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


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22 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

 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.  

   

This is something I can and have done with other people, but . . . not my sister.  It would just be extremely weird within our particular relationship. Plus, she knows what's going on in my daily life, she's going to know that I could actually make it, lol. Or that we could reschedule for practically any time, as we all live within a few miles. 

But if it would work for the OP, absolutely. 

 

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Your sister is being unreasonable.  

 

It would be as if I was trying to tell my sister that she couldn't have her DH around me for family events.  It's non-sensical.  

 

Your DD might be a child, but she is a person, and should still be treated as such.  Claiming that it's too painful to be around her puts your dd in the position of being an object that can be present or dismissed at will.  It's not appropriate for your sister to behave in such a manner.  

Edited by happysmileylady
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Within my family such a thing would be handled by a serious come to Jesus talk...

 

'Look, I cannot imagine what you are going through with this.  It must be the hardest thing you have ever had to do.  But, I cannot allow you to hurt my child this way.  She loves you and what you are doing is hurting her.  You are saying that her very existence is offensive to you...can you see how painful that would be for her?'

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Grief is weird. It hasn’t been that long so I would still be gentle with sis but I would stand firm to not exclude dd from celebrating with you and grandma and would start to incorporate her again into other events as well.

I’ve not lost a child but oldest ds is about to celebrate a birthday that my my baby brother never got to see and I’m having issues 21 years after his death. Ds is the oldest grandchild and I’m not the only one having a few issues with it. None of us are making it uncomfortable for ds though, but we’ve had 21 years to deal with it. Grief can just be such a strange thing for some. Hugs to you all!

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1 hour ago, Joker2 said:

Grief is weird. It hasn’t been that long so I would still be gentle with sis but I would stand firm to not exclude dd from celebrating with you and grandma and would start to incorporate her again into other events as well.

I’ve not lost a child but oldest ds is about to celebrate a birthday that my my baby brother never got to see and I’m having issues 21 years after his death. Ds is the oldest grandchild and I’m not the only one having a few issues with it. None of us are making it uncomfortable for ds though, but we’ve had 21 years to deal with it. Grief can just be such a strange thing for some. Hugs to you all!

Grief is certainly not linear. It can ebb and flow for years. 

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Because grief is irrational and weird as everyone is saying, I have trouble thinking that some of the somewhat firm boundary lines people are suggesting about this be put in place. I don't know what the right answer is. I totally agree with the overall sentiment that the sister is out of line to ask for this. But I can't imagine issuing any "dd comes or I don't come" style ultimatums or bowing out suddenly. If this was several years on, definitely. Or if the sister wasn't getting help. I don't think it's healthy to let the sister get away with really unreasonable asks like this either, but I think I'd push for a plan going forward and a commitment not to exclude dd moving forward rather than any specific outcome for this particular event. 

Hugs. What a difficult situation for all of you.

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Your obligation here is to your child, who is not only YOUR child but, in fact, still A child - everybody else here is apparently an adult.

Your sister needs to go to her therapist and ask for a referral specifically for grief counseling... and possibly for a psychiatrist, because she may benefit from medication. You may tell her that, once. If she doesn't take your advice, that's on her.

Your mother needs to inform your sister in no uncertain terms that while you all grieve with her, you are not going to exclude your twelve your old daughter from family events. If the pain is too strong, it is your sister who has to reschedule. If your mother is not willing to do that then you need to protect your child from the both of them, because this it not healthy for your daughter. And I would be very clear about this - either your child is included in all family events as she was before this tragedy, or you will be limiting contact with both of them.

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Today is my son's 35th birthday. My oldest and only boy. He died 3 1/2 years ago, suddenly. I could not imagine excluding family members from any event because they made me uncomfortable and brought up memories.

And believe me there was quite a bit happening the first year after his death.

My daughter had our first grandchild just 19 days later. I was in the delivery room even though it hit hard that my first had just died and I sobbed as I held that baby, not with joy, but with grief.

My oldest got married 10 months later. Stephen's picture was displayed on the seat next to me so he could be a part of the wedding. That was hard. It was hard turning from lighting the unity candle to see a picture of my son.

My youngest graduated from high school one day before the one year anniversary of his death. He was my first home school graduate. She, my last. His absence was definitely felt.

But through it all I grieved and celebrated. We all grieve, but we cannot exclude others from the life that goes on. 

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28 minutes ago, LinRTX said:

Today is my son's 35th birthday. My oldest and only boy. He died 3 1/2 years ago, suddenly. I could not imagine excluding family members from any event because they made me uncomfortable and brought up memories.

And believe me there was quite a bit happening the first year after his death.

My daughter had our first grandchild just 19 days later. I was in the delivery room even though it hit hard that my first had just died and I sobbed as I held that baby, not with joy, but with grief.

My oldest got married 10 months later. Stephen's picture was displayed on the seat next to me so he could be a part of the wedding. That was hard. It was hard turning from lighting the unity candle to see a picture of my son.

My youngest graduated from high school one day before the one year anniversary of his death. He was my first home school graduate. She, my last. His absence was definitely felt.

But through it all I grieved and celebrated. We all grieve, but we cannot exclude others from the life that goes on. 

I am so sorry for your loss.  ((((LinRTX)))))

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11 hours ago, Joker2 said:

we’ve had 21 years to deal with it.

I think those anniversaries are hard. My dh lost a sister (and now both his parents) and I swear every year before an anniversary/birthday of one of them I'm sensing his emotions go down, sigh. I have to be careful, because I just swoop along with it and then don't even realize what's happening. 

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1 hour ago, LinRTX said:

Today is my son's 35th birthday. My oldest and only boy. He died 3 1/2 years ago, suddenly. I could not imagine excluding family members from any event because they made me uncomfortable and brought up memories.

And believe me there was quite a bit happening the first year after his death.

My daughter had our first grandchild just 19 days later. I was in the delivery room even though it hit hard that my first had just died and I sobbed as I held that baby, not with joy, but with grief.

My oldest got married 10 months later. Stephen's picture was displayed on the seat next to me so he could be a part of the wedding. That was hard. It was hard turning from lighting the unity candle to see a picture of my son.

My youngest graduated from high school one day before the one year anniversary of his death. He was my first home school graduate. She, my last. His absence was definitely felt.

But through it all I grieved and celebrated. We all grieve, but we cannot exclude others from the life that goes on. 

I am so sorry for your loss.  Sending lots of hugs to you today. 

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No, it is not healthy to exclude your daughter from family events such as upcoming birthday.  Sister may invite whomever she pleases to her own get-togethers, but she is going a step too far when sister insists your daughter not attend event sister is attending.  Essentially your sister is trying to cut your daughter off from her beloved extended family.  That is a no go.

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I'm so sorry for your sister and your whole family's loss. Such a horrible thing to deal with. 

I think your solution sounds very kind and reasonable to all involved.  You certainly know your sis and your family best

Maybe when you feel the time is right, you can sit down with your sis and discuss how important it will be to her to focus on building relationships for the future, rather than hiding from them. The consequences of losing the potentially wonderful relationship with a niece in the future through her exclusionary actions now are quite real. Your dd is already noticing. It's much harder to repair a relationship and try to rebuild than it is to maintain what is already there. 

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19 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

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.    

Okay, while I agree that sister is out of line excluding your daughter from family events, and that you should protect your daughter, I don't agree that sister should only come if she is up to being joyful the whole time.  That's an unreasonable expectation, and it's not good for your sister to hide herself away from society and family until she can be joyful for extended periods, which could be literally YEARS.  I see a huge difference between skipping a church baby shower and family get togethers.  Family means nobody gets left behind, as we learned from Lilo and Stitch.  Your sister doesn't get left behind because of her grief.  Your daughter doesn't get excluded either.  

If it's too painful for your sister to see your daughter, then your whole family stays home.  

