The Question

You know that question. For most people it’s a no brainer.

But if you’ve had a loss, it’s a tricky question loaded with guilt, hesitation and anxiety. And sometimes lies.

I took Bubby to the dentist this morning, and read the line on the form that went something like this…

“Names and ages of siblings”.

Do I put her name, and place age zero next to it? Do I put her name and put age three? Do I leave it blank and indicate he has no siblings?

Hm. Then I wonder, why this is even relevant to checking his teeth?

I left it blank.

A lie. But somehow that is what helped me the most. She isn’t age zero, and she isn’t a spunky little three year old here.

On the way out, the sweet nurse who simply adored our shy and bashful son asked if he was my only one.

Awkward pause, and another lie.

“Have more. You guys make beautiful babies.”

It made me smile, thinking of the possibility of having another precious child someday. But the truth is we have another one. And she was the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.

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  1. 1
    Stephanie D says:

    So hard!!
    Stephanie D recently posted..A Lifetime of GriefMy Profile

  2. 2
    Stefanie says:

    Oh Fran, it breaks my heart every time I’m asked that question. I hate answering it and I’m overwhelmed with guilt when I choose not to include Sam. A mother’s instinct to protect, i guess. Thank you for sharing.
    Stefanie recently posted..Even though…My Profile

  3. 3
    Betty Torres says:

    I have definitely been there before. Hugs to you my friend. I don’t know what number or siblings Or kids have anything to to with the dentist or eye doctor for that matter.

  4. 4
    Melissa R says:

    It is definitely hard. I was recently discussing having more children with the lady I nanny for. I told her we had been trying for awhile.. but somehow I could not get the words out that we had suffered a loss too ( a miscarriage 6 months prior). I felt bad for not talking about it, for not sharing it, but honestly I was too afraid of the emotions that may have been exposed talking about it at work. So I didn’t bring it up. But sometimes I wish I had. I find I can more easily discuss it in words while writing, rather than by speaking.

    I am glad you were able to smile while thinking of having another child someday :)

  5. 5
    Kd Blackburn says:

    The single most hardest question in the world to answer. You’d think with seven here I could manage the answer once without feeling..guilty.. lost.. even angry.. definitely sorrow. But no, it is inevitable, I have eight, make that nine, but two are in Heaven… and I can’t wait to see them again.

  6. 6
    Marina says:

    :( It is very hard sometimes… this afternoon I went to pick up my older girl from school. I just thought everybody knew our story because I always told it and I love talking about my Baby Sofia. Probably not or maybe people forget but a lady asked Vittoria when Mommy was finally going to give her a little brother… usually we both have a reply that goes something like “we have a sister her name is Sofia and she lives in our hearts” but today we were not ready to answer the question… she insisted with things like “c’mon is not that complicated to give Vittoria a little brother or a sister as with nature we can not decide”… I felt Vittoria getting nervous and lots of moms were there giving the lady and me “that look”, so I simply said “we like sisters”. And that was it. I feel bad now but I just did not want to cry, to make Vittoria sad and to give people what they expected and did not want to hear. :( Vittoria has a sister, she should be 1 year old… she only survived 48 hours instead. We love our little Girl so much. I hope she know how much we so love her. And yes Fran normal questions sometimes are simply no longer that normal to us! But I know that our answers will always be for a good reason, our lies are just for fine and if we do lie, it is only because of love! A big hug from Italy X X X

  7. 7
    Guy Wolfe says:

    Strange you posted this today of all days. I was filling out a job application earlier this morning and it asked for the names and ages of all of my children, living or deceased. It was the first time I had thought about having to fill out anything like that. I had to put that Mia was deceased, and it hurt…a lot. I know she’s in my future, but living without her in the present is the definition of faith.

  8. 8
    Beth says:

    I hate questions like these. Seeming innocuous, but they are *so* affecting. Big hugs.
    Beth recently posted..All I Need To KnowMy Profile

  9. 9
    Kasey says:

    my daughters usually speak up before I do. When say something about there being the four of them, they correct them and say, no, there are five we just have one in Heaven. Most of the time I just don’t want to deal with their comments or lack of knowing what to say.

  10. 10
    Jill says:

    This will always be a part of our lives and it is just so darn hard to get asked those questions.

