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Naming a child after someone who has died

(61 Posts)
NameSeeker Thu 23-Jul-09 13:28:08

I would love to name our child, in some way, in honour of a very close and beloved family member who died, who was called Helen.

I'm dubious about naming a girl the exact name- too much pressure/associations too sad? It was a very tragic, young loss. What does anyone else think?

What I'd really like to do is use a different name that is linked to Helen somehow.

Helen means "light" so anything along those lines meaning-wise would be great.

Otherwise, a phonetic link could work. We have thought of Leonard or Leon for a boy- thoughts? We've not turned our thoughts to girl's names yet (strangely). Any suggestions?

Or do you think it's something I should avoid doing completely?

(ps have got ages to decide! Early stages of pregnancy)

bubblagirl Thu 23-Jul-09 13:32:58

what about helena or middle name as helen my ds has my [deceased]best friends name as one of his middle names

thirtysomething Thu 23-Jul-09 13:34:42

Elena? It's Helena in Spanish and Italian and very pretty - so almost the same but not quite?

systemsaddict Thu 23-Jul-09 13:38:00

I was named after my aunt who died in her early 20s when my mum was a teenager - common naming practice in my mum's culture. When I was a child I liked it, made me feel special, but it has since seemed a bit odd tbh, as if in a way I was supposed to be a 'replacement' person iyswim? I got given all her stuff too (inscribed christening gifts etc).

I lost my dad when pg 1st time round and wanted his name as part of my son's but used it as a middle name instead.

The phonetic link is a good way of getting round it though, esp. since you have options like Helena etc for a girl.

systemsaddict Thu 23-Jul-09 13:40:28

ooh yes, Elena is lovely, or Eleanor, Elaine, Elanora - all v. pretty! Ellen too, you would have loads of options.

kingfix Thu 23-Jul-09 13:41:45

My FIL died a couple of months before our sone was born and we gave the baby the grandfather's name as a middle name, as a way of commemorating alovely man. We thought using it as a first name was a bit too close though. Also, we night have still used the name if FIL was still alive.

NameSeeker Thu 23-Jul-09 13:46:05

Yes systemsaddict, that's what I am concerned about, and it's good to get the perspective from someone who is named after a late relative.

Lots of lovely suggestions for girls names there. Any more thoughts for boys apart from Leonard or Leon? And actually what do you think of those names?

Thanks for all the input!

frasersmummy Thu 23-Jul-09 13:46:34

I think it depends how you explain it to your child in years to come.

If you say you were named after helen who died very young. XXX was very you this name made xxx happy then its baggage pressure your child will feel through their life

however if you say we chose this name because we knew another little girl who was beautiful, clever and brave. That little girl is now in heaven and seeing as you are beautiful clever and brave like her we thought it would suit you .. then it becomes a name your daughter can be proud of.

It also depends whether it will make the family smile or cry everytime they hear it

My first little boy was stillborn and I was going to use his name as a middle name for ds2 but I realised I was going to be sad every time I said it so I decided not to

sorry this is so long

NameSeeker Thu 23-Jul-09 13:46:46

Ooh Elanora is very nice!

NameSeeker Thu 23-Jul-09 13:49:58

Frasersmummy, I'm so sorry to read about your first son sad. You make some very good points. I do need to think about whether it's going to make me sad to say a name. In fact just writing/reading this thread is giving me a lump in my throat. She was my little sister sad, I wish she could be around to be an auntie, just as your little boy should be here to be a big brother.

Caitni Thu 23-Jul-09 14:11:22

There are some really good suggestions on this thread. I'm really sorry to hear about your sister sad but I think it's a lovely idea to honour her memory by passing on (some form of) her name. I'm named after a grandmother who died long before i was born and I always liked the connection, both to her and within my wider extended family (it's reasonably common in Ireland, where I'm from to name children for deceased relatives).

I'm pregnant with my first and am adamant that I'd like to name a boy after my father, who died when I was a child. It's a lovely name and not too common now (Richard) and I think we can make a son feel proud to be "honoured" with such a name. I've also got a nephew named for both of his dead grandads and he loves being named after them...but then he doesn't get any inscribed gifts or sad adults telling him about men he'll never meet...instead he gets stories (when he wants them only) about lovely men.

Helen is a gorgeous name, with so many lovely versions. I personally love Galina (I have a friend called that and have been jealous of her name since I first met her!). You might find some inspiration on Wikipedia.

frasersmummy Thu 23-Jul-09 14:14:55

oh nameseeker I'm so sorry you have lost your little sister

I know completly understand your dilemma.. like I say in the end I couldnt do it.

You do what is right for you.. best advice I have is to listen to your heart when your dd/ds is born..

I am here if you want to talk this through anytime

good luck with the pregnancy

bodiddly Thu 23-Jul-09 14:24:02

nameseeker I named my ds after my brother who died but decided to use it as his middle name. That way it wouldnt be as strong as an association or too hard for other people to hear/bear.

nappyaddict Thu 23-Jul-09 14:29:55

My DS is named after my brother who died when he was 21 and I was 13. He actually has both his first and middle names as the middle name is a family one. I made it "his" name by attaching another name to my brother's name and using a hyphen.

A lot of people didn't like the idea when I was pregnant including my other sister but it was only my mum's approval I wanted. I asked her if she would be ok with it and she said although it would be hard at first she would get used to it and wanted me to do it.