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I'd speak to sister and say that you understand this is very hard, but you are concerned that DD is picking up on it and don't want her feeling rejected in the midst of her grief. Would it maybe be best if you all just do thing totally different thing year, and she and your mom do something one day and you and DD do something another day?

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1 hour ago, Terabith said:

Okay, while I agree that sister is out of line excluding your daughter from family events, and that you should protect your daughter, I don't agree that sister should only come if she is up to being joyful the whole time.  That's an unreasonable expectation, and it's not good for your sister to hide herself away from society and family until she can be joyful for extended periods, which could be literally YEARS.  I see a huge difference between skipping a church baby shower and family get togethers.  Family means nobody gets left behind, as we learned from Lilo and Stitch.  Your sister doesn't get left behind because of her grief.  Your daughter doesn't get excluded either.  

If it's too painful for your sister to see your daughter, then your whole family stays home.  

This.  I have not lost a child to death but I have had loss that has literally knocked my to my knees for years. All I have ever known to do is to keep swimming.  Eventually I have learned, the pain dims and joy returns.  

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I also wouldn’t be as firm as some here because this is one of the many “firsts” she has to get through. She may be okay to celebrate with you and dd when grandmas birthday rolls around again next year but this first time may be too much for her. I still don’t think it’s ok to consistently be excluding your dd but I can understand her feeling like that for some things such as this birthday that’s always been just the girls. So, I agree that separate celebrations this year are probably the best way to go.

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4 hours ago, Terabith said:

Okay, while I agree that sister is out of line excluding your daughter from family events, and that you should protect your daughter, I don't agree that sister should only come if she is up to being joyful the whole time.  That's an unreasonable expectation, and it's not good for your sister to hide herself away from society and family until she can be joyful for extended periods, which could be literally YEARS.  I see a huge difference between skipping a church baby shower and family get togethers.  Family means nobody gets left behind, as we learned from Lilo and Stitch.  Your sister doesn't get left behind because of her grief.  Your daughter doesn't get excluded either.  

If it's too painful for your sister to see your daughter, then your whole family stays home.  

I thought that was said more a long the line of "don't take your grief out on dd." - which is totally appropriate. (because that's what she has been doing.)

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On 1/15/2021 at 6:34 PM, Quill said:

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. 

I am deeply sorry for your loss.  It just seems like I hear more often that people WANT to talk about the lost loved one more, but others are hesitant to bring them up and this leaves them feeling like their child is being forgotten.  I can't imagine anyone ever questioning that the mother's pain will always be in a whole other dimension.  I imagine that the daughter in question had a relationship with, and looked up to, her older cousin, but I am guessing here and could be wrong.  Cutting her out of this multi-generational gathering of women at a time when they're all grieving a tragic loss seems unhealthy for everyone.  If it was the aunt's birthday, I'd probably have a different opinion, but this seems like a yearly tradition for the grandmother's birthday.  Still, I just have theories, so I'll defer to your real life experience in this.

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24 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

I am deeply sorry for your loss.  It just seems like I hear more often that people WANT to talk about the lost loved one more, but others are hesitant to bring them up and this leaves them feeling like their child is being forgotten.  I can't imagine anyone ever questioning that the mother's pain will always be in a whole other dimension.   

I'm confused - how is the statement that is, basically,  "don't equate the grief of 2nd degree (or greater) relative equal to a 1st degree family member"? saying you can't talk about the deceased?

generally, it is healthy to remember positive things about those who have died.  Just - don't claim your grief is as great as their own.

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On 1/15/2021 at 9:32 PM, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

 assuming you're up to feeling joyful for Mom the whole time. 

I don't think that what OP's sister is asking is OK, but I wonder if she needs the opposite message from what's above, that you want to be together even if it's hard. 

I've really struggled with jealousy towards my sister in law who has three healthy kids.  I haven't stopped seeing them, they live a few blocks away, and we're together several times a week, but it's not always easy.  Some of it is jealousy, but some if it is that I want to protect her kids from my pain.  

