Dear Abby | Grief clouds woman’s life 20 years after loss of baby
Dear Abby: My aunt had a stillborn baby 20 years ago. At the time, I was a teenager. Ever since then she has lived a morbid lifestyle – like you’d see in a scary movie. After the first year, she threw a party with a cake for all of us, and wanted us to sing “Happy Birthday” to a baby that never lived.
When my grandfather died recently, she made sure the preacher announced that my grandfather also had another grandchild. I found out that when her cat died she kept it in the house for several days because she didn’t want to let it go.
It bothers us a lot, because she acts like she is the victim in life and tries to make people feel guilty for being happy. How do we talk to her? – Crystal in Nevada
Dear Crystal: Your aunt should have sought grief counseling after she lost her baby. That she would throw a birthday party a year later and expect everyone to participate as if the child had lived is truly sad. Because you and your relatives feel she still hasn’t gotten beyond the tragedy, those closest to her should suggest she talk with a therapist now or join a support group.
That said, I am not sure her wish that her little angel be mentioned at your grandfather’s funeral was out of line. Although the baby was stillborn, I’m sure the loss was grieved by your grandfather as well as your aunt.
Dear Abby: Our oldest son has had a girlfriend for almost two years. She’s a lovely, kind and quality person, the type you would want him to marry. The problem I’m having is that I have slipped and called her by the name of his former girlfriend. This happens sometimes during casual conversation, especially when I’m not concentrating. I have tried to be careful because I don’t want to hurt her or my son’s feelings, but sadly, I have.
I know she has heard me at least a couple of times. I have no affinity for the former girlfriend. Abby, this is damaging my relationship with my son and his girlfriend although she is too classy to say a word. What do I do? – Heartbroken in New England
Dear Heartbroken: When it happens again – and it may – apologize, explain that it’s embarrassing, and you don’t know why it happens. Then THANK her for being as classy as she has been about it.