Miscarried baby’s name stolen?

A friend sent me this story yesterday, and I’m still thinking about it: ‘Don’t Talk About the Baby’ #ShatterTheStigma

Long story short: The author and his wife named their just-conceived baby Lydia Rose, and then lost her at 8 1/2 weeks. I know, as so many of you do, the devastation of miscarriage; mine was even earlier than the author’s, and yet it’s still fresh nine years later. I know you know! Later on (not sure how long) the author’s brother and his wife informed them that they would be naming their soon-to-be-born baby Lydia, which crushed the author and his wife, and despite them begging the in-laws to reconsider, the in-laws went ahead with naming their baby Lydia. Which led to the author and his wife basically cutting off ties with their family and even moving several states away.

The author’s very very sensitive about this topic, which makes me hesitate to even discuss it here, but since he wrote about it on his Patheos blog (so public! eek!) and it has to do with Catholic baby naming and a friend (who’s also a reader) asked me about it, I thought it made sense to post it.

We’ve talked here before about “name stealing,” and the example given in that post was a pretty emotional one involving family relationships; I’ve also shared my own story about asking my brother and his wife if they minded if we used a name I thought they might have been hoping to use (and we were committed to foregoing the name if it meant a possible family rift). Even still, I’m sort of blown away by the depth of grief this couple is still going through, years after the loss of the baby. I tried to imagine being in the same spot, but I just can’t see myself being so upset if my brother and his wife had wanted to use the same name for their son as we’d given to our baby. Of course everyone grieves in their own way, and just because I can’t imagine myself reacting similarly doesn’t mean they’re reacting wrongly. But I can’t help but think that talking about it all with a priest or even a mental health professional would be helpful (and maybe they already have). Dear St. Anne, please pray for this couple and their whole family!

What do you all think of this? Do any of you feel like you can understand where they’re coming from? If Mandi from A Blog About Miscarriage is reading, I wonder what your thoughts are and if you have any resources that might be helpful for a family in this situation?

64 thoughts on “Miscarried baby’s name stolen?

  1. This one is so tough. Normally with name “stealing” I’m a get over it kind of person, but this is very different.

    I think completely cutting off ties with family was an overreaction. Nothing is more important than family and while it might be painful to hear the name Lydia a lot after losing their own baby Lydia, I’m not sure it’s worth losing family members over. While I can see how it could be hurtful, they’ve already lost their daughter, was it really worth losing more family? (Not judging them or anything, I’ve never had a miscarriage or been pregnant even so I don’t know the emotions).

    That being said, I think it was not great of the brother and SIL to have used the name when the author and his wife asked them not to. I feel like the author and his wife did have real reasons to ask the brother and SIL to not use the name. However, we are getting the blog from just the POV of the grieving father, so maybe the brother and SIL did have legitimate reasons to use the name Lydia.

    I don’t know with this one. It seems like a lot could have been done to prevent things from going this far. Also, we don’t know what the relationship with the brother was like before this situation, so maybe it was just the tipping point? Trying to give all parties the benefit of the doubt, but man my heart just breaks that their family is so torn apart when really they just need each others love and support.

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    • But did he ask them not to? In the article, it said “How do you respond to something like that? My wife was shell-shocked, disturbed, and unsure what to do. When she told me, I was crushed. But what could be done? They decided. And over the last decade, I’ve seen my brother maybe once or twice a year. He’s always been a private person. If he calls me, I know that either they’re pregnant or someone has died. I also know that voicemails and texts go unanswered. So I did what I could, I prayed. I prayed that somehow his better angels would prevail.”

      Does it say somewhere else in the post that he talked to his brother about it instead of just praying? If he did, it changed things, but if not, I find it difficult to find fault in the brother and sister-in-law – how should they have known they would be so upset? They reached out to them before the baby was born, so they may have been receptive to changing the name if they were clearly told how painful it would be.

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      • That’s very true! I guess I just kind of assumed that they said something to them, because they feel so betrayed by the brother and SIL using the name, so I filled in blanks that might not be there thinking they deliberately went against the grieving parents wishes. But you’re so right, it doesn’t say that. If they didn’t say anything, then I don’t really know if they have a right to be this upset.

        The brother and SIL did reach out before the baby was born, so I feel like him saying “they decide” is a little presumptive. There was still time.

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      • Ah! I’m so used to completely ignoring all the comments on controversial posts of any kind that I didn’t even think to look for any! Indeed it tells more of the story, so sad.

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      • I was unclear on this as well … He did say later on in the article, “We went to them, and spent about two hours pouring out our hearts, and letting them known how profoundly this affected us. They took two weeks to decide that our concerns were not theirs, and if we chose to distance ourselves from them, it would be our fault, not theirs.” But earlier he said that “About a week later [after the phone call] their baby was born” so I’m not sure of the timing, but it does seem there was an effort on the author’s part to dissuade his brother from using the name.

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  2. I miscarried our daughter, Rachel Katherine, five years ago last June. After adopting three beautiful babies and being told repeatedly I’d never be able to conceive, her brief life was a huge surprise and wonderful blessing. Losing Rachel was devastating, but giving her a name helped me heal. She is truly a member of our family. We talk about her, pray for her intercession, and celebrate the day she went to Heaven.
    Recently, my brother and his wife asked me if we would mind if they named their unborn child Rachel. Instead of bringing me pain, it brought me great joy. I will be able to kiss, hold, and watch this Rachel grow older…all while longing for the day when when I will meet mine.
    I pray for Lydia’s parents. I understand their pain. May God give them peace and healing.

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    • Thank you for sharing! I love this: ” Instead of bringing me pain, it brought me great joy. I will be able to kiss, hold, and watch this Rachel grow older…all while longing for the day when when I will meet mine.”

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  3. Oh my goodness, you knew I would have thoughts, didn’t you? (And of course I read this, I read ALL your posts, Kate!) By the way, my post about naming miscarried babies is BY FAR the most read post on my blog and continues to get tons of views daily so the naming miscarried babies is a very important topic.

    Here is my thought: I wouldn’t care if someone close to me names their children on of the names we named our miscarried babies. But the circumstances were different – we named our babies after they were lost and by names that we wouldn’t have named them if they loved. The author was very specific about how they name their children, that they don’t reuse names and they named their child before they even got a positive pregnancy test so I can understand that names perhaps have even more meaning to them.

    Before reading the article, I thought perhaps he was upset because he felt that in naming the baby so they were ignoring the fact that their child had ever existed. Since the SIL called to tell them, it seems that was not the case – they remembered the baby’s name and were trying to be compassionate by telling them beforehand. Maybe it hurts because hey assume that had their child lived, they wouldn’t have named a cousin with the same name. If that is the case, then maybe I would be upset too but my husband and his first cousin have the same first name so having two cousins with the same name (regardless if they are both living or not) doesn’t sound odd to me.

    With just what I read, it seems that they did not tell the expecting parents that the name would upset them so I find it sad that the family would be broken up over this. To assume someone would know how you would feel if they had not gone through a loss themselves (or even if they had gone through loss, because we all grieve differently), is uncharitable. Not to downplay the pain of the author and his wife, we all have triggered by certain things that bring up profound pains from the loss, but it seems like the intentions were only good from the brother and sister in law and as you always say, intention in naming is extremely important. I feel for everyone involved. I think we have to recognize and validate the pain of the grieving parents but also acknowledge that there was (seemingly) no ill intent on the part of the new parents. Grief is often messy and it makes me so sad to think that a family may be separated due to this.

