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Can you help me decide if I'm being unreasonable? (warning: young person passing away)


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First of all, my family is typically great.  There's minimal drama.  We cope well with each others' quirks and generally have good relationships.  No one is perfect, but we really are 'there' for each other and have each others' backs. 

Having said that...

My niece died tragically and unexpectedly at age 19 in May (not covid-related.)  My sister still wants me to exclude my daughter (age 12) from family events because it's too painful for her to be around my dd (she reminds her of the daughter she lost-they look alike).  We aren't doing much because of covid, but we do make the effort to see each other infrequently as safely as possible.

On one hand, my sister is experiencing the worst pain any parent can.  I can't begin to imagine how deep and profound her grief is.  My own grief is overwhelming.  I don't have any expectations for when or how my sister should/could heal from this.  I want to be respectful and not cause her more suffering. 

On the other hand, it's getting obvious to my dd that anything that includes her auntie (they are close, text regularly, talk sometimes) doesn't include her.

The event causing me to be upset:  It's my mom's bday and a weekend together is planned.  This would typically be mom, sister, me, niece, my dd (that is, all of the females in the family).  This time, my dd isn't invited because it's too sad for my sister to have her there.  We are all quite careful regarding covid and will also self-quarrantine for 14 days prior.  We will be at sister's house, eat in, spend time playing games, watching movies, crafting, etc.

Baggage/background that's making it harder for me: my sister is domineering and really has to run/control everything.  Generally, it's not a big deal to me and I don't mind allowing that to happen.  She has anxiety and it's ok with me for her to have things to control.  Typically I have healthy boundaries with her need to control and she respects them.  We can't agree this time.  This is, of course, a huge painful issue unlike anything we've had to work through before.

It's an option to for me to say I won't go if my dd isn't invited.  But I don't know if it's worth it.  My mom would prefer to celebrate with both of her daughters, not one.  My mom would also like my dd to attend, but my mom's generally pretty passive and she won't be the one to insist on anything. 

I think it's wrong for my sister to determine my dd can't attend our mom's birthday weekend.  But, am I being unreasonable?

 

(also, my kids have a lot of school work to do today on the computer.  We have one PC, so I won't be able to respond back until later.)

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Your sister is not being reasonable, she is being mean to your daughter. I would tell sister daughter is coming and she needs to suck it up.  I'm not even sure I'd be very polite about it.  She doesn't get to be awful and abusive to her niece because she is grieving. And this is abusive.

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You are not unreasonable. I am sorry about your niece, and that your sister is in so much pain - but I consider it unreasonable of her to dictate that the entire family has to cater to her grief. Demanding that your DD must not attend her grandmother's birthday is unreasonable.  Yes, she is grieving and it will take time, but this is her issue to deal with, and she shouldn't force the family into this situation.

Edited by regentrude
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7 minutes ago, Random said:

  It's my mom's bday and a weekend together is planned.  This would typically be mom, sister, me, niece, my dd (that is, all of the females in the family).  This time, my dd isn't invited because it's too sad for my sister to have her there.  We are all quite careful regarding covid and will also self-quarrantine for 14 days prior.  We will be at sister's house, eat in, spend time playing games, watching movies, crafting, etc.

Why is your MOTHER allowing this? She's the matriarch and she needs to say that it's HER EVENT and that she WANTS her grand dd there.

And no, if they don't invite your dd I would not go either. Cold day in hell on that. That's insane and frankly abusive. If that mom doesn't have it enough together to see other people, then let someone else host. 

But it's your mom who needs to say this. You can, but your mom MUST.

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 I'm sorry for her loss - but her exclusion is childish, and potentially very damaging to your daughter.   Your dd knows she was invited to these events before her cousin died.  12 year olds are far more observant than many people give them credit for being, she knows she's now being excluded.  Your relationship with her, comes before your relationship with your sister.   

I would send my regrets, and refuse to go.  If you mother asks - I'd tell her the reason why.  This isn't something that should be an elephant in the room.

