Names hold memories. Although no one person owns a name, a name holds an attachment for those around them. If you are close to a “Steve,” or a “Morgan,” or a “Kate,” that name immediately brings up someone and how you feel about them.
When that name is attached to loss, the stakes become higher. This was unfortunately where Reddit user Longwayhome____ found herself when she was confronted by a name that brought up such painful memories.
When her sister-in-law invoked that name for a family pet, her reaction…well, how would you react?
Unclear if she was out of line for her powerful reaction, she took to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for clarity.
“AITA For blocking my brother’s wife when she named her new dog after my deceased son?”
Our original poster, or OP, set the scene by describing the tragic circumstances that took her young son away.
“My F[emale]37 son passed away on Aug/14/2019. He was 9 years old. Cancer is such an awful disease and he suffered a lot.”
“His dad was never with him during those awful times. He was busy planning his wedding with his new wife. He made my life worse and doubled my son’s pain by not being there for him.”
“I can’t remember the number of times when my son cried out for his dad but he just didn’t care to even visit. He’d get annoyed by my phone calls and so I learned to do everything by myself.”
OP’s brother was there when she needed him most, but not her sister-in-law.
“My brother helped me out. He was there with me and treated my son like his own.”
“However his wife didn’t like that, She told him he wasn’t obligated to get involved in my son’s care, She got mad when he brought some food and stuff, She complained to my own mom to get her to tell me to stop ‘using’ my brother.”
She continued to be problematic.
“When my son passed away. She made comments about my clothes and said she could’ve lend me some decent clothes. She defended my ex saying I shouldn’t be bitter and let him live his life.”
“She suggested I move to another state but I ignored her, Last week she called me, asked how I was and seemed unusually nice. She invited me to her daughter’s birthday party.”
When OP arrived at the party she was greeted with the most unpleasant of surprises.
“I went just for my niece and brother. I arrived and noticed a new dog. A golden retriever running around. My sister in law started calling family members to gather so they could eat.”
“She asked who ‘else’ was missing then started calling out my son’s name. I was shocked. Kept looking confused until the dog came running to her and started patting him. My mom was watching my reaction.”
Brother jumped in to try and protect OP’s feelings.
“My brother started correcting his wife telling her to stop using the name.”
“I lost it. I yelled at her and told her she was awful and she acted shocked. I immediately left the place My brother apologized but I was so mad I yelled at him too.”
But the damage was done.
“I blocked her number but my mom texted me about my ‘inappropriate behavior and lashing out’ and said that my sister in law cried after I left and that I should apologize to her and unblock her.”
“But I refused. My dad says I should make things right with her for my brother. But I just felt so much anger because of this. Mom wants me to come over since my sister in law is at their house and work out the issue.”
Reddit helped OP see where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit’s first impulse was that OP’s sister-in-law was a monster.
“Absolutely not. This woman is an actual monster. Family peace my a**. Burn all those bridges and find people who actually love you. NTA.”
“I’m so sorry about your son, I can’t begin to imagine.”~queenoreo
“Maybe on open letter addressed to all the of them? Sent to brother because he seems fairly reasonable at least?”
“Or maybe same letter sent to all three. Or maybe individualized. Honestly unsure.”
“I’d actually apologize, but ONLY for screaming in front of my niece. Nothing else.”
“Then explain as impassionately as you can why you’re right.”
“Also explain in detail who’s at fault here and why you feel that way.”
“ALSO explain that you appreciated your brother for all the help help he gave but also make it clear that there is no forgiveness for what his wife pulled without an actual heartfelt apology from her (for inhumane behaviour) and him (for not being able to cut out her shit) and mother (for what the f**k are you even thinking? I’m your daughter. This was your grandson!).”
“NTA OP. I’d say burn all the bridges but your brother seems decent in principle at least. He was there when you needed him. He did care.”
“He immediately called out his wife and apologized to you. Try to mend things with him if at all possible.”
“And lastly. I’m so sorry.”~eferoth
“Yeah, those are not family.”
“I wouldn’t treat my worst enemy like that.”
“Let’s think about it, SIL adopted a dog and named it specifically in a way that would hurt OP.”
“She invited OP to a dinner in a way that was uncharacteristic from SIL specifically to be able to hurt OP.”
“And now, OP’s family have the balls to consider OP’s behaviour rude?”
“Op NTA, forget about them, you deserve better than those people they’re not your family you should consider them as strangers at best.”~Urgash54
“NTA. Your whole family is a bunch of cowardly, cruel, monsters. I am so sorry for your loss.”
“Your story could have ended with you setting their house on fire and I would still be on your side.”~bright_copperkettles
In fact, folks are inclined to believe that OP is the sole non-monster in this situation.
“NTA She’s horrible. Your brother is an AH for not stopping this from day 1. Wtf. Stand your ground.”
“I’m so sorry about your baby boy. Stay strong”~bb8ismyhomie
“NTA – you owe none of them anything. Your SIL is an awful person but the rest of your family doesn’t sound much better either especially your mom. Please cut them off.”
“This is basic empathy and they can’t grasp it. You deserve so much better.”~BibliophileLurking
“NTA. SIL is an appalling, cruel, jealous, controlling person who is deliberately trying to hurt OP. Mother is also bad.”
“It’s bad that brother is with such a person: it doesn’t reflect well on him – far from it. So sorry for the niece, growing up in such a family – and the poor dog (I wonder how long it will last now the reason for getting it has played out).”
“I’m so sorry for your loss, OP. I’m so sorry your grief is not being understood and you are not being comforted and supported.”~HRHArgyll
“NTA. What a horrible woman.”
“If your brother asked his wife to stop calling the dog that, is it actually the dog’s name, or did his wife give the dog a nickname? (Either way she is a terrible human)”~inwardsinging
When someone is dealing with grief, how could anybody justify playing with their feelings like this?
“NTA. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“If your family can’t see how messed up your SIL naming her dog after your deceased son, especially considering how she behaved while you were going through the hardest time in your life, you need a new family.”
“Do not let them guilt trip you into apologizing to that woman. She owes YOU an apology. Stand your ground, set firm boundaries, and communicate said boundaries.”
“NTA. Holy sh*t. How out of touch are your parents that they’re telling YOU to make peace with THAT wretched thing?”
“Where is their common sense, let alone humanity? I’m shocked your brother has allowed this behaviour to continue. This would be a deal breaker for me.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss OP, instead of holding and supporting you through this grief and loss, you have terrible people rubbing salt in your wounds.”~MaximusIsKing
“NTA X 10000000000!”
“First off, I’m so sorry your son died. And I’m so sorry that he suffered and was in pain.
“I’ve also lost a child. Being able to say their name, talk about them, or hear others say the child’s name is special. And she named the dog your son’s name???!!!!! No no no no no no no.”
“You don’t have to make anything right. It’s not on you. If SIL wants to try to make it right, let her try, let her do some work.”
“She’s upset cause you got angry while in her house, at her dog, and she missed out on some time with her husband.”
“You lost a child and then had to hear her calling your child’s name only to see a dog come running. F that! She’s in pain of her own making. You’re in the worst pain a person can go through.”
“I’m so angry for you. I’m sorry.”~Prudent_Alarm_9902
“SO NTA, what she did was deliberate, cold, cruel, and calculating to cause you pain because she wants you to be miserable.”
“For her, it’s how much drama she can create to make you look like an a**. Your mother and your father need to support you and stop enabling this adult to treat you badly.”
“I don’t know if it’s jealousy or spite because of your son but she is evil and needs to leave you alone if she can’t be nice.”
“Your parents need to tell her to back off as does your brother; otherwise you can go no contact with all of them which is what Cruella wants: You out of her life, your brother’s and your parents’.”~okileggs1992
Across the board, Reddit believed OP was in the right. Not only was she right, but her reaction was actually subtle compared to what they believed it could be.
With toxic people in our lives, we come to tough choices: cut them out completely or continue to let them poison us?
Hopefully OP can find the strength to make the right choice for her.