It can be easy to get one perspective or viewpoint in our head. It can sometimes be difficult to get away from that viewpoint or even to realize that our perspective is somewhat skewed or even causing our research problem.

I knew my grandparents had two stillborn children and that it impacted them significantly. I learned early on in my family history research that I was not to ask my grandparents about “the babies.” It wasn’t until decades later, after my children were grown that I realized something that should have been obvious: those babies impacted my Mom as well.

My brother and I are two years apart in age. I don’t remember Mom being pregnant with him. He’s my only sibling, so I have no memory of my Mom every being pregnant. I don’t remember his birth. My memory is that he was always around. I have no memory of waiting for his arrival.

It wasn’t that way for Mom. She was old enough to know that a baby sibling was on the way (she was 5 and 12 at the time). The deaths of her baby brother and sister at birth impacted her as well. Maybe her telling me not to mention it or ask about it wasn’t just in reference to her parents, but to her as well.

But for whatever reason, that didn’t dawn on me until much later in life.

Think about how that family event may have impacted everyone. And also remember that fate and fortune likely have provided you with life experiences that, even unintentionally, can impact how we view and interpret things.



3 Responses

  1. I have been blessed recently, thru efforts made by someone for Find a Grave, to find the plot where 2 of my brothers are buried. One was stillborn and one lived 15 minutes. I knew about them growing up, but not where they were buried. I have now been able to honor them by placing a marker at their plot. Other than acknowledging their birth, my mother did not want to discuss them. Same for an older sister who died during birth.

    • My mother’s two infant siblings have a grave next to my grandparents where a stone was placed approximately thirty or so years after the birth of the second one. I always make a point to place some flowers on it once a year. These situations are difficult for all involved. Fortunately you were able to find the burial location and place a marker on the grave.

  2. My grandfather lost two siblings as infants, and one committed suicide as a young man. From what I’ve heard, my grandfather was called to ID the body. When I was a kid, my grandmother always told me not to ask about the brother because “it upsets your grandfather too much.” She wouldn’t even talk about it when he wasn’t there, other than to tell me not to discuss it. I can’t imagine what he went through with the death of his youngest brother.

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