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    • There was more to the story than I first read, it seems, but of course, that is still only one side of the story. Shortly after I started having miscarriages I was very quick to blame others for what they didn’t do to help me or what they said that was hurtful, basically for what they didn’t know. But how could they? I’ve grown up a lot since then and now I realize that for the most part, it’s up to me to tell other people how I feel and what is hurtful and what would be helpful, etc. So I’m not longer quick to blame the “offending” party. Even if they’ve gone through an almost identical loss, each person reacts very individually, just as the other commenters have varied in their own personal reactions (some said this situation would bother them, others wouldn’t be bothered, still others would be honored).

      Sometimes I also seem to see a divide between people who have miscarried once or twice and those who have miscarried many times. I’ve lost four babies so, at least to me, it no longer is feasible to celebrate their due dates and miscarriage dates like I did when we just lost the first one or two. And between first and middle names, there would now be 7 names off the table for family members, so even if it had bothered me if someone named a baby the same name as our first, now it seems a bit silly to block out so many names. (Acquaintances of ours did give their son the same first and middle name as our second child/first miscarried baby – though they had no idea it was the name of our lost child – and upon hearing it, all I thought was how lovely the name was – I did choose it because I loved it and it has become all the more endeared to me over time. Very difference circumstances from the author, of course.) The more miscarriages I have, the less I expect, if that makes sense. It just became a frequent part of my life so to expect others to tiptoe around all things miscarriage related would be unfair to them and too emotionally exhausting for me.

      I am loathe to give any more thoughts because truly so much is speculation. But I think we should pray for all parties involved, particularly the little baby just born who has the burden of carrying so much pain in her name. Poor sweet girl, her name certainly isn’t her fault, and no one deserves to have such things said about her by anyone, particularly her uncle, and in such a public forum.

      Anyway, I’m glad you posted this because perhaps some people out there will see it and think twice about using a miscarried babies name and ask the family about it first. Some will be thrilled and honored. Some will ask them to reconsider. But it may spare some heartache.

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  4. Personally, I think name stealing is silly and it’s not a big deal to have multiple children in the same family with the same name. However, I get the sense that the reason it bothered them in this case was because they felt like their daughter wasn’t being acknowledged as a person who existed and had that name. If my sister-in-law amd her husband use our daughter’s name, I know it’ll feel like their kid is the “real” Lucy. I can understand their pain, even if I hopefully wouldn’t have reacted the same way. But grief makes us do unexpected things, to be sure.

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  5. Wow, so sad. I lost two little ones 3 months apart back in 2013. For me it was a horrible time when it felt like death was all around me. A nephew with one of their names would be life-affirming. A living baby boy looked after by his sweet cousin in Heaven. Perhaps I say that also because I no longer expect to become an aunt again and it would be so wonderfully unexpected if that we’re to happen.

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  6. My grandmother had a full term still born daughter right before my dad. Her name was Sandra. When my parents conceived me, they wanted to name me Sandra, but asked my grandmother first, and she said no. She was still heartbroken over the loss, nearly 30 years later, and didn’t want to look at her granddaughter and ever be sad. So my parents chose another name for me, Erika.

    I think name “stealing” is a horrible term because we ultimately are all name after someone else or something. But I do think one should be respectful of grieving parents. If someone asked me if they could name their child John or Simeon, after our miscarried boy, personally, id be so incredibly honored! But these parents and my grandmother had other feelings. And they are valid. Sadly though, it doesn’t seem that they asked the expectant parents to refrain from using the name so they can’t truly blame their sibling and in law.

    I’m with you though, this family needs prayers and I hope they find peace!

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  7. Uff da. This is a doozie. My brother and his wife lost their daughter shortly after birth and I cannot even fathom anyone in our family using that name for their child in the same generation. That just seems cruel to me.
    That all being said, we still talk about my niece on a regular basis and I am close with my brother. This family dynamic and situation seems different. I wonder if Lydia is a family name? I wish the author would have said something to his brother prior to the baby being born; I’m sure that by the time she was here and named, her parents were set on her name.
    It’s a shame that the relationship has been so affected, but it doesn’t sound like it was a particularly strong relationship in the first place. The whole situation makes my heart hurt for so many reasons.

