My dear friend lost her 51-yr-old daughter to cancer in Dec. She is still deeply in the grieving process. She was invited by another mutual friend to join a group of ladies for lunch. One of the women asked my friend how many children she had. A perfectly innocent and normal question, but my friend didn't know how to answer the question. While she was stumbling around for an answer, our mutual friend explained to the group that my friend had just lost her daughter. Of course, everyone said how sorry they were to learn of her loss.
My friend didn't feel comfortable saying "two" because that would have been denying the existence of her third child. Yet, she does in fact, only have two children now.
After giving it some thought, I might have said "I have two children living and one recently deceased."
Up until now, no one in our circle of friends has ever lost a child; so none of us has any experience on handling questions of this nature. Any thoughts on how she could/should have answer the question?
Lori, I think your response was just right. 2 living and one deceased. It is very hard to answer the question, I now say 3 sons and 1 daughter who passed away. I try to change the subject right away, it makes the asker feel bad.
Both of you sound very right.
But by getting out in a social setting and having to answer questions from strangers...it helps us to put things in perspective too.
"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
When that question first came up I also had a few qualms about answering it, but realized no one is trying to put anyone on the spot.
So my reply is "We had 3 children, but our oldest died when she was 21." Invariably their response is "I'm sorry," in which case we simply reassure them don't be it's ok, she had an awesome life and we are fine with how life unfolds. we then either talk about something else or about her if they want to. it's not a problem.
Life is GOOD!!
My mother would just say she has 3 surviving children.
Siblings go through the same issue. How many brothers or sisters do they have? I just say I'm 1 of 10--yours, mine, and ours style--but 2 have already passed on.
It's a struggle for those who have had miscarriages, too.
.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Indexlady,
Such a very difficult topic so thanks for posting this thread, CA Lori, because it's a subject that brings up so many emotions, particularly on the part of those who innocently ask in what is usually a social question and then want to sink through the floor when they realize how hurtful it was ~ never, ever meaning it to be.
"I have 4 children, 3 living and one who has passed."
"I have 6 children, 3 living and 3 whom I have lost (covers miscarriages as well.)"
Sometimes a very innocent opening question in a social situation can cause pain when we least expect it so, kudos, CA Lori, for the individuals who quickly filled in the gap when one of the women realized that she had literally stuck her foot into her mouth ~ never intending to do so.
But it is a great thought for all of us to think about for future times. Instead of asking "how many children do you have?" ~ perhaps a better question might be "do you have children or grandchildren nearby?" - might save everyone an awkward moment as well as some grief.
I know I will remember this thread next time in a similar situation and will think twice about what might be, to me, a casual question and, to them, a devastating dilemna....
The way I see it a child is always yours whether living or not. If I were your friend I would say I had three children, and if I felt inclined I would add that one had recently passed away.
Thank you for this.
We are just getting settled into a new area, and this is a nice way of showing genuine interest without arousing as much pain.
I don't like being asked and have been dreading it. Not only will I phrase it this way when getting to know OTHERS, I will respond as though this is the question they have asked ME.
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