What do you do when parent’s grief totally overshadows their child’s birthday year after year? Is there a point at which that child has a right to stand up and say no?
One 19-year-old living that situation created a throwaway Reddit account, twinthrowawy19, to hop on the AITA (Am I The A**hole?”) subReddit and tell their story.
“AITA for not wanting to share my birthday with my dead twin anymore?”
Before we get into people’s comments, lets talk about how AITA works. The subReddit is a place for people to talk about those situations where you’re not sure if you’re the bad guy or not.
The original posters (OPs) tell their stories as posts. Other reddit users comment to cast their votes and explain why they feel that way.
Voting Options Are:
- NTA: Not The A**hole
- YTA: You’re The A**hole
- ESH: Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Here is the teen’s story.
“My 19th birthday is this Friday and I told my mom and dad I don’t wanna do anything if we are gonna have the birthday for my twin too. I was an identical twin; me and my sister were born early and she died a few hours after we were born.”
“Every single birthday since I was little has also been a birthday for her. We go to her grave and put flowers on it and every gift has always had both her and my name on it.”
“Mom gets really sad and always cries for a long time and I have always felt overshadowed on my birthday. The grave visit and flowers and all have always been mandatory and I was never allowed to have friends over or have a party until after we did it.”
“I want to go to dinner with my boyfriend for my birthday at his house and then I’m gonna watch movies with my friends.”
“Mom is upset I’m not making the hour long drive (I live on campus) Friday to do the grave ritual and is really sad. My dad is making me feel guilty since I’m their only living daughter and stuff.”
“I told my mom I don’t wanna share my birthday with a sister I never even knew and I’m done with sharing with a ghost since this has been my entire life.”
“My parents are really upset and now I feel really bad and maybe I should suck it up, but I am just so sick of it.”
Reddit users responded strongly to the post.
“NTA – Maybe I would look at this differently if you and your family had actually known your twin, but they basically died during birth. That is truly awful, but you never had any connection to them so sharing a bday with them is almost a bit morbid.”
“The family could visit the grave any other day of the year; it’s not like it HAS to be on the birth date. They are choosing to make every one of OP’s birthdays a sad day for them instead of letting them enjoy it.”
“Like instead of having a fun day with activities you get to choose, you get to have a memorial instead. That’s a bummer and I can understand why you want it to stop.”
“I know it must be hard on your mother, but maybe she should start respecting the feelings of her actual living child.” – AngeloPappas
“I try to be understanding when it comes to grief – I never lost a child, so who am I to judge, but putting the dead baby’s name on the living one’s present? That’s just weird.”
“It sounds like the mom never processed her grief completely and now she’s not grieving, she’s wallowing. That is not healthy for anyone.”
“OP you are NTA and I hope you have a very happy birthday.” – CharliesMum97
“They could celebrate the daughter they have on her birthday and memorialize the one they lost on the following day.”
“Instead, they’re choosing to prioritize the lost over the living. It’s terribly unfair to OP.”
“The one day (literally) that should be all about her is instead all about a ghost. Giving her gifts with the deceased baby’s name on them makes OP a mere proxy.”
“Go reclaim your birthday, OP! Find a way that makes YOU happy because you deserve that.” – AQualityKoalaTeacher
“I have 2 dead babies. One who was a twin and her twin lives. One who was a singleton.”
“Every year on my twins’ birthday, we get a cake chosen by my daughter. Somewhere on the cake will be a small star, because my dead daughter’s name is Star, and while I need her to be acknowledged in a small way on the day of, my living daughter shouldn’t have to compete for attention on her own birthday with a dead person.”
“We talk about Star the day after, look through the memory box and I tell my children stories about her. I do the same for my son, but on his actual birthday.”
“We look through their things again on their death days.”
“Those days are mine; no one has to participate, but I will spend those days how I choose. And there’s nothing wrong with continuing to grieve the loss of a child even decades later.”
“The pain is unimaginable for those who haven’t endured it.”
“The problem here is that OP has been forced, not to share, but to compete for attention on her own birthday. You can’t compete with a dead person that never got a chance to live, they win every time.”
