Post # 1
I have a very sad Christmas Card scenario here and I was wondering if I could get the hive to weigh in.
A few weeks ago my cousin gave birth to a baby girl who only lived for about 9 hours due to a congenital heart defect. It’s an absolutely terrible and heartbreaking situation- they found out about 25 weeks in and they also have a 4 year old daughter who obviously knew her mom was having a baby. I can’t imagine trying to keep things as normal possible for your child while you’re going through such a terrible emotional and physical struggle. They’re the most wonderful people, I still can’t believe this happened to them.
I didn’t send a sympathy card, nor did my parents- as this is such a tragedy that we didn’t think a card would suffice. It would almost seem too normal and too “light” for the situation. I don’t know how to explain it. And I don’t know if that was the right choice, either.
I’m filling out my holiday cards right now and sending one to everyone in my extended family (Aunts/Uncles, Cousins, etc). I’m wondering if it is appropriate to send them one and if so what should it say? I couldn’t bear to write the standard “Wishing you a beautiful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!”- it seems so innapropriate considering the circumstances. But at the same time I wouldn’t want to leave them off of my list while all of our other cousins recieve a card.
My mom suggested to pick a card that doesn’t have anything terribly cherry on it and to just write “we love you!” in it. We don’t want to mention anything about the loss in it.
Any other suggestions? Thanks in advance
Post # 4
@September29: I dont think I would ever mention sympathy in a holiday card because it just does not seem appropriate. If you want to send sympathy and well wishes then send that type of a card with that sentiment, in a separate envelope.
Sending a holiday card that is cheery is perfectly OK and not tacky. Actually trying to get the family back to normalcy is probably the best thing to do. Include them in every day stuff, cheery, sad, whatever have you. A lot of people in mourning, do not like to be treated differently- it makes them uncomfortable.
Post # 5
@September29: I would absolutely send them one and say something along the lines of “Thinking of you this Christmas and wishing you peace and love”, which is basically what I say to everyone anyway. If you want to visit or something you could also say something about “hoping to see you this season”.
Also, don’t ever feel like a card is “not enough”. I know when I’ve experienced loss in my family I’ve always appreciated anyone’s thoughts. In fact, one friend freaked out when my mom died because mom had been in the hospital two weeks before & recovered, so my friend sent a kind of funny card and wrote she was glad mom was on the mend… but sent it late & it didn’t get to me until after mom had passed. But really, it was nice to know she was thinking of me anyway and I appreciated the happy card.
Post # 6
@September29: Knowing people who have lost a child, I’ve been told that the worst thing is when people pretend that the child never existed, don’t mention the child by name, etc. I would advise sending a more “serious” card and writing something like, “I know this holiday season must be so difficult following the loss of (baby’s name). Please know that I’m thinking of you and hoping for peace in the upcoming year.”
Post # 7
Have you talked with your cousin or have you kept your distance entirely?
I suggest that it is not too late to extend your sympathy for their loss. One of the things that parents who lose a child, whether during pregnancy or not, say, is that it is hard when their friends and family back away for fear of saying the wrong thing.
I would get a neutral card- not Sympathy, not Holiday, and put pen to paper to express my sadness at the loss of their baby.
Post # 8
@Jijitattoo: I agree with this.
Post # 10
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
Reaching out, acknowledging what they’re going through, and offering your heartfelt love and sympathy is ALWAYS better than ignoring the hearbreak they’re experiencing.
I would send a holiday-ish card (but one that’s not too cheery, like a big glittery snowman with a huge ass grin) and write a sincere message. Yeah it’s hard and awkward to do so, but it will be soooo appreciated.
(If you had sent a sympathy card first, a regular one would be good. But I think at this point a nice message would be key. Unless it’s been like 4+ months…)
Post # 11
I lost a baby to a heart defect as well. What would have been been easiest on my heart would have been a simple card that said they know this is a hard time and they are thinking of me and my children (both mentioned by name) or I’m so sorry for your loss. We love and remember (baby) at this difficult time and always…. Something along those lines.
They are already sad, you won’t make them sadder. Ignoring, not mentioning the child only makes it harder because it feels like no one will remember them.
Post # 12
@September29: I think it really depends on the couple and how they are coping with it as of late. My fiance’s aunt lost her 20-year-old, handsome, healthy, and athletic son. I didn’t know him very well, but the circumstances were so tragic it was really devastating for the family. I was worried about how she was handling this holiday season until I saw her the other night when we all got dinner- she was making plans for her future and everyone at the table was remembering her son fondly. In her case, I’d send a regular card and just say “We love you and can’t wait to see you over the holidays!” FI is planning on making a list of memories of fun times with his cousin. So it really does depend on the recipients, I think. If they are still very down and out, I think you should send a plainer card saying that you are thining of them and would love to see them soon.
Post # 13
@September29: Ok so you didn’t send them a sympathy card. Did you at least call them and offer your condolences? If not, I think that is extremely hurtful and rude when someone you know and love is going through a tough time or a loss. My family has been experiencing some really tough times this year, and what means the most to us is that people have been calling and asking about things, expressing their sympathies when appropriate. It is always better to to express these sorts of things than not, and honestly it sounds to me as if the whole sympathy card not being “good enough” is more about the fact that you’re uncomfortable addressing the situation. If you didn’t think a card was enough, you should have called them.
I would recommend you get some sort of card that is not really festive with a blank interior and write them an honest and caring message to address the loss of their child.
Post # 14
Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful responses. They’ve been very helpful. I saw this article online today… rather topical. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/silence-stillbirth-deafening-painful-parents/story?id=21166037&singlePage=true
I know to some of you it is a no-brainer to go ahead and call them, etc- but my cousin and her husband are deeply, deeply private. I don’t want to impose. I mentioned to my dad that I’d love to bring some homecooked freezer meals down to them so cooking is one less thing they have to deal with, but when he mentioned it to his sister (my cousin’s mom), she said that they weren’t ready for anyting like that.
But at any rate I will be sending a holiday card. Thanks again for the help.
@MexiPino: I especially like that wording- peace and love. I’m sorry about your mom.
@blueeyes39: I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I particularly appreciate your input here as you have been through this personally.
@DuckEBee: you hit the nail on the head with my thinking. im just not sure how open they’re comfortable being. i have a large and rather nosey, gossipy family- so i’m trying to err on the side of caution here.
@MissMarple: a sprinkle of judgement. the internet is never without it. i know it sounds “rude” and “hurtful” to you but you do not know my family nor the way they operate.
Post # 15
@September29: I wasn’t trying to hurt you when I wrote my comment late last night, but maybe it came off as judgmental because as I was genuinely surprised that you did not reach out to your cousin and as I said it did hit a personal note for me. I do think it’s hurtful when family members who care about you don’t call or acknowledge these things in some way. Perhaps people behave differently in your family; I have no idea. I am of the opinion that you made a mistake in not offering condolences in any sort of manner, and I stand by that. As I said before, I think you can and should rectify that.