The following was sent to me by a fellow grieving dad and guest blogger. Please help me welcome Jack to Grieving Dads. I think we all can relate with the topic he wrote about in his introduction below. I use to tell people “no” when they would ask “Do you have children?”. Now I welcome the question, because I love to talk about both of them. I also take some enjoyment in seeing the uncomfortable look on their faces when I tell them I have lost two children. How do you approach this subject?
Claim Your Child
I would like to take a minute to introduce myself and thank Kelly for the opportunity to be a guest blogger. My name is Jack and I am 30 years old, a police officer, and I have been married for 6 years and have 5 total children. A 5-year-old girl, triplet boys that are 3, and a 4 month old rainbow baby girl. One of the triplets passed at 6 months, he never made it out of the hospital (stupid hospital). We will save that topic for another post. Anyways leading into this I still say I have 5 kids because I do, just because one is not here in my presence on earth does not mean he is still not my son. I have people all the time that question me when I say 5, I say “Yes 5, Logan is still with me and my family and still one of our kids, he just lives with God.” This freaks people out when I talk about it in public but I’m open and honest. Heck, sometimes I enjoy seeing the expressions on their face when I talk about Logan being still one of my kids. Most people get weirded out and just hush, others actually want to talk about it. I open for either. I still claim my son as being mine and count him when people ask how many kids I have. When people ask my wife sometimes she says 4 living and one in heaven. Other times she just says 4, because she does not want to deal with the explanation or the fake “oh I’m sorry” or “I know how you feel” from people. Because sometimes I call them out and I ask, “oh really how do you know how I feel, have you lost a child?” Most get upset but I have also met some people who have lost children. In close I say claim your child even if they’re not with you here on earth. – Jack
Great post and comments. I’m the same. I say I have two daughters. They’re both here. One lives in my heart, the other lives just a few blocks away. That shuts most people up,but the few that ask I explain how Leslie fought colon cancer for two years and the fuckin’ beast kept claiming more and more of her body.
Their faces just kind of collapse and I change the subject, because –no one really knows how we all feel except “us.”
This is, and always will be a touchy subject for me. The people who ask this question obviously don’t know me well enough to already know that we lost Darrel to neuroblastoma 5 years ago, and are just trying to make polite conversation…like talking about the weather.
They don’t realize the nerve they have just hit, so I usually temper my response depending on the mood I’m in at the time (if I don’t want to go there…I just don’t). After years on dealing with the “Pity Parade”, I really don’t want to see that look in someone else’s eyes, yet I do not want to disrespect the memory of my son by not including him along with his sisters when the question is asked.
If I feel the person wants, can handle, and fully appreciate the truthful answer, I have no problem giving it to them most of the time. The rest of the time, I allow the conversation to remain the brief “Small Talk” that it was originally intended to be.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Stephen. I use to answer with “i dont have children” until I was at an event once where we had to go around the room and tell everyone our name and if we were married and had children. I had stood up gave my response but didnt mention that I had children. Then it continued around the room until it got to a dad that said he had to living children and one angel baby. I must say hearing him say that made me feel like shit because I didnt mention them. I had a look of guilt for not mentioning their names. Since then I just blurt it out whether someone can handle it or not. I didnt like the feeling of guilt.
No shame, gene. No shame. Those who may be offended when someone who is grieving says something out of the norm are completely forgetting/cannot relate to the fact that we live every single minute of the day “out of the norm”.
If any of us act or speak in the same manner as we did before losing our child there’s truly something wrong because we ARE changed….and dammit…everything we do reflects it whether other people feel OK, comfortable, or just plain freaked out about it. To me, that’s THEIR fuckin problem…not ours.
There’s always an ear here, gene. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to know more about your son. Here…you can say what you feel and folks will understand in whatever terms you feel like laying down.
“come in (s)he said I’ll give ya…shelter from the storm” Dylan
Well put Pat. Thank you for weighing in on this topic.
Thanks to all who have posted on this blog, and I hope that others continue to do so. I am a grieving dad who lost his only son to suicide four short months ago. I have since struggled with the usual questions about children and family from new acquaintances, and have answered in terms that I am not at all proud of.
