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Grieving Mom Called Out For Not Congratulating SIL On Pregnancy After Insensitive Comment

woman celebrating her pregnancy while holding ultrasound images
Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

Grief is different for everyone. And no one gets to decide for anyone else who gets to grieve, how to grieve and how long to grieve.

But is it wrong to not grieve?

A mourning mother questioned her reaction to her sister-in-law’s pregnancy announcement. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

LiniNuckel asked:

“AITA for not congratulating my SIL on her pregnancy?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My (30, fmale) sister-in-law (33, female) just announced her first pregnancy. Me and my husband (her brother) already have a 2-year-old and her twin sister already has a few kids, so she was the last of us childless.”

“Here comes the ‘twist’.”

“We lost our second born in July during their birth, in an absolutely unpredictable way. There was no warning, he was just dead when he came out.”

“We personally didn’t wait until a certain week of gestation to announce our pregnancy because life is unpredictable and you have no guarantees anyway.”

“So we announced this pregnancy way before week 12 and her exact words then were ‘you’re pretty brave to announce the pregnancy that early’.”

“The birth of said child was also the reason we weren’t able to attend her wedding, which just happened on the same day a 4-hour drive away. We didn’t spread the news about our son’s death on that day though.”

“She announced her pregnancy at a little get-together that originally took place to celebrate her and her twin sister’s birthday. Apparently, she wasn’t pregnant with one child but twins but lost one child early into pregnancy.”

“And she was openly happy about it.”

“She started listing all the reasons she was glad that she didn’t have to buy everything twice and didn’t have to do twice the work, etc…”

“I was sitting across the table, and I didn’t even know how to react. First of all of course her pregnancy announcement triggered some feelings of jealousy, and I would have wished for her to tell us beforehand and not in a room full of people.”

“There were many people, and we were having breakfast so everyone was sitting at a table. And not everyone jumped up immediately.”

“But I’m not mad about that or anything although I find it a bit insensitive. On the other hand, her happiness about losing a child left me speechless.”

“I mean, I guess I kinda get her train of thought, but I think some thoughts are inside thoughts and I must admit I felt offended about being confronted with her reaction to child loss in that kinda way.”

“Anyway neither I nor my husband got up to hug her or congratulate her and she later texted my husband that she wasn’t happy about the way we acted. I think she was still kinda mad her brother didn’t attend her wedding, though.”

The OP summed up why they might be an a**hole in their situation.

“Because not congratulating someone on their pregnancy is obviously not a nice thing to do.”

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 decided there were no a**holes here.

“NAH- we all react to trauma differently.”

“Your shock in that moment was 100% valid; I’m sure anyone would struggle to be congratulatory when another person is actively celebrating something that caused them immense trauma.”

“On the other hand, your SIL is dealing with a very similar kind of loss, and if talking herself into being happy about only having one child is her way of coping, that’s valid too.”

“Ultimately you’re two women— family members— who have had to deal with the same/similar very difficult situation. I hope you can explain your reaction (calmly); after suffering a loss herself, I’m sure she’ll be able to understand, at least a little.”

“And while it sounds like she’s in the denial phase of grief, I hope you’ll be able to be there for her as she deals with her own loss, too.” ~ iwasneverhere_2206

“For many women, early miscarriages are difficult, and I’m glad more women feel comfortable talking more openly about that, but for many women, it truly is no big deal.”

“In telling women it’s okay to be heartbroken, I think a lot of people have lost sight of the fact that it’s also okay to not give a sh*t or even be thankful.” ~ 603shake

“Very much this. I miscarried when I was 20 years old and NOT in a good place to have a child.”

“We told people before 12 weeks because honestly we were young and dumb and didn’t know any better. It happened almost exactly 12 weeks in, and once I recovered from the shock of everything, I realized maybe this was a good thing.”

“After it happened, I told myself if I was going to bring a child into the world, I was going to be ready. I went back to school; I got a better-paying job.”