One thing that has helped for me was that DH's family has been really clear that they want me there, even if I'm struggling, even if I come and go, even if I don't stay as long, even if I cry.  I needed to be explicitly told that, and I needed permission to be sad, and I needed the reassurance that my nieces would be supported if they were confused by seeing how sad I was. 

I also wonder if there's a way to structure this event so it's not so overwhelming.  A full day of togetherness is a lot, and it sounds like maybe this is even more than that?  Maybe the event needs to scale back, or maybe you need to build in breaks, that she can anticipate?  Even if it's as simple as starting later in the day, or planning to get take out vs. delivery so that you and your daughter have a natural break where you can go for a drive and you help her process and your sister can catch her breath.   Or maybe you and your daughter plan on cooking, so your sister can have some 1:1 time with your mom.  Or if you're planning an overnight, maybe plan to have your daughter go to sleep early, so you can have some adult time with your sister, where maybe she can be more honest about her feelings.  Or maybe you have other family members there, and not just the females, so it's less intense. 

Is there a way you can start the conversation by saying, "I can't imagine how hard this must be.  I also need to protect my daughter.  Instead of doing what we've done in the past, can we think of something that would be manageable that could include all of us?"  

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7 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

I am deeply sorry for your loss.  It just seems like I hear more often that people WANT to talk about the lost loved one more, but others are hesitant to bring them up and this leaves them feeling like their child is being forgotten.  I can't imagine anyone ever questioning that the mother's pain will always be in a whole other dimension.  I imagine that the daughter in question had a relationship with, and looked up to, her older cousin, but I am guessing here and could be wrong.  Cutting her out of this multi-generational gathering of women at a time when they're all grieving a tragic loss seems unhealthy for everyone.  If it was the aunt's birthday, I'd probably have a different opinion, but this seems like a yearly tradition for the grandmother's birthday.  Still, I just have theories, so I'll defer to your real life experience in this.

Usually, mothers do want to hear their child’s name spoken or memories about the child but I would imagine, a) this is too soon, and b) the memories of her child being a part of this celebration is too intense. (This is why I am wondering why the sister doesn’t just excuse herself from this tradition altogether, but it may be that she is trying to hold onto something “normal” in the midst of tremendous pain.)  I personally found it excruciating to be in any setting where family members were trying to carry out “normal” celebrations, i.e., Christmas, because there is a selfish facet to early stages of grief for many people - and this was true for me - that felt like, “How can anyone be happy? How can they smile and laugh and take pictures of the living granddaughter?” I genuinely wondered, for at least a few years, if I would ever feel joy again. 

My mother innocently asked me if I would go to her church’s Mother-Daughter Tea one year on May 6th, my daughter’s birthday/deathday. I am sure I took her head off. That date is like a glowing red siren in my mind and doing something mother-daughter was out of the question, but I was also (I know, it’s self-centered) galled that she didn’t realize it herself. To me it feels like that date should be a national holiday where everyone remembers not to be insensitive about babies, daughters or mother-daughter relationships. (I’m being facetious but, you know...it’s kind of true.) 

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8 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:


One thing that has helped for me was that DH's family has been really clear that they want me there, even if I'm struggling, even if I come and go, even if I don't stay as long, even if I cry.  I needed to be explicitly told that, and I needed permission to be sad, and I needed the reassurance that my nieces would be supported if they were confused by seeing how sad I was. 
 

It doesn't sound to me like the OP's sister is being denied permission to be sad in general. Opting out of the baby shower after my miscarriage wasn't denying myself permission to be sad.  The OP's sister can miss one of Mom's birthdays if she's so completely unreasonable that she doesn't want her own niece present because of her face, for heaven's sake.  When I was around people with their babies I was able to genuinely happy for them and genuinely sad that I lost 3 before I had a live birth all at the same time.  If I want it for myself, it's important to be glad for others who have it.  Not, "Why not me?" but "Hopefully I'm next," or "I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.  I'm glad those people with babies aren't going through this; the less misery in the world, the better."  Yes, I really did think that way.

