DEAR ABBY: You gave a kindly response to "Missing My Mom," the woman who went ahead with her 5-year-old's birthday party two days after her own mother's death. Had you faulted her, it would have added to the guilt she's already feeling. However, had I been in that woman's shoes, I would have postponed the party for several weeks. The loss of one's parent certainly takes precedence over a child's birthday party -- and it would have been a good lesson in values for the little one. -- 89-YEAR-OLD READER IN NORTH ROYALTON, OHIO
DEAR READER: I responded as I did because I feel that no child of 5 should be forced to associate her special day with death and mourning if it is avoidable. Read on for a sample of what other readers had to say on the subject:
DEAR ABBY: The day I buried my 17-year-old son was my niece's birthday. She was just a year and a day younger than her cousin. After the funeral, I had an impromptu party for her. She's an adult now with children of her own, but she has never forgotten. To this day she thanks me for thinking about her even though I was grieving. I believe that life must go on. We can't do anything about our loved one's death except celebrate the precious time we had with them here on Earth. -- LOVING AUNT IN COLORADO
DEAR LOVING AUNT: My dear grandmother, Rose Phillips, shared your philosophy. You have much in common. She was a strong matriarch who always looked forward, and lived to be 103.
DEAR ABBY: Please remind that mother in Maine that Jacqueline Kennedy gave her little boy a party a few days after her husband was assassinated. I think "Missing My Mom" was in good company. -- NANCY IN KATY, TEXAS
DEAR NANCY: Several other readers also pointed that out.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my mother in February of 2002, and my granddaughter had her birthday party the same week. My daughter asked me, "Are you sure, Mom?" I said, "Yes, I want to carry on 'Nana's' wonderful spirit of family first!" (My mother always put family first.)
I found it comforting to have my family around me when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Yes, "Missing My Mom" made the right choice. My heart goes out to her. I'm sure her mother would be proud of her for thinking of others. -- J.H., PEORIA, ILL.
DEAR J.H: I couldn't agree more.
DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Missing My Mom" brought back fond memories of my aunt's birthday party two years ago. One month before, my grandmother had to be placed in a nursing home due to failing health. A surprise birthday celebration was planned for my aunt at the nursing home so our beloved Grandma could be included. Sadly, two days before the party, she passed away.
Our first instinct, of course, was to cancel the birthday party. However, after asking everyone, we decided to go ahead with it. It lifted our spirits and cleared our minds for a little while amidst the planning of the funeral and the sadness that consumed us. That birthday party was the best thing we could have done. It was, after all, a celebration of life.
I just want "Missing My Mom" to know that she did the right thing. -- STILL MISSING GRANDMA IN OHIO
DEAR STILL: You're so right. Life is a gift, and we should treasure each precious moment that's given to us.