“I couldn’t imagine my life with that child in it now, but as the stupid saying goes, sometimes things happen for a reason. Not to say that sometimes that reason isn’t just that life is unfair, but there you have it.” ~ rainbowcanibelle

“I had two miscarriages, both of them early, both in pregnancies resulting from birth control failures…in other words, pregnancies I’d actively been trying to avoid.”

“Both times were within about six months…”

“I had mixed feelings both times, but honestly? I was not heartbroken, either time.”

“The first was in late January. The next, mid-July. And then, around Halloween of the same year…a third pregnancy.”

“This time, we were in a better place than we’d even been in July: I had a better job, we’d moved to a bigger place, our daughter’s health seemed to have improved, and my ex and I had gotten custody matters settled regarding my eldest…all things that had made me not want the first pregnancy, and some of which were still in the way when I lost the second.”

“That third one is sixteen years old now. And I love her beyond words. And if I hadn’t lost either of those earlier pregnancies, I literally could not have had my little girl, not the her who she is.”

“And who she infuriates me sometimes, stresses me out a lot, but delights me constantly, makes me proud, impresses me, all of those things a mother feels.”

“And I wouldn’t trade her for anything…so I honestly can’t even find a part of me that can possibly mourn those other ones, if that makes any sense.”

“I’ve told people that before, and they’ve called me sick, heartless, all kinds of things…because I choose not to be broken-hearted by my own ‘losses’. The things we’re told we must feel if it’s even discussed at all.” ~ Thr33Littl3Monk3ys

“NAH. it’s all very difficult. I’m so sorry for your loss and of course, you’re still grieving and comments hurt and that’s okay. You’re allowed to feel that way and also a little jealous.”

“Your SIL is also allowed to feel the way she does, and honestly sounds like she may be putting on a brave face and making joking comments (as many of us do) as a way of dealing with her own grief.”

“Maybe instead of growing apart and being bitter, reach out and be each other’s support, for you both have lost and are grieving.” ~ Less-East8801

“NAH. You’re allowed to be uncomfortable and upset and process that in your own way.”

“She’s allowed to be excited and announce her pregnancy in her way.”

“Not everyone considers a fetus to be a person (I don’t) so losing one, especially very early on, and still being pregnant may legitimately be a relief to her (it would be to me, two babies at one time is no joke).”

“You don’t have to agree or approve, but the fact that you don’t agree doesn’t make her wrong.”

“I think for most women, losing an early pregnancy is very different from losing a child during birth, and it’s unrealistic to compare the two as equal tragedies. But, given how recently you lost your child, I can fully understand why her relief would seem offensive to you.” ~ Spare-Valuable8031

“NAH, but you are kind of in the wrong.”

“She lost a baby too. And she’s dealing with it as best she can.”

“She doesn’t owe you anything and she doesn’t have to tell you separately. It’s her news to share as she sees fit.”

“You didn’t have to hug her but a simple ‘yay’ or ‘I’m happy for you’ would have been sufficient.” ~ WaywardPrincess1025

“NAH. I get why her comments would have been jarring to you, but you have to remember that everyone deals with loss differently.” ~ happybanana134

“NAH. You have every right to have been stunned by the announcement. She has every right to be stunned by your lack of reaction.”

“You all seem to be ignoring the feelings of the other due to the individual things you each are going through.”

“Did your husband explain why the two of you reacted the way you did? I’m guessing if he does that your SIL is going to be horribly sad that she hurt you, and I’d be willing to bet that this (or just time) will leave you sad that you didn’t respond to her announcement better.”

“I get that you’re hurting, but she likely is too. She dealt with her pain in a way that helped (or she thought was helping) her to get over it.”

“You dealt with your pain differently. You don’t understand her action, and she doesn’t understand your lack of reaction.” ~ inFinEgan

The OP can grieve however they need to, but so can their sister-in-law.

As Redditors identified, no one is wrong to feel about their own experiences, however they do.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.