Everyone handles their grief differently, and grief also has a way of coming up at very unexpected times.
This can be especially true at major milestones, like a graduation or wedding, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Throwaquickadvice was floored when her stepson wanted to show a presentation at her wedding to his father, memorializing his late mother.
But when her future husband agreed with her stepson, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong to be uncomfortable with their plan.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to let my stepson (17) have a PowerPoint project display in honor of his deceased mom at my wedding?”
The OP was close to her future husband and stepson.
“My fiance (42) and I (36) are getting married before the end of this year (2022).”
“He has a son (17) from his former marriage with his late wife who passed away from cancer. I’d like to think that my stepson and I have a good relationship.”
“However, he is the most sensitive and emotional kid I’ve ever met. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing… but it does make it difficult for me to deal with him sometimes.”
But she was struggling with something her stepson wanted for her wedding.
“He said he has already prepared a PowerPoint project in honor of his mom and is planning on playing or displaying it at the wedding.”
“This was an instant no from me for many reasons.”
“My fiance said we should let him because he just wants to remember and honor his mom.”
“I told him that this occasion, the wedding, has nothing to do with my stepson’s mom so I’m not sure why we had to put a whole Powerpoint project there at the wedding about her. It takes away guests’ attention and makes them confused.”
The OP’s future husband disagreed with her.
“My fiance said we have to respect his son’s wishes and also said he’ll pay for the screen and everything.”
“We had a huge fight about it and I refused to even consider it. The whole thing is just a no-go. I even offered to have maybe a few pictures or a seat as an alternative, but my stepson isn’t having it.”
“My fiance commented, saying my refusal is an indication that I have an issue with my stepson’s mom and that am being unfair to him since he spent so much time and effort to prepare this project that obviously… means a lot to him.”
“But this isn’t about my stepson’s mom. I don’t have any negative feelings towards her. In fact, I think that she was a fighter (battled cancer not once but twice), and she played a huge role in what my fiance has become now, and I’m so grateful for that.”
The OP felt conflicted.
“When I first met my stepson, he seemed to keep to himself and not attend any family functions, even when inside the house. He avoids spending time with family, is quiet most of the time, and doesn’t really talk much.”
“I suggested therapy but my fiance said he mentioned this once to him, and his son yelled at him, telling him to stop acting like there was something wrong with him by bringing up therapy.”
“My fiance stopped bringing it up, and whenever I try to mention it again, he’d shut me down hard.”
“Things have been pretty tense now. My stepson isn’t talking to me, my fiance just keeps trying to guilt me into saying yes, and it’s all just making me feel overwhelmed.”
“AITA for refusing to make this happen?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
One Redditor suggested how the OP could gently let her stepson down.
“NTA. You have the right to make the day be about your current love with your fiance, not to feel like you’re living in his deceased wife’s shadow. I don’t think the kid is an a**hole, I think the wedding is making his grief come back to the surface, but your husband kinda is.”
“Sit down with your stepson and ask him to show you the slideshow. As you go, ask him to tell you stories about his mom and all the wonderful things he remembers about her.”
“Then tell him that she sounds like she was a wonderful person, and she deserves to be remembered in her own context, and propose that you have a memorial service on a given day this year, say, the anniversary of her death, or her birthday, where she can truly be celebrated. (Maybe set this as like a month or two before the wedding for your sake). Suggest that this be a special party that he plans, with help if needed.”
“Then say, ‘I know you wanted to play this at the wedding, but it’s beautiful and it really deserves to be used at a celebration that is about your mom, not at a party to celebrate your dad and me. Let’s use this for our memorial service instead.'”
“In other words, affirm his grief and give him an outlet for the work he did, but stand firm.”
“And don’t let your fiance be part of that conversation. Separately, let him know that this was a s**tty way to handle his son’s grief and that it made you feel disrespected and less than.” – tulleoftheman
Others were concerned by how the OP was being treated.
“Clearly, he hasn’t processed his grief and needs help NOW. OP’s fiancé is the AH for not addressing his son’s obvious emotional trauma, and possibly also his own. Allowing him to wallow in his grief and withdraw isn’t helping him in any way.”
