Dear Cory: Sick Sister-in-Law Snapped Photos of My Dead Mother and I Am Pissed!
My first thought is “Why would anyone want a picture of another person in a body bag, regardless of whether it’s a relative?” Your sister-in-law, from the sounds of it, seems to be mentally disturbed. What is/was she planning on doing with the photos? Posting them on Facebook and then tagging your mother in them? For the life of me, I cannot see any legitimate reason for why anyone, other than perhaps those in an official medical capacity (i.e.: working for the coroner’s office), would need to take, let alone keep, photos of someone in a body bag. For this reason, my primary concern for you is not whether what your sister-in-law did was simply disrespectful, but whether it points to the much more concerning possibility that she is “not right in the head”.
I don’t think you’re necessarily overreacting here, but I do believe you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your relationship with this sister-in-law of yours. Obviously, with her being married to your brother (and depending upon how friendly your relationship with your brother is today), this situation could pose some major issues, in terms of whether you still want to maintain a relationship with her.
Here is what I would do (as I am neither a fan of the so-called “silent treatment” or passive aggression): Confront your sister-in-law personally about the situation. Let her know that your daughter has confided in you what she did and let her know, in no uncertain terms, exactly how you feel about what she did, and be sure to be very clear about what you are hoping to achieve with this interaction. For example, if you no longer wish to have a relationship with her because of this, as you believe it is a “deal-breaker”, so to say, then let her know that. But if you are more like me and prefer to hear her out first, to see what, if any, potentially legitimate reason should could have had for taking the photos she took, before ex-communicating her, then by all means do that. But whatever you do, do not just sweep this situation “under the rug”.
In my experience, I have found that if you allow people like your sister-in-law to disrespect you (and your mother, or anyone you love, for that matter) with no consequences whatsoever, then you are essentially telling them that you approve of (or at least don’t disapprove) of their behavior, in which case you should fully expect such behavior to continue. So if I were you, I would nip this situation in the bud, and I would do it hard and fast. Just make sure, again, that you know what your ultimate goal with the interaction is before you start it, because the last thing you should ever want to do, if you are a solutions (and success) oriented person like me, is to waste your time getting angry about something just for the apparent sake of being angry about it. In other words, if you’re going to yell or speak to someone in a stern tone of voice, have a purpose behind it, otherwise you’d be better off saying nothing at all.
One last thing: While I have absolutely no problem with burning a bridge with anyone if they disrespect me, regardless of whether they’re co-workers, friends, or even my closest family members, I can understand completely if you don’t necessarily want to do that with your sister-in-law (or your brother), especially if this could all just be one big misunderstanding (which it very well may be), so be very careful that if you don’t want to burn any bridges that you do not make promises you can’t or won’t keep or threats that you are unwilling to act upon. In other words, don’t threaten to ex-communicate your sister-in-law unless you are fully prepared to not only do that, but also to accept the consequences of the damage that doing so will inevitably do to your relationship with your brother and possibly the rest of your family. I suggest that, before you say anything to your sister-in-law at all, you ask yourself, “Am I really this angry? Can I really not let this go? And am I really ready to potentially destroy my relationship with both my sister-in-law and my brother over this?”
If the answer to those questions is “yes”, then I say “Do what you gotta do”. But if the answer is “no”, then I suggest you keep your mouth shut, forgive (even if you can’t forget), and move on, because if you don’t, the only person you will be hurting from this point on is yourself.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here today! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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