I have two children; two beautiful children. My instagram says "Mom of 2 ~ One walks on earth 🌎🌸 • One dances in Heaven 😇🌈". This is the proudest position in life I've ever been given is being a mom. No mom (or dad) is prepared when a child dies; our futures are taken from us. There is a question that is asked A LOT to parents, especially new people you meet or in situations that people just don't know your story. The question is "How many children do you have"? or for me because I talk a lot about Graci is "Is Graci your only child"?
Now, I know people are not being insensitive because they truly don't know. Why do people ask these questions anyways? Why do you want to know? Are you truly interested? They probably are, they don't know, but for me, this is a very hard question and I have a ton of guilt over this. I freeze when asked these two questions and then I just blurt out "nope, just one, just Graci". Then, just imagine being in my mind & heart right at that moment. My heart shatters, my mind is asking myself "why did you say that, that's not true, you have two kids". I feel like I have let my son down, I've let myself down. I wan to run back and say "no, I mean I have two children". Can you imagine what that person would be thinking..."um, she forgot she had two children"? I actually hate that I do this, I hate that I can't say it. It kills me that I can talk and talk about my son on these platforms, but if a person asks me, I freeze. I know this all sounds a bit crazy right?!
Recently this has happened a couple times. I've met a lot of new ladies on the golf course this summer. These ladies are just making small talk; I get it and it's nice. Each time it happened, I said "I only have one child". It broke me internally. Both times I was with gals that knew; one has also lost a child and after I said it, I looked at her and wondered if she thought I was horrible because I've heard her include her son that has died; the other time I did it the gal looked at me with pity.
This is ALL on me, I know that, but I also know that I am not alone. It is a VERY hard question for parents. One of the biggest reasons is because when we are asked these questions, we have to a) protect our hearts - does this person really need to know my heart this well because I'm not sure I want to share b) do they have time to listen to my heartbreaking story c) will they feel pity for me and treat me differently and this conversation and our new friendship will be over because people just know how to deal or react e) it's just easier - for me.
BUT, I have also said I have two before and I honor and celebrate Garret. I feel alive and I feel so much love when I can talk about both of my children. So WHY, just why can't I say it always! This recently came up on a podcast we were recording for our From Light to Loss Podcast. This episode will be released in November, but a family friend Sue's daughter died. So Michelle, my co-host didn't really know her and know her full family story. Michelle asked Sue, so how many daughters do you have? Sue firmly and loving said "I have three daughters". My heart did a flip flop and I was distracted in my own mind thinking, "Angie, why can't you say it so proudly and firmly like Sue just did". I reached out to Sue and actually thanked her for saying that because it brought me to this blog and it got me to now work on changing my mindset when I'm asked that question. Sue said that she says she has two daughters and one forever 37 y/o daughter. DUH...why don't I just say exactly what's typed on my Instagram feed. OR say something similar to Sue, for god's sake my license plate even says "something" like this!
When thinking about this, I wonder why I feel that if I say "I have two children, Graci is in college and Garret is in Heaven" that I will make that person uncomfortable? Why I am I worried about that? I have been in more uncomfortable, unpredictable, awful positions all my life, why do I feel the need to protect them when they ask such a nosy question?! (no I really don't think it's nosy, it's kind, but I bet you can also guess that I NEVER ask anyone that question). So, I guess maybe either I really do change my tune and start answering correctly or I protect myself and answer however the situation is feeling at that moment.
In my business my main goal right now is to "change the narrative around grief". I feel like our society ignores death too often, and it is a good opportunity (however awkward) to reduce the stigma a little bit. At pop up events it can bring a beautiful conversation and makes people feel free to talk about their own losses as well. It is showing me that we truly can be BETTER TOGETHER if we just tell the truth and let our feelings flow. I'm starting today...if you don't know me "Hi, my name is Angie and I have two children. Graci is a senior in college and Garret dances in Heaven".
How do you feel about this? Or If you are a loss mom does any of this resonate? I'd love to hear more and see what people are thinking. Send me a private message if you would!
***Two of the cutest kids I've ever seen***