensitive guy. He is hurt that I don’t want to meet his girlfriend during this upcoming visit. I told him that I am still grieving and it is too painful to see him with another woman.

I did not expect my brother in law to remain single forever. He is a thoughtful, loving person and deserves to be happy. If he couldn’t wait for a year, I wish he would simply have informed us that he was dating. It would have been hard to keep it from my mother and other sister anyway, as they live in a small town. I know there are no hard and fast rules about an appropriate length of time to grieve, but it is important to remember that all family members are in different stages of the grieving process. It seems that my brother in law thinks that because he has moved on, the rest of us have or should too.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

“When Bad Things Happen to Good People” was a popular book title in the 80s. It seems an appropriate title when Virginia and the country is reeling from the worst campus shooting in U.S. history.

Why do bad things happen to innocent people?

1. God allows nature to take its course, whether it be natural disasters, diseases or illness.

2. God allows human nature the freedom to act… deeds of good and bad.

3. Even though this freedom may cause great grief, God does not interfere.

4. Some people rationalize a tragedy away by saying that God wanted these loved ones more than their families.

5. Some people believe that through tragedy, God is trying to teach a lesson to the victims or their families.  Granted, new learning and growth can occur from tragedy, but this is not the God I believe in.

After the drowning accident of his son, theologian William Barclay said, “on the day that the waters of the deep surrounded my son and snatched his life, God’s heart was breaking too.”  This is how I view the tragic circumstances that happen to good people. In mercy and compassion, God’s heart is breaking when God’s children are in pain and sorrow.  This loving God uplifts, comforts, brings hope and healing to all of those who despair.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the good people of Virginia and their families.

dr pers ©2007