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FSIL wants nieces ashes to have their own seat at the wedding...

I've posted before about my fsil and the devastating death of her daughter earlier this year. I've also posted about her behaviour to me over the years and her more recent behaviour (she's waiting for grief counselling and her current way to cope is to behave badly towards me it seems as she already doesn't like me so she knows I'm a 'safe' target to take stuff out on - latest incident on my planning thread), well now h2b has had a text asking if she can put her daughter's ashes on the table in her place during the reception. He hasn't replied and with how fragile she seems lately he is not sure how to. 
The answer will be no for a few reasons -
1. If anything happened to them ashes it would be heart breaking and eould be losing her all over again.
2. It could upset his family on what should be a happy day by giving them the reminder of what happened.
3. She passed in the spring and when doing the seating plan the other day we removed her spot as obviously no longer would be used, so no actual place for them to go anyway.

Any advice on how to refuse this request? She explodes at the slightest thing these days and we don't want to upset her but at the same time this is not something we want :( I thought of offering to have a photo of her instead?


  • Hi, I haven't been keeping up with your thread but first off, I'm so sorry that you're all having to deal with this awful incident and the effect it's having.

    I agree that having the ashes there is not a particularly good idea and completely don't blame you. I think having a photo there would be a nice compromise but it sounds like anything will be a hard sell to your FSIL at the moment. I'd tell her you'll consider her request, wait until she's receiving the grief counselling she needs and then go to her with your compromise.

    Another nice idea and something we're doing as we're missing a few key family members... we're having one of our ushers stand at the end of the aisle with some roses for people to take and place in a vase at the altar in memory of those who can't be with us. This might be a nice thing to have not just for your FSIL but for others too to pay their respects to people you'd have liked to have been there (it's also very budget friendly).

    Good luck xx
  • So sorry, what an awful situation all round. I agree with you that this should be a firm no, but I agree with the above that going to her with alternatives before she's receiving the proper help could be problematic. I know time may be of the essence here though so waiting until she's having counselling may not be an option.

    Whenever you tell her no, I would dress it up as that you think there are much more positive, and nicer ways to acknowledge her memory, and more uplifting ideas such as a her place, or a candle lit somewhere, or the lovely idea mentioned above. I would give it a firm but kind no, and deal with the backlash as it happens. Try and take it all with a big pinch of salt (easier said than done, I know) and rise above it. 

    Are your other family members in agreement with you here? It would be easier if you had their support and didn't feel like you were fighting everyone on this one. 
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    The wedding is in 2 weeks and she's still on waiting list for counselling and so far no news on first appointment so don't think she will start it before the wedding. 

    I like the flower idea, she's banned her mum and elder sister from doing anything to commemorate her daughter (she fell out with them when fmil got married abroad and she couldn't attend) so not sure if she would get upset if she saw her mum doing it? Or her mum might be upset if I asked her not to do it when she saw others joining in?

    I suggested picture and candle on a table, like near the guestbook?

    All family we have mentioned this to agree with us luckily, however she only speaks to one other sister (over the years she's fallen out with all others) and even that's iffy at the moment after that sister defended me last time this sister had a go about me and she threatened to stop talking to her as well, so not sure if having their support would help or if she would feel we are ganging up on her? 
  • If you look on Etsy early there's little photo frames you can attach to the bouquet. Or little lockets for ashes. That might be a good compromise as she's there and part of the day but it's a bit more personal and not as likely for anything to go wrong. 
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    I'll have a look, but I'll try and see if there's a way for h2b to be the one who uses it (this is the fsil who doesn't like me so I think she would prefer it if it was her brother to carry any image)
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride
    I think you need to say something like "that's a lovely idea and we really want niece to be remembered during our wedding day, but we are very worried that with alcohol being consumed an accident could occur with her ashes, and we'd feel awful if that happened. Could you (FSIL)  wear some of her ashes in a locket or similar, and we will have a photo and candle of niece displayed in her memory".

    I must admit I've always found the empty chair thing at weddings morbid and I really don't think actual ashes have any place at a wedding.