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I am so sorry for the loss of your niece, but want to add that it is not ok to not invite your DD.  I would not attend if DD could not attend.  Your DD and her feelings (and she is 12, but is realizing what is happening), would 100% be my priority.  I wouldn't even make a big deal about.  Just sorry, we aren't able to come.  If your mom want YOU there, she needs to stand up and say your DD is coming.  It does suck for your mom to be in this position though -- on her birthday.  Again, I am sorry for your family's loss :-(. 

 

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If your sister is hosting at her own house, I think it is within her rights to include or exclude whomever she wants. I would start out saying that. However, it is within your right to not attend. 
 

If it was my sister, I would tell her that I understand her grief and I’m always just a phone call away if she needs to talk. I also understand how anniversaries and birthday celebrations bring the grief rushing back to the forefront and there are absolutely no hard feelings if she wants to celebrate with your mom without you and your daughter, but you and your daughter will both be ready to attend again when sister feels strong enough to include you both. 
 

Maybe you and your daughter can have a separate little time with your mom. 

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I lost a friend who couldn’t be around me when I had twins while she battled infertility.

It is really changed on my side based on how she acted.  I didn’t think it was very nice to me.

I think maybe this is how the sister feels and will choose to act, but maybe you can say — hey, your dd is an age where this is going to be hard to make up if she is excluded or if they just grow apart from a lack of interest.  And your dd naturally may have hurt feelings.

Can you say this to your sister?  Is this possible?

It might just be the outcome, but — it would be worth it to bring it up to her, maybe?  Because she is the one who will miss out on knowing and having a relationship with your daughter.

I don’t know what I would do.  I think it would depend on if dd would have hurt feelings and truly miss out on time with her grandmother..... or if dd would be fine, and sister would be the main one to miss out.  If there is time spent between dd and grandmother, and her feelings won’t be hurt, maybe it’s okay.  
 

But if her feelings would be hurt, I think a dd’s feelings have to come ahead of a mother or adult sister.  Especially at this age. 

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{{{}}}} I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

Grief makes us do unreasonable things and want unreasonable things. She is being unreasonable, yes.

The perspective of your daughter: she lost her cousin, someone she loved and was close to. Now for her, it must feel like she is losing her aunt because she isn't allowed to see her, and in a way her family, because she is not allowed to take parts of events. Her grief is different from your sister's, but it is no less real, and she is much younger and unused to such emotions; it is not fair to compound her grief with punishment for her looks.

I think you need to grieve with your sister as much as she needs, but you need to protect your daughter from more fallout. Grieving with your sister does not mean giving in to wrong requests.

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I agree with the other posters.  

I am so, so sorry about your niece.  I can't imagine the devastation for your family.  

However, at this point, I would draw a firm boundary.  Yes, your sister lost a child.  But you lost a niece, your mom lost a granddaughter, your daughter lost a cousin.  And now she is losing an aunt who will not associate with her.  In your situation, I would tell your sister that your family is a unit and from here on out you will attend events together or not at all.  You might need to be very upfront about how this is hurting your daughter and be prepared for her to compare that to her grief.  No, it does not compare, but that doesn't make it right for her to do this.  If your sister is in this much pain seeing your daughter, she is the one that needs to stay home.  It is really unreasonable and hurtful for her to ask you to keep your daughter home.  In this particular scenario with your mom's birthday, if you are going to decline, I would talk to your mom first and let her know your plans.  Maybe she will end up drawing the boundary with your sister after all. 

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Oh gosh, I can imagine how horrible that is. But if your sister is having a hard time, she needs to disinvite herself, not ask that your daughter not come. That’s how I’ve been handling triggering events like showers and birthdays. My grief is my responsibility, nobody else’s. And that’s exactly what I’d say to your sister - she can make her choices, but your daughter is coming because she is family. And those sorts of hurts just have to be navigated, it’s one of the many crappy parts of grieving.

