Grief is incredibly complicated, and we all have to do our best to navigate it in our own specific ways.
That also means that some things that may not trigger us might be triggering for someone else, and we need to be mindful of that, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Acrobatic-Toe-3908 had done her best to honor her sister’s memory after she had passed away far too young, and she wanted to honor her one more time by naming her first daughter after her.
But when she saw her mother’s grief-stricken reaction to the pregnancy and name announcement, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong to use her sister’s name.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for wanting to name my daughter after my late sister?”
The OP did her best to keep her sister’s memory alive.
“My (23 Female) sister, Alicia, passed away when she was 7 years old in a car accident.”
“Since then, I’ve done many things to honor her, such as tattoos, memorials, and the like.”
There was one more way she wanted to honor her sister.
I’ve always known that I wanted to name my firstborn daughter after her, and since I found out I was pregnant with a girl, I’ve been ecstatic.”
“The name I had picked out was Alice, not my sister’s name exactly but still close enough for my daughter and family to know that she was named after her late aunt.”
“My husband is incredibly fond of the name and what it represents.”
The OP announced she was pregnant when her family was together.
“I had waited to announce my pregnancy until I had found out the gender so I could announce the name as well.”
“Yesterday I announced my pregnancy to my family, and they were extremely excited about having a new addition.”
“Then we told them our plans for her name, and everyone loved the idea.”
But someone didn’t love the idea at all.
“Everyone but my mother. Her mood completely changed when we announced her name.”
“When I asked what was wrong, she completely blew up on me, saying the name I chose was extremely disrespectful to both her and my sister.”
“The rest of my family and I thought it was a nice idea, and loved it.”
“But my mother is still refusing to talk to me until I change my plans for my daughter’s name.”
“My heart has been set on this name ever since my husband and I started thinking about having kids, and I really don’t want to change it.”
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 felt terrible for the mom and thought the OP should have talked to her first.
“Picture your baby girl, you love her already, don’t you? Your sister was your mother’s baby. She loved her, more than anyone else on this planet. Yes, even more than you did.”
“Now that you’re becoming a mom you can begin to understand the depth of anguish she will feel for the rest of her life.”
“Picture burying your baby. Your love, your life. Now imagine having to call another child, one you want to love and care for by the same name.”
“A middle name would honor your sister without ripping your mother’s heart out every time she thinks about her granddaughter.” – HardRainisFalling
“This is why when doing stuff like this is always important to verify with the person before making plans around it.”
“OP is not the AH for wanting to honor their sister. But they would be one if they go along with this when their mother already expressed their wishes against it.”
“As a mother-to-be, she should be more empathetic to their mom’s feelings.” – normalstromana
“I know you want to honor your sister, but not at the expense of your mom’s happiness. Every time your mom hears your daughter’s name, it will be like a little knife through her heart.”
“Please do not put a name before your mother’s future happiness and future relationship with her granddaughter.” – KarenMaca
“I think NAH, but this is really something the OP should’ve discussed with her mother before revealing it to the whole family.” – HoldFastO2
“Personally, I love the idea and I can see why OP wanted to do it. I can also see why Mom would be so hurt, especially given that Alice was a child when she died and there’s something extra heart-rending in the memory of a child that didn’t make it to adulthood.”
“Basically, it’s such an emotional subject on all levels, that OP should have talked to her family the first moment she considered the idea before a real pregnancy was in the mix. Like, ‘Hey Mom, I was just thinking about Alice the other day and wondered if it might be nice to pay tribute by naming my child after her one day. What do you think?’
“And then they would have had time to work through fears of replacement vs keeping memories sharp, and any other concerns and anger there might be.” – Normal-Height-8577
Others thought a memorial middle name might have been a better way to go.
“Both myself and my sister were named after recently deceased relatives… who lived long, full lives and died at a ripe old age surrounded by their family. It was done in celebration of them.”
“I fully empathize with OP for wanting to honor her sister in this way, and I absolutely understand the mother’s anguish.”
“I think a middle name would be the best way forward, but this is hard NAH territory. This is a conflict borne of love.” – HeardTheLongWord
“I find middle names are much better memorials. My nephew’s middle name is after our grandfather and I myself share a middle name with my father.”
“I agree that a memorial name, though touching and with the very best intentions, can cause a heavy weight without meaning to (which is the same reason I dislike familial names like ‘John Samuel III,’ it’s too much pressure for a child to live up to the predecessors).” – toxicgecko
“Alice is still so close to Alicia that hearing it is jarring. A middle name would satisfy both honoring the sister and respecting that the mother has lost her child and can never replace her.” – IllustratorSlow1614
“My middle name is that of my uncle who tragically passed away at a young age, but my first name is completely my own.”
“I think it’s better this way for everyone involved. If it’s your middle name, no one feels like it’s an attempt to replace the person or have a do-over. It’s more so a way of remembering and honoring them going forward.”
“I think you can do the first name, but if you do, you have to make it clear to your kid that they are their own person still and not living in someone else’s shadow, and on top of that, you also should clear it with the parents of the first person to ensure they see it as a tribute and not as an insult.” – mdk_77
“OP, my mom’s sister died 3 years before I was born. She died at 21 from a brain tumor, and it devastated the entire family.”
“My middle name is my late aunt’s name and I love it. It makes me feel close to her and people say we are very similar both in looks and personality.”
“If my mom had named me after her, instead of my middle name, I probably would’ve felt like I was created to replace her or like I had so much to live up to. It’s too much pressure to put on a child, it’s like they’re the ghost of your sister.”
“A middle name is an excellent idea.” – randombubble8272
“My husband’s brother died late last year. At that point, we knew we were having a boy. The day his brother died, he told me he wanted to name our son after his brother.”
“I told him I understood. However, I suggested using his brother’s name as a middle name because I could see it being extremely painful for his mom to call our son by her dead son’s name.”
“He didn’t want to make his mom cry every time she thought of our son, so we gave him a different first name and his brother’s first as a middle name.” – ConsciousExcitement9
While the subReddit completely understood the OP wanting to carry on her sister’s name and name her firstborn after her, they were concerned about how the OP had gone about announcing it.
This was a sensitive subject that should have been discussed with the OP’s parents first, as it could impact their relationship with their future granddaughter, but they also could have discussed the difference between using “Alice” as the first name versus a middle name.
While this was done with the best intentions possible, even good intentions carry consequences, especially where grief is involved, and we all need to show every ounce of empathy we can.