The death of a child is devastating for families. Compound that grief and loss with the contentious end of a marriage and the situation can easily be overwhelming.
No one should expect someone dealing with such adversity to bounce back quickly. But while the grieving parent and soon to be former spouse is reeling, how much accommodation for their feelings is too much to ask?
Is there a limit?
A generous sibling found themself weighing that question, so they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit to pose a hypothetical “Would I Be The A**hole” (WIBTA) scenario.
“WIBTA for taking down the nursery to have my office back after my sister’s baby didn’t make it?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My sister is living with me at the moment. Her husband cheated on her and kicked her out.”
“They are in the middle of a very messy divorce and she was pregnant when that went down. We made a nursery out of my office for her.”
“She gave birth about three months ago and the baby didn’t make it.”
“The problem is that I need my office back and since the nursery isn’t being used I asked to covert it back about a month ago. It didn’t go well so we kept it there.”
“She isn’t going back to work now since she quit her job.”
“This makes the problem of the office even worse. Before I could work on the kitchen table but I can not concentrate at all since she is always bothering me when I’m working.”
“It’s affecting my job. She would have been back to work by now if she didn’t quit and the baby would have been watched by our mom at this time.”
“I asked again to get my office back, but it didn’t go well. We got in an argument and she thinks I am a horrible person.”
“I need an office back and it is my home.”
The OP summed up their situation.
“I want my office back, but my sister wants to keep it as a nursery.”
“And if I take it down I could be a jerk, but I need the space for work.”
When asked about their sister’s contributions to the household, the OP responded:
“I don’t want to even touch that not contributing part. Hopefully she gets the house in the divorce and it ends soon.”
“Mom and her don’t get along well.”
“They could come together for the baby but they have beef.”
“My mom told her, her husband was cheating and she didn’t believe her. Huge argument and when the truth came she blamed mom for putting the idea in his head.”
“I know for a fact my mom is refraining from saying ‘I told you so’. Forcing them together would not be good.”
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
Most Redditors decided there would be no a**holes here (NAH), although a few had only “tough love” and derision for OP’s sister, labeling her an a**hole (NTA).
“NTA. It’s your damn house! Tell her to get the f’k over it!”
“What IS it with the rampant entitlement people display? Jesus.” ~ Reasonable_Ad6082
“Since your sister is a shaken soda bottle incapable of reasonable communication, send her an email with it going to anyone who would stir up drama against you.”
“In your email, make it very clear she is a guest in your house. She has no authority or power to make demands. You do not need to ask her permission to use any space in your house except the guest room you have so graciously let her use.”
“You will be converting back your office start on x date at y time. She may take whatever pictures and video she needs as a keepsake. If she can not respect your work hours, she will need to leave the house during your work time.”
“Validate that you are aware that she is grieving, but she has until x month to start paying you room and board. You have spotted her rent for as long as it was financially feasible. It is no longer feasible.”
“Failure to comply will, unfortunately, mean you will have to ask her to leave. If she posts anything negative about you to social media or calls family members to berate you, it will result in her being asked to leave immediately.”
“Remind her ‘I have taken you in and provided for you’. She chose to leave her job and not contribute. Now she is going so far as to put your job in jeopardy, and you refuse to allow her in her grief to destroy what you’ve worked so hard for.”
“Also tell her that she needs to be in therapy as you will no longer tolerate her berating and explosive, angry emotional explosions in your face.”
“It is your house. That means your rules. If she doesn’t like them, she can live elsewhere. If anyone b*tches tell them ‘how nice of you to volunteer to take in my grieving, jobless sister’.”
“Good luck. Stay strong. I can see you’ve been habituated to cater to her demands, whims, and needs. NTA.” ~ Competitive_Net_2687
But the majority had more compassion.
“NAH. if it was her house, that would be different, but she’s a guest in your house and you kindly converted it for her for a reason that is no longer needed.”
“What happened is tragic, and I feel bad for your sister, but the room wasn’t hers to begin with. She’s quit her job and doesn’t seem to be contributing, which is an issue for another time, I guess.”
“But if I were you, I’d change it back and not ask her. You don’t need her permission.” ~ champagneformyrealfr
“Eh, people grieve differently. In a circumstance that it was sister’s house, it would not be unreasonable for sister to keep nursery up, and someone shouldn’t force a person to grieve to move on faster.”