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26 minutes ago, Random said:

On the other hand, it's getting obvious to my dd that anything that includes her auntie (they are close, text regularly, talk sometimes) doesn't include her.

Didn't read the other replies yet, but you're saying the aunt with the crazy demand is normally close to your DD? If so, I would wonder if it's not truly about your DD's appearance but perhaps your sister is afraid she'll lose your DD?

Just mentioning in case such an idea leads to a solution.

Your sister can suck an egg, as they say. Your DD should be included in family events.

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I agree with everyone else.  Your sister is being really unfair.  Her pain is unimaginable but she is taking it out on an innocent child.  Put a stop to that now.  Your daughter is being punished for something that is not her fault.   Your daughter and her feelings are your first priority.   I am very sorry for your loss.

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One other suggestion - If your sister is determined to cut people out of her life because of her grief - she is in desperate need to grief counseling with a professional.

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I wonder if your sister has worked this up to be a bigger deal than it actually would be? Like, I can see it being extra painful the first time they are together, and the longer this avoidance goes on, the harder that first time will be. I can see being very conflicted, wanting to see my niece but worried I'd feel sad instead of happy, becoming more anxious over time rather than less.  I think it will be less bad than she fears, and you'd do her, your daughter, and yourself a disservice if you continue going along with it. Not that you have to be mean about it, of course, and you should probably warn your daughter her aunt is having a hard time and not to take anything personally.

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35 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

 I'm sorry for her loss - but her exclusion is childish, and potentially very damaging to your daughter.   Your dd knows she was invited to these events before her cousin died.  12 year olds are far more observant than many people give them credit for being, she knows she's now being excluded.  Your relationship with her, comes before your relationship with your sister.   

I would send my regrets, and refuse to go.  If you mother asks - I'd tell her the reason why.  This isn't something that should be an elephant in the room.

Agree, your relationship with your dd comes before your relationship with your sister. Show dd your loyalty. 
 

I do agree that your mom needs to speak up. 

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34 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

As a person who lost a child, I cannot imagine making that kind of ask. That’s not ok.

This. So much this.

I am a person who lost a child too and absolutely cannot imagine making that ask. 

Being kind and understanding towards your sister who is in grief, does not mean you let that influence her actions towards your own vulnerable daughter. Protect your daughter her and stand up for her please because she is being marginalized for no fault of hers . You are not been unreasonable at all. 

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21 minutes ago, SKL said:

Is there any way you and your dd could go at a different time from your sister?

It sounds like her sister is hosting this particular birthday event that all the female relatives would normally attend. 

OP, you are not being unreasonable. I would work hard to come up with the best way to say it, but I would not attend without my daughter. My personal viewpoint would be that I'm sorry if that hurts my mom, but I have a bigger duty to not hurt my daughter - and I think this is extremely hurtful, so much so that I think your daughter needs to know what is going on. Kids can conjure up nightmares worse than any truth when left in the dark. 

I would possibly come up with an excuse to not attend, it's not like I love difficult confrontations, but I would not attend. 

I would probably talk to a tele-therapist for some advice on the healthiest way to address this with both your daughter and your sister. I'm talking about probably just a couple of sessions, to help with wording and be confident. Hitting on the right and loving words can make difficult things much easier to say. 

Edited by katilac
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2 minutes ago, katilac said:

It sounds like her sister is hosting this particular birthday event that all the female relatives would normally attend. 

OP, you are not being unreasonable. I would work hard to come up with the best way to say it, but I would not attend without my daughter. My personal viewpoint would be that I'm sorry if that hurts my mom, but I have a bigger duty to not hurt my daughter - and I think this is extremely hurtful, so much so that I think your daughter needs to know what is going on. Kids can conjure up nightmares worse than any truth when left in the dark. 

I would possibly come up with an excuse to not attend, it's not like I love difficult confrontations, but I would not attend. 

