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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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Comments

  • Kristen

    I am so sorry for your loss. Both of your daughters are beautiful and wonderful. They are unique entities, and they both should be celebrated and cherished. Put out there what is right for YOU to put out there. I lost a child as well, and it seems like the more I am able to talk about my daughter, the easier it is for other people to talk about her as well. Your daughters are blessings to you and to the world. Celebrate both the one in your arms and the one who lives on in your heart. Say her name and encourage others to say her name to you. (((Hugs)))

  • JCF

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I agree with Amy that you get to do what feels right to you, and don’t worry about etiquette in this situation. I think it would be lovely to send a double-sided announcement that has the newborn photos of both girls together with their names and stats (like a typical birth announcement for twins), and then on the other side, feature a photo of the surviving twin at 3 months, with a note at the bottom saying something along the lines of, “At the same time we are relishing watching Claire grow and change, we are grieving the fact that Anna is not here to grow up beside her. We miss her with all our hearts, and we appreciate your support and prayers during this simultaneously difficult and joyous time. Love from the ________family.”

    • Rachel

      I love this wording. I’m so sorry for your loss OP. <3

    • Caroline

      this is great wording. It’s very clear, but not ”too much” in any way. Your loss has been profound, but then, you also have a lovely little girl and to try and simultaneously express that is quite a line to walk, especially for ”general” release.

      All the very best to you and your family, very sorry for your awful loss.

  • Lisa R

    Internet hugs!

  • Cptkool

    I went through the same situation. In my case when I was pregnant I didn’t tell people I was pregnant with twin. I always have a fear that something might go wrong. Only close friends know. I didn’t want people to ask and all of the pain would come back. When one of my daughters passed away after 10 days and fhe other one was still in the nicu it was hard. I’m glad you were able to have at least a picture of them together. I don’t get that chance. Even until now that my daughter is 9 mos adjusted age 6 mos I still have a hard time dealing with the lose. For Christmas, I didn’t know if I should put a stocking for my other or not and if I don’t I feel guilty. Ok glad that I saw this posting and saw the comments.

  • Ashleigh Singh

    I’m so incredibly sorry about the passing of your beautiful daughter. My husband and I lost our first born daughter in 2015 shortly before birth because of a cord accident. Coming from a baby loss mom, I think including pictures of both of your daughters in the birth announcement is a beautiful idea and such a tribute to both girls. After Scarlett died, we never even dreamed of sending out an announcement and not a lot of people have seen her pictures. Looking back I wish we would have done something… Amy (or Amalah) is right. Your daughter was here and she existed- it was her birth too. Please know that you’re not alone in your grief journey. There are so many moms and dads who can understand what you’re going through right now. Lots and lots of virtual hugs. Also, there is a great online resource called Faces of Loss Faces of Hope, if you haven’t checked it out yet please do. This website helped me so much for such a long time. Also, check out Glow in the Woods.

    Lovingly,
    Ashleigh

  • Reader

    As Amy said, there are no rules in this situation. You said you want to send a card, so you should! You are, of course, mourning the loss of one baby, but you still want to honor her too short life as well as celebrate her sister’s life. Personally, I think a montage with pictures of both girls together and the professional shots would be precious. Do not worry about doing the “wrong thing.” The cards will be sent to friends and loved ones. I, as a stranger passing on the Internet, feel sympathy for what you have had to face. I am sure for those who know and love you that feeling is multiplied by 100 at least!