“What’s needed is therapy for EVERYONE asap, individually for fiancé and SS, and once they’ve processed things and started to make some headway all together as a family. As part of all that, creating an appropriate memorial for his Mom should help with this specific issue.” – KahurangiNZ
“Neither the father or stepson is ready. Between this whole slideshow playing during the wedding, no matter the timing of it, it’s just wrong. Even the idea of an empty chair or table.”
“This wedding is about the OP and her fiance. Not about OP, her fiance, and his previous wife. This is supposed to be about their time.”
“A memorial for Mother’s Day would be a great time for this. Invite any and all family members to come. Celebrate the life of his mom then. Or on her birthday, or even on the son’s birthday.”
“Just not on a new wedding. IMO (in my opinion), tacky. I feel bad for OP.” – DarthRaydar1952
“NTA. I am shocked that your fiancé thinks this is ok on any level. This is a slap in the face to you and your family.”
“There is a time and place to honor his mom. Your wedding to his dad isn’t it.”
“Make this your hill to die on and stick to it. If they go behind your back and do it anyway, then I hate to say you married a man who will never put your feelings and well-being first. If it were me, I would walk out of the reception.”
“Contact the venue and instruct them not to allow a screen set up. Because I honestly think they will try to do it anyway.” – murphy2345678
Some also pointed out how the guests would perceive this wedding.
“From a guest’s perspective, I would be taking bets on when the divorce was happening. Honestly the fact it has gotten to this far I bet less than 3 without couples therapy and therapy for the stepson. This relationship is on borrowed time.” – DeathBahamutXXX
“I would also think as a guest at this wedding, that if his father/groom saw nothing wrong with this and allowed it, maybe he’s not over his grief and not ready to be fully engaged in getting married. Now I would be thinking the poor bride, did no one point this out to her?” – DarthRaydar1952
“From a guest’s perspective: This is going to make your husband but especially your step-son look like an a**hole in front of all of your friends and family. Everyone is going to pity you OP and feel bad for you that you are marrying this man/this family.”
“Show your husband this thread. You can show him my post too. I’ll try to explain it to him.”
“Look, I understand your son is hurting and you just want to do everything you can to make him feel better and coddle him, because he’s your baby and you love him. But this kid is 17, not 7, and if you let him do this at your wedding you will be letting him look bad in front of everyone.”
“This is 100% going to look like a dig at your new wife. The ‘kid’ is a teenager a year from being an adult, no one is going to believe he is too stupid to realize how hurtful this is to OP. It is going to look like a public show of him not supporting the wedding, him not being ready for you to move on, and trying to compare your new wife to his mom.”
“Some people might pity your son, sure. But your son is too old for people to think this sort of stunt where he basically humiliates the bride and makes her feel bad by comparing her to your dead wife is innocent or an accident or cute or okay.”
“Also, he’s too old for every event to be about him. The reason this is so rude and will be viewed so badly is that it obviously would (and does) make OP uncomfortable and feel bad at your wedding which is about you and her.”
“You may love your son and he may be the most important person in the world to you. His feelings may be more important than anyone else’s to you, but remember your hundreds of guests don’t feel the same way.”
“They aren’t all going to be like, ‘Wow, that was so insensitive and selfish, but he’s so precious and his feelings are so much more important than everyone else’s that we adore him anyway!'”
“Nope. They’ll all be thinking, ‘What a selfish brat’ or ‘What a spiteful a**hole,’ or ‘Really can’t handle not getting pity for like 14 hours, hunh? Does he have a victim complex or something? Attention wh**e?’ or ‘That’s really sad, but can’t he control himself for like one day? What on earth is OP getting into?’ etc.”
“It’s your job to teach your son socially appropriate behavior and showing consideration towards others. You aren’t doing him any favors here.”
“He’s 17. What’s going to happen when he goes to college or work and everything isn’t always about his feelings all the time? Step up and parent.” – TheHatOnTheCat
Though the subReddit could sympathize with the family’s grief, they also sided with the OP and wanted better treatment of her, not a presentation that would effectively throw the bride under the bus.