I stand by my position that if sis can't be there are be joyful at her Mom's birthday (people can grieve their losses and be joyful for someone else's joyful celebration at the same time) then sis should bow out, continue her therapy, and try being around niece later when she's farther along in her grieving process and more functional.

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The OPs DD is only 12.  I still stand by my comment to have her back 150% over anything else in this situation.  That would be my priority.  I do understand how hard this whole situation is and I am really sorry for your family's loss!

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30 minutes ago, mlktwins said:

The OPs DD is only 12.  I still stand by my comment to have her back 150% over anything else in this situation.  That would be my priority.  I do understand how hard this whole situation is and I am really sorry for your family's loss!

It sounds like what OP's daughter wants and needs is to have family events with her aunt, who she loves and misses.  To have that relationship reestablished.  Simply changing the event from excluding one family member, to excluding the other doesn't accomplish that.  Figuring out an event that everyone can participate in, even if it's shorter, even if it's different, is a step in that direction.   

No one seems to be saying that the OP should just have the event proceed as is, with OP present and her daughter at home.  Everyone agrees that what the aunt is asking isn't OK.   But having the event and telling the aunt to stay home, isn't going to meet anyone's needs, including OP's daughter. 

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58 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

It sounds like what OP's daughter wants and needs is to have family events with her aunt, who she loves and misses.  To have that relationship reestablished.  Simply changing the event from excluding one family member, to excluding the other doesn't accomplish that.  Figuring out an event that everyone can participate in, even if it's shorter, even if it's different, is a step in that direction.   

No one seems to be saying that the OP should just have the event proceed as is, with OP present and her daughter at home.  Everyone agrees that what the aunt is asking isn't OK.   But having the event and telling the aunt to stay home, isn't going to meet anyone's needs, including OP's daughter. 

I agree with all of this, but my DD would trump everything else if this wasn't possible.  I actually feel bad for OPs mom also - to be caught in the middle.

I do understand grief.  While I didn't lose a child, and I literally cannot even fathom the heartache in that situation, I did lose my mom very tragically.  I have a dominate sister who decided we should not have anyone at the funeral but our small family and 2 relatives.  My mom was very sweet and had a lot of friends that would have been excluded.  We had to have an intervention (actually I did it because no one would stand up to her even though they thought my sister was wrong) to have the funeral mom deserved.  It was ugly.  She wanted it her way (and yes, she was grieving her way and didn't want to share the experience with anyone else) at the expense of the rest of the family and mom's friends.

I posted what I did because someone upthread said either everyone comes or no one comes.  I think that is super sad for the mom who's birthday they would be celebrating and who is also grieving.  If the sister is unable to be around the OP's DD, then I would still celebrate with the mom and DD.  The mom and DD should not be penalized.     

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The age difference between my two children is 9, so people ask me often how much the gap is since it is large. If I do not watch myself I still say 7 because in my mind, that is the time my son ceased to be an only child though that child is not living. Grief is like that, an ongoing curve, a part of your life as a mother even if others do not remember. My child barely drew breath but her brief life on this earth is as real to me as others who lived long like my grandparents. So I do understand the grief of the sister especially since it is fresh.

I am also the mother of a 4 year old little girl who resembled  her dead sister when she was born  so much so when people told me her sister was re-born I pushed hard against it because I wanted this living child to be treated as her own person. I refused to share names with her sister. But in the silence of my mind I sometimes see her dead sister as my little girl grows up into a person of her own with her personality, likes, dislikes  and wonder how that little girl would have turned out and if they would share traits or be different. My son does not remind me of her at all. 