“But in this instance, it is OP’s house, and they need the office. It sucks for sister, but she needs to deal with it.” ~ Dizzy_Needleworker_3
“Frankly, I’d be honest and tell her that losing my job or having my work suffer will only result in me not being able to support her.
“Say something like ‘I love you. I have and will continue to help you. But my help isn’t as fungible as either of us might hope for. I still must work and earn a living if I am to be of any use to you.”
“‘I invite you to lean on me—but not to knock me down, honey. That won’t work for any of us. Surely you can see that we have got to be supportive of one another in order to make this work?’.” ~ AndSoItGoes24
Many people offered OP suggestions for how to approach their sister.
“I would suggest giving the sister a set time to prepare. Like, ‘I really need my office back, so I’m going to take down the nursery October 7th and 8th’.”
“Don’t ask permission, but give her time to adjust. (Unless she’s the type of person to badger you excessively until you agree to change your mind. Then you just have to go for ‘what’s done is done’).” ~ Ijustreadalot
“Can you offer a set list of options? I’m sure that she’s raw with grief and can’t empathize with your needs right now.”
“Maybe a list of options, where she must pick one, where you tell her that you understand that she is grieving and that you need to have a private working room so that you can maintain your household.”
“1. She can move into the office/baby room, and then you make her room your new office.”
“2. She moves the baby stuff into the room she is staying in, and then you retake the office”
“3. She puts the baby stuff in storage” ~ LivingBestLife777
“Could you just put a desk in there and not touch anything else? So she can still have time to grieve in there, but you have a quiet place to sit?” ~ molly_menace
“Yeah, this is tough, and I can’t imagine what the sister is going through, but OP needs to be able to work.”
“This might not be the best solution, but could the sister possibly move her bed into the nursery, and OP could use her room as an office?”
“It might be painful for the sister to stay in the room that was supposed to be her baby’s, but it might be less painful than completely dismantling the nursery.”
“Then she could make small changes when she’s ready, slowly removing the baby stuff until it’s more of a regular bedroom.” ~ BaitedBreaths
“Or at least OP could have a kind conversation with the sister along the lines of ‘I understand if you aren’t ready to take down the nursery yet. But I need a quiet space to work, and you are not letting me have that while working in the kitchen’.”
“‘If I cannot use the office, I need quiet from 8-5 (or 8-10, 10:30-2:30, and 3-5? Schedule some lunch or coffee breaks to chat with sis?). Let’s give that a try for x amount of time (a week, a month).
“‘If you can’t help me out with that, I will be reconverting the office. I will box and save all the baby items’.” ~ theatermouse
“Maybe you can find a way to talk about it without putting blame on her.”
“Tell her you want/are willing to support her through her divorce (as long as she needs/whatever your timeline is), but in order to stay on top of everything at your job, you need a specialized workspace back.”
“Or, less ideal, but maybe you can at least compromise on a work hours boundary?” ~ fizzco_
“NAH. As someone who has lost a child, it’s part of the grieving process not wanting to touch or move the nursery.”
“Have you spoken to her about starting to sort through the things in the nursery together? Or just starting a bit at a time, as that’s part of the process, as hopefully that will clear the room. And help her grieve and process what’s happened.”
“Part of the issue is that just saying that you need the room could spiral her mental state, but I totally understand needing the room back for work. See if you could get her down to a corner for a little shrine.”
“I wanted everything cleared and put away as soon as possible, but I know people that haven’t touched the nursery for over a year.”
“I’m not saying the shrine has to be in that room, just somewhere where she can go that can help her process.”
“It’s a really hard situation as OP isn’t wrong for wanting the room back. It’s their house but losing a child is more pain than you can imagine, and some people struggle with clearing the belongings for the child.” ~ Ok_Photo_3563
Some just offered their best wishes for the siblings.
“NAH except for sister’s ex. He sucks.”
“You’ve gotten good advice from folks who’ve gone through it. Good luck.” ~ Barfotron4000
“NAH, she just needs time. Don’t throw anything out, and help her find a different spot that can be here, even if it’s a nature spot.”
“This is so sad. People acting like the sister is just a nuisance are horrible.”
“What is the point of family if you cannot turn to them when times are hard? If you can’t ask for a steady arm after your kid dies?” ~ Sadbecausework
The OP and their sister are in a horrible situation.
Hopefully things work out for both of them.