Family Infant Loss Lifestyle

Celebrating an Angel’s 5th Birthday at the Cemetery

Celebrating an Angel's 5th Birthday at the Cemetery

Yesterday, May 29, 2013, marked my little angel’s 5th birthday. I truly cannot believe it has been 5 years since I gave birth to a little girl with one of the most amazing spirits ever! In case you are new to my story, my little Gianna only lived for a couple of days before we decided to take her off of life support. You can read my whole story of infant loss, from the beginning if you’d like.

While Gianna was only in our lives for a short time, she will be in our hearts and thoughts forever. I believe her to be a remarkable spirit who is not resting on the other side, but trying to make the lives of others even better. She has allowed me to feel her presence on a few occasions since her death, and I will never forget those feelings I felt. The amazing thing to me is that I am inclined to believe that my youngest, Brielle, gets visits from time to time, from her sister. She tells me sometimes that Gianna comes to her in her sleep and tells her that she loves her, and sings her songs. Of course, we’ll never know exactly how this goes down and Brielle will likely forget as she gets older, but I think it’s pretty special.

Celebrating an Angel's 5th Birthday at the Cemetery

So, how does a mother celebrate an angel’s 5th birthday at the cemetery, and what is that day like? Well, each year Gianna’s birthday is a little bit easier than the last, but it most certainly isn’t forgotten. I make a point to take the kids out to the cemetery each year on her birthday, and we will eat cupcakes and take a balloon or flowers. The weather has always been perfect and the grounds are lovely. It really is a peaceful time when we do this, (when I’m not getting after the kids for running around and moving around other people’s trinkets on their headstones).

Celebrating an Angel's 5th Birthday at the Cemetery

You may like to know how this day is emotionally. I was pretty good for most of the day, but every so often I would get these moments when I would ponder on Gianna’s birth and how terrifying it was, and I would get a bit emotional. I would fight it back and move on with my day. I don’t know if you all do this or not, but I often think about the day my kids were born, on their birthday. Gianna’s birth day was a very traumatic day as it was an emergency c-section, and we didn’t know if she would ever breathe or not. She did, but it wasn’t without many trials and problems along the way.

Celebrating an Angel's 5th Birthday at the Cemetery

I think the most difficult thing about Gianna’s birthday is that for me, it is very special and very much in my thoughts and heart, but many others forget about it. I so appreciate those who have remembered and reach out. I don’t expect gifts or anything by any means, but it is nice to know Gianna and I are remembered. My own husband didn’t even remember. That is probably the hardest thing for me. I had to text my husband to remind him and that kind of bothers me. While we don’t celebrate her birthday like we do with our other children, she is still my daughter. Aside from celebrating her birthday, it’s more the fact that I wish more/certain people were sensitive to the fact that May 29-31st are difficult days for me. I find that I am a little more subdued during those days because I find myself replaying those days in my mind, over and over again. I’m sure this will lessen as more time goes on, but that’s where I am 5 years after the fact.

I find joy in the children that I get to spend all of my days with and the grief and mourning is not like it once was. I have peace with what has happened and know that my angel is watching over us, and that we will get to see her again. The difficult times and thoughts are often with the trauma of what happened. It is nice that we get to show our appreciation and love for Gianna each year, by visiting her at the cemetery on her birthday.

About the author

Emily Buys


  • I loved reading your post. Our family suffered a loss almost 7 years ago when our fourth child, Lilith, died from SIDS at the age of 7 weeks. We moved half way across the country just 2 months after we buried her, so no one here really knows our story. When we go to visit family we always stop by the gravesite and visit with her. Every year though on her birthday I make a cake and the kids all help blow out the candles. We have her picture around the house and talk about her a lot. My MIL still won’t put her picture on the wall with the other grandchildren and it hurts sometimes, but then I have to remember that everyone grieves differently. We too have had another child since then. Michael is such a blessing to our family and would not be here if things had been different. I’m grateful for the time I had with her and look forward to the day that I’ll see her again.

  • As your children get older, they will no doubt appreciate even more that you take out special time on Gianna’s birthday. Your beautiful daughter is absolutely watching out over you and your children. <3 Lots of love and hugs to you and your amazing family. <3

  • I am so sorry for your loss Cari, and I thank you for sharing your story with me. I think having a cake and having the kids blow out the candles together is a wonderful way to celebrate! You are right though – everyone grieves differently!

  • Emily, after reading your story, I cannot explain to you how deeply it touched my rawest emotions and how greatly my heart hurt for your loss. I am still tearing up at the thought of what you endured and the pictures of that precious little angel of yours. I went through something similar during my last pregnancy so I can relate to you in so many of your feelings you described while awaiting test results, just wanting to hold her etc. but fortunately the medical community was proven wrong in my case by, I believe with all of my heart, nothing more than the grace of God, and she is here now and healthy. Thank you for sharing what must have been for you, the hardest story to ever put into words. It reaffirms my faith and my gratitude for the blessings I DO have. May God continue to bless you and your precious family and again, thank you for sharing this. Gianna is smiling down at you under the wings of our Heavenly Father and you WILL be with her again one day<3

  • I am so sorry for your loss! I am able to relate somewhat. When my son was 13 months old he was with his grandparents. He fell in the columbia river and was dead for over 20 minutes. He was revived. Our whole lives changed forever in a flash. He had severe cerebral palsy. We took care of him for 18 years when he died. He had so many problems and surgeries and didn’t grow right. I could go on. Sometimes it is a blessing that if it had to happen she didn’t suffer. I know my Brian is watching over us too. We are just one breathe away!! That is how I think of it. It is wonderful how you celebrate her life. Thanks for sharing!

  • I know it is hard to lose a child for I have done so. I had a 13 month old fall into the river and drown while he was with my husbands parents years ago. He died then but was revived. He had severe Cerebral palsy for years. He lived to be 18. I could write a book about the trials and tribulations of that but won’t! He was born on Sept 11 and so was my good friends daughter. I love that you celebrate her birthday. This is wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Sorry to hear of your loss. Our son, Jack, would have turned 1 tomorrow. Instead, he died after 28 days of HLH… A rare blood/immune disorder. I think he was the only full term baby in the NICU. I also constantly replay the day he was born and the month that follows. Jack was our first and only. I share your feelings, and your sorrow. Thanks for sharing. We are both better off because Gianna and Jack were in our lives! 🙂

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