Wedding Etiquette Forum

NWR- What would you say?

Family friends of ours lost a twin about 18 months ago. We recently received an invitation to a memorial service for Twin A which is the 2nd birthday of the boys (the mother intends to have a memorial every birthday for the lost twin). We were instructed to bring a memory of Twin A, (I don't have any, he was in the NICU his entire life) and a toy to donate in memory of Twin A. We could wrap it so Twin B would have something to open, but a list of acceptable new toys for the hospital. Otherwise monetary donations would be acceptable but please do so in Twin A's name.

My daughter was playing with their older child (my child and this child are both 4) and my daughter started talking about birthdays. 'OC' asked me if DD got to keep her toys. OC explained that he doesn't get toys for his birthday, he is allowed to open them, but they all go to the hospital. I didn't know what to say to the kid except he's helping sick kids be happy. I was also instructed for my daughter's birthday at Build A Bear that OC could build one but please no sound, smells, etc in case it can be donated.

I could NEVER imagine losing my child, but how can I politely decline this invitation? And all future gift giving events? Or instead of a gift should I just make a monetary donation? Or just keep my mouth shut and let them grieve and process in their own way?

Re: NWR- What would you say?

  • Keep your mouth shut and let them grieve as they see fit. 
    ernursej
  • This is tough - you are not required to be there, but your presence might help with the grief. I would think about it from your friends perspective, would she be upset if you did not make it or would she understand? 
  • You can simply decline without saying anything else.

    FWIW, I have cousins who lost a 21 year old and a 7 year old to murder several years ago. I understand that everyone grieves differently but they are extremely unhealthy and I personally disagree with most of the things they do in memorial. I would never tell them that, but I do decline any and all invitations for their continued memorial events.

    Image result for someecard betting someone half your shit youll love them forever
    MesmrEweOliveOilsMomPrettyGirlLost
  • This is tough - you are not required to be there, but your presence might help with the grief. I would think about it from your friends perspective, would she be upset if you did not make it or would she understand? 
    I think it would cause an issue in the friendship like I'm doing this to be rude.
  • apwifey said:
    This is tough - you are not required to be there, but your presence might help with the grief. I would think about it from your friends perspective, would she be upset if you did not make it or would she understand? 
    I think it would cause an issue in the friendship like I'm doing this to be rude.
    If it were me - I would decline – if you don’t address this now, you might feel an obligation to go to all services moving forward. Everyone processes grief differently, so she should understand not everyone is going to feel comfortable with a memorial. 

  • Can you come up with a "valid" excuse? e.g. you have a family wedding or something that day? I hate lying to people, but I would be really uncomfortable going to this, and wouldn't want to stir up drama with someone who would cause issues over me missing a party. I'd imagine this party would make a lot of people uncomfortable and wouldn't be well attended, so maybe it's best to suck it up and just bring a gift. 

    I agree with you, this is really weird, and sounds really rough for the surviving children. I could see a 4 year old in this situation thinking that this means mom and dad loved the lost twin more than him/her. Still, unless this is a super close friend, it's probably not your place to step in. Are you close enough to suggest grief counselling? It sounds like this family could use it. 
    short+sassyahoyweddingOliveOilsMomPrettyGirlLost
  • ei34ei34 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    The loss is still fairly new. At some point the grieving parents may allow their surviving children to receive gifts (I hope?).  I’d wait another couple of years before saying something to them, and even then only if you’re super close.
    charlotte989875ahoyweddingshort+sassy
  • That's still such a fresh timeline and at that age, they may also feel like they have a ton of stuff for the other child.

    You don't have to go but eventually it's going to work out when the other twin starts to pick up that other kids get to keep their presents and have birthday parties where they're the center of attention and using their things.   

    I don't know that I think this is really healthy but I also think that unless the other child is truly missing something you should let it go. 
  • I'm curious, is the memorial for Twin A separate from any birthday parties/celebration for Twin B? If so I think my answer would differ. If they are memorializing Twin A and then also celebrating Twin B I'd probably go along with it, even if I didn't agree. People manage profound grief in different ways. 

    If there isn't anything for Twin B; I don't know, that's a lot harder. I think I'd just send something and decline attending because of "reasons" and use @flantastic's wording about thinking/praying for both of them. 