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  8. I know what I’m saying will come across as minimizing their grief, but I think with a very early miscarriage like that, and siblings that you’re not in close contact with anyway…it’s just not the same thing as if it had been a full-term demise or an after birth demise. It is not a child that the extended family has had any relationship with, or possibly even any knowledge of until after the fact. At 8 1/2 weeks, you don’t even know the sex of the baby. So, I don’t know. I’m really sorry for their pain and grief—I know it with painful familiarity—but in this case, I don’t think the brother and SIL were wrong to use the name.

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    • I know what you’re saying … I do think this will vary from family to family/couple to couple, but it’s true that no one will ever miss a miscarried baby as much as the parents and it can be difficult/impossible for others to feel the same grief.

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  9. We’ve lost four babies and I don’t think I’d be bothered at all by someone in our family using one of our names. My only issue is now that we’re currently trying to name a baby boy, I don’t feel right using one of the names we’ve already given a baby in Heaven and have had to remind myself at times that a name is off the table because of that. 🙂 That being said, I wouldn’t use a name if I knew it would bother another family member to that degree. Miscarriage is so painful, I couldn’t imagine adding to that grief in any way.

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    • We intentionally chose names that we were unlikely to use to avoid this complication but it didn’t quite work out. We named our first Becket because we were quite near the feast day of St Thomas Becket. Thomas is a name that we sometimes do consider so we went with Becket. However I always think of him as my little Tommy Becket in heaven.

      With our second loss we were near the feast of St Patrick when we found out (although my body took a painful 3 more weeks to miscarry). When we had initially discovered I was pregnant we fell in love with the name Caroline a name never before considered. Again my husband thought we should not use it because we might want to use it later. But when I think about that baby (which is less often than Tommy Becket and I feel guilty about that), I think of her as a girl and she’s Caroline Patrick. Patrick as a girls middle seems to be right on trend with James as the Hollywood go to middle for girls. It’s almost like I have baby name regret which seems a tad crazy. I don’t know if Caroline would be usable for me or not if we ever had a living girl.

      Sorry for the rambling post but it does feel good to talk about it. I’m not sure I’ve ever shared their name story with anyone. Unlike some posters, as a family we almost never speak of them.

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  10. Respectfully, I don’t agree with you that an earlier loss is less devastating than a loss later in the pregnancy or even after birth. I say this while grieving another loss from just a week ago…our fourth loss, and it just so happens this time, an early loss. One of the joys of being Catholic is that as Catholics, from the moment of conception that is a child, a life, a soul. And as a mother, however short their life was, I value and mourn for them.

    I don’t think it’s for us to judge how or why their grief is so profound or what our view is on “name stealing.” I think the problem is that the author and his wife let their relatives know that for whatever reason that choice of name would hurt them profoundly. And they didn’t seem to care.

    Early on in my marriage I found that a common phrase hurts my husband tremendously when I use it in a fight. I say, “I’m so done” constantly. I use it in reference to cleaning, our children’s tantrums, when I am ready to leave a party, when I can’t find what I want at the store. It’s a flippant remark usually made while holding up my hands that means I am fed up and ready to just be done with whatever situation is annoying me at the moment. It’s made in frustration, but rarely do I actually get to leave the situation (especially if it involves the kids). I made it during a fight and my husband approached me later and asked me to please never say that again during a fight with him because what he hears is that I am done with him, the marriage, etc. In that moment, it’s not flippant. It hurts him tremendously even though he knows it’s something I say often and that my intentions aren’t bad. I could have brushed off his hurt and said that was his issue or I could acknowledge his pain and never use that phrase again during a fight. I can’t imagine how it would feel to lay out their raw vulnerability to a family member and have them simply wave off the pain they are truly feeling from that loss and just say, “well that is your issue, not mine.” And proceed onward with the choice that they KNEW was going to cause such profound pain.

