How do you deal with your husband’s child after their death?

A difficult time made even worse by a unique situation.

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.

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.

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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  1. Kevin  

    I can imagine how difficult this predicament is. Legally, you need to follow your Solicitor’s advice as I think laws differ depending on what state you live. Morally, I say No – you owe nothing. In the same situation I would feel no obligation to include the step-son in my Will. If your step-son is in contact as often as you say, he probably will never be informed of your passing when that time comes anyway. Good Luck

    • Claire  

      Couldn’t have put it better.

  2. Judi  

    I had a very similar experience. My husband’s two adult children did not come to visit and made no contact,even when told he was terminally ill. After his death our solicitor told me his daughter wanted to see his will. She then got in touch wanting some things, most of which I gave to her but one special item I refused as it had a special meaning to him. She ( and her brother ) broke his heart not coming to see him and I cannot forgive them for this. His ( our ) grand daughter and her family kept in touch and came to visit and I am still very close to them. I found this all very hard as I come from a big,close family.

  3. shirley urbanek  

    You own his child nothing……..Get on with your life,time moves fast…….You’ll make it……

  4. Helen Morris  

    I agree with Kevin’s reply. It’s not as if your step child is still a young man needing or receiving his fathers financial support. I was in a similar situation some time ago. I made sure that my solicitor was well versed in wills & made it clear that, if they had any further queries, they should deal directly with my solicitor as I was still too upset to deal with it myself

  5. Joan Hunter  

    I too lost my husband to metastatic cancer, I have not heard from his 2 children since then other than to check the will and to ask to go through his things. I gave them what they wanted. ,I thought I had 5 grandchildren but have never seen them again. I felt dumped and unwanted. Thankfully I had a daughter who was waiting at home for me when I got home from the hospital. They were even 20 minutes late for his funeral. Stay strong you are better than his child. 7 years later I still have moments of loss and still shed a tear.

  6. Joan Tisdell  

    What a louse bound hound of a child, do as your solicitor advises, not one thing more, you’ve been ignored so ignore this child and see how he/she likes them apples! Live your life free of guilt and with those that love you!

  7. Elizabeth Pandelis.  

    The child showed no concern during his parent’s life nor showed any feeling in the immediate aftermath. Follow the legal advice to the letter and nothing more. It was your husband’s responsibility to deal with his offspring. Do not beat yourself up over this person. Enjoy your offspring and get on with your life. It is hard enough coping with the loss of one’s partner and best friend without borrowing extra anxiety.

  8. Julie Brown  

    Am I the only one who sees the step kids being painted in a rather harsh light. For better or worse, you have to do what you can comfortably live with.

  9. Maria Hansen  

    Our both sets of children have used us to the roof. Lied , hurt us in a nightmare for years. Not one of them checked to see if we were ok. Their children, our grand children have kept contact. We have changed our wills, & grandchildren will get a share. That’s it

  10. Jude  

    I think his three children and yours should receive an equal legacy when you pass. There will be reasons they didn’t visit and they are all his children. I understand it is hurtful however children don’t ask to be born and something has hurt the three of them to act this way.

  11. Having worked in the Retirement village industry we see this kind of thing so often family who never visit turn up when family member has passed away and even one instance where family ere asked to leave as a fight broke out over the will. Other residents to consider. Shocking.

  12. annie wright  

    you own none ot the children, nor grandchilren anything. Unless you are a millionaire and the estate is worth fighting over, the only ones to make money will be the lawyers.
    I looked after an old man for ten years till he died. Hid daughter visited once. She said she ‘approved’ of the house I had bought. What business was it of her’s to approve, or disapprove where I decided to buy, and he would have gone anywhere as long as he was looked after. I looked after him well, and unknown to me, I was his beneficiary, he said his daughter was to get nothing, she had bled her mother dry, then put her in a home to get her out of the way.
    The lawyer made me wait 6 months before he released the money my friend had left me, but not to worry, I still had that money ten years later. It was my ‘rainy day’ fund, and when I bought a new house his money helped to furnish it.
    The lawyer’s thinking was that the daughter could contest the will, but the amount was so small it would have been swallowed up in fees.
    Cut your losses with that child, I imagine that ‘child’ would be well into 30’s or more by now, they have no NEED for anything of yours, you are not responsible for them

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