I would probably talk to a tele-therapist for some advice on the healthiest way to address this with both your daughter and your sister. I'm talking about probably just a couple of sessions, to help with wording and be confident. Hitting on the right and loving words can make difficult things much easier to say. 

I totally agree with the bolded!  I would tell her what is going on and explain that it has NOTHING to do with her.  It has everything to do with your sister's grief and that everyone reacts to grief in different ways.  And...tell her that you will not be attending if she isn't able to come.  It is so important at that age.

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1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

As a person who lost a child, I cannot imagine making that kind of ask. That’s not ok.

Same.

If you can't or don't want to deal with people, *you* stay home. You certainly don't treat a child that way.

The best way for your sister to deal with her grief is to invest in your daughter so she can grow up to do all the things her cousin didn't get to do. It may not be what your sister *wants* to do and she may not be *able* to do it yet, but that's what she needs to aim for, for the health of everyone in the family.

Losing a child might be the second worst thing that ever happened to me, but I am not the only person it has ever happened to and I don't get to behave like I am. Especially towards a child, and a child I've always been particularly attentive to.

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I agree with everyone else.  There is no way I would attend this, or any other family event, if my daughter was excluded.

If it’s an obvious adults-only event, sure, but an event that she’s been invited to in the past?  No way.

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Hugs. I remember how it felt to see my nieces & nephews after my miscarriages, but I can only imagine the grief your sister is enduring.

I do wonder if your DD' s presence could actually be healing long-term (along with professional counseling). She might not realize it now. Perhaps you can help her realize that ... and how your family is losing precious time with your DD.

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29 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

I would possibly come up with an excuse to not attend, 

I'm one who is against excuses.  either say nothing, Simply - *we* won't be able to attend.  "why can't you come?"  "because *we* can't."   

Or be truthful.

if your sister asks why - I would be upfront in a spirit of concern j- and bluntness -  "because you are taking your grief out on a 12 year old girl.  I believe you would benefit from professional grief counseling."   If your mother asks why "because you sister is going out of her way to exclude your dd to things to which she was invited in the past.  Sister would benefit from professional grief counseling."

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1 hour ago, TAFKAPastry said:

Oh gosh, I can imagine how horrible that is. But if your sister is having a hard time, she needs to disinvite herself, not ask that your daughter not come. That’s how I’ve been handling triggering events like showers and birthdays. My grief is my responsibility, nobody else’s. And that’s exactly what I’d say to your sister - she can make her choices, but your daughter is coming because she is family. And those sorts of hurts just have to be navigated, it’s one of the many crappy parts of grieving.

This is what I think. 

I actually *do* understand the sister feeling she can’t be around the OP’s dd right now, but I think it needs to be on her to not do events that are triggering. 

When my baby died, my SIL had a baby thirteen hours before my baby was stillborn. And my other SIL had a baby five months later. There were many things I had to excuse myself from, notably first birthdays for the babies. 

The crappy thing that happened to me was that one of my SILs (not either of the two who actually had the other babies) was angry at me for excusing myself from those events and “ignoring” the other babies when they were around. That relationship did not survive, because I felt that this SIL wanted me to just snap my fingers and be okay. I felt that I was not given room to grieve.

To the OP I would say this, though: your dd’s relationship with her aunt will change regardless of whether she goes/doesn’t go to this birthday party. Your sister, I’m guessing, will for years to come, maybe forever, witness your daughter doing and being all the things her daughter did not get to do. It will no doubt be a thousand stabs in her heart. 

Let me share something: there used to be a children’s clothing catalog which sold absolutely gorgeous Christmas outfits and I always had this fantasy about buying matching outfits for my dd and her little sister, should she have a little sister. Well, she did have a little sister, but she died. Then one day after my SIL had had her baby, she casually asked me, “Hey, do you have one of those Wooden Soldier catalogs laying around? I want to get Christmas outfits out of there for my kids.” I am telling you, I almost passed out. It was such awful pain. Such a small thing, but so terrible that I had no need for those matching outfits but she did. 

