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Etiquette Questions Answered

The Etiquette of Birth (and Loss) Announcements

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I know you said etiquette for sending out birth announcements is 6 months…but I’m sort of in a different situation. To keep a long story short, we had twin girls but only one of the girls survived. Due to the shock, sadness, exhaustion, etc we did not get around to having a professional photoshoot until baby girl turned 3 months old. We also have some wonderful photos of both the girls together just minutes old in the hospital. We really want to send out some sort of photo card so people can see our little girls since the majority of friends and family live far away. Would you send out something or just forget the whole thing?

Thanks

First of all, I am so very sorry for your loss.

Second of all, this is indeed a VERY different sort of situation, one that allows for any and all etiquette “rules” to be politely tossed out the nearest window. You’re officially off-book, here. There is no timeline, deadline or otherwise ruling rule of what you “should” do or what’s “expected” of you. You do what you WANT to do, what you NEED to do.

You get to make the rules here.

If sending out a solo birth announcement for your surviving daughter feels wrong and you want to include photos of both girls, that’s incredibly understandable — she was born, she existed, she will always be your daughter, and it can be hurtful to feel pressured to pretend otherwise for the sake of other people’s discomfort regarding the loss of a child. Screw that. I’m assuming everyone who will receive a card is aware of what happened, so receiving a montage card with a mix of the newborn photos and then the professional shots would not be “confusing” or require you to include any expository language. Perhaps you could put both girls’ names by the newborn photos, then specify that the other shots were taken to mark the three-month milestone, or simply add a “thank you for your thoughts and prayers/support for our family” sort of line.

OR. You can thoroughly ignore everything I just said and create whatever kind of photo card you want, with whatever photos and text and information you want on there. Again, this is not something you’re obligated to do (hell, you could just email the photos en masse or create a private online album, if the effort gets to be too much), but I’m zeroing in strongly on the part of your letter that says “We really want to…” That, basically, gives you your answer. Create whatever beautiful memento/tribute/announcement you want that honors both of your daughters’ births. Send it out whenever you’re ready. You get to make the rules here.

Again, very very sorry for your loss, and your family will remain in my thoughts.

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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