Death in the Family


Death in the Family


By Bernadette A. Moyer

It seems like a death in the family is when the family nuts become even nuttier. Its official my husband and I are without parents as they are all deceased now.  His father John was the last to go. His mother died first and then my father and my mother before his dad recently passed too.

My first experience with death was at 23 years of age when my first husband died. I was so humbled and my heart was huge, I included everyone. In my vulnerability my heart grew. I have come to believe that I am either really naive or just big hearted, perhaps a bit of both.  I had this idea that death should make you find your heart and that there is no greater time to be in sync with our hearts than when we have lost someone to death.

For a fleeting moment I thought that when my mother passed it would be a time for all her children to come together.  She had five daughters and I had been estranged for more than two decades.

When she died I thought maybe the sisters would come together but that was really short lived when her obituary was published naming her four daughters and I was excluded. That doesn’t happen by accident. And not so long after her passing they would come together and write nasty letters to my employer(s) and others. They weren’t involved with me for several decades, but they felt they had a right to try and hurt me. What they did was affirm for me as to why they weren’t in my life.

When my dad died he made sure he had peace and called all his children together. My husband was holding his mother’s hand when she departed this life.  It was during this time that his father asked him to handle his affairs when his time came. Unfortunately he didn’t have a will since he never owned a car or a home or other property. One of his sisters would decide that she should handle their father’s affairs and so rather than fight her; he reluctantly agreed and handed over all important papers including the life insurance. What his father wanted handled peacefully his sister made a court case over, and my husband let go of her fight.  Now that his father has passed all other family members are fighting within themselves and trying to bring my husband along with them.

The truly sad part is that this is not what his father wanted, he wanted his affairs handled. He had already secured a plot and had paid for the opening and the closing so that he could be put to rest with his beloved wife of over 55 years. He had insurance and it should have been a smooth and easy transition.

When people die, we should find our hearts but so often family members will lead with their egos and use the death for their final act of hate, anger and jealousy over their other siblings and their family members.

I have witnessed aggressive hate filled responses within families when a parent dies. I have witnessed it in my family and in other families. It seems like death in the family can bring out the best in people or the absolute worst in them.

I have also witnessed families that respected their parent’s wishes, allowed the adult child they named to handle their affairs and their departure from this life with dignity and with unity so that all the family could grieve and grieve in peace.

How we welcome life and how we say good-bye to those that mattered to us, says much about us but it also says a lot about how we loved. Did we show them that we respected or disrespected their final wishes? Did we come together in love and show respect?

The good news for my husband is that he is a man of faith and a God believing man, he knows that John is reunited with Marie in heaven and knowing this affords him all the peace he will ever need. He was a great son to his father and his father was always so proud of him and his many accomplishments.  His father would also be pleased that rather than fight with his family he chose to walk away, take the high road and be better than all that.

Death in the family stirs up much in the family, sadly not all of it is good, but in the final analysis we have to live with our actions and our own decisions and make our own peace …

Bernadette on Facebook at

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