Woman Asks If She Can Opt Out Of “Grief Competition” That Her Brother-In-Law Holds For His Late Daughter. Is She Wrong?
by Trisha Leigh
There are no truer words than “everyone grieves differently.” There is no right or wrong way to miss someone, or to deal emotionally with the loss of a special person from your life.
Some people want to turn everything into a competition, though, and in this case, OP’s brother-in-law insists on trying to one-up her grief.
He and his ex-girlfriend lost a 2-month-old baby and for a time, spent the anniversary of their child’s death together at dinner.
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 she moved away, however, he began hosting a party to commemorate the date instead, and OP assumed he needed the support without the child’s mother around to help him get through the day.
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.
He’s begun to put OP off, though, because he minimizes the grief she’s dealing with two years after her teenaged boyfriend passed away unexpectedly.
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 counselling.
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.’
It’s gotten to the point where she does not want to attend his party at all, but her sister and mother are giving her a hard time about it.
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.
Should she suck it up and go? Is she overreacting?
Reddit’s weighing in!
The top comment says the BIL’s party sound pretty performative to them.
This person says support and attention are two different things.
Commemorating the loss with people who never knew the person is what seems over the top.
This person has a kinder take, noting that the BIL’s expectations aren’t healthy.
They say the bottom line is that there is no point in making it a competition.
I’m sorry for everyone involved here.
That said, OP should not be forced to attend her brother-in-law’s unhealthy “parties” on an annual basis while he continues to dismiss her own feelings.