Mabel’s 3rd Birthday

Mabel’s third birthday came and went last month.  I sent out a little reminder a few days before and the day of- sharing the #3goodthings invitation in honor of her birthday.

Dear Friends and Family,

As Mabel’s third birthday approaches, we invite you to join us in #3GoodThings. It is a practice in both gratitude and doing good.

1. Reflect on your day or life and find 3 good things that happened or you have done.
2. Write them down (and share them if you feel brave!)
3. Reflect on your part in each of them

February 15th

“you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.” -This is Us


If nothing else it’s a practice of gratitude.  Last year I received a painful response from a family member and so this year, I kept my invite list small, trying to temper my expectations.

I received many heartfelt messages and even some gifts.  I Mabel’s birthday was the day after valentines day and in addition to a card and donation my parents sent, they also send two valentines cards- one addressed to Felix and one addressed to Mabel.  To see her name on an envelope means so much.  I received some beautiful carrot paraphanelia from people near and far (even from people I barely know!).  And so I guess I was especially hurt when two close family members didn’t recognize the day.  Birthdays are always a big deal in my family- we sent presents or cards, we make sure to call.  I gave it a few days just in case their lives were crazy and they would respond later, but no dice.  I just want Mabel to be valued as much as the other children in the family.  I think she’s just as important and I thought others did too.  I also was a little surprised by the lack of recognition from many other close people in my life.  I have heard over and over from other loss friends that the responses from others diminish over time- so I was expecting that.  I guess I just didn’t realize how quickly and by how much the responses would decline.

Things I’ve learned from Mabel’s 3rd Birthday:

Keep my expectations low. Perhaps I’ll have none whatsoever next year.  I know I have to guide people in how I want them to respond, but I thought I did that by my emails. Next year I might keep things more private.

Appreciate the good.  I’m also learning to try to appreciate the responses I did get and not focus on what I felt was missing.  This is a harder lesson to learn, but I will try!

Practice Gratitude. And in reflecting on her birthday, I am wondering if it’s time again to take a moment each day and reflect on #3goodthings- something I did in the early days of my grieving Mabel.  I might need another lesson in the practice of gratitude.


My #3GoodThings from Mabel’s 3rd birthday:

Email written February 15, 2017:
Today we bravely share our #3GoodThings in memory of Mabel. We have many things to be grateful for and we chose to use use our good fortune to give to others.
1. On one of Felix’s last day of his last day care, I overheard one of his favorite teachers talking about making small gift bags of toiletries for the homeless.  This began our first good thing.  We brought her a bunch of supplies to use for her project.
2. We donated to Hope After Loss, an organization that has helped us through the hardest times and continues to help us keep Mabel’s memory alive
3. We have supported Planned Parenthood in memory of Mabel.  Though our family’s decision was to continue a difficult pregnancy, we appreciate that we had a choice to do so.  Planned parenthood supports men and women in many ways; providing choice is just one of them.

3 thoughts on “Mabel’s 3rd Birthday

  1. Happy Belated Birthday, dear Mabel. I’m so sorry that you had to deal with the silence of family members who said nothing about her birthday and who ignored her special day. That just sucks. Could you say anything to them or would that just be opening up the hurt more?
    I don’t understand why some ppl think that when a baby dies she ceases to exist in our lives. It says more about them than us but it’s still hurtful and cruel.
    Big hugs! Glad you celebrated your sweet daughter. I bet seeing her name on the card was so powerful and comforting.

  2. I am sorry that others close to you did not respond in the celebrating of Mabel’s birthday. I have a 4 carrot rubber stamp that sits on my counter, it is a reminder of Mabel every time I glance at it. I have four children, all of them living, so I do not understand your grief but I do try to acknowledge all of the children that others around me have, especially the one that are sometimes glossed over by others. You and Mabel have taught me to be honest and open and I ask and listen. I also try hard not to offer any platitudes and other hurtful comments, – sometimes ending with apologies if I do say anything that has been hurtful.

  3. I’m so sorry that you felt less supported on Mabel’s birthday this year. It is so hard to anticipate how things will go, and then grapple with what happens. For whatever it’s worth, I had a very bad experience with family members on Sacha’s second birthday, but then I handled his third differently and it was much better this year than last. Part of it was recognizing that some people just aren’t able or willing to give me what I need (which is a difficult realization, and comes with its own version of grief over the relationship)… then finding other ways to fulfill those needs.

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