Content Note: Violent death, mentioned in passing.
I have a moral quandary. My Aunt O was murdered a few weeks ago (my cousin had a psychotic break and killed her — it’s as awful as it sounds but that part doesn’t come in here) so our family has been going through her things. One of the people who contacted my Aunt L, who is next of kin, was this lawyer guy who professed to have been involved with my Aunt O for some years despite being married. He seemed to sort of fancy himself in the role of chief mourner? And sent my Aunt L a lot of very explicit poetry about my Aunt O (boundaries dude)? He’s drifted off again for now since the funeral has been delayed. Looking through my Aunt O’s computer, this man seems to have been telling us the truth about this relationship having occurred though with far less interest on my Aunt O’s side than he would wish to believe. Anyway.
The part I’m stuck on now is whether or not to contact his wife. I know most people would say, “it’s none of your business,” and I hear that but I also know that I would want to be told if my husband was sending unbalanced explicit emails to strangers and sleeping around. As a feminist especially, I’m really uncomfortable throwing this woman to the wolves.
He specifically asked my Aunt L to “be discreet” so I’m sure his wife doesn’t know. My Aunt L hates conflict and will never tell this man’s wife so I can’t put this on her. I looked the wife up online and she seems to be a normal, middle class woman in her 60s who works for a local college in some administrative capacity and has three grown children.
I am so very sorry for your family’s loss, how horrible!
If this guy wanted things to be discreet maybe he should have thought of that before he styled himself as the Ovid of Oversharing and sent poor Aunt L. all that poetry. My feeling is that you should not necessarily notify his wife but that you should delete his messages, not inform him about or invite him to the eventual funeral, and if he persists in contacting you, ask him directly to leave your family alone. His request for discretion gives you leverage: “Aunt O. never mentioned you, so we’ll try to respect her wishes for keeping this all quiet, but if you push yourself in when we’ve asked you to leave us alone, why should we?”
I know the Wrongness of all this is eating at you, but either his wife knows who she married and they are dealing with it between them, or she’s blissfully ignorant and you’ll be throwing a brick through the window of her life in the name of …feminism? You’d want to know in her shoes, but in her shoes, how much credit would you give a random account from a stranger?
She’s not your problem. He is. If this guy stays away from you and yours from now on, I’d let Aunt O. take their affair (and the resulting literary output) to the grave with her.