    One of my colleagues (were a close group) lost her son at 6 months, just a few months ago. We had a grief counselor come and talk to us about how to best support her when she returned to the office. One (of the many really important things she told us) was to let her grieve in her own way and come to us for what she needed as/when she needed it, but not to be afraid to talk to her about her son. She was (likely) always thinking about him so if it would be natural to talk about him, it was okay. Maybe this is your friends way of coming to people in her circle and remember Twin A the best way she knows how. You don't have to agree with it, or participate if you don't want, but try not to judge. 
    short+sassyOliveOilsMom
  • It’s not impolite to decline because you can’t make it. I would make a donation because I think that’s a good use of my money and just don’t go. 
    Casadenashort+sassyahoywedding
  • Jen4948Jen4948 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited May 2018
    If you want to decline, you can do so without having to give a reason beyond "Sadly, I have another commitment that day." They don't need to know that your commitment is to not attend a "memorial" for the deceased twin.

    I remember reading an advice column about a girl born on 9/11/01 whose family expected her to participate in everyone else's birthday celebrations while getting none of her own. The columnist agreed that this was an unfair expectation and suggested that she get some adult to advocate for her with her parents.

    I do not recommend that you do this, but the surviving children will probably appreciate whatever kindness his parents allow you to show them.
    MairePoppyahoyweddingOliveOilsMomPrettyGirlLost
  • edited May 2018
    Wow. That is a very sad mother and father who seem to be processing their grief in a way that is insensitive to their living children. If these kids were babies, they wouldn't know the difference, but the 4 year old? If these friends are close enough that you are their confidants, you might be in a position to help the 2 kids who also deserve to be celebrated. I like @flantastics suggestion to ask them about the effect the memorials and no birthdays might have on the other 2 kids. 

    If you're not close, then just say you can't make it. Don't offer an excuse. I would not get a gift for the children if I know they will not be able to keep them. Maybe you could arrange to take the kids out for ice cream? 
                       
    ahoyweddingshort+sassy
  • Could you send two gifts? One for twin A that gets donated and one for twin B to keep?
    MesmrEwesparklepants41ernursejnightnerd
  • I agree with doing 2 gifts: one that can be donated, and one (possibly personalised, with sounds etc) that cannot be donated. I would also put a very clear note saying, I hope toy X in A's name brings happiness to children at the hospital and that B enjoy's toy Y. 

    Also, I agree that as it is said, it is not healthy, but you are also talking to a 2 year old. They are notoriously unreliable. Children get so much crap, that I have friends who regularly go through their children's rooms to get rid/ donate things. You don't really know the whole story. I doubt this child sleeps in a bare room with no toys. It still isn't healthy, but there may be more to this story. 

    These are friends, going through a rough time. I would do it this once (it is still fairly new). Even if this continues to be unhealthy, maybe you could be a nice lifeline to this other child. 
    short+sassy
  • edited May 2018
    @LondonLisa The 4 year old child is the one who said he is allowed to open the gifts, but not allowed to keep them. Of course, 4 year olds aren't completely reliable. The mother also instructed apwifey not to let OC add scents to the bear he was building at her kid's birthday party because it would be donated to the hospital. That feels wrong to me. 

    I also think the friends should support this family in their way of grieving, whether they attend the memorial, send a donation or remember the parents with a note or phone call. If anyone is in the position to advocate for the other 2 kids, I hope they will.
                       
    OliveOilsMomMesmrEwePrettyGirlLost
  • The interesting thing to me is that assuming this kid is off to a standard classroom in a year or two, he's then going to see the birthday experience with other kids.   And at some point mom's going to have a kid come home asking questions.

    I'd hope that this is something that will work its way out because otherwise I'd just have so many concerns for the little guy.
    short+sassyahoyweddingMairePoppyPrettyGirlLost
  • @LondonLisa The 4 year old child is the one who said he is allowed to open the gifts, but not allowed to keep them. Of course, 4 year olds aren't completely reliable. The mother also instructed apwifey not to let OC add scents to the bear he was building at her kid's birthday party because it would be donated to the hospital. That feels wrong to me. 

    I also think the friends should support this family in their way of grieving, whether they attend the memorial, send a donation or remember the parents with a note or phone call. If anyone is in the position to advocate for the other 2 kids, I hope they will.
    I agree that it seems unhealthy. And the bear comment was strange. However, I DO wonder if the LW has noticed this child being neglected. I have been around my friends kids, who say things like "I never get presents and I don't love you" at their sibling's birthdays that are just categorically not true. It is shocking, but kids say it for attention. I am not saying that she should ignore this, or blame the child. But I just think that should be taken with grain of salt. 

    I think this is unhealthy, and they are not handling it well, but that is getting to Disney-villain level of evil. I just think that she should cut the family some slack, but also keep an eye on the situation for larger signs of neglect. 

    Children are unreliable narrators. I'm not saying don't believe them. But take what they say on board (not necessarily literally) and monitor the situation. Sometimes kids say shocking things when they are sad, or want attention. The LW can be a great help to this child by offering a safe space and support. 
    short+sassycharlotte989875MairePoppy
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