The last few weeks have been highly emotional ones and I’ve had no time at all to blog. My husband’s Celebration of Life service was this past weekend and I spent days working on a photo slideshow and a tribute speech. As the memories surfaced, I filed them away, my intention to come back after my trip and talk about it all; there were so many little heartwarming moments and many great ones, as well.
But something has happened which needs to be addressed. I have to get it out before it consumes all my energies, and only then I can focus on continued healing.
An army of volunteers helped put the service together and it was beautiful. It was exactly as my husband would have wanted, except for one thing – he would have rather been on the ocean.
The one dark shadow cast over it all was that no one from his family came at all – parents, godparents, sibling, nieces, cousins – not one person. Perhaps rather than a dark shadow this was actually a beacon of hope as collectively, they are very toxic people. (To be fair, there are some good people in his family tree, but they are, sadly, overshadowed by the malicious hatred that spews from so many branches there.)
Grief is an extremely difficult and personal journey, and hurt and anger is a definite part of it. Grief can cause people to lash out and say things they don’t really mean. I’ve felt it myself many times. But it is generally directed at the unfairness of the situation, and how it is affecting our children and me. The vile toxicity that has come from my husband’s family goes beyond that, and has been there from the beginning. Grief cannot explain it away.
I knew they were unhappy with our decision for cremation and a non-traditional ceremony, despite this being what my husband, children and I discussed on many occasions and were his exact wishes. I know they preferred to have things done in their church as they have always been done, despite my husband not practicing that faith or attending that church in a few decades. I know they unfairly blame me for a lot of things over the years, things too numerous to get into here. What I didn’t know is how completely and delusionally angry they were about the whole thing.
There was a lot leading up to the Celebration of Life that lead me to believe they might not be there, and if they were, they wouldn’t be happy about it. But when I received a text on Saturday asking what time the service started as one relative had to “plan my busy day”, it was pretty clear they weren’t coming.
That night, I wondered which was worse – showing up, being unhappy about it and causing trouble, or not showing up at all? Either has their argument, but in the end, I truly believe their absence made the event better for everyone, especially our children.
I thought about everything for days, trying to determine my next steps, but in all honesty, my husband and I have had discussions for many years about his family. While he loved them because he was that kind of man, we chose to live over 1300 miles away because he could not be exposed to them on a regular basis and maintain his emotional health. We understood toxic people long before it became a common phrase. Toxins are literally poison and they can change you for the worse if you don’t remove them in time.
I went back and forth in my mind about everything and finally chose to let them know that I felt their behavior was appalling and that no matter their feelings towards me, their absence that night was disrespectful to my husband. I told them any chance at a relationship with my grown children had been severed that night. I said I wish them no ill will, but choose to no longer have them in our lives. Our kids are old enough to make these decisions on their own, and they had. They have seen and heard things through the years and understand how they have always been considered second-class.
The response I received in return was nothing short of venomous vile. I choose not to subject you to the response verbatim, simply because it is that long and hateful, but at one point, my husband’s cremation was referred to as “burning him like a dog” and my children as “horrible mistakes”.
Now perhaps I’ve grown immune to the hostility over the years, or perhaps my reaction had more to do with how bitter they must be that they are resorting to this, but I only felt sad for the individual who said this. Don’t get me wrong – this goes way beyond uncalled for and inappropriate, but I feel sorry for this person. She will have a long life of pain and misery if she lacks compassion at such a young age.
Now my children each said their own piece (some of which had been pent up for awhile and so was a bit harsher than I cared for) and each received more horrific, offensive, defamatory vile in return, but they all feel a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
As do I. My husband’s passing at such an early age just really hits home the message of how precious and fleeting life can be. I will not purposely choose to have toxic people in my life any longer. My time left on this planet will be in pursuit of joy and peace. Consider this a purge of toxicity, and know that while my future posts may not all be pleasant, this is the last one that will be purely poison.
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