Grief is not a straight line.
There’s no quick fix, no simple set of steps to follow when finding our way through the woods of grief.
The challenge, though, is that our path through loss often effects those around us.
So, what happens when the path you’re taking isn’t just not helping, but actively hurting those around you?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) living4themomentz when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my wife that not every major milestone can go back to her mother?”
OP opened with the bad news.
“My wife lost her mother to cancer 2 years ago.”
“It was horrible and took a toll on everyone, but obviously my wife more than anything.”
“They were very close, pretty much best friends.”
“We knew it was coming and the illness took over our lives, which is to be expected.”
“I also knew my wife would struggle when she finally did pass so I tried to convince her to go to therapy but she’s refused.”
OP then introduced the rest of the family.
“We have two older children (13 and 6) and this year, she gave birth to our youngest.”
“This is the only grandchild my MIL never got to meet.”
“The whole pregnancy was very bittersweet and my wife kept saying ‘I wish mom was here, I wish mom could meet him, etc’. Again, to be expected.”
“But the issue has come up that even before our son was born, every event went back to her mom.”
“At first I understood but in time, it’s become like we have this cloud hanging over us, preventing us from fully enjoying happy moments.”
“I’ve tried talking to my wife about it, gently but she gets super defensive and refuses to even talk about therapy.”
“Our eldest turned 13 over the weekend.”
“She had spoken to her mom privately and said she’d really like for their to be no talk of her grandmother.”
“She wanted to have a happy celebration and not get sad that her grandmother isn’t there. My wife agreed.”
“We went out to dinner and everything was fine.”
“Towards the end, we had cake.”
Everything was fine, until…
“My wife said ‘it’s just so sad that grandma can’t be here! She’d be so proud of who (eldest) has turned out to be! I wish she could be here!”’
“Our eldest got mad.”
“She blew out her candles but didn’t speak the rest of the dinner.”
“When we got home, I spoke to my wife privately and said what she did wasn’t fair.”
“I said she could’ve excused herself if she was that emotional, but she honestly didn’t seem to be.”
“I told her that this can’t continue to happen. She told me that wasn’t fair. I said what isn’t fair is this rain cloud she forces over us.”
“She’s been off ever since and won’t really talk to me or our eldest. She says we’re insensitive.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judtment.
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 this sort of behavior can cause more problems than it solves.
“NTA it’s enough of a constant situation that your daughter who’s only 13 literally asked her in advance not to do it this one time for her own birthday celebration and your wife wouldn’t not do it.”
“It’s obviously a problem.” ~ dart1126
“I was thinking that there might be an unfortunate cycle going on where daughter and other family members mention grandma less because they don’t want to set wife off.”
“And wife mentions her more because she thinks everyone else is forgetting her.” ~ looc64
Others agreed that wife needs outside help.
“Your wife needs grief counselling.”
“She’s TA -“
“Your child just had her entrance into being a teenager made about death by her mother.”
“It’s not about her grandma.”
“It’s not about your wife. It’s about your kid. And that was denied to her. Your WIFE is being insensitive, not you or your child.”
“I get it – my da died just before I got pregnant and it’s so hard that my daughter won’t know him and love him as I did. But children’s birthdays aren’t about dead people.”
“My family, at Christmas, Easter, and on the dinners we have on the deceased’s birthdays give a toast ‘to our boys’ (my da, brothers, and nephew have all passed away).”
“And it’s just that – we raise our glasses and say a toast to them at the start, then there’s no more discussion of dead people.”
“But I wouldn’t ever make my kid’s birthday about the dead.”
“We wouldn’t toast our dead at a 13 yo’s birthday unless like…the person died the week before.”
“Even then, it would be about what the kid wants.”
“Some people find solace in remembrance.”
“Others find only pain. Your daughter was 11 when she lost her grandma in a big illness – it’s probably one of her more traumatic memories.”
“She doesn’t want trauma to define her birthday.”
“NTA. You defended your child against your wife’s insensitivity.” ~ NobleCorgi
“Perhaps if it was phrased this way ‘grief counselling’ rather than therapy wife might see it differently.”
“When my mother died (similar scenario, she was my bestfriend, long terminal illness) my grief counsellor helped me:”
“Understand being really sad js normal Gave me an outlet to BE sad and get empathy and support.”
“Find ways to honour my mother in everyday life Focus on the fact that my mother would NOT want me to be miserable.”
“She would want me to thrive Work through milestones (which will occur YEARS later).”
“Practice relaxation exercises.”
“Ensure I was making time for activities that fuel me and make me happy.”
“Work on routines (an issue I was having).”
“Find additional resources to experience & work through my grief Access to events and groups for people experiencing similar grief.”
“Relate honouring my mother to acts that bring joy to myself and others (very much her nature) And even more stuff I am probably nothing of now, and this was only over a few months of seeing her.”
“I lost my mother in March and this Christmas is obviously a big 1st without her, but I’ve already found ways and traditions to help me cope with it so far.”
“AND honour her (like buying presents for kids in foster care, something she always got us involved in when younger).”
“Additionally it should be noted that OPs wife just had a baby, so there are probably a lot of hormones, stress and sleep deprivation adding to the situation right now.”
“(And risk to wife’s general mental healthy anyway) but when it is getting to the point it is hurting her children she really needs to think about what she can do for herself and the whole family.” ~ andstillwerise12
There were also personal stories.
“You just reminded me of what I like to call the worst birthday ever.”
“My brother died about a week before my birthday and the funeral was the day before.”
“My father, with only good intentions, bought me a card as though it was from my brother.”
“I call it the most depressing birthday card.”
“I got to open it, now knowing what I was about to see, while surrounded by my extended family who had come for the funeral.”
“I can look back on it and laugh at the horror but holy shit, it was a depressing night.” ~ denna84
“Agree with this. I lost both my parents 3 weeks apart when I was pregnant with my first born.”
“This was 2 years ago.”
“I grieved for a year. When I wasn’t progressing I got PTSD and grief counselling.”
“I still feel like I have a massive hole in my life but I’m not going to bring my babies up with doom and gloom.”
“Yes… I still cry in private and birthdays/holidays ARE hard… but I keep that to myself until I can talk about it privately with my husband later.”
“Your wife is TA for not getting help.” ~ Independent-College7
“OP, I lost my grandpa two years ago.”
“I’m honestly still struggling.”
“I go to therapy almost every week.”
“I do sometimes bring up my grandpa on holidays, but only to my husband, I don’t want my kids thinking about sad things when they’re supposed to be having a happy day.”
“When they bring him up, I reassure them that he’s missed, but he’d want them to have a good day.”
“And I don’t spend the whole event miserable.”
“Your wife needs to get into therapy.”
“It won’t magically make everything better, but it should help her in healing and in figuring out appropriate ways to remember her mom on holidays.” ~ crystallz2000
Grief is not a straight line.
There are good days, bad days, and every moment in between.
It is a dangerous and thick wood to go through and it can be helpful, just like with any hike, to have a good guide.
If not for your sake, then for your travelling companions.