Monday, August 24, 2009

How Many Children Do You Have?

It should be an easy question. It is not. I mean, I know the salesman who is asking just to act like he is interested does not really care how many children I have, but people I just meet at church or school who do not know us do. If I say 3, then I have to explain that we have Evan, but he is just not here, he is in Heaven. This usually makes people uncomfortable. The alternative is to say we have two. That is leaving Evan out. That is just something I CANNOT bring myself to do. So I don't know how to do this. I usually end up rambling to someone and either make them really uncomfortable or make them cry. The crying thing I don't mind because truth be told, I am usually on the verge of crying myself and it makes me feel better if they are crying with me. I just hate making people uncomfortable and I really just don't know how to handle that question. Now I am just rambling. If you have any experience or any ideas how to handle this please let me know. It seems to come up a lot lately and I am getting more and more self conscious about it.

8 comments:

thetalbotts said...

I wish I couldn't relate at all, but I've been asked this same thing a million times and struggle with it every single time still. At my grief support group, this question comes up often. Everyone in the group has a different response as to how they answer. For me personally, my answer changes depending on who I'm talking to.

I've come to realize that Elliana will always be my daughter even though she's in heaven. If I say her name in my list of children or not, she's still my daughter. If I make someone uncomfortable by bringing her up or not, she's still my daughter. No answer you give to a stranger about how many kids you have will ever make Evan any more or less of your son. He's your baby boy, and he'll always be. Your love for him will never change, no matter what words come out of your mouth when you get in tough situations like that.

Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy said...

I have read this on many blogs lately from people who have lost children. I didn't lose a child at birth, but to a miscarriage. I always say that I have one stepdaughter who is like my own and one sweet girl in heaven that will always be my baby. Perhaps you could say...
"I have three children." If they continue to question you about ages or whatever, just say "my daughter is _, my son is _ and I have a son in heaven who will always be my baby." It's true. It works for me. I hope that helps a little.

chadandnikki said...

With Johanna's birth and most likely death looming very soon, I have wondered the same thing. How will I answer that later on down the road? I have no suggestions or advice for you. Except to say that I totally get it, and I'm praying for you.

chris mitch travis cana said...

something i learned during our 4th month on this grief journey, from a mom in her 7th year...

let the other person lead the conversation how they want it to go. It frees you from the responsibility (or feeling responsible) for their being sad or uncomfortable. I feel the same way, not wanting to deny my daughters life, knowing with my heart that i'm not doing that, but i also want EVERYONE to know we have a little girl too...that she COUNTS! So what we do is this..when someone asks if we have more or how many we have, we simply say yes. If they want to know more, they ask...
(how many? or how old are they?)
then we just tell the truth (travis is just over 2, and cana would have been 10 months). If they want to know more, they continue to ask, or they stop there. This way, i haven't denied her..and i let them control how much they want to know, how far they want to take it. Some ask, some just say sorry. but i like this idea....

hope this offers you some comfort, even just knowing you aren't alone in this.

peace & grace.

Rebecca said...

My Husband and I agreed at Olivia's burial that we would honor her by 'including her in the count'. There have been a couple of times when I've chickened out and said, "I have 3 at home" or something to that effect.

I like the idea of saying '3 at home and 1 in heaven'. I appreciate the comment too about letting the other person 'guide' the convo.

Hope something here helps you figure out how to navigate those awkward moments.

adafloyd said...

Hey Monica... of course it's a very important question any parent who has lost a child deals with. I love some of the ideas I've read here. Mase & I generally just say 2 here and 2 in Heaven, but sometimes I go with the situation (i.e. if I don't want to tell the stranger in the restaurant all my personal business) I might just say 2, knowing I am not neglecting my boys, but truly those people don't want all that much detail... their just making conversation.

The best I can suggest is go with what feels right in the moment, and yes, it will change sometimes. I agree with the comment to let them ask if they want to know more... I have discovered many people who share this loss that way - most just say "Oh, I'm so sorry" and I can say Thank you and move on, you know?

If you have time some day soon on a Tue or Thurs, I would love to grab lunch or a coffee or something while the kids are in school. Give me a call or send an email if you want.

Much love to you... ada

Jennifer said...

Monica-
Say what you really feel at the time you are asked. Don't worry about their comfort level at this time. You are very tactful and I know will handle it well. I always figure if they ask or push the ages, gap in ages, etc. that they will probably get more than they want to hear but they did ask. I am just too honest though and it makes me feel better to let people know that the reason for the 6 year age gap in my kids are the 3 miscarriages. I resent the comments like, "Where they planned" and "that must have been a big surprise". They were desperately wanted and such a miracle. Evan was the same. Desperately wanted and his short life a miracle.

Much love you to my friend!