Even if your sister were being totally reasonable, there are bound to be a multitude of similar moments. I do think it is her grief to manage and she can’t dictate your daughter’s existence, but i can see why she would want that, especially if she is a bit demanding by nature. I do think there is a place for having a conversation but honestly, it’s probably too recent to hope for reasonableness. Grief is unreasonable. I was actively trying to not be a jerk but I think I missed sometimes. 

What happened will change the family relationships and dynamics. It practically always does. 

I am so very sorry. 

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I'd stay home with my daughter and plan our own celebration with my mother.  It's at your sister's house, so I wouldn't just bring DD anyway.  I would be devastated for my sister, but I wouldn't allow her to hurt my daughter because she is grieving.  You are ALL grieving.  The niece's name will come up and your daughter deserves to be part of this remembering/healing.  To lose her cousin and her aunt and her family tradition all at once is tough for a 12-year-old.  I'd tell my sister that we ALL lost DN and we should be together to remember and heal.

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((Random))   

Tell your sister that all of you are grieving and would like to continue the family tradition of celebrating your mom's birthday together.  If she can't handle it, let her know that you and your dd are a team - either both of you come, or both of you will have to visit your mom at her own home or at yours another time.  Then, set up something with just your mom and daughter. 

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5 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

I'd stay home with my daughter and plan our own celebration with my mother.  It's at your sister's house, so I wouldn't just bring DD anyway.  I would be devastated for my sister, but I wouldn't allow her to hurt my daughter because she is grieving.  You are ALL grieving.  The niece's name will come up and your daughter deserves to be part of this remembering/healing.  To lose her cousin and her aunt and her family tradition all at once is tough for a 12-year-old.  I'd tell my sister that we ALL lost DN and we should be together to remember and heal.

Personally, I don’t recommend that statement. My bitchy SIL said this to me: “Well, I lost my niece, too...” and...it didn’t sit well with me, for sure. It is dismissive of the tremendous grief of losing one’s child. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I don’t think the OP needs to bow to her sister’s unreasonableness, but I also don’t think she should lay claim to grief as if it is equal in scope. 

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If you have to have a conversation, I think I would maybe put words to what your sister may not have even consciously thought:

I understand that you are afraid that you can’t handle your grief in losing (her daughter) if you see (my daughter) because (my daughter) looks so similar to (your daughter). I know you must think of your daughter often—I think of her so much as well.

My daughter is so hurt that you are rejecting her. She didn’t do anything wrong and yet she has lost not only her cousin but her aunt. 
 

If you aren’t up to the traditional party this year, I understand. Let’s build a new tradition instead...but if you choose not to invite (my daughter), I won’t be attending.

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I’m a little surprised that she talks and texts w your Dd but won’t see her in person. 
Agreeing w the others- I wouldn’t attend without Dd. She’s 12, and has done nothing wrong. In her mind, she might think she’ll NEVER get invited to family events. How awful for a 12 year old who is also grieving.

I’m sorry. Hope you can find a way to make her understand without upsetting her. 

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2 minutes ago, Annie G said:

I’m a little surprised that she talks and texts w your Dd but won’t see her in person. 

I sound like my mom but look very alike my maternal cousin that is 8 years older.  While OP’s sister is being unreasonable, I can understand how someone can talk and text a person but not see the person in person (or in photos). 
 

Since OP’s sister is hosting, it would likely be better for OP to not attend and just have a separate birthday celebration for her mom with her daughter. 
 

If OP’ sister does not mind OP hosting instead, at least her sister can leave if she gets upset.

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12 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

I sound like my mom but look very alike my maternal cousin that is 8 years older.  While OP’s sister is being unreasonable, I can understand how someone can talk and text a person but not see the person in person (or in photos). 
 

