When An Estranged Family Member Dies

It was a normal Tuesday evening. The kids were asleep while my husband and I watched the latest episode of This is Us. All of a sudden my iPhone made a weird ringing noise, apparently someone was calling me via Facebook. I didn’t even know you could do that; I’m obviously behind on the times. When I glanced down at my iPhone, my heart dropped. The person calling me was someone I haven’t heard from in almost 7 years, my sister-in-law.

She left a message asking for me to have my husband call her because their mother was in the hospital, and she was about to die. DIE? What? I didn’t know how I would relay this information. We haven’t been in contact with that side of the family for years.

Once my husband got off the phone with his sister, we made the decision to go and see his mom in the hospital. It was about 45 minutes away and we drove as fast as we could. The news we received wasn’t good, so we knew we were limited on time and that every minute mattered.

Walking into the waiting room was very awkward. So much time has past over the years … births, birthdays, holidays, etc. And now we are in the waiting room holding onto a glimmer of hope that she will make it through. The shock and pain in my husband’s eyes was heartbreaking. We had no idea his mother was even having any sort of health problems.

As we went to her bedside, she lay there attached to numerous machines. She didn’t look like the person I remembered and a wave of sadness filled the room as we were told that she wouldn’t make it through the night. My husband and his siblings had to make decisions for her care. Unfortunately, hours later, she passed away at only 57 years old.

Being estranged from a family member sucks regardless but once they pass away, the emotions and wonder of “what if’s” consume almost all your daily thoughts. As the days went by and family members came in town, it just got a bit harder. The stares and silence from family members at the service were disheartening, and I know it took a mental toll on everyone involved.

While I was never the one who was able to mend the relationship between my husband and his mother, I always had hope things would change and be different. Now in her absence, I look back on memories of happy times.

I will focus on the positive times rather than the negative ones. I really wish that my husband and his mother were on speaking terms when she passed, but I can’t keep dwelling on that. This awful situation has made me focus my energy on loving those closest to me because negativity wastes too much time.

So love and hug those around you, always.

Mary Olivio
Mary is a caffeine addicted boy mom to Noah, Liam and Luke. This “stay at home” mom can typically been found cruising in her minivan, jamming to Beyonce with a Starbucks in hand on her way to carpool or after school activities. Mary has been married to her high school sweetheart since 2007. She is a founder of Delivering Hope NOLA and the Vanessa Wolff Scholarship Fund at her Alma Mater. Mary is passionate in the local preemie community and has been heavily involved with the March of Dimes since her sons Liam and Luke were born premature.


  1. This is a rather insensitive way of looking at your husband’s choice to maintain what was likely an important and necessary boundary by being estranged from his mother. I would be horrified if my partner ever wrote something like this about my relationship with my estranged mother, and your judgement that you wish it could have been different or better between them is not helpful if he’s already feeling guilty himself.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here