My dear old Mum passed away last year and my sister-in-law is trying to pilfer some of her jewellery, paintings and the silverware. I’m absolutely livid, especially as my brother is being his usual passive self and saying nothing, he’s so hen-pecked! It’s hard for me to talk to him because she’s always there and he constantly defends her, whatever the circumstances. I’m afraid she’ll help herself to things when I’m not there. What can I do that won’t cause a huge family bust up?
Sorting out a loved one’s things can be very difficult as we try to manage both the practicalities and our emotions. I understand you might feel your brother's wife is taking advantage, but is it possible she’s looking for something to remember your mother by? If your mother didn’t leave specific instructions about how to share her things, having an open conversation with your brother and putting a plan together is a way forward.
These conversations can be difficult, but if left unaddressed there is the possibility of angry outbursts in the heat of the moment. We are particularly sensitive during grieving, irritability and anger are common so finding a way to communicate and express your needs and concerns is important. Working together can make the process less painful so it’s worth the effort.