It can be intimidating to date someone who has been married and lost their partner to a serious illness.
But like any relationship, it’s important to voice your concerns upfront. That should include whether your partner’s way of grieving their late partner bothers you.
One guy was clearly in agreement with this concept when he wrote into the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, after his current fiancée began to complain about the presence of his late wife’s urn in his home.
Redditor Throwaway6913531 reached out to the sub, wondering if he was wrong for digging his heels in for his late wife’s urn over his fiancée’s comfort level.
The Original Poster (OP) asked:
“AITA for not wanting to move my late wife’s urn from the living room?”
The OP was devastated after losing his wife.
“I (37[Male]) lost my wife to brain cancer 4 years ago. She was only 31 years old. She was ill and [had] an MRI scan a week before her brother’s wedding that she was so excited for, [and the] doctors noticed an abnormality in her brain.”
“It was a low-grade glioma, around 4cm x 6cm, the size. The [tumor] was inoperable and she was told that at some point it would become intermediate or high grade.”
“She was able to pull [through] her surgery, her tumor was halted for a short while, and then it returned. She had radiology and had to go into surgery again.”
“It was so devastating and so exhausting. I have a daughter that just turned 6 and i remember when I was torn between looking after her and being at the hospital.”
“My wife passed away two months later. She was too weak and was having other health issues.”
The OP’s wife was then placed in an urn after her passing.
“As her family requested we had her cremated and I keep her ashes in urn in my bedroom.”
“In about two years I started dating casually.”
“My fiancé moved in three months ago. Recently we started having this argument about me keeping my late wife’s urn in my bedroom. At first she told me she had absolutely no problem with it, [and] even said that she admired me for cherishing my late wife’s memory like that.”
Despite previously being “okay with it,” the OP’s fiancée is uncomfortable with the urn’s presence.
“But all that changed right after she moved in. She demanded that I move the urn somewhere else because she felt heavy whenever she walked into the room, I refused but when she said she’d [leave] the bedroom I agreed and put it in my living room. She stopped talking about it and I thought the issue was solved.”
“We’d host family dinners sometimes and last week she told me that her mom pointed out the urn that was sitting on the shelf in our living room. I immediately shut that down as I knew she was hinting that I move the urn somewhere else.”
“She suggested putting it in my daughter’s bedroom, but I refused. She even suggested choosing a place together to scatter the ashes, but she knew that I’d say no.”
“She got upset that I reacted like this and asked me to be more considerate of her feelings. I walked out the room to cool down a bit.”
Despite the OP’s feelings, his fiancée moved the urn.
“Two days ago, I came home and found that she moved my late wife’s urn into my daughter’s room without my consent.”
“She told me she had relatives visiting and that she temporarily moved the urn into my daughter’s room til they leave.”
“I got so angry with her for acting like this and treating my late wife’s ashes as something to be ashamed of.”
“We argued when I put them back on the shelf in the living room. sShe said I was being stubborn and trying [to] spite her, started crying and brought up past incidents of how she was supportive of me but I don’t do the same for her. She said that I needed to sort this out or she’d rethink the wedding and getting married to me.”
The OP and fiancée now have someone mediating their conversations.
“She turned all contact to her mother now.”
“Her mother is trying to negotiate with me about the issue, and said that she personally thought that keeping an urn was keeping me stuck and [preventing] me from moving on with her daughter.”
“I stopped talking to them both after they made it my fault and started demanding things from me.”
Fellow Redditors reached out anonymously, rating the man’s feelings on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some Redditors said the OP was absolutely not in the wrong for grieving on his terms.
“You’re allowed to grieve and deal with a loss H O W E V E R you want. He compromised and again she decided that she wasn’t satisfied. He’s not sprung on his first wife, he’s keeping her memory of his first and the mother of his child close. And that’s not for her to decide HOW he does it.”
“He compromised with the bedroom. He doesn’t have to compromise any further. She KNEW what the deal was PRIOR to moving in. This isn’t new. She’s attempting to manipulate the situation with using the wedding and he isn’t over his wife, as a maneuver to get her way. She’s wrong. Point blank.” – Staceysmomplus2more
“He kept in in his/their bedroom, and only moved it to the living room after his now fiance demanded he move it. It doesn’t sound like it was front and center there, either, given it was on a shelf.”
