Owning a pet can bring great comfort and immense joy.
But unless your finned, feathered, furred, scaled or shelled friend is a koi, ball python, parrot, cockatoo or tortoise, you’re very likely to outlive them by decades.
For pet owners, their critters often become beloved members of the family and their deaths are mourned accordingly.
But is there a limit on memorial expressions of grief—especially in a shared household?
A woman is asking that very question after her boyfriend’s family dog died, so she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
“AITA for telling my boyfriend I don’t want to hang up a giant picture of his dog who has passed away?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My 26-year-old boyfriend’s dog passed away yesterday. We live across the country from his parents, who called him yesterday to tell him that his 11-year-old dog passed unexpectedly.”
“It’s very sad and was not anticipated.”
“Today while at work, I (23, female) got a call from my boyfriend that to memorialize his dog in our home, he plans to have his mom order him a giant picture of him. His mom has already always had a giant picture of his dog in her home, and when he asked if he could just have that picture, she said no and offered to buy him one also.”
“When he initially called and told me his plans I agreed to it, trying not to upset him, but then I realized if I didn’t speak up about it, it would likely get ordered for our shared apartment. Upon this realization, I called him back at let him know, I didn’t love the idea of having a giant photo of his deceased dog in our apartment.”
“Please by giant, I mean like at least flat screen TV size, it’s a huge focal point on the wall.”
“He seemed to think it was wrong of me to not like this idea.”
“I am also someone who has always loved decorating our person and designing it with a certain aesthetic, is something I have always done and something he has never cared for.”
“The dog was also only his and his family’s dog, it would be different I suppose if it was a shared pet of ours; I wouldn’t even want something hung up like this if it was my own dog.”
“I offered other ways to memorize his beloved pet like a smaller photo or other physical memorials, but he is ultimately just upset with my disinterest to have the giant photo in our apartment.”
The OP summed up why they might or might not be the a**hole.
“I told my boyfriend I didn’t want a giant photo of his dead dog hung up in our shared apartment.”
“I might be the a**hole because I told him I didn’t want this kind of memorial for his dog in our apartment.”
“I might also not be the a**hole because we share the space and it is a giant (flat screen tv size) picture of a dog that is not mine.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors were pretty divided between the OP not being the a**hole (NTA)…
“She offered regular size pictures, memorials, anything besides a gigantic picture of a dog that has died. And yes, he gets a say in decorating, but come on.”
“When my ex was 26 he got a coat rack, put it at the front door of our 4 bedroom house, and displayed all his baseball hats on it. And we’re not talking special hats, hats he would wear everyday.”
“When my son lost his very beloved cat he grew up with, I printed all the pictures I had of the two of them and made a photo album for him. There are many ways to remember a pet that does not involve a larger than life size picture. NTA.” ~ Unicorn_dreams42
“NTA. Most places that print pictures have neat options like throw pillows and blankets that would be a much better way to memorialize a pet than a television sized photo. Hell, get the dude a coffee mug and a t-shirt too while you’re at it.” ~ houseofnim
“NTA. It’s a shared home and he needs to find a middle ground. If you point blank said no to any photos, that would make you an AH, but requesting a more modest size is reasonable.” ~ coastalkid92
“NTA. It sounds like you dont mind photos of his dog, but I also wouldn’t want a huge, centre-of-the room photos of him up.” ~ SetReal1429
“NTA. If he’s gonna have giant pictures of dead pets there won’t be wall space for the damn TV. I think at this point you ask him to hold off having his mom order the picture and ask that you revisit this in 30 days.”
“Go out and buy some brown shipping/wrapping paper. When you revisit the conversation have a cut out of the size of the picture. Hang it with blue tape where it will fit.”
“If the wall can’t handle it, it will be apparent. If it could handle it but will be off balance, talk to him about the spacing of the picture plus what ever else is on the wall being out of sync is bothersome regardless of the image.”
“Meaning you wouldn’t buy and hang a picture of anything for that space of that size. Give him the roll of paper and suggest he cut out a size that he thinks he could live with and where it might be a better fit.”
“Maybe after the rawness of the loss wears off some this conversation will go more smoothly. Otherwise if you both can’t find an agreeable compromise on this, well, it’s good to know now so that you can get out of the relationship.” ~ Nogginsmom
“NTA!!!! My mother has a giant photo just like this in her house of her dog that passed and it is quite startling. I understand not wanting to have this up.” ~ tasty_terpenes
…and being the a**hole (YTA).
“Sounds like you have decorated your shared space entirely how you want it to be. If he wants a portion of it decorated how he wants it to be then you should probably let him.” ~ Berodur
“YTA you said you’ve decorated the rest of the apartment, let him have his one thing.” ~ Knockerjr
“Flat screen TV size seems extreme but I can see why he’d be pissed at the suggestion of a small picture.”
“Also, at some point homes are for living in, relationships are compromises, and you need to get over the fact that not everything that gets put in it is going to perfectly fit your aesthetic.”
“I say this as someone who has recently come to terms with my spouse’s questionable taste.” ~ AttachedQuart
“YTA. Sounds like you’ve decorated the entire place according to your personal aesthetic and the one time your boyfriend wants to put something up, the day after his dog died when he couldn’t even be there to say goodbye, you want to say no immediately?”
“Have a heart. Let him grieve his dog in peace and see where the photo can fit in to your home once it arrives.”
“This is half his apartment too—you can’t steamroll him on 100% of the decor and prevent him from putting up something that’s important to him.” ~ fizzbangwhiz
“YTA. OP, you’ve offered to compromise with a small picture, but perhaps think of where the large picture could go where it won’t hinder your aesthetic that much?”
“Or tolerate it until he’s moved on from his grief and then try to remove it or replace it with something smaller? Put yourself in his shoes, this one thing is important to him.”
“Personally, I’ve painted a large picture of my dog. Yes, I love her that much.”
“And if my partner vetoed it completely I would be pissed. But I’d be willing to put it in the spare room or something to compromise.”
“If my partner vetoed it the day after my beloved pup died I’d feel betrayed. It might sound dumb to people who don’t love pets, but for some of us, they are family.”
“And vetoeing something that important a day after feels a bit like you don’t care. I know I’m projecting here, but sounds like OP’s partner loves his dog as much as I do mine.” ~ Melodic_Mood8573
“YTA. For real, say yes, put the painting up. If a year from now you still hate it, have a discussion about it.”
“But this is about grieving, not decorating. And you’re going to damage your relationship if you show you care more about the house aesthetics than him processing his legitimate grief.” ~ probgonnamarrymydog
“I’m going to give you some advice, OP. You’re talking about asthetic. He’s talking about the love he has for his deceased dog.”
“They aren’t in the same category, like at all. You can argue about this but I can guarantee you it’ll cause resentment.”
“Maybe he hasn’t cared about decor, maybe he still doesn’t. But he’s talking about the honoring of his best mate.”
“Sometimes love means sucking it up and agreeing to what is probably a rare ask, ugly, tacky or large as it is. Then revisit this in 6 months.”
“To force this now will not bode well for the longevity of your relationship.”
“I work at a grief center. I know many people who have lost their humans. We frequently see marriages fall apart over the way people grieve.”
“Who cares if it’s weird? When you lose nothing but a little pride, do what your Love needs to heal. It’s a very sad hill to die on. YTA.” ~ DivineMiss3
While the OP is most concerned about the aesthetic of her home decor, maybe it would be better to worry about her husband’s comfort in their home.