I have three children – but one of them is dead. That is enough to stop most conversations in their tracks or it turns conversations to me and my lad which just might not be appropriate for me or whoever I am talking to.
Eight years on, I probably handle it better than I used to. I used to say three and dread anyone asking anymore about my kids. So now, most of the time I say I have 2 girls and I whisper a secret sorry to my gorgeous little boy who was too ill to stay with us for long.
Now who I tell depends on who is asking. I work with expectant and new parents and I rarely tell my clients about my boy and my experience because it is rarely relevant to them or the work we are doing. They are my clients and I am there to work with them not to bring my own experiences into their sessions. But it does depend, I also work with parents whose baby has died – usually they are pregnant again and want to prepare for birth and their new baby and they often know about my boy because that can be why I am booked.
And I tell the people who I am going to see again, I can’t lie or deny he exists. But it is awkward, people can be shocked, some have been puzzled as why I include him, someone once did say “well two really then”.
And, if I’m honest, I’m wondering if I have to let it go, should I keep including him? I don’t want my son to be a sad secret – I love him and I am proud of him but does there come a time when I have to stop ‘pretending’ I have another child? Am I going to become a batty old woman who is still mourning her dead son decades after he died, or is that inevitable? I just can’t imagine a day when I don’t think of him, when I don’t miss him or when I think of how old he would be and what he could be doing. I can’t think of a day when it doesn’t hurt to think of him.
I guess there is no right or wrong, every grieving parent has to do what feels right for them – I’m sure it hurts us all in the same way.