How many kids do you have? The dreaded question after you lose a child. There are so many ways to answer this question, and so many things that can pull at your heart. I would have never thought about it before Aria died. That this question of how many kids you have is such a terrible question to answer when you lose a child. I had no idea that such an innocent question can bring up such anguish.
I am still flustered many times with how to answer this. I thought I had my rhythm figured out with how I answer, but I was recently asked, and I stumbled and fumbled over my words because I’m not sure how to answer that. It still takes me by surprise sometimes, and I don’t quite know how to answer it.
When Aria first died, I was determined to tell everyone that I had 4 children(that was including Aria) but one of them had died. For a long time, that was my answer. I told everyone who asked that my daughter died. When Justin responded to people, he usually said 3 children. I couldn’t fathom why he would say that! If I didn’t mention her to a stranger, then I felt like I was betraying Aria and her life. I felt like by not mentioning her, I was somehow deleting her from our family.
Then I started getting so many horrible responses from people, that I started to wonder if it was worth sharing with them? They would ask how many children I had, and I would say I have 4 but my daughter died. People got really awkward, apologized for asking, and the bad responses only many me feel worse. There were people who just knew what to do, and responded so well that I was happy I told them, but the bad responses started to outweigh the good. Did these people really deserve to know the truth? I mentioned this to Justin, and he told me that is why he never tells them. He doesn’t want to deal with the bad reactions.
I read somewhere, that strangers, and even people who are not so much strangers don’t always deserve to know your truth. You do not have to share with someone who does not have the right to know. They might ask, but you do not need to tell them the truth, or even the full story. You can say you have 4 kids, but leave out the fact that one of them died. If they keep pressing, then you just go from there.
As time has gone on, I jump around from telling people how many kids I have and how many kids are here with me still. It depends on the situation and the person. I have realized that not everyone needs to know the truth about my life. I can decide when and who to tell. I always say we have 5 children(we do currently), but I don’t always correct them if they see my 4 with me and comment on my 4 kids, or that at least I got my girl(I actually have two girls).
What has gotten to me is when people keep pressing- they want to know the ages, and if they are girls or boys. I have found my way around that now. Instead of listing each children’s ages, I say my oldest is 7 and my youngest is 1. This wouldn’t work in the same way for you if your child who died is your youngest or your oldest.
I realize this goes to a new level when your only child has died. Do you answer that you have a child? Do you tell them? Do you tell them how old they would be? We all have to figure out our way through these types of questions.
So, how have you navigated these muddy waters? I don’t think there is any wrong way, but it’s a battle every single time for me. There is not one particular way I can answer it every time. I wish it was just straight forward and easy, but nothing in grief and loss is easy.