The 12 year old daughter of the OP is an innocent girl who will remind her aunt and her family for the rest of her life during life milestones and even ordinary days or festival days just because she shares a resemblance. She is at a vulnerable age at it should not scar her and it will if somehow she is excluded because the aunt cannot bear to see her face, Unfortunately, I do understand that feeling too through experience. But the onus is on the aunt to find a healthy balance and the OP to protect her child meanwhile. I use the word protect because this little girl should not be made to feel bad for living because no explanation in this world would make her understand why she is excluded because aunt's grief is so much she cannot bear to look at her. It will scar her and an innocent child who is probably grieving herself will have an additional burden to bear, which in some ways she already does, the burden of reminding everyone of her cousin for the rest of her life. So the onus on the OP is to protect her child for she is the mother. She can be available in other ways to grieve with the sister, but the hard line for me is if the daughter can't go, the OP must not, sorry to say. They both can go and shorten the visit, go when the aunt is not there. But if the child is not invited, the mother must not go.

I wish there was a good solution to this, but grief sucks. Losing a child is losing a piece of yourself. but we cannot make innocent children pay the price in any way for it. Sorry if I have come across rough in any way.It means I lack the words and not intent. If you were sitting in front of me OP, I would hug you and say it with something warm and comforting to eat and drink while we both cried at the unfairness of having children die before their parents, ((Hugs))

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2 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

The 12 year old daughter of the OP is an innocent girl who will remind her aunt and her family for the rest of her life during life milestones and even ordinary days or festival days just because she shares a resemblance. She is at a vulnerable age at it should not scar her and it will if somehow she is excluded because the aunt cannot bear to see her face, Unfortunately, I do understand that feeling too through experience. But the onus is on the aunt to find a healthy balance and the OP to protect her child meanwhile. I use the word protect because this little girl should not be made to feel bad for living because no explanation in this world would make her understand why she is excluded because aunt's grief is so much she cannot bear to look at her. It will scar her and an innocent child who is probably grieving herself will have an additional burden to bear, which in some ways she already does, the burden of reminding everyone of her cousin for the rest of her life. So the onus on the OP is to protect her child for she is the mother. She can be available in other ways to grieve with the sister, but the hard line for me is if the daughter can't go, the OP must not, sorry to say. They both can go and shorten the visit, go when the aunt is not there. But if the child is not invited, the mother must not go.

 

Yes!  This is what I was wanting to say, but didn't do a good job of it at all!

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

It sounds like what OP's daughter wants and needs is to have family events with her aunt, who she loves and misses.  To have that relationship reestablished.  Simply changing the event from excluding one family member, to excluding the other doesn't accomplish that.  Figuring out an event that everyone can participate in, even if it's shorter, even if it's different, is a step in that direction.   

No one seems to be saying that the OP should just have the event proceed as is, with OP present and her daughter at home.  Everyone agrees that what the aunt is asking isn't OK.   But having the event and telling the aunt to stay home, isn't going to meet anyone's needs, including OP's daughter. 

I think the only person who WANTS to exclude anyone is OPs sister.  And it has only been suggested to have separate events to cater to the sister's grief so she doesn't see OP's dd.  No matter what - OP needs to explain this to her dd, because it will damage her to have her looks be used by her aunt as an excuse to exclude people. 

If aunt's not in specific grief counseling - she needs to be.  

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I don't think someone else's grief gets to override someone else's need to continue to live and create new memories. We've had unexpected losses including miscarriage.  And in the fog of grief, I did excuse myself from some events at times.  But I can't imagine denying a grandmother and granddaughter a chance to create a memory together?  None of us know how long we get on this earth.  I think it's especially odd the aunt will communicate with this child but not see her if I'm reading correctly?  I really hope the aunt is getting appropriate therapy.

As a parent, I would probably pull out and look for an opportunity to create a memory with grandma and the 12 year old.  I am not saying anyone's grief is more important than the parent's grief.  But as a mother of teens, I feel like helping them deal with the unexpected loss of a young person would be my priority.   If you were all very close, this has probably changed a lot about all of your worlds.   Kids can be perceptive and I might talk to her about it so it's not becoming the elephant in the room. 

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On 1/15/2021 at 3:28 PM, Katy said:

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.

This. I think your sister is being cruel. I would not allow her request.  
 

But.  People are often cruel when hurting.  I’d let these go and have a come to Jesus heart to heart with her. 
 

