If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, you know it’s not something that’s easy to move on from. The grief process is different for everyone, and sometimes there’s a piece of you that feels gone.
But where do you draw the line between a refusal to move on from the past, and honoring the person you once knew? Redditor fuzzyface1245 came across this question recently when caught between some things she kept from her late husband, and her boyfriend who wants to get rid of them.
The original poster (OP) refuses to part with the boxes, and asked the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit if she was wrong for how she reacted.
“AITA for not wanting to clear out old stuff from my late husband?”
Here’s the situation:
“I’ve been with my boyfriend almost 3 years. My husband has been dead for 4.”
“I’m in my early 30s so I don’t think this is odd, especially since my boyfriend (also early 30s) has a 7 year old daughter. He has a past, I have mine.”
“It’s been nice outside so the other day he went into what I affectionately call ‘Springtime Dad Mode’ and wanted to start going through our storage areas.”
“Now, we have a nice house with plenty of storage. I had to move out of my own house so that was stage one of clearance.”
“I tossed SO much stuff. Then after moving in with the boyfriend I did another huge sweep through my stuff.”
“However, I ended up with two storage tubs (regular size, like what you’d get from Walmart) of things from my late husband. I have one or two more that are filled with high school memories.”
“These aren’t dumb things. They’re notes, programs from shows, and when it comes to my late husband a lot of stuff from his funeral.”
“My boyfriend told me I should be going through this stuff again to toss it. I said flat out no.”
“That I’ve been through this process a few times and the things I have I want to keep, for sure, and it doesn’t matter how little it means to him.”
“I’m not putting it out on display, I’m saving it.”
“He said ‘If it’s not going to be out then why do you need it?’ Ok, as though he’d be ok with me framing photos or notes from me and my late husband’s life?”
“Then what hurt: ‘You need to live in the present and not the past.’”
“I said ‘Some people can have a healthy combination of both.’ We haven’t talked about it since.”
“I have considered bringing out some of the things from storage to put on display since that’s his ‘reason’ but I won’t because his daughter doesn’t know I was married previously and she’s too young to explain that yet.”
OP is in a tough situation. On one hand, it’s perfectly understandable why someone would keep a bin of keepsakes from a deceased loved one. On the other hand, she is living in someone else’s house and it can feel like you owe them their request to make more room.
The question is settled by judgement passed on the AITA board.
This is done with one of the following acronyms:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
A lot of people sympathized with the thought of losing their significant other. Keeping some memories around is understandable.
It was voted that OP was NTA.
“I was widowed very early and had a future boyfriend pull this crap on me and I caved in and tossed almost everything.”
“Now, 40 FULL years later I still regret doing that with all my heart.”
“There is nothing wrong with keeping photos and memorabilia.”
“I’ll add the caveat that you should respect boyfriend’s feelings and not overdo the attention paid to these things but most definitely keep them.”
“These are YOUR belongings to do with as YOU see fit.”
“Don’t let anyone pressure you to get rid of anything YOU are not ready to get rid of.” – gooberfaced
“NTA. I have boxes of things in my garage that belonged to my dad. My husband doesn’t understand.”
“I just tell him that I hope you don’t have to experience the type of pain I am going through for a long long time. The grief process is so very personal and he needs to be supportive.”
“Your processing may be different that what he thinks it should be, but he’s never been in the situation you were in. Take your time and grieve and process as you need to.” – kitkat22788
“He should not be asking. Its inappropriate and disrespectful of you.”
“Check out the podcast ‘Terrible, thanks for asking’, the host has a class act of a husband who isn’t threatened by her late husband.” – Puzzleheaded-Cap-431
“NTA. But as someone who just lost a ton of stuff to a flood, you may want to think about digitalizing a lot of those notes and photos. Not to appease the BF, but for your own sake.” – yankeegirl152
Most of the board was in agreement, though there were dissenters. They felt that it’s better to move on by severing the tie to the physical materials, and accepting the memories.
They recommended tossing some things, not for her boyfriend, but for her.
“NAH. For the simple reason that when you learn to let go, you can move forward. Do what Marie Kondo says in her book/netflix show.”
“Sounds strange but I promise it works and you will have more peace and happiness in your life if you keep only the most important things. For the rest, give those things a proper goodbye and thank them for the happiness they have brought you.”
“But those things are not your husband, and they have served their purpose in your life already. You aren’t losing anything by giving those things away; the nothing can take away the experiences associated with those items and that is the important part. Not the items themselves.”
“Keep some, but less. If some of those things can be donated, appreciate that you had them and set them free to live a new life.”
“If they are not in good enough shape to donate, thank them for being there for you and bringing you joy when you obtained them. Then, discard them.”
“Whatever you keep should be displayed so it can continue bringing you joy. If looking at the items doesn’t bring you joy or makes you sad, why keep them? It’s hard but I think you should take your boyfriend’s advice.”
“But don’t do it for your boyfriend, just do it for you.” – _alizarin
Whether OP decides she was wrong and gets rid of some of her late husband’s things, or stands firm and holds on to the memories she has left is going to be up to her. Despite what everyone is saying, it is possible she can be happy with either choice.
It’s also possible to be miserable. She could regret throwing away these things for the rest of her life, or her boyfriend could give her grief over it.
The important thing is that OP is the one dealing with the loss, and there’s plenty of space in the house. So long as she’s not hurting herself or others, OP should be allowed to grieve her own way.