Grief comes in all forms. Often how it materializes is strange.
One guy found that out when his parents tried to force him to get a memorial tattoo for his nephew on his wrist.
The guy, Reddit user "notattoo12345," is still grieving after his sister and her husband lost their baby, his nephew, to SIDS late last year.
Since then, his parents decided to have memorial tattoos, of his nephew's name, tattooed on their wrists, and they wanted him to do the same.
But when he declined and they stopped speaking to him because of it, he wrote into the "Am I the A**hole?" sub-Reddit to see if he was truly in the wrong.
He offered first a little background on the situation.
"I (25) stand firm in my decision to not do it, but having your own parents call you an a**hole and pretty much give you the silent treatment is going to make you question your every move. My wife is 24. I have two daughters who are 4 and 6"
"Leaving some details out for the sake of privacy."
"My sister's (32) baby died of SIDS at three weeks old last june, to say that everyone in the family was devastated is an understatement."
In the months since, his parents decided how to commemorate their grief.
"My parents got my nephew's name tattooed on them, my sister was neutral on it, she wasn't going to forbid them from doing it but wasn't exactly asking them to do it either."
They also wanted this guy to express his loss of his nephew in exactly the same way.
"My parents asked me to get my nephew's name tattooed on me as well, but I declined."
He offered that, though this would hardly be his first tattoo, it simply wasn't how he wanted to remember his late nephew.
"Tattoos aren't anything new for me, my neck is tattooed, I have a sleeve on my left arm, I have the names of my children over my heart, my wifes initials on my ring finger and my whole right leg is sleeved up and then I have various other tattoos scattered across my other leg and the body."
"Needless to say, I have a lot of tattoos, but all my tattoos have meaning to me and are things that are important to me, I know that sounds messed up and it sounds like I'm saying my nephew isnt important to me. But he is, i loved him"
When he declined, though, his parents reacted more severely than he could have expected.
"Both my parents got his first name tattooed on their wrists and wanted me to do the same, but I declined and they were heartbroken then immediately angry, they started screaming at me that I have a bunch of pointless tattoos (except my childrens names) on my body but can't get '1 SMALL tattoo with ACTUAL meaning?'"
"my parents were never thrilled that I have as many tattoos as I do, especially since I started tattooing myself when I was 18 and got the rest of my tattoos done professionally."
"They stopped talking to me but my sister and I are still as close as we were before."
Now he's wondering if he made the right decision, if only for the sake of his family.
"My own parents stopped talking to me because I wouldn't get a tattoo, that's what is making me question my decisions."
"Should I have just gotten the tattoo for the sake of making them happy?"
"I don't feel like I need to justify my decision to not get something tattood, but clearly to my parents, if I have my whole body tatted then it wouldn't have been my harm to get one more tat."
Reddit felt for the guy's loss of his nephew and offered support, but they also wanted to remind him this is his body. What he chooses to tattoo on it, already wearing lots of tattoos or not, and how he chooses to express his grief is his choice.
"NTA. This is about body autonomy. You could have the phone book tattooed on your a** and it still wouldn't make it reasonable for your parents to demand that you add your nephew's name to your body."
"I think they expected you to see their tattoos as an overture to this thing you do that they don't understand or approve of until now. They wanted you to bond with them, join their solidarity movement to never forget. But if memorial tattoos aren't the thing for you or being told when and how to honor your nephew is not your thing, that's okay. If you do it, it should be on your own time."
"I am sorry for your family's loss. This is a huge overstep on their part and they're being a**holes to you." - wildferalfun
"This sort of thing is f**king ridiculous. My aunt got my mom's initials tattooed after my mom died. My aunt didn't talk to my for like a year in the few years before she died. The tat doesn't mean s**t and I think it's hilarious that she'd do that" - this_is_hard_FACK
"Exactly. Given that OPs sister does not care about him not getting a tattoo, and did not request the parents get a tattoo, it shows that the tattoo is 100% for his parents and not for anyone else. NTA." - janesyouraunt
"This 1,000%! Obviously NTA. I'd like to emphasize how unique the grieving process is from one individual to the next. Also, there's no right or wrong way to grieve. While your parents are finding comfort in memorializing your nephew's legacy with a tattoo, in no way, does this mean that you should too."
"The grieving process not only varies from person to person, but it also varies daily for an individual's needs regarding what may help them cope. Most importantly, it's so important to respect everyone's unique grieving journey to find peace and healing."
"I'm so sorry your parents are misdirecting their hurt at you. While entirely unacceptable, I imagine this loss is unprecedented and may have resulted in a lot of confusion for your parents due to being inundated by sadness, and many other emotions, and trying to navigate through this difficult time."
"I only mention where they might be coming from because empathy begets empathy. While they're lacking empathy (and respect) for you and your grieving process, if you can have some empathy for them, it will help you to keep focusing on your healing journey and whatever you find helpful in promoting your wellness during this tragically trying time."
"I am so, so sorry for your and your family's loss. Continue to take care of yourself and do what is best for you." - sunny-midnight
It's wonderful the grandparents found a way to grieve and commemorate in a way that makes sense to them. Hopefully, with enough time, they will realize this simply wasn't the way to grieve that made sense to their son, and that his resistance also isn't a reflection on their choices.
In the meantime, the guy will hopefully find comfort in all that was said here. Though others can push us to grieve and celebrate the way they do, at the end of the day, we're the ones who have to make the ultimate decision.