“Her parents have expected her to be so grateful for her survival that she gives up attention to a person she never knew.”
“That’s too much to ask someone to do that for every single birthday they have from infancy.” – mommyof4not2
“They don’t celebrate OP. They go through the motions of having a birthday – for nineteen years – but the day is really about how much OP reminds them of a dead person.”
“No part of the day is free from that shadow. OP isn’t allowed to have her own plans until she’s done her yearly obeisance to the dead child no one knew; and she’s a goddamn adult!”
“This isn’t like saying we have to go to church on Christmas to appease the grandparents. This is parents grieving over a dead child as the most important activity on the birthday of their living child.”
” ‘Happy birthday! Pile in the car, we’re going to the graveyard! And later your mom can cry for six hours! Yeah, yeah, you can see your friends, but only after you politely validate our nineteen years of grief.’ “
“What her parents are doing now is going to come up in therapy later, and they are absolutely a**holes. They can have their grief, but they have a duty to the wellbeing of their living child that they are not fulfilling.”
“They are placing their grief onto their living child. This is bad.” – ulvok_coven
“Maybe I am too cynical, but OP needs to talk to a counselor to help her work through this because future milestones are at stake and she needs to undo a lifetime of damage.”
“How will OP’s parents react when she marries? Will they insist on visiting the cemetery with her and her fiancé in their wedding clothes?”
“Will a granddaughter have to be named for the late sister? Would they expect her children to accompany them to the cemetery every year?”
“Or will they throw a fit and tell OP she cannot marry or have a family because her sister cannot? Will they put pressure on her to stay within driving distance? NTA” – ScarletteMayWest
“In my opinion you can have legitimate feelings but still be the AH in how you deal with other people based on those feelings. Putting the dead sibling’s name on OP’s gifts REALLY crosses a line in my opinion.”
“The parents aren’t a**holes as people but their behavior towards OP is in the AH category.” – crockofpot
“NTA. They put her name on your presents??? That’s sick, honestly. You’re an adult now and you can opt out of this grotesque ritual.” – ConsistentCheesecake
“Mom of micro-preemie twins, only one of whom survived the NICU, here. Absolutely NTA.”
“Your parents have basically burdened you with the grief of your sibling from the very beginning. That’s not your grief to bear and I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to live in their grief when it took away from the celebrations of your own life.”
“We had 18 days with our son before we lost him. I held him as he passed, cried my eyes out, and then sucked it up and went back into the NICU to be present for my other child still fighting.”
“That’s what you as a parent have to do. I’m not saying your parents should hide their grief, but your parents do need to know when to grief in private versus being present for you.”
“My surviving son is almost three now and I’m pregnant with another child. He doesn’t exactly know about his twin mostly because he’s too young to understand, but we also don’t hide it.”
“There are pictures and mementos around the house that he can ask questions about and we will give him answers in an age-appropriate way. My surviving son was much smaller, much more at risk, and in theory shouldn’t be with us. The last thing he needs is survivor’s guilt.”
“Any time I feel that overwhelming sadness, I look at my son and try to remember the miracle, too. And once every couple months, I close the door to my room, open the box of my dead son’s things, have a good cry, and go back about my day.”
“The grief doesn’t go away, but it’s mine to handle. And it seems your parents prioritized grieving death over celebrating life and that’s a disservice to you.”
“Sorry for making this response all about me but hearing from a person on the surviving child’s side of this is just reassuring me that my husband and I are doing the right thing. I often worry I’m somehow erasing my son from our family but the child here in the present, and his needs, are much more important.”
“I’m sorry for your family’s loss and for your family’s grief. I hope your parents find a better way to cope, one that doesn’t involve burdening you with grief for a sibling you never knew.”
“This is not your grief and you have no obligation to participate in the rituals they’ve created to handle it.” – ArdentMuse
Obviously the situation is tough for everyone involved and hopefully a resolution is found. Several comments suggested that therapy might benefit the family.
We know how Reddit feels, but what about you?