As if losing a young child isn't hard enough, one grieving mum has told how her mother-in-law had gone against her wishes to take her son's ashes – with the consent of her own husband.
The woman shared the story on reddit, starting her post with the tragic story of losing her son Tom.
"My son Tom passed away 4 months ago, at the age of 6," she wrote. "He had a heart condition that robbed him of living his childhood like any other kid. "He was such an angel."
The mum said her in-laws visited her son but were never helpful in a practical way during her son's illness.
She also said there was conflict with her in-laws when Tom passed away, saying they "felt free to take his belongings, clothes/toys/blankets."
The woman's mother-in-law wanted to have a burial service, but Tom was instead cremated and his ashes in an urn in his parent's bedroom. It was those ashes that would be at the centre of the drama that followed.
The mum said her mother-in-law started visiting the house frequently, something she never did when Tom was still alive, and then she came up with a suggestion about the ashes.
"She started talking about making ashes pendants for me, my husband and her family as a way to carry Tom's memory with us and keep him close wherever we go, she told me that my brother in law loved Tom so much and wanted a pendant made for him as well. I remember telling her that this was never gonna happen, and that all those family members have their kids with them and that I was the one who lost a son," the mum wrote, adding that her mother-in-law didn't like her response.
"She started arguing talking about how important Tom was to her and the family and that my husband would agree with this fair treatment instead of keeping an urn in my bedroom and refusing to let the family share their grieve.
"I told her there was no way I'd say yes."
The mum thought that was the end of the matter, but after she arrived back from a road trip with her family, she discovered her son's urn was missing from her bedroom.
"When I returned after 6 days, I found that my son's urn was gone," she said.
"My husband showed me a necklace that he said had my son's ashes in it and pulled out another one that belonged to him that was in the shape of cross, he told me that his mum made necklaces for me, him, her, brother in law with our son's ashes, paid money to get it done and so we could all have Tom with us."
The mum said she was "in shock" upon hearing the news and needed to sit down.
"Turned out he allowed his mum to take the urn while I was gone," she wrote.
"I yelled at him that this was my son not theirs, she had no right to take the urn and do what she wanted with it especially when I told her no, I was so mad with him, I couldn't even look at him.
"I took my things and went back to my family and refused to take the necklace."
The mum said her husband has tried to apologise, but she is finding it difficult to forgive him for his "betrayal".
Commenters on reddit almost unanimously supported the mother, with one saying they would be "livid".
"I would be looking into legal action against [your mother-in-law] and I would be filing for divorce," they wrote. "I'm so sorry they happened to you, what awful people."
Another said, "So basically, [your mother-in-law] is a graverobber. And your husband enabled it. I am so sorry this happened to you, it is so far outside the boundaries of reasonable behaviour."