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Woman skips BIL's 'memorial' for his late child after he undermines the death of her BF.

Woman skips BIL's 'memorial' for his late child after he undermines the death of her BF.


Grief is not a competition. But as with all experiences, there are people who try to turn it into one as a way of further validating their own personal pain.

Turning pain into a competition is always going to be a lose-lose for everyone involved, and that same energy would always be much better used expressing empathy and solidarity instead of comparing scars or undermining someone else's trauma.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she's wrong for skipping her brother-in-law's memorial birthday for his deceased baby since he turns it into a grief competition.

She wrote:

AITA for not wanting to go to my BIL's daughter's memorial birthday because he makes grief a competition?

I (20f) don't get along with my BIL (John-32m) anymore. He's been with my sister for 6 years and it's only recently that our relationship has gone down the drain. For some context, when John was 19, him and his ex-girlfriend (Jane) were having a baby. Unfortunately, she died at 2 months old due to severe birth complications.

John and Jane broke up but every year on the baby's birthday, they meet up for lunch. Since meeting my sister, John also throws a small gathering for the family to come to. Obviously, none of us met the baby, but it's more for support since Jane moved countries and he doesn't have much family. When I was 16, my boyfriend died. It was very sudden and nothing could have predicted it.

One day he was here, the next he wasn't. I'm in therapy and grief counseling. The issue is that in the past 2 years, John has turned grief into a competition. Which really hurts because I used to look up to him as a role model, especially when it came to grief and moving on. But he can't just let me be sad about my boyfriend. He has to bring up how he lost a child which is 'sooooooo much woooooorse'.

Now, I want to be clear, I've never lost a child. I've never been pregnant or lost a pregnancy so I cannot pretend to know what it feels like, but I'm sick of him lording it over me. For example, there was a period of time last year where I lost my appetite and John says 'When I lost my baby, I couldn't eat, either. I had lost a part of me. You just lost a ~person~. You weren't connected. So it's not as bad.'

The party is happening in early June and I'm invited but I told my mum and sister that I don't want to go and explained why. My mum and sister got very upset and said I was making a mountain out of a molehill and that I need to put this pettiness behind me for John. They both said it would be douchey of me not to come. AITA?

People weighed in with their thoughts on the situation.

Prestigious_Isopod72 wrote:

So, John has turned his grief into an annual theatrical event and forces your entire family to attend as his captive audience. Sounds super performative and disgusting. NTA.

Little-Martha31204 wrote:

NTA. He lost a child and that's terrible. But he's not the expert on grief and doesn't get to gatekeep yours. Him telling you 'you just lost a ~person~' is disgusting and cruel. As someone who is also experiencing grief, he should have been there to support not demean you.

I'm just going to throw this in there too...the whole party thing. For 13 years he's been throwing this 'event' on the baby's birthday. Why? It doesn't sound like it's helping his grief so is it just for attention so that he can be sure to remind everyone his loss is greater than anything they could have experienced?

You’re NTA, but rather than making it a discussion of him when it comes up, I think it’s worth you thinking about how you explain it to your relatives.

“I love him, and I want him to have the support he needs to heal. However, he is currently at a stage or healing where whenever the topic of grief or loss comes up with me around, he feels compelled to put down a traumatic loss I experienced.'

'That’s been distressing for me - I was a grieving child when he started doing this, and I am only now old enough to recognise that it was never healthy or okay for him to get into a one-upmanship contest with a child about who is more sad.

I feel very bad for him that he isn’t yet able to get a grip on those feelings, but until he does, I think it’s best that I gently keep my distance when the topic of grief and loss comes up. When we’ve had a couple of years of interacting as family on neutral occasions without him putting down me or my boyfriend’s memory, then I’ll be cautiously open to rebuilding to where we were.

I need you not to try and force this until there has been time for him to move on emotionally from this issue he’s having, because pushing us together before then will turn this into me wanting even more distance from him.”

And then just be boring to interact with about it. Say the same thing every time it comes up: “I’m sorry you feel that way, and I’m glad you’re able to support him. He isn’t able to interact with me on this topic without some weird behaviours, so I won’t be attending.”

If they get too pushy, try “you talking to me about this cannot improve my relationship with him, but it can damage my relationship with you. Change the subject, please.” And then flat ignore anything else they say about it. Hang up the phone, mute the group chat, leave the room. It’s not a discussion.

ency2001 wrote:

NTA. He sounds appalling. Like you say: it's not a competition. Maybe it was worse for him, doesn't mean it is not terrible for you. Seems suffering has not taught him anything, not empathy anyway. You can't deal with people like that.

OP is definitely NTA, and it's very healthy for her to be able to pinpoint exactly why this dynamic isn't serving anyone's healing.

Sources: Reddit
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