I will tell him I named him after my brother because my brother was loving, sweet, funny, hard-working and ambitious all qualities I wish DS to have.

nickelbabe Thu 23-Jul-09 14:41:34

i can see arguments for both first and middle name.
i might be a bit biased cos my middle name is Helen.
i was named after my grandma, Ellen (who was still alive), and all of my sisters are named after relatives in some way, and it is nice now that they're all dead to say why we were given those names.
it's like a long lasting legacy for that person.
it does depend on how you feel when the time comes whether it is too raw to give her Helen as a first name (although if it's a boy, then the worry is lessened already...) or a diminutive like Ellen, or Eleanor. or as a middle name.
I like frasersmummy's nice explanation.

potatofactory Thu 23-Jul-09 14:42:02

My daughter has my sister's name as a middle name - I hope she will be pleased when she's older and I explain about her auntie who died (in a hopefully non-morbid way). I think it is a lovely tribute to my sister, and something which the family appreciates too, I think.

VioletElizabethBott Thu 23-Jul-09 14:53:45

Hi - Very sad indeed to hear about your sister. I think it is lovely you want to name your child in some way to commemorate her.

I'm pregnant with my first, a girl, and lost my mother three months ago. I've come under enormous pressure from my father to call my baby after my mother and have hated the idea. I suppose it is tied up with feeling strong-armed, and also with the way my father is behaving generally (everything, but everything has to be linked with my mum - know it is his grief talking but it is so oppressive).

Anyway my solution is to give the baby my mother's middle name (which I like) as her middle name. There's a similar rhythm now to each name - 2 syllables, then the name (Elizabeth) then a 2 syllable surname - which is a strong enough link, but does not make me feel sad. (or cross!)

With Helen (lovely name) you could go for a variant (Helena, Elena, Helene), or even an association (e.g. Helen of Troy - Cassandra? or a Greek origin name?). There are some amazing baby name sites in America which would really help you out I think. My favourite is Nameberry but there's also a good blog called YouCan'tCallItIt with all the links to other sites at the bottom. There's a search engine there where you can type in Helen and it will give you all the names associated with it. Think it is called Baby Name Brain Stormer?

If it is a boy though... hmmm. Think you'll have to go back to the name's meaning and find something through that route. Or try the association thing? (though Paris or Achilles might be a bit rich!)

Best of luck with your pregnancy and with your name search.

MamaLazarou Thu 23-Jul-09 14:55:46

My baby's middle name (if it is a boy) will be after a friend who died too young.

The story is: we had tried to conceive for a long time with no luck. I was dusting this young man's photograph on the mantelpiece one day and was so desperate, I told the photo, 'If you help us get a baby, I promise to name it after you!'. Two weeks later I was up the duff.

I told my husband I was sure my friend wouldn't really mind if we didn't name the baby after him, but he thinks it would be bad luck not to now. Besides, we like the name, and I hope if I have a son, he will grow up to be like his namesake (but with a longer life, please).

NameSeeker Thu 23-Jul-09 15:56:11

mamalazarou that's an excellent story! As long as you like the name, I think it's a lovely thing to do.

It's so sad-but-nice to know that so many others have made a similar decision after losing someone.

There are some really fantastic suggestions for names and websites here, I will explore them all.

Violetelizabeth the idea of calling the baby a name with an association to the name Helen is a great one too, especially for a boy. There are many literary Helens. Troy is quite a decent name actually...

Thanks to those who have said Helen is a beautiful name. She was a beautiful girl. nappyaddict I echo your sentiment that I'd be proud to have a child with not only a name linked to my sister, but also her wit, grace and kindness.

You are very lovely, it's making me tearful in a good way.

NameSeeker Thu 23-Jul-09 15:56:43

That last bit goes out to all of you btw.

violetismygirl Fri 24-Jul-09 16:14:29

Sorry I haven't read everyone's messages in this thread so I may be repeating what someone has suggested ...

How about using the name Lucy, Lucia or Lucinda - as they also mean 'light'.


mrsradders Fri 24-Jul-09 16:31:45

VioletElizabethBott i'm really sorry to hear about your mothers passing, i lost my dad last feb and my mum still behaves in some very odd (and out of charactor ways) so i can understand how your feeling.

It is hard choosong names when it is associated with a loss, my dad loved monty pyphon films so i would have loved to use the name monty for a boy (but alas i'm due another girl). xx

Woooozle100 Fri 24-Jul-09 16:37:52

Felt there was some expectation thus pressure on me to name ds after my db who died

loved the name, and sentiment - I also had reservations like yrs. However was no brainer with us as married surname meant that it would have been a nursery rhyme character and cockney rhyming slang

Scotia Fri 24-Jul-09 16:38:25

Nameseeker, my ds has my db's name (who was killed in an accident 30 years ago) as his middle name. I had the same dilemma as you, and I asked my parents first if they would mind if I used his name.

I am sorry about your little sister, and Helen is a beautiful name (it was also my granny's name and is dd's middle name too )

LovingtheSilverFox Fri 24-Jul-09 16:45:44

Helen is lovely, but my friend's niece has the greek version, Eleni, which I love.

DH is very against naming after family members, alive or gone. Which is a shame, his mother was Juliette, which I also like. I would love to name a possible son after my brother, who is a great uncle to my girls, and his name is now a little unusual. But his foot is firmly down on this one, although he hasn't ever given a real reason why.

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