What I hear in this woman’s request is a desire to hide from her pain. And who would not want to do that?  Alas. That’s not ultimately helpful and rarely is it kind. 
 

So I’d tell her that no, I’m not going to exclude my daughter. Because we are family and we will move through this as a family.  What’s the worst that’s going to happen?  It will dredge memories?  That’s always going to happen at moments for the rest of their lives. And painful as it is now, in time, those memories will be preciously welcomed as it’s all that’s left. 
 

So she will what? Cry at seeing your daughter? Okay. She will cry. And that’s okay. It’s okay and even healthy to scream and cry and be angry and laugh - it is all grief.  And family is supposed to be there to share in that too. 
 

And you need to explain this all to your daughter too who likely doesn’t see that anyone could feel this way.  So she is aware and understanding and not feeling guilty or like it is personal.

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So sorry for the loss. 😢

Is it possible for you and 12yo DD to have a short visit with your sister in advance of the birthday party, so that a party would not be the first time of reconnecting visually with your DD? A short visit that she can prepare for in advance may help slightly lessen the "grief shock" of "first time of seeing 12yo niece who looks just like my now-deceased daughter". 

And totally agreeing with the suggestion upthread of restructuring the party in such a way as to:
1.) take stress off of the grieving mom (like, make the event short; someone else hosts; use take-out food; etc.)
2.) provide the grieving family members the support they need and the option of leaving early or stepping away for awhile as needed

Edited by Lori D.
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2 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

 

So she will what? Cry at seeing your daughter? Okay. She will cry. And that’s okay. It’s okay and even healthy to scream and cry and be angry and laugh - it is all grief.  And family is supposed to be there to share in that too. 

She may need to hear this directly.  I know I did. 

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There is so much great advice and wisdom here.  I'm so thankful. 

I'm really sorry that so many of you know what this is like for us, but hearing everyone's perspective is incredibly helpful and will move me towards healing and will allow me to understand better what's going on with my sister. 

My sister is in grief counseling.  I sincerely think she's doing her best to figure out her new life.  She & I have had conversations about how hard it is for her to be around my dd, and I'm willing to give my sister space and 'cover' for her temporarily while everything still feels so raw.  I wouldn't say to dd that her aunt doesn't want her around.  I would plan something fun for dd to do so she'd be too busy to attend the weekend.  Dd does know that her aunt is grieving and has been behaving differently in general.  I think this is ok in the short term.

This year, the birthday celebration will be different.  That much is clear to me now.  I'll go ahead with my plan to do something separate with  my mom and dd.  And my mom and sister can do something together.  Hopefully, these things will get easier as we figure out where my niece still fits in the family.  I think we will need to figure that out one day at a time.

@BaseballandHockey Thank you for sharing, especially.  You've been on my mind (even though I don't know you!).

@LinRTX (hugs) I thought my sister would behave the way you did.  Hopefully she will get there.  I think she's just stuck in the mire and muck of death and not looking around to see everyone else (including herself) who is still alive.  I don't judge her for that at all.  But I respect the way you didn't do that.

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2 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

What I hear in this woman’s request is a desire to hide from her pain. And who would not want to do that?  Alas. That’s not ultimately helpful and rarely is it kind.

I think this is absolutely what my sister is doing.  I think deep down she knows it's not helpful and it's not kind.  But at the same time, she's clearly not ready to face the pain.  She & I have talked about the fact that she is hiding from her pain and that she's doing things to distract herself from what is truly going on.   I think that's all she can manage at present.  She knows I'll be available when she's ready to be together with us again.  But she also knows we are going to live the days we still have.

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5 minutes ago, Random said:

This year, the birthday celebration will be different.  That much is clear to me now.  I'll go ahead with my plan to do something separate with  my mom and dd.  And my mom and sister can do something together.  Hopefully, these things will get easier as we figure out where my niece still fits in the family.  I think we will need to figure that out one day at a time.

 

Talk about her OP. Don't forget her. My biggest fear is that people will forget my child when she hardly lived. Most of her life was lived inside me and I remember her the most and DH. But we do things for her like we do our living children like doing an angel tree for a child who will be her age every year for instance. We thus keep her memory alive. 

