Grief is indeed a personal experience, and everyone will take a different path during their journey.
But when grief is experienced in a family setting and everyone is dealing with it differently, someone is bound to get their feelings deeply hurt, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Throw-Hide, his two younger siblings, and his father were struggling to move forward after his mother passed away from cancer.
When the adult kids all felt that their father was moving on too quickly with a new girlfriend, the Original Poster (OP) made a tough decision about his relationship with his father.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for being furious with my father and refusing to go to his wedding?”
The OP’s family’s world was rocked when his mother passed away.
“I (27 Male) have two siblings, (24 Female) and (20 Male). We used to belong to a family of five, but sadly our mother passed away from cancer earlier this year.”
“It has been tough for all of us, but has been especially hard on my younger brother who is currently in college. He failed two semesters in a row this year due to difficulty coping with this situation and is on the verge of being suspended.”
Then the OP’s father shared a hurtful update.
“Only two and a half months after my mother’s death, my father informed my sister and I that he had already found a new girlfriend and was in a serious relationship.”
“My sister and I were shocked and disappointed. Finding a new partner after only two and a half months seemed rushed and offensive.”
The OP and his sister set boundaries with their father.
“My sister and I explained to him that while we were willing to accept him moving on to someone else, we were not interested in being involved with this new woman in any way. It was just too soon.”
“We also made it very clear to him that he needed to hide this situation from our brother who was struggling to pass his classes. This was his last chance and if he were to fail the semester again due to difficulty coping with the situation, he would be suspended for a year.”
“Our father claimed to understand our concerns and apologized for any added stress this put on us. He also claimed to fully agree about hiding the situation from my brother for now.”
“I hoped at this point that the situation was under control. Sadly, it was about to get much worse.”
The OP’s father then did something that deeply hurt his children.
“Around a week before Thanksgiving, my brother was flying home from school for the holidays. At his school, they get around 10 days off before they have to fly back to take their final exams (school is on a quarter system).”
“My sister and I expected our dad to stay home to spend time with our brother. After all, this was the first major family holiday since our mother’s passing and we assumed our dad would want to make sure our brother was okay and ready for exams.”
“We were mistaken. The morning after my brother arrived home, not only had our father decided to tell my brother everything about his new girlfriend, but he also just left the house to travel to a different state to spend the holidays with her.”
The OP’s father had no interest in honoring his boundaries.
“Not only did he show blatant disregard for my brother’s situation but also showed no interest in spending the first major family holiday since his wife’s passing with his kids.”
“On Thanksgiving, he didn’t even text or call me or my siblings to ask what we were doing. My siblings and I were furious with him over this behavior and we had a huge fight.”
“He tried to gaslight us, claiming that we were overreacting and that we didn’t care about his life.”
“He also acted very entitled, demanding we ‘get on board’ with his new relationship.”
“He then casually dropped the bombshell that he planned to marry this woman next year.”
“Given his blatant disregard for my brother’s well-being and overall distasteful behavior, I’ve decided I won’t be going to his wedding and I don’t speak with him at all beyond replying yes or no the rare times he does message me.”
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 reassured the OP that they understood why his dad’s behavior was so hurtful.
“NTA. The callousness your father is showing towards all of you is baffling to me. Yes, everyone grieves differently and they’re entitled to their process, but they should also respect others’ grieving process. He’s not respecting yours at all.”
“He moved on suspiciously fast, and that he wants to marry again so soon is a bit shocking. But that’s not really the most important issue; it’s shocking that he left you all alone on your first Thanksgiving without your mother. That is cruel, callous, and inexcusable. The disrespect he’s showing your mother… I don’t really have the words.”
“I hope you all – but especially your youngest brother – get grief counseling. It’s important to not only deal with your feelings in a healthy way, but to also learn the tools for future issues. Can’t recommend therapy enough.”
“Good luck and I’m sorry for your loss. NTA for refusing to attend the wedding of [the guy who’s refusing to act like] your father.” – Miserabeau
“NTA. I mean, I don’t know that planning to not tell him was the ideal way to go. But the way your father is acting is certainly callous to ya’ll. To bow out of your first major holiday without your mom, his wife, without any notice whatsoever or forethought into how this would affect you and your siblings.”
“He is still a parent and your youngest brother is clearly struggling, he’s being a crappy parent by chasing this new woman, and it shows this lady’s character that she even suggested going out of town on his kid’s first major holiday without their mom.”
“Just ugh. I’m so sorry.” – fallingintopolkadots
“NTA. Oh, my good gods. Moving on quickly from a long-time partnership is one thing, but disrespecting what you have asked him, not to mention, and then leaving you high and dry on the first major holiday without your mom is an entirely different ballpark.”
“I wish I knew what was going through his head, but at the same time I’d probably only become more enraged than I already am.”
“Someone mentioned gathering all of the memories from your family home in case the new girlfriend wants to wipe her out of existence.”
