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Dad alters dead wife's gown for daughter's birthday dress, MIL in tears. AITA?

Dad alters dead wife's gown for daughter's birthday dress, MIL in tears. AITA?


The loss of a wife and mother is devastating.

One man tragically lost his wife during childbirth. Thankfully, his daughter survived and the family recently celebrated her first birthday. His wife had mentioned looking forward to seeing her daughter wear the gown from her maternity photo shoot one day. In her honor, he cut up the dress and fashioned it into a frock for their daughter. He thought this would be a loving and meaningful gesture. His mother-in-law was outraged and heartbroken.

AITA for repurposing my late wife's gown for my daughter?


This is going to be a little long, please bear with me.

I(M38) lost my wife(F35)in April 2022 during labor. She had a premature delivery that lead to complications and eventually, she passed away an hour after giving birth to our daughter. My daughter too had resulting complications which meant she had to be kept in a NICU for the first 2 months of her life.

Needless to be said, the entire ordeal was hard on us, especially her mother, who was a single mom to her only child. Fortunately, my daughter's condition grew better after those initial 2 months, and is as lively and joyful as any other 1 year old.

It was my baby's first birthday a few days ago. It was bittersweet. I wished my wife could've been here to see our baby girl on her first milestone. I wanted to honor my wife's memory and also make my daughter feel the presence of her mother on her special day. My wife used to have a talent for stitching, and she'd taught me a lot of it too.

My wife had worn a beautiful dark green gown for her maternity shoots. She looked absolutely radiant in it that day, but after that she never wore it again. She said she wanted to see my daughter wear it one day. The gown was left forgotten there with her entire pile of clothes after her death. I didn't want to go through her stuff since it would've been too much for me.

Her words, the grief of knowing that my wife never got to know her daughter and my daughter's birthday were what motivated me to get up one day, go through her closet and cut up that green gown into a tiny frock for my daughter. And my daughter looked absolutely adorable in it. That colour suits my daughter just as it did to my wife.

I dressed up my daughter in the gown for the birthday party. My MIL saw her in it and immediately knew that this was that dress. She pulled me aside, in tears, and asked me why I would destroy her daughter's dress.

I told her what my wife had said, that this was her wish too. She said that my wife would've meant that for when my daughter was old enough to fit into the gown. That she could've also said that assuming she would be alive to see her in it, and that her death negates what she said. Her dress held a memory of my wife that no longer existed now because of what I did.

I told her that the dress had been lying forgotten in the closet along with all of her other belongings. All her other special dresses are still there, her wedding gown, her baby shower dress, everything was still intact and perfectly preserved in her closet.

It was just this one dress that I used. The dress she specifically mentioned she wanted our daughter to wear one day. I honoured her wishes, a little earlier than intended.

The argument escalated, with other people joining in and taking sides. Soon, my MIL left, along with most of the guests. She isn't replying to my calls. All our relatives have mixed opinions about this.

I am devastated. All I wanted to do was make this birthday extra special for my daughter. Instead, her entire day ended in tears. AITA?

Here were the top comments from readers:


OMG, NTA! You created a beautiful tribute to your wife. You now have your wife’s maternity shoot photos and your daughter’s first birthday photos wearing the same piece of clothing. There’s not only still the memories of your wife wearing it but now new beautiful memories of your daughter wearing it.

I WAS going to go with N A H owing to your MIL still grieving her child, but given how she took an already difficult event and attached bad memories to it by escalating the argument and invoking the other guests, I’m giving YOU the benefit of the doubt.


NAH, It's quite touching what you did and at the end of the day the dress belongs to you by default.

But...... you've overlooked your MIL also lost a daughter, so it may have been better if you told her of what you wanted to do, just so she was mentally prepared to see the dress again.


NTA. You honored your wife and extended her love and presence to your daughter. And as you said, it was a dress, she only wore for her maternity photo shoot. Maternity shoots weren't even a thing 20 years ago, so it doesn't have the same gravitas or historical importance as other dresses, such as the wedding dress. You did absolutely nothing wrong.

But grief is a tough thing, and people grieve in different ways, and grief isn't always rational. Your MIL is being irrational right now. Hopefully she will calm down and eventually apologize to you.


NTA. I think your wife would have been delighted to know that her dress was right there to accompany your daughter on her first birthday. I understand why your MIL would be upset but she doesn't have any authority over your wife's maternity dress.


NAH. Your daughter's first birthday is unfortunately also the first anniversary of your wife's death and that is a hard day (as I am sure you know). Your MIL is probably fighting all kinds of feelings and was overwhelmed by seeing the dress and realizing that the future she had hoped for her daughter was lost forever and she might have complicated feelings towards your daughter that she might be afraid to even voice.

But what you did was a beautiful and lovely thing. I would frame side by side pictures of your wife and daughter both in the dress and put them in your daughter's room.

So what do you think? Should he have consulted the mother-in-law or was this simply a lovely way to honor his wife?

Sources: Reddit
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