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    • Ellen, this is so beautifully put. I love the example of your saying, “I’m so done” and your husband hearing it differently than you intended it. I love this too: “I can’t imagine how it would feel to lay out their raw vulnerability to a family member and have them simply wave off the pain they are truly feeling from that loss and just say, “well that is your issue, not mine.” And proceed onward with the choice that they KNEW was going to cause such profound pain,” so well put. I’m so sorry to hear of your most recent loss, prayers for you!! ❤

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    • I am so sorry for your loss.

      You have rightly discerned a large portion of the grief. Yes, part of the grief is that they chose a name knowing that it would be difficult for us (as they had been warned by my mother early in their pregnancy not to use the name).

      But an equal or greater portion of grief comes from their sin of presumption. “You’re Christian, so you have to forgive. If you don’t forgive you’re showing a lack of faith in God’s ability to heal your pain.”

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    • I personally have only experienced early loss, and know how hard it is on the parents. However, I do think that early loss is less hard on the extended family and community. With a late loss, they have also become excited and invested in the baby whereas with an early loss, they may not even have known until after the fact. So they may be sorry for the parents, but it’s very unlikely they would feel it as their own grief.

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  11. I know a family that has suffered an infant loss and chose to name the baby Marta. Then the baby’s aunt got pregnant. Since she loved that name (Marta + middle), they named their daughter exactly the same first + middle combo. The family loved the idea: it was a way to honor that lost baby and make sure she would never be forgotten. They still smile when they tell this story and explain there is a living cousin/niece in the family named Marta.

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  12. All around a sad situation.

    The in-laws could have asked, not informed, of their choice of name.

    I think it is horrible for him to say that his niece will basically be desecrating his daughter’s memory with every breath she takes in life.

    I’m sure there is much more to this story, seeing as how they live around the corner from each other but only spoke a few times a year prior to this.

    I think perhaps he should not have blogged this. He does blog under his own name and so it is easy then to identify his brother and wife in real life. And his niece. What if, as a young lady, she reads that post? The internet has a long memory, and even if he were to delete it, there are sites like the wayback machine that archive old things.

    I think poor judgment is abounding here.

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    • I too was worried about the new Lydia and how she’ll feel when/if she ever discovers the circumstances surrounding her naming. It’s a bit like the situations we’ve talked about regarding naming a younger sibling after an older sibling who has died, and the burden that might inflict on the younger child.

      I too worried about the wisdom of putting this all out on the internet … I don’t think I would have made the same decision … but then I wondered, if there’s no contact between the two families, maybe the author hoped his brother & sister-in-law would read it and understand better?

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      • Yes! I thought that while reading, too. Seems like he wanted to make his feelings known to them, specifically, through the post.

        While I truly respect that they are grieving, the heading, “Walking on Graves, Dishonoring the Dead,” and the following metaphors did not feel appropriate to me.

        I would sum up my feelings on this by saying that there are MUCH deeper issues at play here, perhaps some mental health concerns or serious unresolved family wounds, beyond what he describes. The hopeless, enraged tone and use of language suggest this to me.

        We all need grace. We need to receive it and give it.

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  13. I think this particular couple could use some counseling. This may be just one of several issues in that family. I don’t think using the name alone would or should have been enough for that kind of reaction.

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  14. As you might imagine, there is more to the story that can fit in a blog post or two. I’ve got five or six that trace the progression, and even they leave out significant portions of the story.

    Suffice it to say that there are decades of familial patterns of wounding and utter lack of empathy.

    Many of your commenters have guessed as much. I assure you, the issues are not mental health issues, but from a casual reader’s perspective, I can understand how that might be considered. I encourage you, not only in our story but also in the stories of others, not to assume mental issues or the need for a counselor. I’ve been to my fair share, my best friends are counselors and often speak theory with me, and my father in law was a counselor. We are quite mentally healthy.

