Borchardt Consulting

A Sisters Grief

Posted on: October 30, 2013

Today I am remembering my own personal guardian angel, my sister Becky.  She died 22 years ago today, when I was 4.  I’m having a particularly tough time this year, and I’m not entirely sure why.  My mother says it’s because I’m only just starting to comprehend this with my adult brain. 

Molly & Becky

Molly & Becky


Part of me thinks that is ridiculous.  I remember my sister with vivid detail, and this isn’t something that I woke up with when my frontal lobe was fully formed.  I remember my grandmother holding Becky at my 4th birthday party, and—in my typical 4 year old way—I decided it was time for a musical interlude.  I serenaded Becky with some absolutely preposterous song that had no tune or real story because while I sang, her eyes never left my face and she smiled at me while I did.  Baby sisters make the best audience. 

So it’s not as if I don’t remember my sister or didn’t understand that “dying” meant I would never see her again.  I knew that.  I was angry about it.  I knew it meant my parents were sad.  I knew it made my dad cry, something I had never seen before.  I also knew it was wrong; my baby sister wasn’t supposed to die.  That’s not how things worked. 

But at the same time, there are things I didn’t understand.  The day after she died was Halloween, and my mom said I begged her to take me trick-or-treating.  One of my aunts took me to my preschool Halloween party because I refused to miss it.  I was still 4 and couldn’t miss the chance to dress up.   

Years later, I would get so frustrated with my parents.  Fall is my favorite season, and I take any opportunity to decorate the house, but my mom never wanted to get out the fall/Halloween decorations.  In my narrow teenage mind, I thought it was because my mom doesn’t have any Martha Stewart home décor skills (she doesn’t).  Now I look back and wonder how I could be so completely blind.   

I understood from a child’s perspective, but now I can identify with my parents.  I watch my friends balloon up with their own little bundles of joy and it’s such an incredible (and weird!) process.  One of my friends lets me touch her adorable little baby bump all I want, and I just keep touching it.  How fascinating to grow a human inside of you.  I have no idea how my parents woke up in the morning or kept breathing.  I worry about my future children and my friends’ children too. 

It’s weird to have a child’s grief inside of me as well as an adult’s grief.  I miss my sister for the baby that she was, smiling at my stupid songs, and for what she should have been, my friend and my enemy and my confidant and helping me torture our youngest sister.  As an adult, I’m not sure how I feel about heaven, but I will never shake the thought of heaven as a tea party, covered in pink teacups, balloons, and cakes, completely a 4 year old’s vision of what the perfect world would be. 

 I very rarely dream of Becky, but when I did, she was always a playmate, a fellow child.  Last summer, I dreamed of Becky how she was before she died, a small, warm body with those dark blue eyes.  I was an adult and held her in her old room, rocking her to sleep.  I woke up crying but happy.  It’s weird… this child’s memory mixed with now-grown emotions. 

So while 22 years isn’t a milestone or a particularly special year, I’m having a rough time.  I think as adults we are somewhat dismissive of children’s memories and feelings because they are so fluid.  The stories they tell show us exactly how they remember events, and we giggle more often than not because it’s a very different event than we remember.  Their emotions swing so quickly; one moment they are losing their minds and the next they are playing happily.  But I remember dropping barbies on the ground when we heard the sirens.  I remember seeing my parents cry.  I remember seeing my cousins lined up at the end of my Nana’s bed as she led them in prayer for Becky.  And now, as an adult, I try to just remember my sister.

Last Weekend Together

Last Weekend Together

6 Responses to "A Sisters Grief"

Molly, you have a unique vantage point in your relationship with your sisiter, Becky. You have been blessed with being able to remember vividly your baby sister and your relationship with her. Now you are starting to process these memories with your adult brain which will hopefully enable you to come to terms with your loss but also what Becky gave you when she was here. My hope and prayer for you is that you will continue to grow your relationship with Becky and celebrate the gift she was to you and your family.

Sandy P.


I bawled. My daughter was also 4 when we lost her baby sister. I worry about how she is handling it now and later. Also we lost Anneliese near Halloween. I hope they are in heaven together


Thank you for sharing Molly. It really makes me think about what Maggie will feel like when she is your age and finally understands what happened to her brother. Unfortunately, she never knew him because he would be older than her, but we still talk about him, which I think is extremely important. I am thinking about you today and am here if you ever need to talk to someone who has been through something similar. Xoxo


Molly has a younger sister that was born 5 years after. She knows her sister and feels cheated that there are no pictures or family memories of them together. But, she has decided that she got to know Becky while they were both in heaven and she was waiting to be born. That gives her 5 years with her sister! We only got 4 months….ha! I love to see how kids brains work. She doesn’t have as deep a connection. Special days aren’t as significant but she misses having her big sister.


Thanks for making me cry Molly, Uncle John. It is a great feeling to think of the tea party!


Hi Molly,
That was wonderful the way you shared your thoughts and memories of Becky with others. The time has flown since we lost our granddaughter Vanessa, but the memories are as clear as day. I often think of her and wonder how she would look today and what she would be doing. I truly miss all of those years we didn’t get to have with her, but I truly enjoyed the so little time we did have with her.
Tell your Mom & Dad I said hi, and wish you all a healthy and Happy New Year
Hugs, Eileen


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