Dear Carolyn: I'm in a difficult situation with my late husband's parents and I don't know what to do. After my husband died two years ago, his parents really stepped up for me. They helped financially and with child care for my two children (5 and 7 at the time). I don't know what I would have done without them.

Now I'm engaged to a wonderful man and pregnant with his child and they can't stand it. They're badmouthing me to everyone we know, to my own children even, making daily passive-aggressive posts on Facebook about how parents mourn forever but spouses will "dance on your grave." I've spoken to them, they apologize, blame it on grief, and then start up again after a few days. This has been going on ever since I announced my engagement but is much worse since I told them about the baby.

I don't want to cut them out of my life, but I refuse to have them poisoning my children by telling them I never loved their father. They've refused my idea of family therapy and said if I had behaved "decently" and mourned my late husband as long as he deserved, this would not be an issue. Please help.

— Difficult Situation

Difficult Situation: You cannot expose your kids to their venom. I am so, so sorry they’re forcing your hand on this.

I think the family therapy idea was a good one, so go on your own to get help navigating what is bound to be an ongoing source of pain. It’s possible not seeing their grandkids will motivate these grandparents to join you in counseling. “I welcome the chance to talk to you about this in counseling. I cannot permit you, however, to say these things about me to the children.” Then be good to your word.

Again, I’m sorry.

Re: Late Husband's Parents: When my mother died, my father met a fabulous woman. They waited a full year to start dating out of respect for my mother. Just 18 months later she was dead. My father told me then, when you have a chance at love, never wait, because you never know how long you have. The questioner knows that well. I'm so happy she's found a new love.

— Never Wait

Never Wait: What a sad story — though I appreciate how clear-eyed you and your father are.

If I had to guess, I’d say these parents have turned to anger and blame because it’s easier than grief. It’s concrete and not an abyss.

Re: Mourning: Traditionally, a widow mourned for a year. Then, she was expected to return to a normal social life. The letter-writer did not say when she started dating, but if it was a year after the funeral, tradition has been observed. If the death followed a long illness, the mourning would have started long before the actual death. Not that it is actually any of their business.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Yes. Traditions and etiquette are good, but I like boundaries better — especially when pain makes it so hard to know what the rules are.