Grief is a complicated and individual thing. People have long claimed there are set stages of grief, but that over simplified message doesn't capture the experience for everyone.
And the sorrow can be very different depending on who is grieving for who. A man whose 3-year-old son died knew he was experiencing grief, but when his girlfriend decided to eliminate the mementos of his son from their home, he didn't handle it well.
He turned to the "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) subReddit for feedback on his reaction.
34-year-old Redditor Throwaway45062135 asked:
"AITA For being upset when my girlfriend donated my deceased son's stroller?"
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
"My son passed away from severe infection at the age of 3. My ex wife and I got into too many fights constantly basically just blaming each other for what happened."
"We got separated eventually"
"I met my girlfriend Natalie after a short time and we started hanging out together. She helped me with my depression and ease my pain by hanging out and doing different things with her."
"We decided it was time to take our relationship further. She then moved in with me in my house."
"Before she moved in, she did some cleaning since I didn't clean a lot. She put some stuff in boxes including my son's toys and stroller and put them in the basement."
"At first I felt uneasy for her to transfer my son's room into a guest room, but she convinced me that this change was needed.
She also made major changes in my bedroom, and moved her stuff in saying that she didn't like the bedroom because it used to be my ex wife's bedroom."
"She's been living with for two months. She kept asking about those boxes she put in the basement and whether we should donate things that we don't need anymore.
"I told her to leave things as they are because I didn't have time to sort thrm out. I was worried there might be some of my son's belongings there so I told her to give me some time and that we will do it together when I have nothing to do."
"Yesterday, I came home from work and I found her in the basement with only two boxes left. I looked around and I didn't find my son's stroller."
"I asked her and she said that she waited for too long. Since I didn't have time she decided to sort through things and donate the stuff we didn't need."
"She told me that she took the stroller along with other stuff and donated them."
"I got so mad I couldn't even talk. All I did was yell at her for taking the stroller that she knew I value so much because it has memories of my son."
"I asked if my son's belongings were bothering her since only his things have been donated. She got offended by this and tried to make it look like it was no big deal."
"She even said I shouldn't keep it since I don't need it. I told her to go get it back along with everything else."
"She said I was being ridiculous and that I need to control my anger because she wasn't going to go back and ask the charity for the stuff back. She refused to give me the name of the charity, repeatedly telling me to not embarrass her."
"We got into a huge argument and she left and hasn't talked to me after that. I keep calling her but she won't pick up."
"She sent me a text saying how hurt she felt and that I need to apologize to her for treating her like this. That's all she said."
"She didn't let me take the stuff back and refuses to have a conversation with me on the phone."
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 almost unanimously voted that the OP was NTA.
"NTA. She's complaining she's 'waited too long' when it's been 2 months since she's moved in? Hell. No."
"You have been through one of the worst losses a person can go through. You went with converting your son's room to a guest room despite initially being uncomfortable."
"You just asked her to leave his things in the basement until you had time (and I'm sure the emotional fortitude) to go through them. That is so utterly and completely reasonable of you to want/need."
"She did not experience this loss. She does not get to dictate when or how you grieve. My mom still has most of my late father's clothes (his hanging clothes, she did donate the clothes from his dresser)."
"He died 4 years ago. She has moved to a town 2 hours away. She just can't imagine his half of the master closet being empty after 37 years of marriage."
"That's her prerogative (she did give me a bunch of his shirts to make memory quilts with)."
"I can understand your girlfriend wanting to help you grieve and find new joys in life. But there is a line. And she just pole vaulted across it."
"Whether or not she intends it this way, it sure as hell seems like she is trying to erase your previous marriage and life. Which includes your son."
"You deserve the biggest of apologies and at the very least the name of the charity. Who cares if she's embarrassed? That's the natural consequence of her actions." ~ br_612
"That sh*t is very sensitive and if she HAD any kind of common sense she wouldn't have mentioned it, let alone touched it! She needs to go!
"No respect for you or your son!! I really hope you take this time and get to know yourself. Yes it's gonna be hard, Reddit is here for you!!"
"I also have lost a child before I met my husband. I have a box that has her pictures and bands from the hospital."
"When I met my husband he knew I had lost a child and he knows I have the box. He has voiced his concern about not liking it, but he won't mess with it."
"It's very sentimental to me and he understands that. A loss of a child takes more time than people really understand. There is no right or wrong way to grieve about a child, they are so young and innocent."
"Even though it has been 13yrs since I lost my child and had another one doesn't mean I'm not still somewhat grieving. NO ONE can tell anyone how to grieve about the loss of a child or anything. Things take time and yes there are both healthy and unhealthy ways of grieving, everyone is different." ~ BatGirl2011
The OP further explained his feelings in a comment.
"I gotta say having to move his stuff out of his room brought too many emotions and it was hard for me to do that. She thinks that because I don't touch this stuff then I don't need it."
"She didn't understand that all I was asking was for some time to be able to regain my strength then I told we'd do it together. But she did it herself, thinking by taking my son's stuff away especially his stroller that I will move on from my current situation, and just forget about everything.
"She's upset for how I reacted and was probably expecting me to say thank you for doing this for me, but she made it worse. Even worse when she refused to bring everything she took back, expecting me to drop it."
Everyone needs to grieve in their own way and in their own time. If they are stuck, forcing them to move on can only lead to hurt and anger.
Grief counseling and support groups are a better way to get someone unstuck from grief.