Grief can do something terrible to people as they attempt to navigate and work through their feelings.
But the people around them who don’t understand their grief can cause far more harm, cautioned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Apprehensive_Ear6657 assumed that his biological daughter didn’t have the closest relationship with her stepfather, despite him being in her life for more than 12 years, so he didn’t take her too seriously about her funeral invitation instructions.
But when she realized he had not listened to her about her wishes for the funeral, the Original Poster (OP) was surprised to see her emotional reaction.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for bringing an emotional support animal to a funeral despite my daughter’s wishes?”
The OP was recently invited to his daughter’s stepfather’s funeral.
“I am 38 (Male). My daughter, ‘Isa,’ is 17 (Female). My stepdaughter, ‘Ava,’ is 9 (Female).”
“Isa’s stepfather recently died. I felt terrible because I knew while they weren’t super close, he’d been in her life since she was five, so I knew it must’ve hit hard.”
“My family was also invited to the funeral, though the stepdad who died is not Ava’s dad. He was just Isa’s mom’s husband.”
The OP wanted to accommodate his stepdaughter’s anxiety about the funeral.
“The issue, however, is Ava has horrible social anxiety. She’s homeschooled because of it and has difficulty going to social outings.”
“She’s in therapy and has an emotional support rabbit named Luna.”
“Since this funeral would be pretty crowded, we decided to let Ava bring Luna to the funeral.”
But Isa had reservations about the OP’s plan.
“Isa had a problem with that. Isa quickly told me she didn’t think it was a good idea. Pets were not allowed at this particular cemetery.”
“I told her this was a rabbit (what harm could it do?), and Ava had a medical reason for bringing her rabbit.”
“She then looked it up on Google and showed me only service animals were allowed to come.”
“I told her I’d bring Luna, and if an issue arose, we’d leave.”
“She begged me not to, saying her stepdad’s death was already hard enough on her mom, and she didn’t want any drama to make it worse.”
“I told her I’d think about it and keep that in mind.”
“The thing is, Ava needs her emotional support pet. She wouldn’t make it through the funeral if she didn’t. She also really wanted Ava there, so what else could we do?”
A scene arose outside the funeral.
“Isa drove to the funeral with her mom while my family and I drove together. We brought Luna.”
“Isa and her mom were waiting for us at the entrance when we got out.”
“When Isa saw Luna, she freaked out and started yelling that she told me not to bring her.”
“I explained Ava’s needs, and she then screamed that Ava should’ve just stayed home then and caused Ava to cry.”
“I felt bad because I know she was already dreading the social interaction, so hearing her sister say that must’ve hurt her badly.”
“The OP’s wife began to argue with his biological daughter.”
“My wife and Isa got into it after that. Not so kind words were spoken by either party.”
“Her mom took Isa’s side and told us to leave.”
“I agreed, and we went home.”
“Isa has been giving me the cold shoulder, but I don’t know how else I could’ve handled this differently.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were appalled by how the OP handled the situation and disrespected Isa.
“You claim the whole point of going to the funeral was to support Isa. She told you point-blank that bringing that rabbit would only make it worse for her. You essentially told Isa that you don’t care about her feelings.”
“Ava was not ‘prescribed’ an emotional support animal.”
“But if you felt so insistent that Ava not go anywhere without it, why didn’t you leave Ava home? Why did you choose Ava over Isa?” – Similar_Pineapple418
“Isa BEGGED you not to do that to her. SHE BEGGED YOU!!! YTA, a monumental AH. In what crazy universe in your head does doing something that someone who is grieving BEGGED you not to do constitute support?”
“Ava needed to stay home with her rabbit, and since you weren’t willing to support Isa, you needed to stay home, as well.” – celticmusebooks
“Still making the funeral about Ava, I see. Your younger daughter did not need to be there. Your wife did not need to be there. The fact that your wife got into an argument with your older daughter at a funeral is appalling.”
“YTA. Give Isa the space she needs away from you, and when she’s ready to talk again, you better give her the world’s biggest apology.” – Reddit
“Ava is his stepdaughter to add salt to the injury. Poor Isa is grieving the only father figure that actually gave a d**n and can’t even do it without OP shoving his shiny new family down her throat.” – GlitterDoomsday
“The thing that killed me was his current wife got into a shouting match with a grieving widow and her daughter. So callous and classless. I’ve buried a husband, and that would have been the last thing I needed was for someone to cause a scene at his funeral.” – sharoncoffin
“I hope that you have Ava in therapy/treatment for her social anxiety. But at the end of the day, you were there to support Isa. Isa told you not to bring the rabbit, but you put her wants/needs behind Ava’s.” – Janetaz18
“It doesn’t matter what Ava wanted. Ava is not the daughter that needed support during the funeral.”
“Isa is burying her stepfather of 12 years. She is the one that needs support, not Ava. She is the one that has to go to the funeral, not Ava. She is the one that told you the bunny was not welcome and that the deceased’s widow wouldn’t like it.”
