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Grieving Mom Furious After Brother Refuses To Buy Expensive Gravestone For Her Stillborn Baby

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We all want to be there for friends and family when they’re grieving.

As sometimes, when someone suffers a loss of someone near and dear to them, even the smallest gesture can make a bigger difference than anyone might realize.

But as is the way of life, we might get requests from grieving friends and family members which we might simply not be able to accommodate.

Such was the case with Redditor Context_Owl_5131, who’s sister had recently delivered a stillborn child.

But when the Original poster (OP)’s sister asked him if he could contribute a significant amount of money to help commemorate her stillborn baby, the OP found himself unable to say yes.

Resulting in outrage from the OP’s sister and husband.

Wondering if they were being insensitive to their grieving, fragile sister, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for refusing to pay for a gravestone?”

The OP explained how much as he would have liked to, the OP was simply unable to fulfill his sister and brother-in-law’s request to commemorate their stillborn child.

“I (27 M[ale}) live with my wife (27 F[emale]) in a flat that we rent.”

“We both work a lot of hours and are saving up to get a deposit on a house.”

“We’ve saved up quite a bit of money so far and are very pleased with ourselves.”

“I have a younger sister Esme (24 F).”

“Esme also lives with her spouse, and unfortunately recently lost a baby boy who they named Oscar.”

“Esme went into labour very early and the baby was stillborn.”

“She and her husband were heartbroken and I feel awful for them.”

“They held a small funeral service for Oscar with close family, and my wife and I attended.”

“Esme’s husband reached out to me a few days ago and asked if I could do him a favor.”

“I asked what he needed.”

“He explained that he and Esme got Oscar cremated and have been keeping his ashes in an urn at home, but decided they want to get a gravestone for Oscar at the local cemetery.”

“He explained that the gravestone prices are very high, and getting the gravestone that they want would cost around £2,500.”

“He asked me if me and my wife could find it in our hearts to pay for the gravestone as a gift to him, to Esme and to Oscar.”

“I told him I would talk to my wife about it.”

“I talked to my wife and we agreed that although the situation is very sad, we can’t just shell out 2.5 grand for this.”

“Esme started sending me lots of pictures of the style of gravestone that they wanted.”

“I talked to Esme and her husband in person and in private.”

“I tried to approach this as delicately as possible because I know they’re still grieving.”

“I told them that I’m sorry but me and my wife can’t pay for the gravestone.”

“Esme was distraught and said that she knows we’re saving up for a house deposit, and pointed out things we’ve spent our money on recently.”

“Me buying trainers, my wife getting her hair done, etc.”

“I told Esme that those things don’t amount to 2.5k, I told her I’m sorry that she’s upset but this isn’t a helpful conversation for anyone.”

“Esme’s husband started yelling at me and told me that I’m a pos brother and that I should be ashamed of myself.”

“They both stormed out, and have been making passive aggressive posts on social media that are obviously about me.”

“I feel terrible and can’t stop thinking about the conversation, and wondering if I should apologize again.”

“My wife says I’m overthinking and that Esme and her husband are just acting out because of their grief and will come to their senses.”

“Was I the AH?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for declining to pay for the headstone of their cousin’s baby.

Everyone agreed that Esme and her husband likely were overcome with grief, but that she shouldn’t expect others to pay for late son’s headstone, with many offering suggestions as to how Esme and her husband could eventually afford the headstone.


“He could get a burial plot without a gravestone if he wished, and pay for the stone later.”-Basic_Bichette


“My husband and I lost a child in 2014.”

“She was born premature and passed away 4 months later.”

“I wanted a cremation, but my husband wanted a burial.”

“I went with my husband’s decision as I felt it was what he needed.”

“She doesn’t have a headstone as we don’t have the funds to afford one, but we have decorated her resting place with a pretty fence and toys etc.”

“Not once have I thought to ask someone else to cover the cost.”

“She was OUR daughter, it was OUR loss and therefore OUR responsibility to provide her with a headstone when we have saved the money.”

“We probably would have had the money by now, but we were blessed with a son in 2015 and are both on minimum wage.”

“Boy, kids aren’t cheap!”- SeasidePunk


“While I understand that they are grieving, they are being manipulative.”

“They have no right to decide how you spend your money.”- unionmom4

“NTA at all.”

“I think your wife is spot on.”

“They are grieving, understandably so, and perhaps looking at a gravestone as a material replacement for Oscar, proof that he was here and that he mattered.”

“I’m so sorry for their loss.”

“Let some time go by.”- ElKristy


“Although this couple are grieving the loss of a child, and I’m sorry for their loss and prayers over the family, it is not their job to make a list of how you and your wife spend your money, how you spend or save your money.”

“If they want a gravesite, aren’t their ways to make payments for something like this?”

“Perhaps they can save up and do a headstone at the 1st year anniversary as a memorial?”

“But NTA, this is not your responsibility.”

“You said ‘no’, you said you could not budget this in.”

“That is enough.”

“To be perfectly blunt, and I’m sorry again for saying this, the money they (should have?) had saved towards everything their baby would need, crib, clothes, all baby things that expectant parents buy and save form could be used for the gravesite headstone they want.”

“I am very sorry for their loss and all of the family’s grieving.”

“Prayers.”- NCKALA


“Like other commenters said: there are charity groups that help for situations like these.”

“They can ask several people in the family to help instead of just one, instead of just you, OP.”

“When they formed the question like this, they expected and counted on the answer to be an immediate yes.”

“They even made themselves believe it was a yes.”

“Why wouldn’t a loving uncle ‘gift’ his dead nephew with an expensive headstone?”

“It’s confirmed by the fact they didn’t take your respectful and gracious real answer of ‘no’.”

“This whole ordeal of asking for a favor and gift, ‘out of the goodness of your heart’ and then guilt tripping you after you said you couldn’t is wrong.”

“I understand they’re grieving, but it’s not an excuse to guilt trip good family members.”- Savbav


“They are grieving so may not be themselves right now but they’re trying to manipulate you/ guilt you and judge you on how you’re spending your own earnings which is bs.”- nova345


“They should not be expecting you to foot the entire bill for the gravestone.”

“I don’t even understand why they think they are entitled to your money that way.”

“They could have asked for a contribution but to ask for the whole amount is too much.”- dwotw

“Mehhh, they’re also making this demand because they know WAY too much about your finances, including the fact that you have a tidy sum tucked away towards your house, and that you recently bought running shoes, etc.”

“They wouldn’t ask a poor relative to do this, but they asked YOU.”

“NTA to refuse, OP.”

“And never, ever discuss your finances with these folks again, it won’t end well.”- little500HondaCBR


“Curious, won’t they still have to pay for a plot in the cemetery on which to place the stone?”

“While I can sympathize with them, I feel the money is wasteful for an empty grave.”- sarcasmislife28

No one should have to go through what Esme and her cousin did, and yet far too many people do.

Though, while it is understandable that they want to commemorate the life their son was deprived of, they shouldn’t have expected the OP to cover the cost for the headstone.

One imagines that after they have processed their grief for a little while longer, they will come to realize this, and all will be forgiven.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.