Saturday, May 8, 2010

I never know what to say.

Here is the picture of my first born.

He lived six and a half months and then died.

It happened again yesterday and it is a bit of a dilemma for me. Someone asked how many children do I have. I have 3 sons like on the TV show, My three sons! One is deceased and two are alive and well.

What do I answer to that question of how many children do I have. I most often say two but on occasion I will say three. I feel that to say I have two children is very dismissive of my first born. He was conceived, born and lived on this planet, not for very long but he did live on this planet. To say I only have two children in my mind completely ignores him and that he did live his life. I don’t want to do that to him. I want to honour his life.

But if I say I have had three children then that usually leads to supplementary questions that require explanation. If I have just met an old friend in the street and having a brief catch up conversation one does not really want to get into such matters on the kerbside.

So, I never know what to say.

At his funeral there was a bit of a heart starter situation as well. As we arrived in the car at the chapel the funeral guy following asked if I wanted to carry the coffin into the chapel. It was only two foot long. This was not planned and surprised me but I said yes. I picked up the coffin and as I walked up the few steps I tripped on one of them. The coffin almost fell out of my arms. If it had it is quite possible he would have rolled out along the floor!

After it is all over you go back two days later to pick up the ashes from the crematorium. They come in this grey plastic box which I thought was a bit drab. They could at least put them in something swish. Later on my wife and myself separated and we had to decide what to do with the ashes. We thought about taking half each, but there is something not quite right about that.

Anyways I let her have them and tells me that she still has them. She has promised not too do anything with them without consulting me and I trust her to do that.

Well that was a brief wander down memory lane



  1. My mother had a son who died at two months old of sids. She and my father never mentioned it until I was about fifteen. I felt sad for her in a way I did not understand. Now I have my own child I really feel her grief which, after almost 48 years, is still raw for her. She blames herself.

    In her day they just disposed of the body in an unmarked grave. Nothing sentimental and her and my father just got on with life in the stoic way that people did then.

    Although she does not refer to the baby as one of her children I do often think about the unknown brother that lay in her arms two years before I was even thought of. Of how she went on to have three more children whilst still carrying that grief in her heart. It helped explain a lot of how she was as a mother.

    Your post is very moving and kind of showed the confusion that goes with loss. It is such an unknown area until you visit it.

  2. I don't know what you should say. If it were me, and I felt the awkward thing about it... i think i would rehearse several different ways of saying it - but Tony, I too would include him because i'd have come to love him regardless of whether he is still around or not.

    My son and daughter have bought little memento's of each of the children they know have miss carried. Little things like engraving a trinket with his/her name and wearing it on a chain. Stuff like that.

    You've made me all sentimental and fluffy and stuff - if I were there, i'd give you a hug.

    I'll catch you one day and you'll get that hug whether you like it or not.

    Happy Saturday Mr Graffiti!

  3. Hello Linda,

    That must have been quite a thing to find out about the older brother when you were 15. Occasionally when it arises I mention to my two boys that they had an older brother. And the youngest sometimes says that he would not exist if his older brother had not died, which is true. That whole idea is quizzical in itself.

    thanks for your comment


  4. I did come to love him Roses when he was alive also.

    He was a real live human being, so to talk to someone like he never even existed I find problematic. But to bring up the topic of your dead son really is not the thing to do in some situations and I don't particularly want to either in those situations.

    I am off to a wedding this arvo Roses.


  5. Yes. What you say does make sense to me. I wonder what you learn every time one of 'those' situations come around... interesting.

    I do hope the wedding is a successful occasion and also, I might add, that I hope you get just a little tipsy and giggle alot more than usual.

    Cheers... roses

  6. Lovely and touching. I suppose your answer depends on the situation as you say. And perhaps how you are feeling at the time.

    Hope the weather is lovely for a wedding today.

  7. The wedding was most successful Roses for all concerned excpet when one of the boys in bridal party fainted on stage.


  8. Yes OLJ that sounds pretty right. Depends on the situation and what I am feeling at that time.

    The wedding was outside and the weather was absolutely right. Which was a bit of a gamble because this time of year it could have easily been raining hard.


  9. A friend of mine's brother died. We worked together about a year after this happened. At the beginning of the job they played a lot of ice breaker type games so the people could get to know each other. At one point they said everyone stand up who has a brother. My friend didn't stand up.
    I felt so bad for him that this question that seems so innocent to most people would have to come up.
    When people ask these things they don't realize the kind of situation that is being brought up.

    My cousin died in september. I saw her kids and husband a couple of weeks ago. They brought it up a lot casually. I felt uncomfortable mentioning the subject and never initiated it myself. She comes up in things like saying that 'Use a coaster. Your mother wouldn't have let you use a cup on that table without a coaster'
    Their house is filled now with picture frames hung on the wall filled with the generic photos that come with the frame. I'm not sure the story behind why they'd hang these without getting around to putting their own photos in, but it's like this gap in their life is displayed on the wall.
    The oldest one is going to college next year. Right now everyone in her life knows what happened. When she gets to college I'm sure shes going to run into innocent questions that bring this up. To complicate this she was adopted so conceivably a person might mistakenly believe that shed been adopted by a single parent rather than have two and lose one.

  10. Hi Major,

    it does seem to be difficut when someone dies. One always seems to tread very carefully around these things. Probably over doing it really.

    In my view we are a death phobic society. If one dies one dies - such is life. it happens. But people milk it these days for all sorts of secondary gains.

    Such is life


  11. I'm so sorry for the loss of your baby. I can't even imagine what that is like, as I have two healthy children. Do you have photos of him around your home, and things of his that you have saved? He looks like a very sweet baby, with a lovely head of hair. Six months is not a long time to live, but it is definitely enough time to make an imprint on other people's lives.