“Short of completely removing her urn or putting it somewhere completely out of his fiance’s sight, it seems she will continue to take issue with it wherever it is. Probably wanted it in his daughter’s room, because how often is she really going to be in there and see it?” – TylerDurdenisreal
Others agreed and said the OP could love his fiancée and miss his late wife at the same time.
“I’m good friends with two widows. Both regularly talk about and post about their deceased spouses on Facebook. One friend posts her first wedding pictures every year on her anniversary and comments that she loves and misses her deceased spouse. Both friends are remarried and have children with new partners.”
“You can move on from a former partner’s death and fall in love with someone else, while still memorializing the person and relationship you had.”
“A good partner will understand that you lost someone unexpectedly and you still love that person, even if you love them too. Loving two people at once is completely possible.” – kcl086
“Amen to this. My ex husband passed away in January 2017. We were divorced at the time, and I’d gotten engaged to my now-husband. But he was a very close friend, and I still feel his loss.”
“I’d had a bad last week, and on top of a lot of other stress I’d had a strong realisation that he would have been 40 in February next year, he’ll never see that birthday, and I cried.”
“You know what? My husband hugged me, comforted me and told me it was okay.” – InquisitorVawn
A few thought the OP’s fiancée must be jealous or insecure.
“So my grandma can’t date and have a relationship because she keeps his ashes in the living room? Because there are still pictures on the walls? Because she won’t cut her rings off?”
“Oh wait. Her bf is a grown adult who is ok with my pops having existed.” – TotalWalrus
“OP already compromised once, showing he was taking this new girlfriend’s feelings into consideration. She pushed the issue further, wanting it farther away from her. I [guarantee], if he caved and said they could put it in daughter’s room, she would have then made the demand that they spread her ashes.”
“Not only is she being selfish and manipulative, I’d bet money she’s also very jealous of the late wife. But none of those are reasons for her to undermine OP’s decision in this case. They are not married yet, the Urn is of HIS late wife, she shouldn’t have even gotten near it let alone touched it.”
“If she’s really going to use a wedding as a scare tactic, she and OP aren’t ready for this marriage, and she’s clearly not willing to let him deal with his grief at his own pace.”
“Mother ought to be ashamed of herself too. No morals, but then if the daughter is being inconsiderate and manipulative, why wouldn’t we expect the mother to be the same?” – GuiltySpark92
Some Redditors questioned whether the OP and his fiancée were ready to be married.
“Taking the urn out of the bedroom was a reasonable compromise.”
“Trying to move it again after you said no?”
“Those are red flags OP. They are telling you she’s not a good fit.”
“Now refusing to discuss and expecting you to negotiate with mommy? She ain’t ready to get married.” – deadbodyswtor
“Yes, but. I’m going with ESH.”
“Widow here. I agree 100% that what OP’s fiancée did was wrong and manipulative. On the other hand, OP needs some serious therapy if he thinks he’s ready to re-marry when he still wants to keep his late wife’s ashes front and center in his living room.”
“Think of it like this: If it was a big painting of his late wife hanging over the mantle in his living room, you’d totally get why fiancée doesn’t want it there – it shows everyone that at a very basic level the late wife still is the ‘lady of the house.'”
“It’s appropriate to have pictures of the late wife up with the kid, because its important for the child to know that her mother is not being ‘erased’ from her life.”
“But OP, you are clearly still heartbroken at the loss of your wife. I really recommend getting some therapy or joining a widow/widower group to talk things out.”
“Not sure where you live, but if you are anywhere near a Gilda’s Club, check them out. They are named in honor of the late Gilda Radner, they are support places for people with cancer and their families (including children). They are free and terrific. And good luck to you.” – ReluctantVegetarian
Everyone is going to grieve past loved ones differently, so it can be hard to understand someone else’s grieving process. It may be especially hard if the person they’re grieving used to be in the “role” that you’re now taking up.
That being said, it’s clear the OP and his fiancée need to clarify both of their needs around the OP’s late wife. To have a functional, happy relationship, they both need to feel like their needs are being met, and with how the household is currently being run, that clearly isn’t the case.