    Grief is a fickle and unpredictable thing. We grieved for a few weeks immediately after the miscarriage, and then everything seemed to lighten up. A few months later we lost a second child, Nathaniel, who was named after the fact. There was a brief reawakening of grief, but we prayed, we held each other, and we moved on.

    We never expected grief to return, because we had taken the time to let grief “run its course.” We had bought into that lie that once you emerge on the other side of the stages of grief, you can simply move on. But there is no roadmap to navigate these stages, and they more cyclic than linear.

    Fast forward four and half years. We moved six hours south in order to be near family. My wife and SIL were pregnant at the same time (we a little ahead of them). For the duration of their pregnancies, we lived around the corner from them, and my wife and she would go on walks to the park with our children at least twice a week.

    Unbeknownst to us, my mother had guessed that they might be considering the name (there are only so many “pretty” biblical names, and most of them had been taken by their own kids, or living cousins. Months before they gave birth, she warned them that the name was important to us and that they should talk to us before they decided. (For us it is much more than a name, she is our daughter.) But, even though they spent hours together each week, nothing was said.

    10 days before she delivered her child, while my brother was out of the country, she called my wife to ask about our choice of bassinette, and at the tail end of that conversation she abruptly said, “I wanted to give you a head’s up, we’ve decided to name our baby Lydia and didn’t want you to be blindsided. Don’t tell anyone because no one else knows.”

    This was not an attempt to see if we were ok, it was an announcement. We wrestled with it but foolishly honored their request not to tell anyone. Immediately after the name was announced we went to process with my parents. They had known all along as well. We were denied even the right to process it before the birth.

    It was at my parents prompting that we went to speak with them. It did no good. They come from a vastly different worldview than do we. They come from a “me and Jesus” megachurch and do not see any communal responsibility. They refuse to believe that their choices affect anyone but themselves.

    While they are pro-life activists, who believe in the sanctity of all life from conception to natural death, they see this name as available because she wasn’t born. If she had been stillborn, or living, they would never have considered it. So, in a tangible way, in light of their previous decisions to respect the names of living cousins, they were/are dismissing the value of her life.

    Forgiveness is an integral part of our faith. But one can forgive and set boundaries. Pope Francis recently spoke of mercy and justice as being intermeshed. That mercy is freely given, but it comes once the need for it is acknowledged. Simply put, Mercy Doesn’t Preclude Justice.

    From a Catholic perspective, we all acknowledge the importance of family, but we musn’t forget that not all families do function properly. Not all families are healthy. Having the best counselor or spiritual director out there, doesn’t change the fact that some families continually inflict damage. Healthy boundaries are healthy.

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    • Thank you for weighing in Timothy! I’m so sorry for the sadness and suffering of this whole situation. Thank you too for providing more details, it certainly helps us all understand better. And it’s so true, as you say, “not all families do function properly. Not all families are healthy … some families continually inflict damage. Healthy boundaries are healthy.”

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      • I would like to thank you for sharing our story. I know that not everyone here will agree with the choices we’ve made. But I truly appreciate the opportunity to talk about it. Grieving parents are not allowed to publically grieve their loss. As a society, we are quite uncomfortable with Laments. But if we are ever to highlight the dignity of the unborn in a consistent way, we have to include those lost to miscarriage, even at their earliest stages.

        We’ve encountered other Lydias, and as odd as it may seem, it doesn’t affect us in an overly negative way. A close friend could name their child Lydia and it wouldn’t cause the slightest ripple. Our children or grandchildren could use the name and it would cause us no pain.

        The pain we’ve felt has come from having someone in the same generation of our family to be named, not because of her, but in spite of her. The whole extended family now associates the name with their daughter, and ours fades from everyone’s memory but ours.

