- We've all heard the saying that our loved ones never really leave us after they die.
But what do you do when someone important from your significant other's past won't go—like a previous spouse?
Reddit user "Oscar-the-pimp" shared an "AITA"—Am I The A$hole—question on Reddit this week, asking if he was being a jerk for telling his wife that, no, he would not be visiting her deceased husband's grave.
"I'm more than happy to discuss Husband #1 whenever she wants, and I don't generally feel 'second best', but I have started refusing to go to his grave with her..."
"Partly, because it just feels wrong, like 'I'm with your wife now, sorry', but also because it really hurts to see my wife breaking down and blubbering about how much she misses him and wishes he was still around..."
"She really wishes I'd go with her but I downright refuse. AITA?"
You can read the full post here:
Fortunately, what could have easily turned into an ugly internet-shaming battle turned out to be a lovely, productive conversation for all participating AITA subReddit users.
The feedback was pretty unanimous—Oscar-the-pimp was not being a jerk for not wanting to attend to his wife's former husband's grave.
However, he also received a resounding "yes" that he should be going there.
Each account was very personal and constructive about why they felt he should do this.
Some offered suggestions of how to improve his emotional relationship with his wife's deceased husband.
"Death and the grieving process is a terrible, difficult thing to deal with. Being in the position a now-deceased person once filled is a brave and at times emotionally-taxing thing to do."
"Know that while it feels that way sometimes, you are not a replacement or a consolation prize. People can love multiple people over the course of their lifetime in separately deep, profound ways- she has not chosen you over her previous partner!"
"It sounds like she took the time between his death and your relationship to heal herself and start this new chapter of her life. She's profoundly happy with this chapter of her life, but she also has nostalgia from previous chapters."
"A piece of unconventional advice that I know you didn't ask for (so you can choose to tell me to piss off and I'd understand)- go to his grave without her, sometime, and talk to him."
"No, seriously, even if it's so quietly it could be a mumble. Air first your grievances: how it hurts you to see her cry over him, how his history with her makes you feel."
"Be as selfish as you need to. Then, take a deep breath, and tell him what you want to be to her. Tell him how you want to carry on everything he meant to her and be the same, in your own way."
"How you want her to keep good memories of him as she moves on and lives her life with you. Thank him, even. He could have been unkind to her, made her closed off, made her feel like she wasn't allowed to move on after his death."
"But he didn't, and in his absence she has been strong enough to rebuild her capacity to open up to someone, to love someone, and she chose you."
"She looks to you to be her support, her teammate, her husband. Know that he was the person she loved, but he's only able to be her past. You are her present and her future, and you are the person she wants to have in her future." - TheAllMightiest
"I'm crying :( love this" - cklamath
"Made me cry as well."
"I've done the talking thing at my brother's grave; it's helped me a lot. The dead we love never truly leave us, to paraphrase J. K. Rowling/Dumbledore." - Klizzie
Some of the comments came from fellow significant others who had married a widow or widower.
"You're amazing. I'm a youngish widow and you've described the situation perfectly."
"I tell people all the time that everyone you love shapes you in some way and while you wish your spouse were still alive, you can simultaneously be happy with your new life. You may not like the path you've been forced to take, but that's life and you learn to appreciate every fricking moment."
"May you and your family have many more moments." - molliepup
"Exactly. If you didn't have a previous chapter, you would not be your current self or have a future. I hope that you have loved ones to share your grief, memories and experiences with. Sending many hugs your way and I thank you!" - lerchicSC
Some shared more troubling accounts—knowing they would die soon and wanting their spouses to find someone new.
"Here are my thoughts and I am replying to you because you make so much sense. Hear me out. I am 32. I adore my husband and my almost 3 year old tiny dictator of the household."
"I have been with my husband for 9 years. He is my person and I am his. We finish each others' sentences and do the tiny sappy things that teens do when they are in love."
"BUT ... I am 32 and 6 months ago diagnosed with stage 4, currently non treatable cancer. So while I hope that everything I do will help me extend my life and even if some breakthrough treatment is found tomorrow, my chances of passing well before my time are pretty good at this point."
"And while neither my husband nor my son or I chose for me to pass so soon, s*** happens that's beyond your control."
"The only thing I can hope for, after I am gone, is that my husband finds someone who is good to him and our son. And d*****, I am crying now, because I avoid talks like this like the plague."
"I hope that he can heal enough to let someone in, to share the loss he will ultimately experience and to have someone who can accept my son as their child and I will not become a picture in a box, stowed away in a closet somewhere."
"I think it takes a whole lot of courage to let someone in after a devastating loss and it takes a lot to be the someone who takes this spot. Don't be jealous. Don't be sad or mad."
"I think that it says a lot that she is willing to share this with you and not shutting you out, to sulk and be sad on her own. The person before you shaped her to who she is now and you have the privilege of sharing this journey."
"She picked you and you picked her. You are not a replacement or substitute. You make her whole after a period in her life where she was lost, felt alone and felt that nothing would ever heal her. I think that by supporting her, you will show her how much you truly love her." - lerchicSC
"I lost my boyfriend about 10 years ago and I have no idea why I am telling you this."
"I am so happy you found such love in your life. I am so happy your husband found you. I know your child will always hear stories of his amazing mother."
"Hang in there for a miracle. It sounds like you have had so many." - ExtraDebit
There was something in the conversation for everyone, really, given the nature of grief, letting go and moving on.
The book Grief Unveiled: A Widow's Guide to Navigating Your Journey in Life After Loss is available here.