I think I am a more visual person - when I’m talking to someone or even thinking about them, I see them in my head. So I figured hearing her niece would remind her of her daughter.  (Hear niece, see her in her head, remember how much she resembles her daughter)

Glad OP’s niece can at least text her aunt- hopefully it helps her not feel discarded. 

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2 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

I'm one who is against excuses.  either say nothing, Simply - *we* won't be able to attend.  "why can't you come?"  "because *we* can't."   

Or be truthful.

I am theoretically against excuses, but I don't always live up to my ideal. If I felt that talking to my sister and mom would result in disaster, or them getting so upset that I might feel backed into a corner, well, I'd look at an excuse as at least an improvement over going. The genuine and devastating grief of her sister does complicate things. 

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This is really horrible.  I am so sorry.

What if you offered to host this year, on the grounds that it’s obviously too much for your sister at this time of raw grief?  Then she can come or not as she chooses.  I agree that it would be very rough on your daughter if you went and she was not allowed to attend.  I would not go on that basis.

Honestly, I see this as grief mixed with a little bit of misery loves company.  I hope I am wrong, but I have this one relative who gets very jealous when others in the family have something nice happen that she did not have, and in this situation that would be in the mix.  I wonder whether she would be nice to your DD in person, and indeed whether she is being nice over text/email right now.  I’d be watching out for that a bit.

Another story:  I have a brother with the same name as a distant but known to us cousin.  The cousin died horribly (he had had polio, and had crippled legs, but owned a little plane that he could work the controls of with his hands, and he was going to fly his mother somewhere, and was killed in front of her trying to free up the propeller which wasn’t starting to turn), and his mother took me aside at my wedding and told me that whole story, which I had not heard, and said that she had had to work hard to come to the wedding since my brother has the same name as her son.  My brother and her son did not look at all alike, and the two sides of the family had very little to do with each other over the years.  I wasn’t sure I was even hearing her right when she told me this story, and it made me feel just awful that it had happened, that I had not known about it, and that it was described to me in detail during my wedding reception.  Sometimes a little distance is just the thing.  I don’t think that this elderly cousin should have come at all if she was going to do that. And I’d want to be pretty sure that your daughter was not going to be treated that way if you both did attend.

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4 hours ago, Random said:

This would typically be mom, sister, me, niece, my dd (that is, all of the females in the family). 

4 hours ago, Random said:

We will be at sister's house, eat in, spend time playing games, watching movies, crafting, etc.

I missed these details the first time I read it. My heart goes out to you and your family. What a hard situation to be in. I think this year calls for a break in tradition and celebrating separately OR with more family all together, rallying around your mom to celebrate her on her day—not just the females as it was before. If just your niece is missing, how gut wrenching. I don’t think leaving out your daughter will make the day any easier for anyone. I’m so sorry. 

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Thank you so much, everyone, for the kind words and condolences.  Those kinds of acts of compassion have been healing. 

Instead of quoting all the things, I'll try to sum up. 

My sister is in counseling, and is doing her best to process her grief.  I've had open and honest conversations with her and our mom about how her stance on this makes me feel.  I haven't told dd that auntie feels this way, but we have talked about how grief has made auntie need to make different social choices to keep herself from being overwhelmed by her pain.  DD seems to be ok with that, and does understand that it's just hard for auntie.

I really appreciate the thoughtful words you guys shared.  The whole situation is super sad.  My niece was one of those really sweet young women who was far too alive and lively to die.  Seven months out, I feel like the shock is just starting to wear off.   I'll realize I can't text her or our private jokes are lost now forever.  I'll hear a song while I'm shopping and start sobbing in the store.  I'll hug my dd and notice her body is warm and alive...things I never used to notice and totally took for granted.  I said that to say I want to be compassionate, since as sad as I am, I can only imagine my sister's sadness.

My sister will talk and text with her her dd's friends.  She'll talk and text with my dd.  For her own reasons (that I don't know), she's drawing the line at being together. 

I think my best course of action is to tell my mom & sister to have their own celebration and to then have another celebration with my dd and mom. 

