I have a couple friends IRL who've weaned (IMO) early -- one at six months, another before a year .... It made me feel bad/sad too.
One weaned because she wasn't comfortable with NIP, baby finally took a bottle at six months, therefore was weaned within a week so she could go to the grocery store etc. more easily.
One weaned because baby was 9 months and "ready to wean, and so was she." She interpreted distractibility at that age with a want to wean.
So she did. With the next one, though, she's still bf at 1 year plus (no distractibility with this one!
In both cases I didn't really know what to say - so I didn't say much, just changed the subject (Neither lives nearby so I heard after the fact) .... Both know that Ina bf'd 2 1/2 years so I suppose that tells them how I feel about bf beyond a year!
I think there is a HUGE barrier for many women to overcome, just in terms of the societal pressure about breastfeeding duration and locations. My friend whose baby "weaned" at 9 months is the daughter of a woman who bf'd all her children beyond a year of age (so I know she didn't get that advice from her mom!) .... but she still believed what the babytrainers etc. had to say.
That's what I try to remind myself when I read/hear these stories ... the moms made a decision they thought was best, based on the (limited and poor) information that they were receiving from those they trusted (HCPs, family, friends). And especially for on-line friendships, it's much more difficult for them to "hear" what's being said here than it is to "hear" all the pressures being placed on mom by her partner, her IL's, her coworkers, etc. etc. etc.
I post at a support board for bf moms dealing with reflux/allergies on another board -- and every once and awhile, a mom whom I've been trying to help will blip on over to the general support thread and start asking about ffing and etc. She gives in to the "formula will make it better" pressure. I feel sad as I watch the formula merry-go-round start, etc. for that mom and baby, where if she'd listened and applied our advice, she'd probably have found things working out just fine ....
I just have to remind myself that in a world where so few mothers even make it to 3 months (and 30% never even initiate) -- ff is the cultural norm, and it's what makes many moms (and their families and HCPs) feel safe -- so it's what they will revert to if they feel like things are not working or aren't manageable. And unfortunately, some of the things which are really important to bf (like cue feedings) can feel very unmanageable to a woman who's grown up with scheduled ff babies all her life.
I've rambled but I guess what I'm trying to say in the end, is that these women and their decisions are the reasons that I (we?) are lactivists -- when I see or hear about women who've made these decisions, it just motivates me more to work to help build a world where my children will have more support, better medical information, and more social acceptance when they choose to bf their children ....