Grief is a strange thing.
Some experience it all at once, a great storm of loss that drowns out everything else and then dissipates.
Others feel grief come in waves, ebbing and returning with little or no warning.
So, with everyone having their own unique version of grief, can someone else really judge how you handle loss?
That was the situation that led Original Poster (OP) NaturalCauliflower38 to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for not going to my husbands funeral to ‘support my children'”?
First, OP explained the background.
“My (63F) late husband (64M) and I have four adult children.”
“The youngest is 23, but the rest are in their 40s and all have children and families and live far away.”
“My eldest lives over 400 miles away.”
She moved on to tragic news.
“My husband recently passed away, fairly unexpectedly.”
“He wasn’t ill to our knowledge and died from complications resulting from his diabetes (type 1).”
“Though 64 is seen as old, it is shocking and tragic.”
Then she explained a very peculiar childhood trauma.
“I am not a funeral person.”
“My mother was a huge hypochondriac when I was growing up. In this day and age, she would be diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder, I expect, as she was never really ‘with it’ when I was a child.”
“Multiple times a week my entire childhood up until I was 13 or 14, I was dragged to funerals of strangers.”
“Every funeral my mother saw in the paper or heard about from friends, she would take me and my siblings to.”
“Even if it was completely inappropriate to be there.”
“She’d lie sometimes if it was an intimate funeral.”
“We were cousins of the deceased or the family of their dead friend.”
“We’d spend hours there doing nothing at all, and to be presented with death so much as a child was quite emotionally distressing.”
“Many funerals we went to had open caskets as we lived in a quite catholic area. It haunted my dreams as a child.”
“A long time before he died, my husband told me once, offhandedly, that he wouldn’t be offended or upset if I didn’t go to his funeral as long as I mourned him in my own way, but he still wanted to have one.”
“Before his funeral me and my children shared a meal, and they assured me it was okay not to come and their father wouldn’t be upset, and they just wanted me to do what was best for me.”
Everything was fine, until…
“After the funeral, I received angry emails from friends and relatives of my husband,”
“Especially his mother (who is in her 90s) saying I completely disrespected my husband and I ‘abandoned’ my children who were inconsolable at the funeral and traveled all the way for it just to be ‘let down’ by their mother.”
“My children have told me that I have nothing to worry about, that they weren’t crying because I wasn’t there, but the emails keep flooding in.”
“Calling me selfish and telling me I’m letting my entire family down and asking if I really loved my husband.”
OP was left to wonder,
“It’s very distressing and I’m wondering if I should have sucked it up and gone as a courtesy to my husbands family? AITA?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
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
Redditors decided: NTA
Some pointed out that her husband had made his wishes clear.
“Nta.. the only people’s opinions who matter are your late husbands and your children, and they are on your side..”
“I can’t imagine your childhood going to funerals like that, I only went to 2 funerals, and I hate flowers because of it .. every flower to me smells like a funeral.” ~ Wooden_Albatross_832
“You have a traumatic history that your late husband and children understood.”
“The fact your late husband gave you his blessing to miss his funeral trumps all.”
“Anyone reaching out to insult you needs to get a life. They know nothing about the situation, and those kind of people probably aren’t even worth spending the time to clear the air with.” ~ PJfanRI
“Your husband said you didn’t have to go. Your children said you didn’t have to go.”
“NTA” ~ CheapToe
“You fulfilled a wish of your husband by not attending, and your children are adults, and as adults, they managed themselves.”
“Funerals are for the living; they are for the surviving loved ones to receive closure and to process their grief.”
“You would not have achieved either of those things by attending.” ~ Proper_Garlic3171
Others pointed out that the only person who mattered was OP.
“Furthermore, funerals aren’t for the dead.”
“They’re for the living.”
“The deceased individual is already long gone.”
“If OP didn’t feel she wanted or needed the closure or shared grieving and community funerals are intended to provide — but rather felt the funeral would only cause more stress and pain, given her past and the trauma it caused — there is no good reason for her to be there.”
“It’s nobody else’s business how she chooses to heal and grieve her own husband’s death.” ~ Predd1tor
“It is horrible though that the people whose opinions don’t matter are harassing a grieving widow because she didn’t conform to their expectations of mourning.” ~ Heavy_Sand5228
“Not their business to judge grieving widow.” ~ Justwatching451
“It’s no one’s place to judge how you grieve.”
“Those that mind don’t matter & those that matter don’t mind.”
“You communicated with the important people in the situation & they understood.”
“This is your loss & you don’t owe outsiders justifications of your actions.”
“I am so sorry for your loss & all the inconsiderate people that found it appropriate to pass judgment at such a heartbreaking time.” ~ bluevioletblackbird
Some had personal stories.
“True, and after the funeral, where are all these ‘caring’ people?”
“I went thru my mom’s funeral, and the next week it was like nobody remembered she passed.”
“The one person that had anything to say was upset that I didn’t book my mom’s church for a reception/receiving line.”
“But my mom hardly attended in her later years, and nobody invited me from her church for me to have a reception.”
“I was so whacked out with grief that I was barely able to go thru the motions.”
“Most of her friends were already in the ground, We have to come up with some better options for weddings and funerals for people.”
“I’m in a dispute now with people that have put off a family funeral from Thanksgiving to April.”
“I’ve already gone thru the grief, and I needed that closure within 5 days of the death.”
“They are all bickering about when to have it and what works best.”
“What works best for me is to be ‘sick’ on the day of the funeral and stay home. I can’t even look at these people without my blood pressure flying up.” ~ lovetocook966
“My paternal grandmother actually pulled me aside the last time I visited her and told me that she would never expect me to go to her funeral.”
“My grandfather was already gone, and she knew funerals made me anxious and overwhelmingly depressed (as input into a non-functioning haze, not grieving. I grieve plenty for those I have lost).”
“My dad thought it was something I would regret forever…it’s been quite a few years, and I don’t.”
“My grandma understood and didn’t expect me to go on a 12-hour car trip just to be at her funeral when I had instead hopped on a plane to see her when she was still alive (despite my horrid anxieties about flights).”
“I have only attended one funeral – my maternal grandfather’s and that’s because we raced there to try to make it in time and we didn’t, so we were in town and he and my grandmother didn’t know many people, and I felt I needed to be there for her.”
“However, for me, they kept it closed casket for the service until they gave a warning at the end that they were going to open it, and none of my family had an issue with me stepping outside.”
“When I think of my grandparents, they are alive and smiling at me.”
“My mind can’t intrusively place them in a casket in my head because I didn’t see it. It would try, believe me.”
“Quite honestly, I view my grandmother giving me that permission as the truest example of the love and understanding she could display for me.”
“I miss her like hell, and I will always appreciate that she understood the difficulty I would have and sought to make it easier on me preemptively.” ~ Oneiropolos
No matter how we experience loss or express our grief, those expressions are deeply personal and can be influenced by any number of things.
Whether we feel it all at once or drip by drip, the grief comes for us, and we have to deal with it in whatever way we can.
Be kind where possible but always remember that someone else’s experiences don’t need to mirror your own to be just as valid.