Again, thanks for talking this out with me.  I'm very sorry for the losses represented here.  It's a challenging thing to carry. 

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

To the OP I would say this, though: your dd’s relationship with her aunt will change regardless of whether she goes/doesn’t go to this birthday party. Your sister, I’m guessing, will for years to come, maybe forever, witness your daughter doing and being all the things her daughter did not get to do. It will no doubt be a thousand stabs in her heart. 

 

I just wanted to quote this...this is exactly what I'm afraid of.  It's so unfair for me to still have my sweet daughter but my sister doesn't have hers, and I can see how this will be a thousand stabs in all our hearts for ever.  Especially as my dd gets closer to and then passes age 19.  They are (were) the only two girls for that generation in our family.  The rest are boys.  I am so thankful to still have my dd.  I can see how survivor's guilt is a thing.  I 'm so thankful to have my girl still with me.  But it's hard to allow that thankfulness when I know my sister is suffering so much.

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

Personally, I don’t recommend that statement.  (The "we're all grieving".)   My bitchy SIL said this to me: “Well, I lost my niece, too...” and...it didn’t sit well with me, for sure. It is dismissive of the tremendous grief of losing one’s child. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I don’t think the OP needs to bow to her sister’s unreasonableness, but I also don’t think she should lay claim to grief as if it is equal in scope. 

I'm glad you said this - I was thinking the same thing.  No - their grief isn't the same, and it's a presumptive comment at best.  
After my mother died, I was talking to the wife of my father's BFF (since at least college.).  My father committed suicide when I was 12.  She commented how devastated her dh had been when my dad died - and several decades later -I was still rendered speechless by the comment.  At the time of his death, all the adults pretty much ignored me and my grief - and it felt like that all over again.  

20 minutes ago, katilac said:

I am theoretically against excuses, but I don't always live up to my ideal. If I felt that talking to my sister and mom would result in disaster, or them getting so upset that I might feel backed into a corner, well, I'd look at an excuse as at least an improvement over going. The genuine and devastating grief of her sister does complicate things. 

It can be handled without making up an excuse.  a simple "we can't make it."   why?  because we can't make it.  rinse repeat.  

7 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

 

Another story:  I have a brother with the same name as a distant but known to us cousin.    and his mother took me aside at my wedding and told me   that she had had to work hard to come to the wedding since my brother has the same name as her son.    I don’t think that this elderly cousin should have come at all if she was going to do that.  

My mother had a male friend whom I intensely (did I say intensely?) disliked.  Oh let's be blunt. He gave me the creeps. Because of her choices - I was forced to be around him at least a few times every week.  Then I met dh - oh, they have an extremely similar last name. (Now my last name.)  Oh - dh's bff and mother's male friend have the same first name - oh - dh bought property in the same neighborhood as mother's male friend . . . . and was at that time working with a builder to build a house there . .  . . having any relationship with dh - let alone marrying him - meant constant reminders of everything mother's male friend represented.  Before we were even dating,  I could have easily said - I don't want to be reminded of that man and dumped dh.

I persevered and stuck it out.  Now the names are associated with good memories, and not the creep.

 If she's this uncomfortable being around her niece - she should be removing herself (and grief counseling) - not demanding other people remove themselves.  I would be concerned the longer this goes on, the harder it will be to move past the resemblance.    

 

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6 minutes ago, Random said:

I just wanted to quote this...this is exactly what I'm afraid of.  It's so unfair for me to still have my sweet daughter but my sister doesn't have hers, and I can see how this will be a thousand stabs in all our hearts for ever.  Especially as my dd gets closer to and then passes age 19.  They are (were) the only two girls for that generation in our family.  The rest are boys.  I am so thankful to still have my dd.  I can see how survivor's guilt is a thing.  I 'm so thankful to have my girl still with me.  But it's hard to allow that thankfulness when I know my sister is suffering so much.

fairness or unfairness do not come into play in this.  it just "is".

putting it in terms of fairness or not - is manipulative to make someone feel "guilty" for having something someone else doesn't.   Don't go down that road - it doesn't go anywhere good.