Your niece lived for 19 years, she is a part of your family memories and will be remembered especially by your sister for the rest of her life in events especially connected to your daughter. So I am glad you are thinking of ways to figure out where your niece fits in. 

You come across as a loving, thoughtful sister, mother and daughter while you are grieving as an aunt yourself and so please be sure to take care of yourself too. 

Grief does get easier with time, but it also never goes away and it shows up most unexpectedly. But that is the price of love I feel. When you loved someone do deeply, it must affect us. But it also should not keep us from living our life. So I am glad your sister is getting help.

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3 hours ago, Random said:

There is so much great advice and wisdom here.  I'm so thankful. 

I'm really sorry that so many of you know what this is like for us, but hearing everyone's perspective is incredibly helpful and will move me towards healing and will allow me to understand better what's going on with my sister. 

My sister is in grief counseling.  I sincerely think she's doing her best to figure out her new life.  She & I have had conversations about how hard it is for her to be around my dd, and I'm willing to give my sister space and 'cover' for her temporarily while everything still feels so raw.  I wouldn't say to dd that her aunt doesn't want her around.  I would plan something fun for dd to do so she'd be too busy to attend the weekend.  Dd does know that her aunt is grieving and has been behaving differently in general.  I think this is ok in the short term.

 

you don't have to say her aunt doesn't want to look at her - I assure you, she has figured that out on her own.  Just because she hasn't said anything to you, doesn't mean she's not thinking it.

My paternal grandmother was so angry with my mother after my father died (I was 12) - she took back things she'd gifted to us, and refused to speak to any of us for a time afterwards.  Our relationship was NEVER the same as it was before.  Even though I was a tween/teen - it always felt tense from her.  She died five years later.

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On 1/15/2021 at 5:37 PM, prairiewindmomma said:

Let’s build a new tradition instead

I think this is what's likely to happen regardless of whether all the females get together. The old tradition will never be the same, so why not make a new one? Perhaps this year, it needs to include more people so dsister doesn't feel put on the spot.

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if she's in grief counseling - I'd be curious what her grief counselor says about her cutting off a 12 year old from standing family events because she looks like her deceased daughter.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Random changed the title to Updated! Can you help me decide if I'm being unreasonable? (warning: young person passing away)
On 1/26/2021 at 9:16 PM, school17777 said:

Op, this post was opened in my browser.  I have been thinking of you and your’s mom’s bday party.  What did you end up doing?

Thank you for thinking of us.  I finally have an update.

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I'm so glad you didn't have a confrontation with your sister.  I didn't comment earlier,  but I know that if it were me, I would not have been able to confront her in so much pain. I would have explained to DD and just let this year be an off year.  I cannot imagine the pain your sister is in, but it sounds like she is trying to work through it the best she can.  

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On 1/15/2021 at 3:25 PM, Random said:

I guess I'm glad we got the 'first' time over with.  I'm not sure if it was too soon. 

It wasn't. It would have been the 'first time' no matter when it happened, it would have been difficult no matter when it happened. 

I'm glad you were able to get together. 

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Thank you for the update.

I am happy you were able to get together. Also glad that the family could lean on each other while you process this unimaginable loss. May you always find comfort and eventually joy in each other's presence. 

((Hugs)). 

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Thank you for updating. You’re a good sister. 

When you say that, in time, the grief will become bearable - probably, it will, but I wouldn’t have any expectations about when that ought to be. It will probably take a lot longer than you imagine. I know moms in significant pain from the loss of a child ten years later. Everyone is different and people can have psychological complications that make “acceptance” harder than it seems to be for others. I don’t know if your sister is in that category or not, but just a thought I want to put out there for you. 

After the death of my baby, I would say it took 7 years before I approached something like “acceptance.” I think that is, shall we say, on the long side for a baby who died at birth, but I’m just putting that seed out there to say, don’t have a timeline. It could be a very long time. 

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