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“My MIL Wants to Honour Her Miscarriages at My Wedding in Quite a Disturbing Way, How Do I Tell Her No?”

Trigger warning: Miscarriage and stillbirth

Although miscarriages are relatively common, the pain of losing a child at any stage of a pregnancy can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, some women suffer the unthinkable heartbreak of multiple miscarriages and stillbirths. Losing a baby in pregnancy due to miscarriage or stillbirth is still a taboo subject, and too often women are not supported enough in the grief process. Women report that family and friends are reluctant to talk about their loss with them, which can leave them feeling isolated in their grief. But, for women, even after giving birth to a full-term healthy baby, it’s natural to still think about those babies that could have been, and wonder who they would have become.

Writing into Reddit one woman explains that her soon-to-be mother-in-law was pregnant three times in between having her eldest son and her youngest son, but sadly all three ended in late miscarriages and still births. Whilst the woman expresses love for her fiancés family in general, and sympathy towards her MIL, she is understandably horrified by her request regarding the upcoming nuptials.

As we were planning our guest list, we consulted our families about which, and how many, relatives we should invite. Future MIL asked that we “invite” fiance’s dead brother and sisters. When we asked what she meant, she wanted us to put up a framed photo of the dead babies in the pews at our wedding ceremony, and then save them seats at our reception.

I was horrified. First of all, we are trying to have a fairly small wedding to start with, and a beautiful, intimate venue. We can only have seats for 30-50 people, and I would like these places to be for our friends and family, not people who have never met either of us because they are dead. Fiance agrees that three of 50 seats reserved for dead people is too many. He suggested we compromise and just let MIL put up all three photos in one seat.

Personally, I think it’s gross and weird to include any of them. We’re starting our lives together. We want to have a family and it almost seems like a bad omen, but it means a lot to her and it’s a fairly small ask. Fiance’s parents are paying for 75% of our wedding, and this is the only request she’s had. So AITA for still refusing?

The Photos Could Be Triggering for Some Wedding Guests

Commenters were quick to point out that not only was the prospect of having photos of deceased babies at the wedding ‘weird’ and ‘creepy’ is also had the potential to trigger guests at the wedding who had also experienced pregnany or child loss.

Frankly OP, it can be disturbing/triggering for other wedding attendees who have gone through similar experiences of stillbirth/miscarriage to see the pictures at the function. The occasion can turn sombre.

If it was MIL’s wedding, she can do what she wants (still creepy, though). Since your fiance feels nothing much for the cause, you have got nothing to worry and assert yourself. NTA, OP. (crack_crack900)

The Display Would Negatively Impact the Happy Atmosphere

Others rightly pointed out how the photos would draw attention away from the bride and groom and the happy event that the guests had been originally gathered to celebrate.

Not to mention it will shift the focus from the wedding as all of the friends and the bride’s family will be asking what the pictures are about. Also, where is the line? If grandparents are no longer with us or  aunts and uncles, can parents ask for pictures of those? (BestAd5844)

Finding a Compromise

Whilst commenters unanimously agreed that having photographs on display was hugely inappropriate for a wedding, some people had some great suggestions on how the bride could tastefully compromise with her soon-to-be mother-in-law.

How about a compromise? I have seen this at other weddings and it was very tastefully done. A small bouquet of flowers that can be in a chair or other spot and there can be a note in the program that they are there to “honor family members no longer with us?” They can even go on MIL’s table at the reception

I would say something like this – “Dear MIL, I’m concerned that the pictures could be upsetting or triggering for others who have suffered their own losses. I, in no way, want to cause anyone grief or sadness during what is supposed to be a happy celebration. How about we compromise? We can have a small bouquet on a chair and we can either put in the program or the officiant can announce that they are for loved ones we have lost and cannot be with us to celebrate our special day.” BestAd5844)

A friend of mine lost her baby at almost full term, months before her brother’s wedding. At the altar area, they had a small pedestal with a blue carnation on it and had like a program for times (ceremony, reception, etc.) and they included in there that it was in memory of the baby. It was very sweet, didn’t explain circumstances (just said “a blue carnation in memory of ‘baby’s name’”) it was a nice acknowledgment without calling on my friend or explain what happened. Pictures would have been too much…. And 30 year old pictures … ugh – the MIL needs to be reminded that this is about OP and her son, not their extended family’s trauma. (Atypical Mom)

Maybe a chair with flowers and a place card for Those not with us ? Then it can just be, you know. Whoever is missing. Whether it be because they couldn’t make it, not enough space in the venue or tragedy. (Apricot_Bumblebee)

This seems sweet and more appropriate. OP could include some flowers and 3 little teddy bears. I think just sitting down with MIL and explaining that they can be included without the actual photos. I don’t think that MIL was trying to upset anyone. (Pixiesunbelle)

In normal circumstances we think we should be breaking the stigma around miscarriage and stillbirth by talking about it more openly and sharing our stories. However, there is also a time and a place for these discussions. While we understand MIL’s need to acknowledge the babies she lost to miscarriage or stillbirth as part of the family, there are many ways that they can be subtly included in the day without stealing the focus from the bride and groom, or creating unnecessary discomfort for guests.

How would you deal with this predicament? What do you think a suitable compromise would be?

The Red Nose Grief and Loss Support Line is available 24/7 for anyone affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, baby or child death on 1300 308 307

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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