Everyone grieves differently and complicated family dynamics certainly don't help matters.
A widow discovered that when her stepdaughter reached out to her for comfort, but she felt ill-equipped to care for the teen.
Though her marriage was incredibly brief, Redditor "kuritdayot" is still grieving the loss of her husband killed in an accident.
Grieving, too, is her teenage stepdaughter. The teen lives with her biological mother and her mother's new husband.
The Redditor explained first that she and her late husband were very involved in the teen's life.
"I am a 25 year old woman. Six months ago, I married my boyfriend of one year, 30[Male]. He has a 14 year old daughter with his high school ex girlfriend, also 30. They broke up when they were 19 and his ex-girlfriend got custody, although my husband was very involved in his daughter's life and visited her frequently."
"My husband passed away only 2 months after our wedding in a tragic accident. I'm still in mourning. I loved him deeply."
"His daughter did not cope with the trauma well. She lives with her mother and her step-father as well as her step siblings. Coupled with the traumatic experience of losing her dad, whom she loved very much, as well as the normal pressures of being a teenager, she has not been her best self the past few months."
"She has clashed regularly with her parents, and has vented to me many times through texts and phone calls. Really, I'm more of a sister than a 'stepmother' to her."
To make matters more complicated, the teen feels more connected to the widow than anyone else in light of their shared grief.
But because the widow is only eleven years older than the teen, she feels unable to properly care for her.
"Tonight, she showed up suddenly at my front door. She was crying and said she hitched a ride to come see me. She said she got into an argument with her parents over her boyfriend/school and that she want to live with me from now on."
"She says I'm the only one who understands her and that she can't stand to be with her family, that she 'hates' them. I told her she can stay the night."
"I called her mom to let her know where her daughter was. Her mom was understandably very worried and afraid. She agreed to pick her up in the morning. I let my stepdaughter know, and she got angry with me, and said that she expected me of all people to understand her."
"She says that I'm the only person who knows what she's going through and she thought she could trust me."
Needless to say, the widow has terribly mixed feelings over the teen's reaction to the phone call.
"I told her I loved her but frankly I don't think it's feasible for her to live with me. I'm only 11 years older than her and in [no] way fit to be a parent. She belongs with her mother and stepfather. I let her sleep in my bed for the night but I told her that she will be going home tomorrow. She cried herself to sleep."
"AITA (Am I The A**hole) here? I feel like a monster, but what else could I have done? Her mom will pick her up tomorrow. Did I make a mistake in calling her?"
The Redditor shared her story in the "Am I the A**hole?" subReddit, and as the OP (Original Poster), she asked her fellow Redditors if she was in the wrong for making the phone call.
Readers could vote:
- NTA (Not The A**hole)
- YTA (You're The A**hole)
- NAH (No A**hole Here)
- ESH (Everyone Sucks Here)
A few people commented, simply to confirm that she was not in the wrong (NTA) for making the phone call.
But most pointed out that no one was in the wrong in this situation.
They all were going through a difficult situation and trying to do the best they can with it.
"NAH you did the responsible thing-- ironically the thing a good parent should do. You looked out for her best interests even though it hurt her feelings. She's not being abused at home, she's just going through grief and that's hard for everyone. Tell her she can come back for some space when it's (1)pre-planned and (2) for a reasonable amount of time. You can still be her friend." - spongekitty
"NAH. She's hurting and sees you as an adult ally against (likely typical) parental rules."
"You care about her but objectively see you aren't prepared to act as her parent."
"Her mom and stepdad are being parents, which generally makes a 16 year-old hate them." - wadingin3
"Right. This would be true anyway, even if the girl wasn't grieving the loss of her father."
"NAH, but OP you might consider letting her stay with you from time to time."
"I'm not suggesting you let her stay any more than a couple of nights at time, nor should you try to be a parent if you feel you are incapable of being one right now. But that girl probably seeks comfort in you because she knows you know better than anyone what her *real* pain is."
"Underneath the immature angsty I-hate-my-parents teen s**t is a scared little girl trying desperately to cope with the death of her father. She sees you as not only a friend and confidante, but as a thread of connection to him."
"It may be beneficial to both of your grieving processes to let her stay with you sometimes and spend time together. Just as friends who both cared deeply about a particular person who is gone too soon." - socuteboss_ali
The stepmother clearly did the right thing in keeping communication lines open with the girl's mother, but it seems more conversations may need to be had in the future. Grief is a long, complicated road, and showing she is still there for the teen, even if she doesn't feel ready to care for her full-time, could make all the difference.
The book It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand is available here.