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1 minute ago, gardenmom5 said:

fairness or unfairness do not come into play in this.  it just "is".

putting it in terms of fairness or not - is manipulative to make someone feel "guilty" for having something someone else doesn't.   Don't go down that road - it doesn't go anywhere good.

I needed that reminder.  Thanks.

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You and daughter should celebrate Granny's b-day as you usually do and invite grieving sister with something like, "We'd love for you to join me and daughter as usual for Mom's birthday, assuming you're up to feeling joyful for Mom the whole time. If not, we completely understand you skipping it this year while you grieve.  You can celebrate with Mom on your own timetable in your own way."  ETA: Obviously not at Sister's house if that's been the norm.

I had one of my miscarriages a week before a baby shower at church.  I wasn't completely sure I could be there and be pleasant the whole time, I was worried I might cry or get choked up, so I stayed home and sent a gift and card with my mother who was also invited to the event.  My grief shouldn't have overshadowed anyone else's celebration.    

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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51 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

I wasn’t sure I was even hearing her right when she told me this story, and it made me feel just awful that it had happened, that I had not known about it, and that it was described to me in detail during my wedding reception.   

Wow, what was she thinking? 

23 minutes ago, Random said:

I just wanted to quote this...this is exactly what I'm afraid of.  It's so unfair for me to still have my sweet daughter but my sister doesn't have hers, and I can see how this will be a thousand stabs in all our hearts for ever.  Especially as my dd gets closer to and then passes age 19.  They are (were) the only two girls for that generation in our family.  The rest are boys.  I am so thankful to still have my dd.  I can see how survivor's guilt is a thing.  I 'm so thankful to have my girl still with me.  But it's hard to allow that thankfulness when I know my sister is suffering so much.

It can go the other way, too. One of my sisters died young - not as young as the OP's niece, but young, when my dds were just preschoolers. One of those dds looks like that sister. She's looked like her at every stage of her life, to the extent that we hear it frequently from many people, even more than 15 years later. To my parents, that has been a tremendous comfort. They love that she looks like their lost daughter, they love that she reminds them of her. They love remembering their relationship and how my sister doted on her (all the kids). 

I just wanted you to know that your daughter, in time, may be of great comfort to your sister. 

 

Edited by katilac
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11 minutes ago, Random said:

I just wanted to quote this...this is exactly what I'm afraid of.  It's so unfair for me to still have my sweet daughter but my sister doesn't have hers, and I can see how this will be a thousand stabs in all our hearts for ever.  Especially as my dd gets closer to and then passes age 19.  They are (were) the only two girls for that generation in our family.  The rest are boys.  I am so thankful to still have my dd.  I can see how survivor's guilt is a thing.  I 'm so thankful to have my girl still with me.  But it's hard to allow that thankfulness when I know my sister is suffering so much.

It is. There’s no redeeming factor in the death of a child. It is extremely testing of every close relationship. 

Might I suggest that it’s not something you need to fear. You can’t prevent the agony she will go through. You can’t make it so that she won’t feel those thousands of stabs. In your OP, I can understand (I don’t think it’s rational, but emotionally, I can understand it) why she would think the “solution” is to not see your daughter existing while her daughter is no longer here. But even if you capitulated, say, just for this one event, it’s not going to solve the problem. Frankly, I can’t imagine how she can even participate in something from the “before-times” and even hope it will be normal. It’s not normal; an unspeakable loss has come into your family. I think it’s better to not even attempt those things in the first year. But yes, there will be all the things and you may feel like, “How can I share my daughter’s prom pictures with her?” And she may possibly think, “God, how can she share her daughter’s prom pictures with me.” That may happen. But you aren’t going to be able to not have it hurt for her. Because it’s just the saddest thing. 

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