This tragic story sees grieving parents make a simple request that has unexpected consequences for a new mother dealing with postpartum anxiety.
A man has taken to the internet for advice after facing an almost impossible situation.
A new father himself, the man describes how his brother underwent a tremendous loss and how a simple request had unintended consequences.
While the post, shared to an anonymous forum, detailed the tragic circumstances with great sensitivity, it was what occurred in the comments section that proved to many on the subreddit that empathy and humanity were still very much alive in the world -- at least when it came to this new dad and his perspective.
AITA for not defending my wife wanting to attend a funeral with our baby, thus causing her to miss it?
"My wife and I have a 6-month-old baby girl. Due to postpartum anxiety, which she is being treated for, my wife struggles with leaving our daughter with anyone outside myself or my mother, who lives with us. This hasn’t been an issue thus far and as I said, she’s in therapy so little by little, it’s been getting better," the post began.
"Unfortunately, my nephew (who was also 6 months old) passed away a few weeks ago," the man went on to share. "He had been in poor health since birth but it’s still obviously devastating for the entire family, especially my brother and SIL. They held the services the following weekend."
He then explained the funeral arrangements.
"I was in consistent contact with my brother and we were discussing the funeral. He said he knew it was a lot to ask, but could we please not bring our daughter. I said I completely understood and didn’t even intend to. One, in my opinion, babies do not belong at funerals. Two, this is a funeral for a baby of a similar age. Why would one want to bring up that reminder? My brother said he knows how my wife is about leaving the baby so they understand if she can’t come."
My wife became irritated when she found out I 'didn't defend her'. She reminded me that she doesn't trust anyone to take care of the baby outside me and my mom, who obviously have to be at the funeral.
"Well, my wife became irritated when she found out I 'didn’t defend her'. She reminded me that she doesn’t trust anyone to take care of the baby outside me and my mom, who obviously have to be at the funeral," he wrote. "She doesn’t want to miss it either, but also won’t agree to leave the baby with anyone else. We have several family members on her side that we are close to, as well as good friends who also have kids. I said even if she just went to the service and not the gathering afterward, that’d just be an hour. She said no, she can’t handle the thought of leaving her with anyone else. I said that’s understandable and that clearly, my brother and SIL would rather her not come if it means not having a baby at the funeral. She continued to complain."
The new dad went on to detail the direction the conflict took.
"Finally, I said she has two choices and she needs to make one, I don’t care which it is. I won’t hold it against her either way," he recounted. "One, either allow someone else to watch the baby for an hour. Two, stay home with the baby. She says that I’m not even pretending to be on her side and I said I’m not, because this isn’t even about us."
"My wife ended up staying home with the baby. When my mother and I returned later that afternoon, she shut us both out. Eventually, she calmed down but she has made comments here and there making it clear that she feels I should’ve tried to convince my brother to let the baby come. AITA?"
Overwhelmingly the post was branded NTA (not the a-hole). However, it was the manner in which OP responded to commenters that struck the Reddit community with just how empathic and emotionally mature he was.
One commenter noted: "Her demanding to bring your child is completely irrational. You did the right thing."
"Anyone who has an ounce of empathy would understand your child's presence would be incredibly hurtful to the grieving parents (and others). It is difficult to believe she could not look past her wanting to attend with her child," the Redditor continued. "Ask her to bring this topic to her therapy session (? I'm assuming this is part of her PPD support). Also, hang in there...PPD can be challenging for all involved. Keep in mind that if she is in counseling it is OK to ask her if you can attend a session to learn additional ways to support her and confirm with the your wife and therapist what approaches are working."
"Best to you and my condolences regarding the loss of your nephew. Grieve...support and celebrate him," they concluded. "We cannot predict when pain and loss will enter our lives or upon those we love."
In response, OP replied: "I have already attended sessions to best help her and I have told her to bring it up. Whether she does or not, I don’t know."
"To me, this just sort of goes beyond the tools I was given," the dad admitted. "I validated her feelings about not wanting to leave the baby as well as that it was hard the natural outcome is she can’t go. I am as considerate as I can be, but it’s difficult when she also wants me to put that all above people who lost a child. Thank you for your input."
While another commenter added: "I don’t think attending the funeral for a baby of a similar age is going to be good for your wife’s PPA/PPD. She already is afraid to leave the baby alone, she doesn’t need to see what a funeral for a baby looks like… that sounds like it will make her anxiety worse."
OP responded, writing: "I thought of this too and did try to bring it up, but she told me that she would’ve been fine. I don’t entirely believe it. As it is, I know that my nephew’s health conditions gave her anxiety about our own little one’s health (not that she ever shared this with family, just me and her therapist). I can’t imagine what a funeral would’ve done."
What torture it would be to see this healthy baby at this particular funeral."
One Redditor expressed concern over how things will play out in the future and had some criticism for his spouse: "What torture it would be to see this healthy baby at this particular funeral. Your wife needs to learn to let others protect their own emotional health as she is protecting hers. She is being totally self centered and unreasonable. YNTA. Your wife has some serious issues. I hope she gets a handle on them soon. Eventually this baby will grow up. Is she going to sit in the classroom when the baby goes off to school?"
But OP was quick to defend his wife, correcting the commenter: "No. That’s not how PPA works. She is getting better and her therapist doesn’t doubt that she’ll be able to cope by then. PPA isn’t just something you snap out of. It’s far more complex."
He then softened his rebuttal, finding some common ground with the Redditor: "I agree though, it would’ve been torture and I do think she’s being a huge hypocrite by wanting her mental health supported while not doing the same for my brother and SIL."
Another commenter made an observation about logistics, asking: "How on Earth could you go against your brother's wishes? But could one of you attend the service, and the other attendant the Gathering after? That doesn't sound feasible either does it? It's just a really impossible situation."
OP reacted, writing: "We could’ve, but I also didn’t want to leave my brother. We are very close. I’m not trying to undermine my wife’s relationship with them…but like, that’s my brother. I wouldn’t dream asking her to abandon her sister in a time like this."
Then came the big question a lot of Redditors wanted asked: "Postpartum is no joke and a serious illness. If this is new behavior I would try and be compassionate we don’t know what’s going on in her head. If she’s expressed selfish anger like this in the past pre baby I would start to pivot from using her postpartum as an excuse for her bad behavior and start communicating how this can’t be tolerated maybe get the therapist involved."
OP swiftly responded to the feedback, clarifying of his spouse: "She wasn’t selfish like this pre-baby, which is why I have faith that hopefully one day she’ll realize how insane she sounded in this moment."