One mother who lost her oldest son reveals how the most challenging aspect of grief was relating to other parents — but the way she interacted with one mom had her husband feeling like she was attempting to erase their son out of their life story.
The mom then goes on to explain how her eldest son, Josh, was killed in a boating accident when he was just six-years-old. Her surviving son, Luke was 4 (now 12) and they since have had a little girl Ava, now 4.
“I would bring Ava to mommy and me type classes and she also did a gymnastics class and we just started karate,” the mom revealed of the daily routines both she and her family had prior to the health crisis.
“While hanging out, it is normal to chit chat with the other parents. Because my boys were closer in age, everyone at Luke’s activities knew about Josh and it was never talked about. With Ava the normal parent chit chat sometimes leads to people asking if Ava is our only.”
The mom’s answers to just how many kids she has vary, claiming how sometimes she says two and sometimes, she says three.
“Back in January Ava had a playdate with a friend from our library group,” she wrote. “I went over her house and I called my husband to remind him to pick Luke up from a friends house by noon. The other mom asked how old Luke was and when I told her that he was 12 she commented on the age difference. Then she asked if Luke had a hard time adjusting from being an only to having a younger sibling. I thought about bringing up Josh but I didn’t want to make things awkward so I just said, ‘That wasn’t an issue for us. Luke wanted a younger sibling and loves having Ava around.'”
And just a few weeks later, the mom visited her house where the pictures of Josh were on the wall. “She saw one picture and asked who that was,” the mom wrote.
“I said that it was my oldest son. She said she thought I only had Luke and Ava and I told her that Josh passed away and is hard for me to talk about still. She was understanding and supportive but my husband overheard and after she left he accused me of trying to wipe away all memories of Josh. I told him I wasn’t trying to do that but in the past when I have casually brought up Josh’s death it always makes the other person uncomfortable.”
The mom then claims she never had any bad intentions by not mentioning Josh.
“I never said that Luke was an only child before Ava,” she clarified. “I said that Luke didn’t have any jealousy surrounding Ava’s birth and was happy to have a little sibling. That was true. My husband said a lie by omission is still a lie and was very upset with me for trying to pretend that Josh never existed. That is not what I am trying to do. We got into a big argument over it and he ended up venting to his parents who still think I am the [expletive] over this. Did I handle the situation poorly?”
Others then assured the mom that she did nothing wrong.
“First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss,” one user wrote. “Love and hugs to you. I totally understand. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone and you don’t have to tell your life story to everyone you meet. It’s a heavy subject to unpack every single time someone you meet asks you how many kids you have. Your response sounds totally normal to me.”
While many others assured her that she was not attempting to forget but actually protect herself.
“Explaining what happened to Josh time and again to new people any time the conversation turns to family and the ‘Oh, what grades are your kids in? Wait I thought you said you had 3 kids?’ would be akin to pulling the scab off every time and wounding yourself,” another shared.
“Your husband should be understanding to how constantly mentioning and talking about a deceased child isn’t good for your mental health. You’re not forgetting you have a child who passed away, you’re protecting yourself by not ALWAYS bringing it up.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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