TW: Death of a child, suicide.
The death of a child is always a tragedy, but when it’s your child who passes away, it’s a horror.
The trauma of surviving that ordeal can’t be overstated and deserves compassion, respect, and patience.
So how do we allow for that grief but still not smother others in fear?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Additional-Donkey-18 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my wife to stop hovering over our living son bc of our deceased one?”
Introductions and horrific news.
“I, (39m), have been married to my wife (39) for 13 years.”
“We had two children together (Sean who would’ve been 19) and Marcus who is 14.”
“Almost 3 years ago, we allowed Sean to go on a camping trip with some friends, during this, He was injured pretty badly by jumping into water that was not meant to be messed around in.”
“We lost him after a few days.”
“My wife and I blamed ourselves, but specifically my wife.”
“Since this Marcus has been in arms reach of my wife 24/7.”
“He rarely goes out with friends, he’s rarely unsupervised, which is just not good for a 14-year-old boy.”
“Marcus finally argued back, said he really wanted to go out fishing with his friends and friends dad and didn’t see a reason why he couldn’t go.”
“My wife shut it down immediately, said absolutely not, and that if he wanted to go out he’d have to wait a day one of us were off work.”
“After Marcus left the room I spoke to my wife and told her maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea him going since his friends dad would be there.”
“She said no, he just couldn’t and not to ‘undermine’ her.”
“I told her she needed to start letting Marcus have a life, and she needed to stop hovering over him just because she lost Sean.”
“My wife completely blew up on me, crying, saying she could be as overprotective as she wanted.”
“She was his mother, and I had no right to say that because I am as aware as her that the world is too dangerous. She then told me not even to mention this idea to marcus bc it was a big solid no.”
“She’s since seen to be avoiding me and just hiding away in her office.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
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: NTA
“I am so sorry for your loss”
“You are right, Marcus is not an appropriate or healthy outlet for her grief.”
“He needs to be allowed to live his life.”
“Marcus is grieving his brother too, and he doesn’t need to have that compounded with the loss of the freedoms of his teenage experience.”
“And of course you and your wife will always worry about him, but like you said, this was a supervised trip, he would have been safe.”
“It sounds like your wife would really benefit from therapy and/or some kind of grief support group. As you know, you’re never the same after a loss like that, but life can get better.” ~ JustheBean
“I agree OP is NTA and his wife needs help, but unless the goal is to implode this family, what you’re suggesting is just as destructive to OP’s marriage, as the Mom’s behaviour to her son.”
“My coworker lost his 19-year-old son in May, in a similar way as OP’s son.”
“When my 18-year-old son told me he was going camping / hiking with his buds in a different country for a couple days – I panicked and my first clutch response was to say no.”
“I didn’t but it messed with me.”
“I cannot even begin to imagine OP’s and wife’s pain at losing a child.”
“And while I don’t agree with the wife, I mean I can understand her clutch response to any activity involving water and her not being there.”
“This whole family needs therapy.”
“The wife to help manage her fears and over-protectiveness before it further damages her relationship with her son.”
“Her son to help better understand why his Mom is behaving this way and OP to help support his wife with managing this loss, fear in a healthier way.” ~ Reasonable-Bad-769
“This is why so many marriages don’t survive the death of a child.”
“She needs grief counseling and so do her husband and son.”
“If they don’t the marriage will implode, and she will lose both her husband and her remaining child as the child will choose to live with dad.”
“A family friend lost a child in an accident when they were elementary aged, parents didn’t believe in therapy.”
“Mom went off the rails, they divorced, 2 older kids, 10ish years later one of the older kids committed suicide, years of depression and lamenting of the death of younger sibling.”
“Family therapy is so important after the death of a child or sibling.” ~ Use_this_1
A slow process.
“All of this.”
“Plus: How about working on gradually helping her to let go?”
“Maybe the first trip away from her shouldn’t involve water in any way. Could that fishing trip be turned into a trip to an amusement park or something instead?” ~ Appropriate-Bar-2822
“Yea I feel like the first time she lets her son go away from her it shouldn’t resemble anything like a camping trip. No woods, water etc. that feels reasonable.”
“They should be starting small and close to expand out to bigger things home then slowly.” ~ Satansonoflaw
“That’s what I think too – you can’t go from 0 straight to water.”
“You let him first spend the night at the friend’s house when the friend’s parents are there, then you let him do an activity with the friend and dad that’s fun but has no bodies of water.”
“You gradually build it up. They’ve gone straight to her worst nightmare – something that could cause her to have a breakdown.”
“OP has to step in now to give his son more freedom – but start slowly and build up.” ~ Big__Bang
A probable future.
“If she doesn’t let him live his life, she will end up losing both sons anyway as this one won’t want to be around her as soon as he is an adult.”
“Has she spoken to anyone about her grief?”
“There are plenty of support groups that don’t necessarily cost money – there are sadly a lot of people who have lost a child who share your experience.”
“Marcus has to have his life too – he should not be punished because his brother did a foolish thing and it cost him his life.”
“The world is dangerous – but it’s the only world we have, and he has to live in it. Sheltering him now will only make it more dangerous for him later.” ~ alien_overlord_1001
“He might also end up going to places against their wishes anyway but not telling the parents in fear that they (mom) will try to stop him.”
“Being a teenager and hanging out with friends will help him with his own grief.” ~ Lupicana
Not everyone was on OP’s side.
“It’s possible that if you were more helpful, she wouldn’t pull away by being more anxious and more overbearing.”
“At least act like you take her fears seriously because you already know the worse can actually happen.”
“I’m sure there’s no lonelier feeling than going through this horrible grief while being dismissed by your partner.”
“If you want to get her to process this faster, then you need to be way more supportive and acknowledge she is justified in her fears, then help her through it.”
“You seem to have gotten it over with quickly and even imply your kid was partly at fault.”
“That doesn’t mean you get to expect a mother to get over her child’s death quickly and without some lingering ptsd.”
“Have some compassion” ~ cunexttuesdaynga
“This didn’t just start.”
“You have been watching this sh*tshow and are only now realizing you and your wife are ah.”
“It’s time you stand up for your son and put an end to this bs. Get yourself and your wife therapy because you both need it.” ~ snag2469
“YTA for allowing her to ruin your child’s life.”
“This isn’t healthy.”
“And it certainly isn’t a decision she gets to make on her own.”
“If you let her squeeze any tighter, you’re kids going to rebel so hard you’ll be lucky if it doesn’t derail his future.”
“Frankly, you should pack him up and send him off without even telling her. She needs therapy.”
“Not a free hand to helicopter parent your kid to death.” ~ Vegitas_Fist
The idea of losing a child makes me want to keep all my kids in bubble wrap forever.
Innocent children should be off limits to everything, and anything that can hurt them – let alone kill them.
Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in, and not teaching our children how to survive is often more detrimental than the world itself.
Kindness and patience should always be the go-to for any sort of tragedy, but hopefully, this family can find steps to regain some normalcy and independence.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/