to really not understand these birthday parties [trigger warning - stillbirth and bereavement]

(193 Posts)
abunchofnc Sat 26-Mar-16 20:31:18

NC for this. 

Someone I worked with some years ago had a stillbirth. She left her job but I'm still linked to her FB page. I barely know her but it seemed to me to be one of the most horrific experiences  a woman could endure.  My repeat miscarriages felt 'trivial' in comparison to her experience. 

She has since gone on to have healthy DCs, as have I.

The thing is, every year since then they celebrate Baby A's birthday. (I'm not sure celebrate is the word though).

By this I mean a proper birthday cake, candles, birthday cards. And it's all on Facebook - lots of photos of them (including very young DCs who never knew their brother) gloomily staring at lit candles. Picture after picture. It really looks staged and very very surreal. Loads of 'happy birthday baby a' in the comments which I can't bring myself to add to.

I totally understand never forgetting, always remembering, marking moments etc, but I feel very odd seeing these pics.  I feel like a heartless bitch even saying this, but it just feels odd somehow.

I don't even know what it is that I have an issue with: the very public FB posts? The incongruity of miserableness over lit birthday cake candles? I also can't imagine how my own 3 year old could ever process this if she was asked to participate like this other persons  DCs do.

I know IABU. Her life, her way. Of course. I would never comment negatively if I saw her again. None of my business. But I can't get it out my head and clearly am not understanding something despite thinking about it a lot. I'm prepared to be flamed for this. Interested to know what others think.

Showgirl38 Sat 26-Mar-16 20:37:39

I think it's lovely that they celebrate his/her birthday. Just because they are no longer with them doesn't mean they can't remember them at poignant times in life. I do the same. Why can't this child be a part of their famity life.

Dexterjamesmummy Sat 26-Mar-16 20:45:29

We had a 2nd birthday party for my dead son last year (he was 1 when he died). We held it in the park next to the graveyard he is buried in. Everyone brought a picnic, about 20 families came along, the kids played in the park, we had a cake, we sang happy birthday (I cried). It was a lovely day, everyone had a lovely time. When everyone left our family went to my little boys grave and let off some balloons in the can hope he could see and knew we were thinking of him. If this makes me odd then I don't care.

ScoutsMam Sat 26-Mar-16 20:47:02

In the nicest way possible you don't need to understand it and our views aren't interesting or important.

Your losses certainly weren't trivial though, and I'm sorry you went through that. flowers There's no comparison with grief, nor ways to deal with it. It is what it is, if you're still going you're doing okay.

cuntycowfacemonkey Sat 26-Mar-16 20:49:15

That sounds like a wonderful way to remember your so on his birthday Dexter I'm glad so many people turned to support you and mark the occasion flowers

lem73 Sat 26-Mar-16 20:51:35

Dexterjamesmummy that sounds lovely and the right thing to do.

Squiff85 Sat 26-Mar-16 20:52:06

Dexter flowers

I think sometimes OP, that these things happen and we don't get them, but we just have to accept them. Its probably their way of coping x

nocabbageinmyeye Sat 26-Mar-16 20:56:23

Dexter that is lovely, i am very sorry for your loss flowers

Lurkedforever1 Sat 26-Mar-16 21:01:25

I think it's easy to understand why. Just because she never got the chance to raise that first baby, he/ she is no less her child than the younger children are. And people find different ways of living with the loss of a child, this is her way.

Dexter flowers

ghostyslovesheep Sat 26-Mar-16 21:01:50

Dexterjamesmummy that's beautiful x much love to you flowers

OP it's not really for you to understand - it's their child and they can celebrate them any way they wish

missbishi Sat 26-Mar-16 21:01:50

It's really nice that they want to mark the occasion but the photo you describe does sound rather morbid. Still, if it brings them comfort then no harm done, just as long as the DC aren't overshadowed by a dead sibling for the rest of their childhood, IYKWIM.

YANBU though, we all have different feelings regarding death and what is comforting to one person may be downright tasteless to another.

abunchofnc Sat 26-Mar-16 21:03:20

Dexter that made me shed a tear. I think that's amazing and understand 100%.

This family don't look like they are celebrating though, or that there is anything faintly joyous about it, and it is so public on FB.

Also, this woman's child died soon after her 20 week scan. At the time people were debating if it was a stillbirth or not (IMO, she gave birth therefore it was). I can't imagine doing the same with my latest MC, or explaining something that huge to my DCs. (And I surround all that with all my previous caveats again).

But I think I might slink off now. Feeling crass opening up with these thoughts.

ClashCityRocker Sat 26-Mar-16 21:04:09

I do get where you're coming from op. I think though everyone deals with grief differently and there's no right or wrong.

For me, personally, loss is a very private and personal thing; for others it gives them comfort to celebrate their lost loved ones in a more public way.

