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My MIL broke a painting and wants me to apologize for it

I am currently renting a house from a senior colleague at my workplace. The house is filled with beautiful antique art, which adds to its charm and value. Recently, my mother-in-law (MIL) came to stay with us for a week. She has always been a sweet and kind woman, but her recent loss of her husband made us eager to support her during this difficult time.

During her stay, an unfortunate incident occurred. My MIL accidentally ripped one of my colleague’s antique scroll paintings in half while carrying some bedding down the hall. When she informed me of the damage, I was taken aback. I didn’t say a word and simply went to see the extent of the damage. I couldn’t help but worry about the potential impact on my professional relationship with my colleague. I exchanged multiple texts with my wife, expressing my concern and seeking advice on how to handle the situation.

While I was not pleased with my MIL’s actions, I refrained from expressing anger or frustration towards her. In fact, I didn’t say anything at all. I didn’t sigh, mutter, or grunt. It’s worth noting that she didn’t apologize for ruining the painting either.

However, four days later, I received a message from her that left me feeling both frustrated and confused. She expressed hurt feelings, stating that my reaction and the fact that I was messaging my wife about the incident hurt her. She emphasized the importance of family, supporting and defending each other, and putting family first. She mentioned that my actions mattered to her and that she would work on earning her place in my “circle of trust.”

To be honest, I found her message maddening and perplexing. It was my colleague’s artwork that was damaged, and I believe I handled the situation with restraint. Yet, I am somehow being portrayed as the bad guy who should apologize for not going out of my way to console my MIL. It feels like a distorted perspective.

I am struggling to make sense of this email and determine the appropriate response. It leaves me questioning the dynamics at play and how to interpret her words. What is the underlying message here? I find it challenging to form a clear understanding in my own mind.

Given the circumstances, how would you suggest I reply?