I continue to learn how to live without him.
Trust me, you are not alone when it come to saying and doing things we are not proud of. Its just part of this ugly journey. I have taken up the stance that the people around me should understand what I have been through and what ever I did or said is not personal. Just trying to learn how to live without them.
I am sorry you find a need to be here on this blog. I hope it can provide some sort of insight into what you are thinking and feeling.
Thanks for “going there”, Jack….
I proudly claim both of my boys. Just because Graham is gone doesn’t mean he is any less my son.
(perhaps, he is more?)
I’ve struggled with similar “greetings” myself. I won”t say >probably more< than some of you because it isn't a contest, but as someone who doesn't believe in "God"…or what man has made of "God" (now more than ever I disbelieve…I mean,,WTF "God"??) I simply despise the "I'll pray for you" tag…. just about as much as the very overused "I've been thinking about you", or, "I think about you everyday"
Oh….REALLY?? Then why the fuck didn't you call or reach out? WHO was the thought for? You..or me?
When this happens I find myself really wanting to say "I hope ya got yer jollies and a warm fuzzy…'cus the feeling sure as shit didn't make it to ME…."
Harsh..yes…..but I can't help but play it all out in my head and wonder WHERE such a twisted "ego" comes from. I know they don't mean it….and that they, like most folks in America/etc. are so broken when it comes to death that they can't even see it, but damn….it doesn't make it sting or piss me off any less when I see it playing out before my eyes.
And when you say something about it….people are stymied and don't really know how to react. I'm sure some think "What a chip that guy has"…. but in the end, at least for me, it doesn't matter HOW I am percieved at this point in the game….only that I am HEARD. (loud and clear enough that they don't do the same, stupid shit to someone else who is grieving)
thanks for sharing/opening up the dialogue, Jack.
Pat – I don’t care how I am preceived either. There is a sense of peace that comes along with that. BTW – In my opinion, its perfectly ok to be harsh. Be whatever brings you peace of mind. I have become more blunt and to the point. It makes people squirm at times, but I have had difficult conversations and I can tell you that none of the conversations I have now, come close to the conversation I had with the doctors. I am sorry if people cant handle my truth, but thats just who I am right now. I dont do it to be a asshole, I just give answers to questions that people dont always want to hear. They are not sugar coated. Thanks for sharing.
I love this post! Being a newly bereaved dad I struggle with this question and for that matter my wife does too. We’ve had 3 mis-carriages early on in pregnancy over the past few years but this last December our son Caleb was born as an angel at 36 1/2 weeks. My response to do you have any kids is usually “that depends do you want me to ruin your day?” I too take a little pleasure in seeing someone’s uncomfortable face as I talk about Caleb. I still go back and fourth about telling the people about the mis-carriages as children but I always claim Caleb, and in my heart I know I have 4 angels waiting for me!
Thanks for this post it was great!
Scott father of 4 angels!
Scott – I am sorry for all of your losses. I know the pain all to well. I too find peace in knowing I have two angels waiting for me. Makes me smile to think about the waiting there for me. Peace. Kelly
Im glad to hear that others struggle with this question since mine just passed recently I havent got asked but a handful of times and I still stutter while trying to decide what to say.
The one statement that I get that I have a set reply for
“I can’t imagine your pain”
I always reply ” I don’t want you to. I wouldn’t want even my worst enemy in the world to even begin to try and imagine even a smallest part of it”
Leif – Great response…its the truth. I dont wish the loss of a child on anyone. I do wish peopel could feel what it feels like for a few mintues so they have a better understanding of bereaved parents deal with. Kelly
I can really relate to this topic . I still have an internal debate every time I’m asked ” how many kids ?”
I always say 5. Zac is always a part of my life. Do I dread the follow question , how old ? . Yes.. At the end of the day , I take it from situation to situation . Is this person really ready for me to tell them he is forever 13.
As a salesperson, I do spend time making small talk with customers as I am setting up contracts .
I don’t avoid the question but I secretly dread it too.