We lost a very close immediate family member last year a few months before what would have been her fortieth birthday. Another family member held a fortieth birthday party for her, inviting all her friends, work colleagues and wider family. Initially I was not comfortable with the idea, and dh was actually aghast, but actually, it was blooming lovely and very cathartic, if that's the right word.

abunchofnc Sat 26-Mar-16 21:09:47

miss That might be it actually.

Did you see the Dunblane program where a young girl talked about never knowing her older sister and being, but not being, the eldest child? And that defining her. Imagine that life experience for a child if the eldest child never ever drew breath....

Ugh. I'm disgusting myself.

ScoutsMam has put it better than I ever could. You sound lovely ScoutsMam flowers
I think the way to think of it is you imagine if such a dreadful loss were to happen to you that you might mark the day somewhat differently. But then you realise that you're not them and it really is up to them what will give them all most comfort.
Partly you may just not be that into FB and posting pics of your life?

And as ScoutsMam said sorry for your losses, I think they may be affecting your feelings on this sad flowers

Dexterjamesmummy Sat 26-Mar-16 21:21:58

Thanks everyone x
It's a difficult situation to be in, we are desperate for him not to be forgotten about, he was here and such a huge part of our lives. It's coming up to his 3rd birthday but I don't think we'll do it so publicly this time, possibly just a picnic with his little sister (who actually becomes older than him on his 3rd birthday, it's going to be an emotional day).
4 weeks before he died I had an ectopic pregnancy (they are actually buried together), I don't really acknowledge that baby, perhaps I would do if my boy hadn't died. Baby loss is just the worst thing to through x

BikeGeek Sat 26-Mar-16 21:22:01

It's difficult, and it doesn't feel right to define to bereaved parents where the line is between commemorating a loved one and having the loss overshadow all else.

But I have an OH who spent much of his childhood sad that he could never make up for the loss of a brother. His siblings have struggled to process the fact that their very existence is down to a loss that happened before they were born. (There is a 13 year age gap)

OliviaBenson Sat 26-Mar-16 21:28:08

I get you op. I know someone who went through similar. I can't even begin to imagine the pain and suffering, and no one should be told how to grieve- it's so personal.

but I do find all the outpourings on social media quite crass. (But I feel that about lots of the things that go up there). I often wonder if it's more than grief in those cases.

The tragedy is where other siblings are brought up in a shadow of a deceased child. Everyone's grief is different but I see it where it appears to be harming the other children, who aren't allowed to be.

elliejjtiny Sat 26-Mar-16 21:30:16

I know a few people who celebrate the birthdays of their children who have died (from 17ish week babies, premature babies who survived a few days and stillborn babies). It always looks like a happy occasion for the surviving children though. I think it's nice, and Dexter your party for your son sounds lovely.

Queenie73 Sat 26-Mar-16 21:38:10

My daughter was stillborn following a cord prolapse. Every year I do something privately to mark her birthday, but don't make a fuss because her death still upsets her elder brothers too much. Her younger brothers know about her and I answer their questions but don't really volunteer information because that feels best for them.
I might not understand what these parents do, but I have to respect their right to do it. the loss of a child is such a crushing, overwhelming thing to deal with that whatever gets her through the day should be okay. My daughter died ten years ago this year and there still isn't a single day when I don't cry for her. I choose to do that in private, but if other people feel they need to reach out for support or sympathy then I have no right whatsoever to judge them for that.

BitchyComment Sat 26-Mar-16 21:43:43

I understand your comments OP and I think I could have written the same before coming on Mumsnet. I've seen similar threads and I think I can now understand that everyone deals with death and grief differently. I think I would have had the same thoughts if I had seen the Facebook page. I would have felt 'sorry' for the kids.

I had a miscarriage and didn't feel particularly sad and certainly didn't morn the loss of a dead baby as I didn't feel I'd lost a baby Iyswim, I now 'get' that for some other Mums they are genuinely grieving for the baby they lost. Neither way is wrong. It's perfectly ok for me to seemingly forget about my miscarriage and it's perfectly ok for others to morn theirs.

Mumsnet really does open your eyes sometimes.

thanks thanks

selsigfach Sat 26-Mar-16 21:51:16

I'm in tears reading this, so sorry for your devastating losses, Queenie and Dexter.

MrsDeVere Sat 26-Mar-16 21:56:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BabyGanoush Sat 26-Mar-16 22:15:04

Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief.

I once read from a mum who would go to big empty beach to shout her stillborn son's name on his birthday... so sad, it's something I could imagine doing.

But others would do the FB posts, the candles, the pictures...

We all just try to deal with things our own way.

Grief is a bit of a taboo in the UK, there is no cultural template to follow. So we all have to make it up as we go along.

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