    A friend of mine's dad died this year a few months before her wedding, and they had prayers said and a candle lit for her dad at the start of the church service, then the wedding proceeded as normal. Could you do something similar?
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    Thank you for these ideas! I will show H2B them and see what he says. I do have awful images in my head of the box being knocked over (it's quite large and completely sealed) or something and breaking and causing upset all over again :(
    Personally I am a rather unsentimental person and prefer my own feelings for things like this to remain private, so I tend to struggle when people want to do things more publically, so thanks for the ideas, this is definetly not an area I am good with and the help is appreciated!
  • GinAndBlingGinAndBling Posts: 1,311 New bride
    Oh wow Sadieee, I’m so sorry she’s put you in such a tough position. I don’t think it’s a good idea either. 

    Can H2B suggest to FSIL lighting a candle for her instead? Or raise a toast to absent friends in the speech? 

    I really hope she understands, thinking of you 
    Our planning thread: We're completely winging it.
    Our report: A fun, classic May day in navy and blush
    My weightloss thread: Diet denial! 
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    Thank you, I am making a list of all these alternatives for him to offer her instead. Just hoping she accepts one of them!
  • Sian91Sian91 Posts: 829 New bride
    I think it's unfair for her to ask this of you (although she may or may not realise it), and you're within your rights to say no. 
    You can get the photos on little pins, maybe your h2b could wear a little pin inside his jacket, close to his heart? Not an obvious thing to everyone but something he can talk to his sister about?
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    Just a quick update. H2b rang her this morning and suggested various ideas given here. She yelled at him, saying he should want his niece there, said it's obvious we don't care, are being selfish when she is the one hurting and then hung up on him :(

    I have told him to let her cool down and to give her some space. He's going to speak to the only sister she does still speak to and see if she can maybe talk to her :( 

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know how long grief counselling waiting lists are? Her daughter passed in spring, so it's been about 6 months and I just think she needs help asap
  • GinAndBlingGinAndBling Posts: 1,311 New bride
    Oh no :( of course he wants his niece there! But she won't be, even if the ashes are. She's obviously in a lot of pain and sounds like she is taking it out on you guys. Very easy to say but I am sure it isn't personal. 

    Fingers crossed the chat with the sister helps. 
    Our planning thread: We're completely winging it.
    Our report: A fun, classic May day in navy and blush
    My weightloss thread: Diet denial! 
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    I feel so stuck. Because we don't generally get along anything I say she takes the wrong way, so h2b is having to be the one to speak and he just wants her to be happy but he's also at the point of just wanting to be able to enjoy his wedding without worrying about upsetting her.

    Fingers crossed the other sister can help :(
  • OmRumOmRum Posts: 942 New bride
    I'm surprised the grief counselling has taken this long to organise. Even if she needs a specialist counsellor, regular counselling is about 6 months in a lot of places, but for a case where someone has lost a child I'm surprised she hasn't been bumped right to the top of the list. Can she get private counselling? That might have a shorter waiting list. Unfortunately, a lot of these, like CBT, are very much you having to want to help yourself, but she sounds like she's still denying the death somewhat by wanting to basically pretend her daughter is there.

    I've said it before but I'll say it again, it's all so tragic and I'm sorry both she and you are having to deal with it.
  • MrsGtoBMrsGtoB Posts: 712 New bride
    Such an awful situation, like you I'm not one for public displays so I would want the ashes or an empty chair.  Weddings are happy times not a time for dwelling (sorry if that sounds awful).
    I hope someone can speak to her and sort for you, you've offered alternatives so I hope she can see you are trying xx
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    Private counselling was suggested but she said she couldn't afford it, though not sure how much she actually looked into it. 
  • MrsS2019MrsS2019 Posts: 137 New bride
    It is a difficult situation, however the venue may say it is a health and safety risk with food being prepared and served within close proximity. So maybe you could explain this if it is true for your venue. However the idea of a candle and photo is a good idea. We are having photos of the loved ones who can’t be there with flowers scattered on the table.
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    Definitely worth checking about health and safety, ad chicken as it sounds it may be easier if we pass the blame on to the venue/caterers 
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride

    To be honest, it sounds like unless you say yes FSIL, 3 bags full FSIL to all of her requests she just loses her shit. Was she pretty hard work before her daughter passed? Does she have any other children?

