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Grieving Mom Devastated After Sister Stops Buying Christmas Presents For Her Deceased Son

Claudia Wolff/Unsplash

When one of our loved ones is confronted with tragedy and forced to grieve, we have no choice but to give them space.

People grieve in their own way, whether it’s convenient for us or not.

But when her sister continued to grieve for quite awhile, one Redditor was left unsure about how to act. She explained her ordeal in a post on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.

The Original Poster (OP), known as physiomom on the site, led with a timely title. 

“AITA for no longer giving Christmas presents to my deceased nephew?”

OP first gave a detailed account of the tragedy that began it all. 

“My sister’s son died 8 years ago at the age of 3 in a terrible accident.”

“My sister and I are close, but we live across the country from each other. When her son died she had an infant daughter and since then she had another daughter.”

“Of course this was so horrible for everyone but especially for her and her husband. She has coped over the years by including her son in everything.”

“Like family pictures that she sends out have a picture of her son included.”

At the time, OP had an idea to show her support.

“The year her son died I had already bought his Christmas present.”

“I have two kids and 10 nieces and nephews and I’m that boring auntie who gives all the kids a very nice Christmas ornament in a series.”

“I went ahead and gave my sister the gift for her dead son and she was so appreciative of it.”

That led to additional Christmases in the wake of that loss. 

“I decided to give her the next ornament in the series the following year, but that time she did not say anything.”

“That did not surprise me, we are both busy with our families and me with work.”

But passing time left OP with a decision. 

“Last year was the last year of the ornament series and since she had never said anything I thought it was a good time to end the gifts to my dead nephew.”

“Welp I sent my nieces their ornaments and did not hear anything from my sister.”

“I sent a text to find out if she got the presents.”

There was a strong reaction to that choice. 

“She texted back that she did, but that she did not get her son’s present. I told her I did not get him anything. She did not text me back.”

“I find out she has been so sad and has been talking to our mom and other sisters saying that I’m basically telling her that her son does not exist anymore.”

“That before I was the only one still in her grief with her and now she feels alone.”

OP asked around for feedback.

“2/4 of my sisters think I did the wrong thing here and that I should keep sending presents every year.”

“(To be clear I’m the only one who has done this) I’ve tried texting her (the way we mainly communicate), and she does not answer.”

“Frankly it was a weird thing I was doing and I wanted to stop before. Now that I have, I’ve hurt my sister.”

“AITA for no longer sending my sister presents for her dead son?” 

As initial Reddit responses came flowing in, OP wanted to clarify one thing.

“Thank everyone for thoughtful comments and suggestions. I wanted to clarify that while my sister definitely has more than average tributes to her son, this is not one of those situations where the kids live in a shrine to their brother.”

“They do talk about him to the girls, and he is included in some way in important events (with a prayer or a picture of him or something like that). Their home is filled with pictures of the girls, as well as their son. They didn’t keep his room like it was or anything like that.”

Quite the opposite, OP assured. 

“The girls are happy, healthy and loved. My sister now works as a preschool teacher with the same age group as her son was when he died. For her this is a way of facing her grief and rejoicing in his short life.”

“She and her husband both have been in and out of therapy for the whole eight years, but obviously there is still grief and it came out this case in anger and projecting intentions on me.”

“I hope she gives me the opportunity to actually talk to her about it and not continue triangulate with the rest of the family.”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Redditors responded in one of two ways,

Some assured OP that her sister was in the wrong. 

“NTA. It’s not really fair of your sister to put all that on you. It sounds like she just wants that annual confirmation that you remember her son.”

“What if you started sending something else ‘for him’ but that you would do anyway? Maybe a small donation to a children’s charity or animal charity (if the kid liked animals, it’s just an example) in his name?”

“Something to turn it from a physical object into a remembrance. To me that feels better, but I don’t know…” — OkCaterpillar7770

“NTA – Your sister shouldn’t rely on your gifts to her dead son as a coping mechanism.” — Acidic-Tomato

“NTA – your sister really needs some therapy to learn how to grieve. What she is doing is not healthy for her and not going to help her in the long run. All you can do is try your best and if she chooses not to respond its on her.” — juiceboxfriend95

Others agreed that OP wasn’t in the wrong, but they gave patience to her grieving sister nonetheless.

“NAH. It isn’t about the presents. It’s about someone remembering her son existed here on earth even for a short time. She clearly has complicated grief, but I think she took some comfort knowing that someone thought of him even if it was just once a year.”

“Neither of you are in the wrong. But please talk to her. She likely feels like she’s the only one who remembers him, and you gave her comfort as you kept sending presents.”

“But it isn’t about the gift.” — alpacaboba

NAH- I am saying this because I cannot call a grieving mom an a**hole, especially for this reason.”

“Sending her my love and hoping she is able to talk to someone about this, but grief doesn’t ever end but she does need to learn how to cope.” — Ab828

“Nah I don’t think either of you are jerks. It’s a sad situation. It might have been better to call her ahead of time and talk about it.” — No-Locksmith-8590

Here’s hoping this disagreement can lead to a deepened understanding between OP and her sister. 

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.