Coping with the loss of loved ones is a very complex and personal experience. Different people handle tragedy with different methods–and they rarely choose that method.
Rather, they can’t help but respond the way they do.
So it can be difficult to hear that one’s coping mechanism is a problem for others.
One Redditor encountered that recently one day at school. She posted about it in the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by MyMomWorksGraveyard on the site, made her coping mechanism quite clear in the post’s title.
“AITA for making a dead mom joke?”
OP began by providing some context.
“I’m a [16-year-old female], and my mom is dead. She died in the height of the first lockdown and I really had no way of coping other than using humour.”
“The jokes I come out with are pretty funny, though I might be biased. It’s worth a mention, I don’t have a dad either, tho its not to relevant to this.”
She then gave a clear sense of what that looks like.
“Some of the jokes are fairly obvious, i.e. a friend says their phone is dead and ill say so is my mom.”
“I try not to overuse that one but it’s a big hit among my close friends. Some of the other ones are a little less obvious like the one in this particular incident.”
But a recent quip took the cake.
“We’re preparing for Irish orals right now.”
“Most of my class, including one girl who we’ll call J, knows about my mom’s death, and have heard me crack a few jokes.”
“Anyways, the teacher, who either forgot, or hasn’t been made aware of the fact I’m momless and dadless, went around the class and asked people what their parents do for a living.”
“When she got to me, she asked what my dad did first, and I said I don’t have one and then she asked me what my mom does, and I said she works in a graveyard.”
“The chatter in the class kind of stopped and turned into laughter and the teacher kind of realised. It was kind of funny.”
But after class, something unexpected occurred.
“After the class, J came up to me and told me she would appreciate if I didn’t make jokes about my lack of parents as it makes her uncomfortable.”
“I told her I wasn’t going to stop making jokes about my trauma and that it wasn’t her place to dictate that.”
“She called me an a**, and stormed off to bi*** about me to her friends.”
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
A majority of Redditors agreed OP had nothing to feel guilty about.
They shared her view humor can be helpful.
“NTA. It was pretty funny to be honest.” — SuperVillain85
“NTA. I’m very sorry to hear about your mother. Humour is a legitimate way to cope with loss. That your sense of humour and coping mechanisms made J feel uncomfortable is a her problem, not a you problem.” — TheUtopianCat
“NTA she has no right to get pissy at you over how you deal with YOUR trauma.” — Ssshushpup23
Others could empathize completely.
“NTA. dark humor is for those who have the trauma. I always see ‘send this to your mom’ or tik toks about ‘ask your mom …..’ and I’m like ‘CANT. SHE DIED. SHE LIKED ALCOHOL MORE THAN US. HARDY HARHAR.’ “
“It makes people uncomfortable but it’s your stuff to handle, ya know?” — the_tank22
“My mum died 15 or so years ago, made loads of dead mum jokes, my dad 2 years ago. I was told by phone. I cried and my partner asked if I was ok I responded with ‘I’m Batman’ ” — stonedRatt
“NTA. My dad died when I was in grade school, and for years afterward, when other kids would ask me what my dad did, I’d reply, ‘Pushes up daisies.’ ” — Lunaseed
“NTA. I’ve made a few ‘dead dad jokes’ and I like to think he would have found them funny.” — This-M
Some others, though, did push back on OP.
“I’d love to say n t a cause I make dead daddy jokes ALL THE TIME. But it does make ppl uncomfortable. So, maybe just be aware of your audience?” — travellingdink
“Nah honestly ‘dark humor’ is uncomfortable for a lot of people. It’s like when people make a lot of jokes about how much they hate themselves. I get that it’s a coping mechanism but I don’t always think it’s appropriate to push that onto others.”
“Additionally a lot of people have had loved ones die recently. Dead mom jokes are not in great taste and I would be pretty upset if I heard them right after the death of a loved one.” — Craftyhobby
“A lot of people lost their parents in the pandemic. Be careful about what you say around them, even if the jokes don’t bother you.” — AuldLangSimone
One person offered a longer, nuanced criticism.
“I’m afraid a gentle YTA is in order. Here’s the thing, yes, it is your trauma. But it’s not unique to you, unfortunately. A lot of people have had losses, and hearing someone joke might be difficult for them emotionally.”
“If you want to do that in your private life on your own time, that’s fine. But in a classroom setting where people are forced to be in your vicinity, then you owe them the respect of not making it an emotionally difficult place for them to be.”
“Same goes for work place. People deserve to have their school and work places free from emotionally difficult situations in a way that doesn’t hold true in places they inhabit voluntarily.”
“Making the joke doesn’t make you an asshole. But refusing to stop when you are in a classroom setting absolutely does. Losing both of your parents so young is going to make you grow up fast in a lot of ways, and I’m afraid this also needs to be one of them.” — Kitten_Foster
With all this feedback to consider, it would be difficult to predict just how OP will handle these moments in the future.