    There is an unfortunate but little talked about thing whereby people who have had great tragedies befall them kind of get used to being treated as special/with kid gloves and then as time passes and people start treating them normally again, they don't like it and want it to be ALL ABOUT THEM again. I say this as my family has unfortunately had more than it's fair share of infant/child loss.

    I guess she feels like that because other people are moving on with their lives, her daughter is being forgotten, but that just isn't the case. And as was said before, having her daughter's ashes at the wedding is not "having your niece at the wedding". Not at all.

    You are being perfectly reasonable here. I think eventually she'll pull this once too often, someone will tell her some home truths, and it'll go 2 ways - she'll either realise she's being a dick and stop, or she'll alienate everyone and end up very alone.

    Good luck!

  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    She's always been hard work, doesn't talk to her mum, dad, step dad or eldest sister due to issues in the past. She's never liked me (took her little brother away apparently, even though he had lived 8hrs from her for 10 years before meeting me) so I've had a good chunk of stuff from her over the years. She has 4 other children, 1 older than her daughter and 3 younger, she is currently pregnant again, around 12 weeks apparently. 
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride
    In that case it sounds like while what happened is very sad, it has become an excuse for poor, narcissistic behaviour and you don't need to put up with that. She can't dictate to your fiancé how he chooses to remember his niece on his wedding day. I assume since you live so far away he wasn't particularly close to her and from your posts it feels like his sister is trying to force you both to feel a level of grief that you just don't feel, to be frank - and that's OK x
  • SadieeeSadieee Posts: 1,781 New bride
    edited November 2018
    He see's her probably once or twice a year, but the drama that came with her is one reason he moved away he admits and is something that stopped him being more involved, he just didn't want to get into all the different family disagreements she seemed to be involved in.
    I do think she's gotten use to people treating her a certain way is struggling with the idea others are moving on while she can't. I understand why she can't, I have a 5 year old daughter and couldnt imagine going through what she has, but until she gets some sort of counselling to help her realise it's ok to be happy still I think you're right, and this will just continue. 
    H2b is going to call her tomorrow he says :(
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,957 New bride
    OK, good luck x
  • Ashley72Ashley72 Posts: 1,136 New bride
    edited November 2018
    I am so sorry you’re going through this. How awful and stressful on you, your fiancé and the rest of the family. 
    I don’t think having the actual ashes there is a good idea at all, for practical reasons let alone any personal thoughts on the appropriateness. As you said, God forbid an accident happened and with drunk adults and kids running around and a chair that looks from a distance to be empty.... it doesn’t bear thinking about. Perhaps your fiancé could send a message along the lines of “actually we’d been thinking about doing X (a candle and frame or the flower idea which is lovely).... would you mind us doing that to remember our niece?”. Perhaps ask her to choose a particular photo or involve her in the colour candle etc so she feels like she has some degree of a say. I understand you don’t want to pander to her when she’s been awful to you but for the sake of getting the wedding out of the way with minimal drama it might be best to try!

    The suggestion of some ashes in a necklace is a good idea too and maybe even a bit of an olive branch (not that I think you need to extend one at all but it might genuinely help her and make her a bit less antagonistic towards you all). I do wonder if it would be better that she just didn’t attend if her current state of mind is so poor, seeing people laughing and “moving on” might be hard for her to handle on the day at the way she is feeling. Perhaps task the sister she does speak to to keep an eye on her on the day and suggest she takes a break away from the day if she sees it all getting a bit much rather than risk anything erupting.

    I hope she sees that her idea was just a bit impractical and allows you to acknowledge your niece on the day in a more appropriate way that you feel comfortable with. Thinking of you. Good luck with it all. 
  • Jo212Jo212 Posts: 3 New bride
    I really feel for you being put in this position. 
    Yes she's grieving for her daughter but she shouldn't be asking for this to happen. 
    She needs counselling asap for her own sake. Maybe suggest that you don't need her ashes to feel her there with you all and that she will be mentioned in speeches.  Im a funeral director and on a daily basis hear some very strange requests but have to say this is the saddest one. 
    I really hope her sister can make her see sense. 
    But think you should prepare yourselves for a lot of tears in the day from her. Again totally normal. 
    Maybe write her a letter from you both. Mention her daughter by name and say how much you wish everything was different but for many reasons you think that the ashes casket will be better left at home. 
    Good luck x
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