  11. 11
    Amanda says:

    Oh Fran – you write so eloquently on such a hard topic. My brother & sister-in-law went through the same thing when their 2 year old died from brain cancer. That was 10 years ago and they *still* think those things when filling out paper work. Or when visiting a new church where it says “names and ages of children.” There really are people who understand – they’re just never around when you need them to be.
    Amanda recently posted..Birthday Giveaway Party: Yours TrulyMy Profile

  12. 12
    Jessica says:

    Oh I HATE that question too. I always get “are they twins?” which I then have to decide if I want to explain that they are triplets or just answer vaguely and walk away.
    Jessica recently posted..Girl TalkMy Profile

  13. 13
    Lyndsay says:

    This is another reminder that seemingly innocent questions have heavily loaded answers sometimes. Simply asking when a new brother or sister is one the way, or how many do you have…people don’t mean anything by it but they can dig pretty deep. I’ve learned that there are some questions, even if you’re just attempting to be friendly, don’t need to be asked.
    Lyndsay recently posted..Out of the Vault…More Baby GoodnessMy Profile

  14. 14
    Carolyne says:

    I am just getting to the stage now where I actually find myself being honest. Yes, my little girl does have a brother, but he died and I don’t know if I will be able to have any more children. I’ve actually found people to be more accepting and less awkward than I’d anticipated. But there are also the physical trainers and my dentist who still assume my two c-sections mean two children. And I cannot bring myself to correct them. I dread the day my daughter asks why she is the only one without a brother or sister here on earth. Thank you for posting this Francesca.

  15. 15
    Michelle says:

    This is so true. I remember right after my son passed one of my best friends told me I would one day come up with my “stories”. I didn’t really know what she meant but as time has gone on I realize I have a few different scenarios on my life and depending on how I’m feeling/who is asking depends on what “story” they get. Every time someone asks me if I have more children though and I don’t tell them about my son the guilt just overwhelms me. Thank you for sharing :)

  16. 16
    Stephanie says:

    It still hits me hard every time. But in my case, because we have 4, most people say the opposite “you must be done with 3 boys and a girl” and I always want to shout “I have TWO girls”. Big love for you sweetie.
    Stephanie recently posted..Print Runner Giveaway WinnerMy Profile

  17. 17

    I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t feel like every stranger who asks deserves to know my truth. I find myself pretending I didn’t hear the question and changing the subject while laughing lightheartedly.

  18. 18
    Cait says:

    Oh Fran, I had my beautiful twin girls 26 years ago and I still hate the question “How many children do you have?” Now I say I have three beautiful girls but the youngest of my twins survived for one week. That works for me because I think death is part of life, just as our beautiful Jessica was and is still part of our family. Her loss is still felt by us all in different ways. This is how I’ve learnt to deal with it and I feel OK about the other persons discomfort or it sometimes opens a door to talk about our life.

    I love the gengtle, sensative way you write Fran.

  19. 19

    So much truth in this post. I lost my little boy last August, just before his first birthday, and am now pregnant again, due the day after his birthday. The question I get all the time, “is this your first?” I always reply “no second”. Some people go on to ask how old my first is. And my answer depends on who they are and what they mean to me. I either lie and say almost 2 and pretend all is fine, or I tell them what happened. Such a small question, meaning no harm only conversation, can mean so much more than its intent….
    Angela DoCouto recently posted..Blossoms, Butterflies & BlanketsMy Profile

  20. 20
    Jess says:

    So sad that so many of us relate to this, but there are just so many of these “normal” little things that must aren’t so normal any,ore and can trigger so many emotions. Since I have three boys people always say, are you gonna try for a girl? Like you I also think, I have the most beautiful girl already, but she lives in heaven. Usually I just answer I don’t know, because most people don’t seem like they really want the details…but it stings every time three years down the road. Every so often I surprise myself and explain, but that is so hard too…

  21. 21
    Karylle says:

    This is definitely so hard and I guess a lot of people will agree with me.. Sometimes, we can’t say how things will happen to us.. We just need to accept it..
    Karylle recently posted..Sharepoint HostingMy Profile

  22. 22
    Carol says:

    Accepting in life in everything happen to us is the key to find

  23. 23
    Stephine says:

    I struggle with this as well. I think the first time it hit us was when we filed our taxes. I didn’t know if I should put it or not, but he’s my child, we do have a child, he’s just not ‘here’. So I put his name and left the age blank. Like you, I didn’t know what to say or put. He asked how old he was and I just kinda sat there and mumbled that he was no longer with us. He said “okay, so it’s age 0″. Age 0?! Like.. my child is nothing. They should really think things through sometimes. I know not everyone deals with this, but one of out the thousand may. Idk, I guess that’s just the heartache talking :(
    Stephine recently posted..I made reading easier for you!My Profile

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