Grieving teen meeting organ donor recipient

Two weeks ago my mother died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Because she was in good health and somewhat young she became an organ donor.

Today I got a phone call saying that the recipients wish to meet with us. There are three children in the family, my father and mother divorced many years ago. I’m 31, my brother is 25 and not in the area, my sister just turned 16. For me it has been hard, though nowhere near as hard as on my sister who lived with my mother.

Personally for me, I would not have a problem, at least I don’t see myself having a problem, meeting the family. I said as much, but now I will have to ask my sister if she is ready for such a step. I have no idea of what to say since I’ve never been in such a position. I don’t know if I should even tell her at this point, but I have been honest in everything else that has been going on. I don’t know if I should wait a bit to tell her, tell her soon, not tell her for a year or so.

There are other problems as well. Her father, not mine, is a dick and she will not be living with him, but we really don’t know where she will be living. She still has two years of high school left and as of right now she will most likely be living on the other side of the country. If I don’t tell her soon she might not be around to talk to the family. Nor do I know how she will take meeting the family, nor if it will do her any good or not.

I could use all the help I could get here.

First, I’m sorry for your loss. It’s very difficult to lose a mom. Secondly, I’m so happy your family made the decision to help others by donating. It’s just the kindest thing a person can do.

Now, on to your sister. If I were you, I’d just tell her straight out what the situation is. You may be surprised at how well she takes to the idea of meeting the people. She may derive some comfort from knowing first hand what a great thing her mom did as her final act of kindness.

I hope it works out for you. Sorry again for your loss.

What Kalhoun said. Was your sister involved at all in the decision to donate? If so, then she definitely ought to be given the option to meet the recipients. Although 16 is still very young, she’s dealt with a lot of upheaval in the past few weeks and it sounds as if she’ll soon be dealing with more (having to move). The more you treat her like an adult, and let her make her own decisions, the more she may feel in control of her life. That’s a good thing right now. Best of luck with this.

More virtual sympathy for your loss, Edward. :frowning:

I agree that you should tell your sister right away – just make it clear that she is under absolutely no obligation to meet that family if she’s at all uncomfortable with the idea. If she knows that you will support her no matter how she feels about it, and that she won’t be pushed into doing anything she doesn’t want to do, she should be just fine.

My deepest condolences for your loss, Edward. When my mother died of breast cancer, she wasn’t an eligible organ donor, but to this day I feel bad that we didn’t think about donating her corneas (though she died at home and for all I know she wasn’t transported timely enough for the tissue to still even be viable, so maybe that’s why no one even suggested it at the time). You and your family have done a beautiful thing. I agree with the others – give your sister the choice to meet the recipient(s) or not. If she decides not to, how could she be upset with you for merely informing her she had the option? But if you don’t tell her and she learns later that you withheld this from her, it could cause a great deal of hurt and anger at the missed opportunity. I think you’ll find she’ll handle it just fine. Best of luck and may your hearts heal soon.

I’ll chime in with those who think you should tell your sister, and let her make the decision. Your mother did a wonderful thing, and maybe seeing people whose lives have been helped will also help your sister.

My mother has made a similar decision. She has willed her whole body to the University of Kansas Medical Center School of Medicine. Some folks are uncomfortable with that, but it’s up to my mom( a retired nurse), and she feels that this will help future medical training.

I am sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself too.

I’m sorry for your loss as well, Edward. I agree with what the others have said.


oh my, as someone who has lost a mother…no matter what the cause (as mine died because of poor health and lazy upkeep), it is a profound loss that employs insufficient words of description…

I agree that meeting the recipients of your mother’s organs is a good thing…

to have tangible evidence of the sheer goodness that your mother was able to spread via donating her organs (a decision she made in life?) could turn out to be a very therapeutic way to deal with her sudden and unexpected death…(not every part of her is gone?)

i offer my empathy, which is the very most I can give, at whatever stage of grief you’re in…

Edward, my condolances for you and your family in this time.

I’m another who thinks that you should tell your sister. Don’t push her either way - while I think it would be a nice memorial to your mother to see people who are living better because of her, I can also see how early in the grieving it could upset someone to see people who are happier than they were because their mother is dead. (This is not my thinking - just an example of a way that someone could react if they’re not ready to think about memorials.) Let her have her reactions and make up her own mind - but let her know that the opportunity is there.

My older brother died of an aneurysm in '99. We donated his organs and I wish I got to meet some of the recipients. It did give me comfort to know that some people were going to be helped but then, I have no idea how their operations turned out.

I’m very sorry for you and your siblings, but I’m sure that inviting her to meet them is a good idea.

I haven’t talked to her just yet, but I will later today. The reason I asked is because when I said it shouldn’t be a problem the people suggested that it was a bit early. I figured that they knew a lot more then I did about such things and maybe it was a good idea to wait.

I would of course tell my sister, but I wouldn’t have to now, they told me I could wait as long as I wanted to meet them so I didn’t have to do it now. But since she might be going away I figured that we might have to do it sooner. So I wasn’t planning on not telling her and going myself.

Zebra, I don’t know about then, but they called me a few days after my mother died and told me that she was able to donate her liver, lungs to two different people, and both kidneys, plus her heart valves are good as are the skin and tissues. It was my mother’s wish that her organs be donated so I did it. I believe that most in my family feel that way, and I do even more so now.

My mother was a total body donor, and I have signed up as an organ donor. I am very sorry for your familiy’s loss, and very much appreciate the last gift she gave. I hope your sister comes through this difficult time as gently as possible, and that all of you find peace.

From experience - it never goes away, but it does get better.

Sorry about your Mom.

A close relative of mine (6 yo) is on the list for a liver. If he gets it and I could give any comfort to the family that donated I would … I would want to say to them (and your family) “Bless you/Thanks”

Obviously this really is about you and your sister and what is best for her and I THINK you are saying others told you it is not a good idea but you think she might be able to deal with it. If so, I’d go for it, I doubt it could make a kid who lost her Mom feel any worse really and it might help.

My mom gave her body to the Anatomical Gift Society. We are all very happy with the decision as well. Most people don’t know how much it means to students to have a real body to study on.

Well last night I did talk to her and she said she was interested in meeting them. We’ll have to wait until August so that my brother can come back up and we can do it together. Thanks for confirming what I thought in the first place.

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. What an awful time for you.

That’s great, Edward! I’m glad that it went well. Thanks for letting us know. :slight_smile: