My husband died very suddenly last year at the age of 77. We had both been married previously but had known each other since we were 26 and 32. We had been friends for a very long time before circumstances finally brought us together (he always said he carried a torch for me for 17 years). We married after four years of happily living together.
It was a wonderfully passionate love affair which eventually settled into a contented life after we had both taken early retirement in another state. We lived without children and without pets.
He had one adult child with whom he had very intermittent and usually brief contact. His other two children he had had no contact with for at least 20 years. We each had our own interests in retirement, but we travelled inter and intra-state together, took cruises and generally enjoyed our retirement. I had regular contact with my own two adult children and visited them (usually without him but not always) on a very regular basis, and my kids spoke to me often on the phone, and we messaged and emailed each other.
He was due to make a rare visit to his child when he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, so he had to cancel the trip in order to have radiotherapy treatment. A top Oncologist told us the best case scenario was 9-15 months. Unfortunately, one month and one day after he was diagnosed he developed a clot which killed him within two hours. The hospital staff assumed the clot was in his lungs but the x-ray came back clear and they told me there was nothing more they could do except put him on a breathing machine. I had his enduring power of attorney and told the Doctor that he wouldn’t have wanted that, so they ceased treatment, and I was by his side telling him I loved him when he died about 10 minutes later. I was in total shock.
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I telephoned his child to notify what had happened and that, at his request, there would be no funeral. We had one subsequent conversation about a week later concerning the scattering of his ashes in the town where we lived and which he loved and where he wanted to stay. There was a suggestion from his child that together with his grandchildren they would travel to our town for the scattering but nothing ever came of it, and I heard nothing more.
There followed the worst time of my life – possibly my greatest ever life challenge – to learn to go on living without the loving strength of my husband. Friends, neighbours and my children were wonderful, filling our home with flowers, cards, letters, phone calls, meals, etc. Both my children separately flew to be with me in the weeks after his death but, of course, they couldn’t stay forever. The ordeal of interacting with government departments and all the legalities of his death I mainly dealt with on my own. Some of it was easy, some of it was a nightmare. Even ten months later, anything can trigger an overwhelming feeling of loss and grief which almost paralyses me in its intensity. I’m sure some of you will know how this feels.
Finally, out of the blue, nine months after he died, I had a message from his child asking to see a copy of his will and requesting some personal items which I previously said I would send. My husband’s first great-grandchild was due to be born four months after he died – this child’s first grandchild – to this day I still have not been notified if the child was born safely or what the sex was. Neither of his grandchildren have ever called me since his death.
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My initial reaction, of course, was one of great anger. At a time when I had most needed emotional and/or physical support, there was not one phone call asking me how I was coping, did I need anything, could they help me in any way? Not once. In the last 23 and a half years we were married, his child visited our home only once. Every single other time we had to travel to wherever the child was living, often at great expense.
This particular child has a narcissistic personality, and this was particularly evidenced by the non-empathy shown to me after my husband’s sudden death. This child neglected a filial duty to my husband during his life to such an extent that there were months and months and sometimes years without a birthday greeting, Father’s Day card/call or any Christmas wishes. Even when my husband told the child that he had a terminal illness the child didn’t drop everything to travel to be with him.
I was the primary beneficiary, and after seeking my own legal advice, I have forwarded his child a copy of his will. My solicitor says the child would be wasting their time and money to challenge it.
It has been made patently obvious to me that this child and his grandchildren have no regard for me whatsoever. I feel I have a finite amount of years left to enjoy and I don’t intend to spend one single moment of those years on people who treat me badly.
My question is: Do you think I owe his child anything? Would you include the child in your will? What would you do in this sad situation?
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