        It is doubly painful they have removed other names from consideration because a living cousin already has the name. They have said that their daughter “will breathe life into the name,” further reminding us that our daughter couldn’t.

        For us, this isn’t about name stealing. As an example, I made clear long before I was even married that I wanted to name a daughter Abigail (Father’s Joy), but he was married first and named a daughter Abigail. It caused very little angst, and very temporary angst. I had an affinity for the name, but no connection to it. They had a daughter first, and it causes me no grief, no pain, no anger to hear that name.

        To us, the situation with Lydia isn’t name stealing, it is a calloused choice to ignore the death of our child, whom we publically grieved, and whose name was well known. It’s “identity theft.” Perhaps the best (albeit imperfect) picture I can use to illustrate this is the photo from Back to the Future. As the name is filled up with the personality and features of their daughter, our Lydia Putnam will disappear from the picture and be replaced by theirs. At least, that’s the way we see it.

        I apologize for the length of my comments. Brevity is not my strong suit. Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in.

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      • Timothy, what a lovely response! I am able to see more clearly the nuances of your story through your additional comments. The Back to the Future example is actually a really great one. I wonder if it would be helpful for you to mention your Lydia every time you hear the name? Every time you meet a Lydia you could comment, “What a great name, we named our daughter Lydia as well.” Every time you hear of your niece Lydia you could say something like, “I ask our Lydia to pray for their Lydia all the time.” It might be a way for you to take back your baby’s identity? Our little one is Ignatius, and every time I hear the name I mention how much I love the name, so much so that we named our baby Ignatius. My other boys are always telling people (strangers even!) about “Baby Ignatius” — his name (and short, short life) has no chance of being lost or forgotten! Maybe doing similar could be of help to you? (Brevity isn’t my suit either, the [sometimes] burden of being a writer!)

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  15. 20 years ago my daughter died shortly after her birth. A few years later my sister in law had a baby boy but she told me that if she had had a girl she would have named her my daughter’s name but called her by a nickname. I was hurt at the time, but luckily I said nothing. My grief was still so raw then. Now all these years later, it does not bother me at all. Time does heal wounds, that’s for sure.
    I will pray for the family from that blog post. There are clearly some much deeper issues at play there.

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  16. I lost my son, Raphael, at 17.5 weeks gestation, but it was a missed miscarriage, and we didn’t even realize he was gone till he would have been 20 wks along. It was a…very…traumatic…event. To put it mildly.

    My adult step daughter told me she and her husband are hoping to choose Raphael as a name for a future son, and while it stung a bit at first, I decided to think of it as a tribute to the baby. He is/was her half-brother. She didn’t ask permission but just stated it as fact. Not the most sensitive way to handle the situation.

    2 years before I was born, my mom gave birth to very premature twins who didn’t survive. My big brother and sister! The girl was named Elizabeth. Over the years, my mom had more children, including me. I have 4 brothers, but always wanted a sister. When my first daughter was born, i gave her the middle name, Elizabeth, honoring the big sister I never got to know. Of course, I asked both of my parents first, and both consented to honoring Elizabeth by naming my daughter, her niece, after her.

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  17. I recently had a miscarriage at 13 weeks and we named our baby Catherine. My sister was also pregnant, about 8 weeks ahead of me, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I was shocked when I learned that my sister chose the name Kathryn. I tried to act like it was no big deal, but it was. It felt like she didn’t think my baby did or does exist and that was so hurtful. I did finally, very carefully and charitably, talk to her about how hurt I was. She was so apologetic, explained the circumstances that led to that decision and assured me that she never meant to hurt me. That conversation healed our relationship. The truth is, I wouldn’t have minded her using the name if she would have asked me about it before the baby was born. I would have given my blessing, though I would have preferred that they did not use the name. It was the not acknowledging that the name belonged to another child already that hurt so bad. Even so, it is very awkward with both girls having the same name. We talk about our Catherine every day, thanking God for her and asking for her intercession. My kids constantly get confused about which baby, Catherine or Kathryn, is being referred to so we have taken to calling my sister’s baby by her first and middle name even though my sister does not.

