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Man snaps at mom crying over brother with cancer, 'stop putting your grief on him.' UPDATED.

Man snaps at mom crying over brother with cancer, 'stop putting your grief on him.' UPDATED.


Nothing can fully prepare you for the grief of losing a loved one, even a diagnosis that tells you when you'll lose them.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a man asked if he was wrong for telling his mom she needs to stop grieving in front of his brother with cancer. He wrote:

"AITA for telling my mum to grieve in her own time, not at all, or after my brother has passed?"

My (23M) brother (18M) was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. Its terminal and he's expected to pass within a year but that could change if we are lucky, but with this type of cancer its unlikely. I just want to focus on giving my brother the best time for the time he does have left. The problem is our mother.

She is putting her grief onto my brother and he has to sit around helping people grieve the life he's going to lose rather than giving him a great life for however long he wants. I understand grieving, I am too but I don't put that on him and it's not like I want my mum to go through it alone but my brother is NOT the person to share her grief with.

The other night, I saw our mum just crying and holding him saying she doesn't want to lose him. Afterwards, when my brother was asleep I told her she needs to stop grieving for him in front of him and if she couldn't do that she shouldn't at all. That she's making her own dying son deal with her own grief when he's already dealing with his own mortality. She should be supporting him, not the other way around.

If she wants support she can talk to me, Dad, or a therapist but don put your s#$t on him. I do think I was a bit harsh, but it comes from a place of frustration. I had my own cancer scare when I was 16 and was stuck dealing with everyone else's grief while I wasn't able to deal with my own s#$t, I don't want that for my brother. AITA?

The internet shared all of their thoughts.

Spiritual_Channel820 wrote:

NTA. The focus needs to be on your brother and what he needs. Your mother needs to talk to friends, to family members, ideally to someone who specializes in grief counseling--she should not be burdening her son with her feelings (I literally just dealt with this earlier in 2023, so I know if what I speak).

You are not being harsh. You are absolutely correct. You can be sympathetic to your mother, but make it clear she cannot act like that around your brother.

HappyGoLucky244 wrote:

First off, OP, NTA. I'm so sorry you're going through this. As someone who is also low needs on the spectrum, I want you to know how much your brother appreciates you standing up for him. I'm nearly twice his age, and I still have trouble expressing myself.

Unfortunately, it seems sometimes those of us on the higher functioning end of the spectrum end up being the shoulder to cry on because we just...kind of absorb these things? Idk, but that's been the case for me in my experience. Your Mom needs help...whether that is from a professional or a friend. But it should NOT be from your brother. Keep being the awesome big brother you are.

OP responded:

Yeah, I totally understand what you mean. People think he's emotionally strong because he doesn't show his emotions well when in reality he is a very emotional person but holds it in or lets it build up in his head till there's a breakdown.

Liss78 wrote:

NTA. I'm so sorry that you're going through this. You are absolutely right in telling her that. She needs therapy. He doesn't need to feel guilty on top of everything he's going through. She needs to hear those words. She needs to stop putting her grief on him. She is not helping him, she is hurting him.

I can't imagine the pain she's in right now. I can't say I'd be any different. She can't see through her own grief. You all have precious time together and he should get the most out of his life. She needs to hold it in and allow him to live as best as he can. I would also apologize for the hurt, but it needed to be said.

livelife3574 wrote:

NTA. People seem determined to stain the world with their grief. This is a personal experience and should not have a significant impact on others. If mom needs and audience to grieve, she can hire a therapist to help her. Your brother is very lucky to have you to stand up for him.

It may not be feasible, but if you can take him somewhere he loves away from that sadness, it would be a memory that would last forever.

After receiving a lot of feedback, OP shared an update.

EDIT: I'm reading all comments and just taking it all in for now, but for people asking if this is also how my brother feels? Yes. He's always been a shy boy and had trouble expressing his feelings when he doesn't want to hurt others but we have talked about this and he dislikes having to support others but has trouble speaking up.

My brother is also low needs on the spectrum so can have trouble expressing his own emotions and dealing with others' emotions. I have always sort of been that advocate for him even before all this.

OP is definitely NTA here, he's just trying to be a good brother.

Sources: Reddit
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