After a dangerous car accident, it can be difficult to put your life back together. Add in a life changing event, like losing the use of a limb, and it will take a lot to even begin the process of healing mentally, let alone physically.
Redditor brownstonewill’s son is one such person, dealing with the prospect of never being able to walk again. Luckily, the family has grandma willing to come over and help out with things in the aftermath of the incident.
But when she tries to constantly tell the son he should be grateful he’s alive, the original poster (OP) puts a stop to the mother-in-law (MIL) from talking like that. Now MIL is upset with OP, and OP doesn’t know if she was wrong.
To find out, she took her story to the “Am I the A**hole” subReddit.
There she asked:
“AITA for kicking my mother-in-law out of my son’s hospital room”
It’s a long story for what amounts to a quick incident:
“My son (19) was in a bad car accident last week and he will not walk again.”
“Not here for sympathy, I and the family are all working with professionals, I just am hung up on this one particularly tense exchange my mother in law and I had earlier and it’s distracting me so much from the things I really need to be focused on.”
“I figured some strangers with no skin in the game could settle it outright.”
“My mother in law flew in a couple days after the accident happened (the soonest she could get here) and has been doing her best to be helpful. She has been wonderful cooking, cleaning, keeping track of the calendar, and all the other things I’ve just been unable to do.”
“(Spouse is not in the picture but extended family is.)”
The MIL’s help is invaluable, but not everything she does is so useful.
“However today she crossed a line with me. We were sitting with my son and he has, understandably, been extremely depressed and in shock.”
“My mother in law kept making a point to say how lucky he was (because he survived) and how grateful he should be.”
“Perspective has its place in the grand scheme, sure, but it was abundantly clear he was in no mood to hear that at the particular moment.”
“I tried to change topics but she ended up back there pretty quickly. I told her lightly to give it a rest.”
“She persisted, saying he was chosen and blessed and the circumstances warranted a celebration and he had a duty to pay it forward now and… that’s about where I cut her off, because I really don’t want him internalizing any survivors guilt.”
“I told her she should get some air. She said she was fine. I then told her explicitly she had to go home for the day.”
“When I got back she was really worked up.”
“I explained that what she was saying was not what he wanted to hear then. She said maybe not but it’s what he needed to hear. I said it was too soon and that’s that.”
“She became really upset saying I’d asked her to come down only to boss her and use her as a maid but don’t care about her opinion in any of the important aspects regarding recovery and embarrassed her in front of her grandson. (In short, that I’m an a**hole.)”
“Now I’m worried there’s some truth to that and I was wrong to ask her to leave, because I don’t know what I’m doing in this situation any more than she does, she’s been the most supportive person, and she is right that she’s older and more experienced.”
“The tension is eating away at me. She’s been upset and distant/guarded since this exchange. I don’t know where I stand and don’t have the energy to figure it out myself. AITA?”
On the AITA subReddit, people are judged for their actions in their story.
This is done with one of the following acronyms:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
When the MIL offered to come over and help out, OP was grateful. But that doesn’t give MIL a free pass to say whatever she wants. She needs to consider the son’s feelings.
OP was well within her rights to ask MIL to stop talking like that.
“Hi I was in a coma and woke up paralyzed that is absolutely not the thing he needs to hear. I was told that a lot and it always felt patronizing and like I should not be able to mourn my mobility.”
“let him be sad he dosnt need to be happy right away. Just do the work in pt and everything else and celebrate his milestones. tldr NTA” – pinkbuster
“I also think it’s wrong for someone who hasn’t suffered a great physical loss to lecture someone else who has to ‘cheer up’ and ‘get over it.’ It’s really gross to dismiss the patient’s need to mourn the loss of his previous normal. – Maleficent_Ad_3958
“This is textbook toxic positivity and is unacceptable with someone who has just survived life-changing trauma. Well-intentioned people can still be a**holes. NTA.” – UndergroundSlummer
“NTA. As someone who was paralysed with a prognosis of getting better, those people were the worst. I knew that I was lucky, but god damn if they would just let me feel my feelings.”
“It sucks, it’s hard, it’s not easy. I spent 6 months going through hell, ICU ventilated as my lungs were paralysed. Everything on the recovery was to get back to where I was before.”
“That speech about being lucky to be here is not necessary at that point. It’s the worst. Removing someone like that from the room is the best option.”
“I’m sorry that your son is facing this difficulty… it’s not easy to change every expectation about what life will look like because 30 seconds changed everything.” – whyamisoawesome
MIL’s actions really had some commenters worried.
“NTA I understand her entire monologue but it is definitely not helpful to hear such stuff.”
“Having said that: I find that people say stuff like that when they are nervous or at a loss to what to say to make things ok. Which 99% of the time is not possible.”
“I hope she apologises once she realises her mistake.” – SantaPachaMama
“Right? Grandma feels bad and is pushing this narrative on grandson because if he’s looking at the bright side, she can feel better. Making it about her feelings.”
“Grandma needs to be called out because the circle of support flows inward, towards the person afflicted. It is not up to the trauma patient to emotionally support those who are supposed to be supportive of them.” – Stormywillow
Doing something nice for someone, like helping out family with house work and food while they adjust to a new normal, doesn’t entitle you to say things they don’t want to hear.
If you really think you’re just speaking the truth, then you should be prepared for how they will react.