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    • Thank you for sharing this Colleen, this is helpful! I like that you call your niece by her first+middle — I have a sister and a sister-in-law with the same name and we do the same. Or maybe “your sister Catherine” vs. “your cousin Kathryn” … or maybe “C-Catherine” vs “K-Kathryn” … or maybe you don’t want any suggestions at all! It sounds like you have it figured out nicely, and I’m so glad your relationship with your sister was healed. ❤

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  18. I’ve miscarried four babies, and I don’t think I would be offended if one of my friends or relatives chose to use one of their names for their living babies, unless they were somehow doing it as an insult to my babies (and I can’t fathom any of my friends or relatives ever doing something like that).

    I’m currently pregnant, and the name we’ve chosen if baby is a girl is the name of my younger sister, who died 35 years ago (she was born at 28 weeks and lived for 12 hours). I asked my dad if he minds if we use it, and he said he wouldn’t mind at all. I still have to ask my mom, and I’m hoping she will have the same reaction. If she does not, and says that she would prefer that we use a different name if we have a girl, I plan to honor her wishes and choose something else. Using my sister’s name isn’t more important than my mother’s feelings.

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    • I was just thinking about this! I know someone who named her daughter the same name as her older sister who died as a baby, and another family who had a baby still-born at 39 weeks and then named a child they had a few years later the same name as their still-born baby. I always was really curious about both situations (just as naming interests go 😉 )…My oldest brother passed away from cancer complications at 20 and I would consider (if we ever have a son) using his name as a honor-name, but it’s definitely something I would ask my mom about, and maybe even siblings as well. As others have commented- life gets complicated and everyone responds differently to grief!

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    • I would encourage you not to delay in asking. A parent’s immediate reaction may change and develop over the course of time. When we first heard, we were stunned and saddened, but the full rush of grief didn’t hit us until later.

      Not everyone can process these kinds of matters quickly.

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  19. Like I said, I have already asked my father, and I intend to ask my mother as soon as possible. (we live at 1800 miles apart, and she’s a busy lady so it’s sometimes hard to get in touch by phone – and this is an exactly something I want to bring up over email or text). I plan to call her this weekend and discuss it with her.

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  20. I think each situation is unique to the people involved and only the people involved know well and understand the complexity in the situation. Boundaries were crossed and in laws demonstrated they were willing to name their child Lydia after their deceased niece without regard to the parents. Quite telling of their character. There are so many beautiful names out there, the in laws really could’ve found another beautiful baby girl name for their daughter especially out of respect for the loss, but it became childish and selfish. This also suggests the objectification of things and attachments having more value over virtue and relationships. The in laws were wrong on many levels, only acceptable by showing indifference to their extended family. A baby name became something to fight over like who gets what toy, vs the naming of a baby to celebrate a new blessing and family. The couple has every right to enforce boundaries.

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  21. I think I understand more reading Timothy’s comments why the author found it so hurtful to have his *family member* choose the same name, as opposed to a friend. I have miscarried two babies, only shared their names with certain close ones, and a friend decided to use the name for her baby- it didn’t bother me! I was happy! But in a family, well, that can be different. While friends can have matching names, we generally don’t expect cousins to. We go out of our way to make sure we can tell John Smith or James Smith or Jason Smith apart when talking with relatives! If we have cared enough to give the baby a name at any stage of life, and then share it with our family, that shows it means something precious. And that their small part in the generations of this family is occupied by their own unique name. So yes, I can see the hurt from this perspective. Blessings to all who have children they have named and set forth into heaven.

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    • I like how you articulated this: “If we have cared enough to give the baby a name at any stage of life, and then share it with our family, that shows it means something precious. And that their small part in the generations of this family is occupied by their own unique name” — well put!

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