Funerals or Birthdays – What matters more?

Child walking on a path

Life is a journey, appreciate each day of that journey

Strange question I know – but something I’m asking myself today.

My little boy Daniel is celebrating his first birthday this Friday – an exciting time for any parent, a particularly happy occasion for us, given our history.

Let me explain – in a nutshell (I’ll save the full story for another day), my daughter Isabella became unwell when she was six months old and after 7 1/2 months of tough times, she passed away unexpectedly when she was 13 1/2 months old.

Isabella’s first birthday party was just with her little friends from the mothers group – none of us knew she was going to leave so soon – it was a shock (that’s an understatement) when she died. We didn’t invite any extended family to her party because we felt separate, misunderstood and unsupported by some of our family members during the period of time when Isabella was unwell.

After Isabella died, the majority of our family members who lived in Australia attended her funeral – it was a big turnout, perhaps because it was so unexpected and the death of a child is always shocking.

So in my mind, after 6 years without our daughter, Daniel’s first birthday is especially important to me & I’ve realised that it isn’t this way for everyone.

I’m writing this because I’m a little hurt – this is my way of working through some of those feelings. I would like to understand why in our culture (I have an ethnic background) it’s the done thing to attend a funeral – it’s the last big “hurrah”, but birthdays are “aplenty” and so if you miss one, there is always another to go to.

I appreciate paying respects to the family members left behind and honouring the person that has passed, and I’m extremely grateful still to this day, to all the people that came to Isabella’s funeral and supported us for differing periods of time after she left. What I don’t understand is why a birthday isn’t given the same level of importance as a funeral. It really speaks to something deeper – that in general, we take our everyday lives for granted – a day is just a day, we have plenty of them still to come. In truth though, no-one knows how long they have on this earth. Perhaps people attend funeral to try and assuage some of the guilt they feel for not having spent more time with the deceased person. Well let me tell you something – by the time the funeral comes around it’s too late – spend time with the person while they are still alive.

I’ll never have that “new-parent naivete” again so even though I’m the first to admit I’m not the perfect Mum with Daniel (especially on the days that sleep is in short supply), I do my absolute best and I’m grateful for every moment I have with Daniel and I pray every night that he will live a long and healthy life.

That’s my 2 cents for today.

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About Helena

Helena is a stay at home Mum to one funny, intelligent and very curious little boy. Helena & her husband are working towards creating a location independent lifestyle that will enable their family to homeschool, travel and experience the world together.


  1. Tiffany says:

    I have never really thought of this before, but you’ve raised a really valid point. You’ve really hit the nail on the head though – in general, everyone tends to take life for granted.

  2. Well written – brought tears to my eyes – well done.

    olga’s last blog post..Why Men and Women Need Each Other

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