“Also, please encourage your brother (and maybe all three of you) to seek professional help with grief and loss. I have not lost a parent, perhaps something akin to it, but I cannot imagine the pain you are all feeling. I wish you and your siblings so much warmth and light.” – chronicdisaster
“NTA and I’m sorry. He is being extremely selfish and basically an AH. I agree with the commenter who suggested going to the house and gathering everything you want to keep from your mom, maybe over Christmas while your dad pops over to see the girlfriend again.”
“If my father had done this after my mom died, I don’t think I would be able to forgive him. Not for the relationship but because he has destroyed the relationships with his kids by being so self-centered.”
“Please keep your siblings close and support them both.” – javel1
“NTA. Your age gap is about the same as me and my sister. If you are able, be more present in his life. Try and guide him to therapy, and it might be wise to take time off school. I received suspension for poor grades when my mom became ill, and it wasn’t easy to go back, so I didn’t finish.”
“It may be effective to come up with a plan for therapy and such, and approach the school about the situation. May help, I never thought to do it.”
“As for your dad, he’s being incredibly selfish, and I hope he realizes this eventually. You aren’t wrong in your reaction. I’ve been down this road. Sounds like your dad doesn’t seem to fully understand that his children are grieving too. He has centered his grief as most important and is doing what he thinks he needs to do for himself, which leaves you and your siblings to fend for yourselves. He may never realize this, and I’m sorry to say it.”
“Focus on yourselves, as a family, get grief counseling individually, and together if you think it would be beneficial (could be especially due to your dad’s behavior). Ideally, your father would do the same, though he may not believe he needs it since he is ‘in a serious relationship,’ which may be masking it for him. And if you don’t want to, don’t attend that wedding. Your dad is doing nothing to make it something you’d want to attend anyway.” – Valkyrie-at-Dawn
Others agreed and also encouraged the OP to find help for his younger brother.
“Firstly, your brother needs help, probably professional, to deal with, process, and learn to grieve while dealing with the pressures of life. Maybe grief counseling for everyone isn’t a bad call.”
“Was it known to be terminal? How long was she given, and how ill was she? Was your father her main carer?”
“You probably aren’t privy to the intimate details they discussed before her passing. She may have encouraged him to find someone. Pure speculation would be if he was already involved prior to her passing.”
“Some people aren’t capable of being alone. Everyone processes grief differently; judging or assuming anything isn’t a good idea. Hiding things never works, no matter how well-intentioned, and always ends up worse.”
“NTA, a gentle ESH. Your dad probably more so and he is just focused on himself and doesn’t seem to be considering others.” – heliepoo2
“Hey, you should have your brother contact his dean about a medical leave. My college ended up erasing two semesters of grades from my records because of a retroactive medical reason.”
“I had to get a doctor involved. I was going through depression and hiding it and hiding my grades. I took two semesters off then went back refreshed and with a better focus on school. Never hurts to ask!” – ApproxKnowledgeCat
“First, help your brother. Poor kid needs some grief counseling. Can he come home to you(or your sister) and not to your dad’s house from now on? Somewhere he can feel loved and supported? (I’m glad he passed his exams after Thanksgiving).”
“Second, NTA for already telling your father you won’t go to his wedding. He’s been callous towards all of you, and incredibly selfish. He’s made his choice clear, and it’s not any of you.”
“Finally, I’m so sorry you lost your mother. I hope you three siblings are able to stick together for each other and be the support you wish(and should have but don’t) from your father.” – CalicoHippo
“NTA, it sounds like your dad has shown you where his priorities lie.”
“He’s entitled to move on but he has been pretty inconsiderate of you and your siblings’ feelings. The first holiday post a close family member passing is tough and I can’t imagine leaving my kids alone to go shack up with someone on the first holiday if my husband had recently passed. Why is he in such a hurry?”
“I’m so sorry for your loss. Just focus on supporting your brother and encourage him to get help. I took time off study after my brother passed because it just got to be way too much and even when I went back I needed a lot of support and therapy to struggle through and finish my degree.” – OneMoreCookie
“Rough, NTA, and please encourage your brother to take advantage of the systems which exist in Universities, for situations like this. There are academic concessions that can be made, there are Early Alerts for students struggling in some way, there is counseling, there is the ability to defer a year, there are extensions on assignments and all kinds of support exist that he needs to take advantage of.”
“The University can seem like a machine, and it is, but the people working there are more often than not human too and have been through some s**t themselves.”
“Failing a year isn’t the end of the world, either; if he’s still in the earlier levels of his Undergrad, it’s the upper-level credits that Grad schools look at for admission purposes, and also, employers don’t typically ask for your transcripts. Hopefully, that helps set your mind somewhat at ease, and hopefully your brother as well.”
“With everything else going on, he should be taking the time he needs to heal, or he needs to write a heartfelt letter to the dean of his program to see what might be able to be done. Sometimes they can adjust things so that while credit isn’t received for an incomplete class, it doesn’t also tank the overall GPA.” – xSinistress
The subReddit found themselves grieving alongside the OP and his siblings for what they were going through, both because of losing their mother and because of how their father was treating them in the wake of her death.
While there was nothing wrong with their father moving on and even finding a new girlfriend, he surely should have been considerate of his children’s feelings and what they needed during their grieving journeys, especially if he expected them to also be supportive of him in his new relationship.