Moving on after a treasured family pet dies isn't easy. Just ask one woman who wrote to Slate's Dear Prudence column looking for help with her mother, who basically wants to turn her wedding into a funeral for deceased pet parrot Polly. "I'm leaning toward eloping just to avoid dealing with my mom’s bird grief on a day that's supposed to be about the love I have found with my fiancé," she wrote.
The Letter Writer's (LW) mother and Polly had a special relationship.
As she wrote in her letter from June 4, the LW explained that her mom had Polly for more than a decade until the parrot died five years ago.
Her mom hasn't been able to let Polly go, despite the passage of time.
In fact, she even gives the LW monthly updates on her long-gone friend. Things like "It's raining today. Polly always loved the rain," or "Happy Halloween, missing Polly," the LW explained.
The LW isn't a monster. She can empathize that her mother lost her favorite companion, so she tries "to be supportive without letting our entire conversations be about Polly."
Her dad, on the other hand, is more permissive.
His approach has been to do "whatever your mother needs" -- "which means their house is basically a Polly shrine and discussion of getting another pet is forbidden," she wrote.
The problem is that the LW and her fiancé are going to get married next summer.
And already her mother is starting to insist that Polly is part of the big day.
"Originally, she wanted Polly mentioned in the formal speeches and among the family pictures at the reception, Polly-themed dessert and favors," she wrote. But come on -- the LW doesn't want her wedding to be Polly-themed.
She put her foot down and told her mother that she would not be holding Polly's funeral at her wedding.
Her dad agreed that her mom needs to cool it with her Polly demands, but "told me I should do one small thing (he suggested Polly's photo be incorporated into my mom's mother-of-the bride corsage)."
Her fiancé finds the whole thing to be hilarious. Shouldn't they just elope anyway? he asked her.
She's starting to agree. In light of her mom's Polly-themed plans, the LW believes she'd rather avoid her "mom's bird grief" so she can have the day be all about her marriage.
"What do you think?" she asked Dear Prudence.
Most commenters were confused by this whole scenario.
"Oh, for [expletive] sake!" one woman wrote. "What the hell is wrong with you? You are an ADULT. USE YOUR WORDS. Tell your mom NO. Or put Polly's photo on something and be done with it. For God's sake, it has been FIVE YEARS."
"Jeebus, Parrot Mom needs counseling," someone else commented. "Five years of grieving for a dead bird, and then insisting your child's wedding be turned into an elaborate funeral, indicates some sort of complicated grief and/or a chemical imbalance in the brain."
Someone else thought the situation sounded so strange that the letter must be a fake.
"Are you sure this letter is for real? Parrot died five years ago and mom is still in mourning? I think someone is pulling our collective leg," the person commented.
Columnist Danny M. Lavery thought the LW needed to set boundaries ASAP.
In his response, Lavery advised the LW that she absolutely could make a concession to her mom and allow her to wear a Polly-themed corsage to her wedding.
"I think that would fall into the 'slightly kooky but mostly charming' category and add a pleasant but minor tone of eccentricity to the day," he wrote.
On the other hand, if the LW is really over her mom's antics, then there's no shame in putting her foot down.
"If you suspect agreeing to the corsage would open the door to another round of Polly negotiations, you can say no," he explained.
If neither of these two options is really going to manage the problem, the LW can definitely elope. But the columnist's strongest feeling is that the LW should talk to her mother directly about the issue and stop making her dad be the go-between.
"She's allowed to love and miss her beloved pet, but it's not cruel or dismissive to turn down her requests, and I think your father's insistence on treating her like glass and trying to cushion her from honest conversations with other people is counterproductive," he explained. "'Mom, I love you, and I know how much you loved Polly, but we're not going to incorporate her into the wedding' is a respectful, loving, appropriate response."