“So why did you only care about Ava‘s wants instead of Isa’s needs? Do you always put Ava first at the expense of Isa? I have a feeling this is not a one-time occurrence.” – BenjiCat17
“Ava’s desire to support her sister was not more important than Isa’s desire to honor her stepfather in peace. You obviously don’t value Isa at all. Are you bitter that she became close to her stepfather and that’s why you care more about Ava’s feelings than Isa’s?” – i_am_the_ginger
“Ava should have been told ‘no.’ She’s old enough to hear the word, and this could have been a learning experience about other people’s feelings/death/etc. It was not some outing for Ava. It’s a funeral. And if Isa said that Ava coming with her rabbit would cause her more stress, she wasn’t supporting her sister.” – nipnopples
“Maybe Ava wanted to go to the funeral, but I doubt she said, ‘I want to support my sister.’ You’re making that part up.”
“You made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes from time to time. And this wasn’t your first mistake, nor will this be your last.”
“Just own your mistake, ‘I’m sorry. I’m an id**t. I was dismissive of your feelings, and I was patronizing. Sometimes, I do not know what I’m doing. I don’t blame you for being mad at me.’ And just to be clear, you’re not apologizing for bringing the rabbit to the funeral. You’re apologizing for not appreciating and not valuing your daughter’s own distress.”
“And please stop saying that Ava wanted to support her sister. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. We most likely do not know (aside from the fact that she wanted to go). To me, that kind of interpretation sounds incredibly fake and incredibly self-serving, and even a tad manipulative. And I’m sure Isa would hear it the same way I do.”
“And even if it’s true, who cares if she wanted to do that? It’s not Ava’s direct family member that died. It wasn’t her decision to make. Does Ava really get to make the final decision on every decision that gets made?”
“Or is it because Ava is the baby in the family and lacks maturity, so every decision that gets made must be about how she would react? And does everyone else’s feelings/needs get relegated to the back of the line behind Ava’s own feelings/needs?” – DeclutteringNewbie
“You know what I don’t see here? Anything about what ISA wanted. You know… the person who ACTUALLY LOST HER STEPFATHER.”
“You completely disregarded your daughter’s feelings. What’s worse is that you did so on one of the hardest days of her life. You have so clearly shown her that she will never be able to count on you when she needs to. She not only had to grieve her stepfather, but she also lost her trust in her own father that day.”
“I sincerely hope, for your daughter’s sake, that you get your head out of your a** and apologize. Get therapy, and keep your wife out of this, as it sounds like she’s part of the problem. I highly doubt that Isa will ever trust you the same again, but I can guarantee that your relationship will be over if you don’t.”
“In case it isn’t clear, YTA.” – xolarr
Others latched on to the OP’s use of “just” when referring to the late stepfather.
“‘Just’ her husband.”
“Language matters. Please consider that when speaking to and about both of your daughters.” – hagridsumbrella
“‘Just’ her husband. For 12 years. Probably longer than OP’s marriage to her, considering his daughter’s age, compared to when her mom met her stepdad.” – kedeligkonny-dk
“Another language thing that I and other people have noticed… Isa rode in one car, while OP’s FAMILY rode in another.” – Acrobatic_End6355
“‘He was JUST Isa’s mom’s husband,’ which is why Ava should have stayed home with a sitter (or her mother) if she couldn’t handle the funeral without bringing a pet. And yes, an ESA is a pet, not a prescribed service animal.” – christikayann
“He was ‘just’ your daughter’s stepfather… What an AH.” – Money-Bear7166
“Just a note to say the man who died was not ‘just’ your ex-wife’s husband. He was your daughter’s stepfather and had been in her life for 12 years. She had more of a relationship with him than you had with Ava.”
“You also refer to driving to the funeral with your family while Isa went in a car with her mother. You might want to bear in mind that even though you divorced your ex-wife, your daughter is still your daughter. She is your family.”
“Words matter, and consistently throughout this post and in your comments, you have downplayed a lot of things relating to Isa and her relationship with her stepfather, your own relationship with her, and the damage you have done to both her and your own stepdaughter. Cop on to yourself. YTA.” – Elpeep
“Just as you seem to think of the girls as sisters, not stepsisters, Isa might have thought of him as her Dad, not stepdad. If you can ignore the step, then she might, too.”
“YTA. No reason for Ava to be at her stepsister’s stepfather’s funeral.” – TexasBurgandy
“OP, YTA for that ‘just’ alone…” – leafyrebecca
“He sounded like he cared more about Isa than you do. You constantly call your wife and stepdaughter ‘your family’ and consider your own child to be an outsider.”
“This day was not about Ava’s needs; it was about your actual daughter’s and her mother’s. You know, ‘just’ the stepdad’s wife and ‘just’ the stepdad’s stepdaughter.” – Flossy1384
“Glad to see that others have also picked up on your use of ‘just’ her stepdad. Wow. Well, considering how devastated Isa is over his passing, I’d say he was rather more than JUST a stepdad to her. How disrespectful of you, OP.” – JimmyPageification
The subReddit was appalled by how the OP had handled the situation, but they were especially perplexed by how the OP had clearly prioritized his stepdaughter’s wants over his biological daughter’s needs.