Grief is an absolutely impossible emotion, and it presents differently for each person.
Where one person might want to let go of everything that reminds them of a late loved one, others will find it impossible to let go of anything, empathized the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Potential-Junket-193 was struggling with parting with his late wife’s possessions, but he was especially attached to her wedding dress, which she loved and wore on every one of their anniversaries, as well.
His daughter wanted to wear her late mother’s wedding dress but would need to get it significantly altered to fit into it, the Original Poster (OP) couldn’t fathom the idea of having his late wife’s dress cut up for someone else’s special day.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for not allowing my daughter to wear her late mother’s wedding dress since she will not fit into it?”
The OP and his daughter couldn’t agree on what to do with his late wife’s wedding dress.
“My late wife was a very small person. When we got married, she was only 115 pounds. So her wedding dress size reflects that.”
“She passed away two years ago, so she cannot attend our daughter’s wedding which will be in 2025.”
“Now my daughter wants to wear the dress, and I told her it wouldn’t be a good idea since she won’t be able to squeeze into it (I didn’t say ‘squeeze into it’ to her; that would be rude).”
“She told me she could just up the size of it and I told her I would think about it. I looked into it, and they basically cut the dress up to size it up.”
The OP didn’t believe this was what his wife would have wanted.
“My wife always wanted to go dress shopping with our daughters. She loved her wedding dress, and I don’t think she would be okay with it being cut up.”
“My wife loved that dress. She would never want scissors to be anywhere near it. She used to wear it on every wedding anniversary (it’s a straight white gown with beading).”
“I think she would prefer it in a box that getting cut up and made into something new.”
The OP tried to offer an alternate solution, which his daughter did not appreciate.
“I informed her no, she couldn’t wear the dress since they would be cutting it up.”
“This resulted in a huge argument about me gatekeeping my wife’s things.”
“I told her no again and that she could wear some of her jewelry.”
“She hung up. She clearly thinks I am a jerk, and my sons are now on me to give up the dress.”
The OP simply was not ready to do this.
“It really feels like I am cutting up her memory and keepsake, especially when I don’t think she would want this to her dress. I am not ready to let go of this piece of my wife and only have a picture of our wedding day.”
“I don’t know my daughter’s weight, but she is overweight. It would need to be sized up quite a bit.”
“Also, even if my daughters were smaller than my wife, and the dress needed to be sized down, that would still result in it being cut into, and my answer would be the same.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some reassured the OP that he was not wrong to want to keep his late wife’s dress intact.
“A year ago, I probably would have said you were an A H. Your wife doesn’t need the dress and won’t be able to go shopping, so why not? But in the last year, I lost my mom after taking care of her in my home for nine years. (Yes, I know it’s different to lose a spouse; my daughter lost her husband.)”
“My point is that I now realize that people grieve differently, and we cannot dictate to someone else what they should or should not do.”
“You are not ready to give up your late wife’s dress to be cut up and remade. It’s that simple; you’re not ready. End of discussion. NTA.” – JustUgh2323
“NTA. Not sure why people are not getting that this is a personal treasure of OP’s, the dress his late wife married him in.” – fly1away
“NTA. Not every person who saves their wedding dress intends to pass it down or give it to a relative to wear later on. Your wife intended to go dress shopping with her daughters had she not passed.”
“You’re allowed to keep the dress the way your wife intended or let your daughter use it. It sounds like if it wouldn’t be cut up and returned to you after it was worn, you’d be fine with her using it. But since it’d be completely taken apart, you aren’t ok with it.”
“Look into getting a replica made in your daughter’s size if it’s not possible to find another one online or at a vintage wedding shop.”
“Also, you have two daughters. The dress shouldn’t be cut up and then kept by one daughter in the event the other daughter also wants to use it.”
“I think giving her the wedding jewelry is a great compromise.” – Glum_Hamster_1076
“The fact that you appear to have more than one daughter makes this an NTA from me. I presume the others are also unmarried and therefore would feel they have equal claim to their mother’s dress?”
“Do you still have the veil? That at least could be offered on the proviso it’s returned so your other daughters can wear it in the future.” – NannyOggsKnickers
“NTA. Most people are unable to fathom how devastating the loss of a spouse is. At the two-year mark, you are still in early grief.”
“My husband died unexpectedly, I gave his daughters some things right off the bat, but others I’m having a difficult time parting with, and it activates the ‘fight or flight’ centers of my traumatized brain. Make no mistake, our brains are traumatized, and our decisions may not seem rational to others, but they don’t know what this kind of grief will do to you.”
“Before anyone says, ‘SHE LOST HER MOTHER,’ I get that, I honestly do. My son was five when my husband died, and it kills me knowing he will grow up without his dad.”
“Also, while I vote NTA, I think you should let her wear the dress. I’m not in your position, but I can imagine that thinking about someone cutting the dress apart might feel like you are losing another part of her when you have already lost so much. You’re not losing her again by letting your daughter wear the dress and feel like a part of her mom is with her on her special day.”
“I also imagine it could be extra emotional for you to see her in the dress your wife wore on your happy day together. Perhaps that’s driving some of your reluctance to let her wear the dress, or maybe I’m totally off the mark.”
“If you don’t already work with a therapist/grief counselor, I would encourage it and encourage you to explore your feelings beyond ‘she wouldn’t want it cut up.’ I always find there are deeper emotions under those hard decisions for me. Maybe you’re just not able to put your finger on it beyond thinking the dress will be ruined.”
“The dress will be fine, but you’re risking ruining your relationship instead. Salvage this relationship with your daughter. We are alone enough as it is. You need each other.” – Illustrious_Truck623
Others offered gentle YTA ratings for “gatekeeping” the dress from his daughters.
