Birthdays are meant to be a celebration not only of a person’s birth but also to celebrate the life they’ve lived so far.
Even when someone passes away, it’s lovely to carry on their memory on their birthday and other important holidays, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
But Redditor pineapplesmoothie17’s parents did not agree after one of their twin daughters passed away, leaving one teenage daughter behind.
So much so that when the Original Poster (OP)’s friends came to celebrate her birthday with her, her mother accused her of being selfish by carrying on without her sister.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for celebrating my birthday?”
The OP’s parents didn’t celebrate her birthday with her after her twin died.
“I (17 Female) have a twin sister who passed away almost a year ago. She was my best friend, and losing her felt like I lost part of myself. It feels like part of me is missing.”
“I have been in therapy, which has helped me a lot.”
“My parents, though, haven’t been doing well. They argue a lot, which rarely ever happened before. It has made being at home difficult.”
“Being a twin means my sister and I share a birthday. Yesterday was our birthday.”
“I ended up missing school because I didn’t think I would have been able to concentrate. My parents understood, so they let me stay home.”
“They didn’t wish me a happy birthday, though, or buy me a present… They knew what day it was, though. So I kinda just laid in bed all day.”
When her friends tried to celebrate her, the OP’s mother was furious.
“A few hours after the normal time school got out, a few close friends of both my sister and I came over with cupcakes, balloons, and presents.”
“It honestly made me so happy my friends did that.”
“We were in the basement just hanging out and talking when my mom yelled for me to come upstairs.”
“She asked what was going on and I explained what happened. She said she couldn’t believe I’d want to celebrate without my sister.”
“I said, ‘Well, it’s my birthday, too, and I miss my sister so much. Today’s been really hard for me, but you and Dad act like today just isn’t our birthday. You still have me, and you should still acknowledge I’m here. And try to support me.'”
“She got mad and called me selfish. We haven’t talked since.”
The OP felt incredibly conflicted.
“It was very hard having my birthday without my twin, but to help me, I feel like I can’t just act like this day isn’t happening. Plus, I know my twin would want me to still celebrate.”
“I know my parents must be struggling a lot with grief because they lost a child and that shouldn’t happen. Parents shouldn’t have to go through losing a child, but I think sometimes they don’t think of my grief.”
“We shared a room because as toddlers we refused to sleep in separate rooms. We had different interests and extracurricular activities but always were at each other’s events and supported each other, so it’s hard doing things without her support.”
“I also just miss being able to talk to her about anything and everything any time I want to. I miss just laughing with her. I could go on and on but my life is completely different without her in it because part of me is missing.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the parents were doing a terrible job of caring for their living daughter.
“Wow, your parents need to get a grip and realize that whatever pain they’re feeling, you’re feeling it, too, but at the age of 17. When you still need your parents’ support. They’re the ones who are supposed to shepherd you through the loss of your sister!”
“Sounds like maybe your very presence triggers your parents in the same way that your shared birthday does. It is mind-bogglingly insensitive to call you out for receiving the love and kindness of your awesome and thoughtful friends!”
“Your parents should have been celebrating you and loving on you and telling you how grateful they are to have you with them this whole time and most especially today.”
“Instead, they are busy confirming your deepest fear: that they feel weird about you as just you, that you remind them of your late sister, and that they are putting emotional distance between you and them because of the memories you stir up.”
“OP, please tell your parents how much you need them, and how much they need you. Ask them to go to therapy on their own. Ask them to put you in therapy. Ask for family therapy.”
“Help them snap back into the reality that one of their precious twin babies is still very much alive and available to be loved, and that their deceased child would want nothing more than for all of the love they had saved up for her to be poured out onto her surviving twin.”
“Be well. And cling tight to your friends. They’re keepers.” – successfoal
“NTA, I’m so sorry for your loss and can’t imagine what you must be going through, but I am speechless.”
“You are absolutely right that, while mourning is important, your parents should be sensitive to your loss as well. I’d suggest therapy for all of you so that you can have a neutral party help put things into perspective.” – Mother_of_Peacocks
“NTA. And your parents are going to lose both their kids if they don’t stop with this.” – Low-Passion6182
“With the way the parents are acting, they may as well act like both of their daughters passed away. I would want to celebrate the living twin’s birthday while also finding a way to honor the twin that passed away.”
“I’m a mom with a 10-year-old daughter. She’s sentimental and sensitive. She mentions how much I mean to her all the time and how much she will miss me when I pass. I try to always remind her that I’ll never be far and I’ll want her to be as happy as can be. I’ll be watching and waiting for her in Heaven.”
“Obviously, not everyone believes in God but we do and it does bring her some comfort.” – holymolyholyholy
“My God! I get we all grieve differently, but to say such hurtful and harmful things to your living daughter. So distasteful. I’d 100% leave when I turned 18 or even right then for that matter.”
“I guarantee one of those friends’ parents would take her in. You can’t take words back. I think people forget that. I’ve always strived to never say anything to my kids, spouse, friends, or anyone I care about during anger. You can’t take it back once it’s said.” – Zetsumei101
Others encouraged the OP to continue to celebrate her life.
“NTA. Firstly, I’m sorry for your loss, and secondly, I’m positive that your sister would want you to be happy.”
“I understand your parents are upset and miss her, but that’s no excuse to just pretend that a birthday doesn’t exist and not acknowledge their daughter, who’s also hurting.” – MrTumorI
“NTA, I am a fellow twinless twin. I lost my twin at 19. Instead of ignoring our birthday, I call it ‘celebrating for us both’ (which yes, occasionally means I overindulged).”
“On the flip side, I have another twinless friend that tries to ignore his birthday. It’s not about what your parents think, this is about you and how you choose to honor your twin/your day.” – SebrinePastePlaydough
“Based on what OP said, their mutual friends showed up unprompted to throw OP an intimate party, of them just chilling. This could also be part of their friend group’s healing process because people process grief differently.”
“OP’s birthday doesn’t cease to exist because their twin passed away. It does a disservice to both of them by making the day all about the deceased.” – RebeccaMCullen
“You celebrated your life, and her life. That is what birthdays are about. Not the party, but the gratitude for being alive one more year and appreciating the value of that. This is precisely what you did. It’s healthy. It’s a complex and difficult day for you too and you approached it very well.” – KisaMisa
“One thing that you can do, and talk about this with your parents in a few weeks, is celebrate your birthday for yourself and in honor of your twin. You should be able to do something fun on your birthday to celebrate your birthday, and your parents should also celebrate your birthday, and you should do something together to honor your twin.”
“For example, my great-aunt died at the age of 87. She was very proud of her Judaism and very socially active. She did not have any children. When she died, I made a donation of $87 to a local Jewish organization that helps poor people. She would have liked that.”
“If your sister died of a disease like cancer, you could consider giving a ‘birthday gift’ in her honor to an organization that is researching cures for this cancer or one that helps cancer patients and their families.”
“If she was in an accident and was treated at a local hospital, you could buy lunch for the nurses in the ward where she was treated. If she was very into horses, you could give a donation to a horse rescue or a foundation that works to preserve spaces for wild horses.”
“Your sister can no longer impact the world, but you can make the world a better place in her honor, and you can make sure that she is remembered by people outside of your family.” – TychaBrahe
Grief is never an easy thing, but we’re glad that OP’s friends had their back when her parents couldn’t. We also echo some of the fantastic suggestions Redditors made about different ways to honor her late sister on future birthdays.