“What are you saving it for? Your wife won’t ever wear it again. It’s going to sit in a closet or attic forever.”
“Your daughter wants to honor her mother and feel connected to her by wearing the dress. Your other daughter may want to in the future as well.”
“This is a legacy from her to her daughters. It really is wrong for you to keep it from them. You will be YTA if you don’t change your stance.” – SamiHami24
“As a mom, I can’t imagine prioritizing an intact dress on my deathbed over the potential joy my daughter would get from wearing it. I’m actually planning my wedding, and I looooove the dress I’m going to get, and if I am still alive when my daughter gets married, I’d prefer for it not to be altered beyond recognition.”
“But if she wanted to wear it and needed it altered to fit her, I’d be honored. If I’m not alive, the thought of not being present on an important day is heartbreaking to me, and if she can alter the dress to make it fit, I would want that.”
“I’m sorry, but YTA here as I don’t think you’re really considering the fact that your daughter doesn’t have a mother to shop with or be at her wedding. The dress represents that for her.” – yuiopouu
“I get the feeling OP is gatekeeping a lot of wife’s things as a result of his grief and perhaps not sharing with his daughters as much as he should. Seems like it could be a bigger issue than a wedding dress.”
“Anyway, I feel for you OP but YTA. Your daughter has a perfectly valid use for her mother’s dress. While it’s understandably precious to you, it’s not doing anyone any good sitting around collecting dust when your daughter can have it as a special part of her wedding day in memory of her mother.” – andromache97
“You lost your wife and I’m sorry. Your daughter lost a mother too. It would be an honor to your wife’s memory if this dress and the love you had be passed down through generations.”
“You say your wife wanted to go dress shopping, as all moms do! But she can’t, and think about what she would want and what will become of the dress after you pass away if not continued for another generation. Soft YTA.” – Proper-District8608
“Soft YTA. I understand your attachment, but look at it this way…your daughter misses her mom deeply and sees this as a way for her to be there. In the end, the dress is just a “thing”. Your relationship with your daughters is much, MUCH more important than a dress.”
“1. Invite BOTH daughters over to talk about the dress.”
“2. APOLOGIZE. Explain that you’re sorry, you miss her too and your grief got in the way.”
“3. Ask them BOTH if they want to use the dress and how it could be done.”
“Suggest that the three of you visit someone qualified to make these changes to discuss options.”
“If they both want to use the dress, a better solution may be to not alter it for the daughter getting married first, but to take pieces of the dress to combine into a new dress. This would allow each daughter to have a piece of their mother’s dress integrated into their own dress that they each can keep.”
“I also recommend that you keep a piece as well to create a shadow box that has other keepsakes of your wife, and your wedding, along with photos. That would be wonderful to have up in your house vs keeping her dress in a box in a closet.” – johnny9k
Some empathized with the OP and offered a beautiful alternate solution.
“Dig deep here. WHY do you want to keep the dress? Is it a piece of your wife you’re not ready to let go of yet? Does cutting it up feel like you’re cutting up a memory or a keepsake?”
“This is obviously not about the dress itself or how your wife ‘would’ have felt about it, but about how YOU feel about it. Which is OK, but don’t forget, you have some time to process this.”
“You may find yourself okay with it after more time has passed. Or not. It’s okay to be honest about your reasons for declining but leave the door open to your stance changing later.” – Right_Count
“Honestly, as a woman, I feel like this is an ok line to draw but be honest with your daughter. Your wife, who is now gone, wore the dress in its current state on the day she married YOU and it’s precious to you in the state it is currently in, not altered. That’s ok.”
“If your daughter responds that she is also her mother, that’s ok. You both lost a huge part of your world the day you lost her.”
“You have offered your daughter to wear the jewelry which will not need to be altered for her to wear and she can still wear a piece of her mother on her special day without altering your piece. Compassion works two ways and you can express that to her without putting her down or making her weight part of the problem. NAH.” – FlossieOnyx
“If your daughter has the ability to pay for (or the skill to make) a custom dress, might I add another suggestion? A good dressmaker could use the original (WITHOUT damaging it in any way and handling it very carefully) to make a pattern based on the original, size that up to fit the daughter, and construct a ‘reproduction’ of the dress directly based on the mother’s.”
“OP would get to keep his wife’s dress intact; the daughter would get a dress whose creation was a direct product of her mother’s (semi-symbolically similar to how she shares traits, etc., with her mother while also being a fully unique person).”
“If the daughter or anyone in the family wants to attempt to make something like this themselves but doesn’t know how, let me know, and I can link some resources!!” – joseph_wolfstar
“This is honestly the best way to go about it.”
“If the number of modifications that need to be made to the dress for OP’s daughter to be able to fit the dress are as comprehensive as OP is saying, then I (personally) don’t think it’ll be as meaningful for the daughter to wear because it would basically be an Argos Paradox dress.”
“The best thing to do is to find a competent tailor to repattern the dress and make a properly fitted sized duplicate from scratch.” – mythrillcrafter
“Yes, this and NTA. This is a beautiful solution. I’d bawl my eyes out if my dad made these arrangements for me. It probably would mean even MORE to me than wearing my mom’s original wedding dress because it would be based on her dress, her dress would still be intact, and I would have known that my dad did this just for me. Win-win… win-win-win.” – ShutUpMorrisseyffs
The subReddit completely understood why the OP was struggling so much with this and empathized with his need to keep the items in his home that celebrated his late wife’s memories.
But some felt that, while it would be hard to do at first, the OP might treasure the memory of seeing his daughter in his wife’s dress or a reproduction of the dress, as he’d be able to remember his wedding day and anniversaries while celebrating his daughter’s special day and future.