How Many Children Do You Have?

When it comes to grief and loss, here are a few scenarios to be aware of if you are supporting clients or friends.

“How many children do you have” can be a loaded question.

Keep in mind, this may also be a question the grieving individual had not thought about prior to this moment.  I have heard many individuals express differing sentiments when it comes to this question.  Suffice to say this may be a topic that brings tears to your eyes or theirs.

Parents become separated from their children for a variety of reasons such as; death, marriage ending, distance, adoption, foster care situations or perhaps other people taking over the caregiving role.  Life goes on and sometimes more children come into your life.

Perhaps you become a parent of more children, adopt, remarry and become a step parent; now how do you answer the question?  Do you answer truthfully and explain the situations or do you give an answer someplace, a bit removed from the actualities of your life?

Some individuals size up the situation and decide based on who they are talking with how much information will be shared.  Mentioning children who are no longer a direct part of your current life is a way to open a door to the past, which for many is determined to be better left shut.

For those who do share how many children they have it may come with a clarification statement if a child has died, but it also depends on how the child died and at what age as to what the answer will be.  Everyone is different in how they will answer the question.

Stating, “I have 3 children and one is deceased” may leave the questioner at a loss as to what to say next; for this reason, many people do not answer truthfully.  In generalized terms most people do not want to make others feel uncomfortable and yet at the same time they may want to share their story of loss.

The individuals who do not share their answers truthfully may fear being ridiculed or judged and partially, because they feel it is none of your business.  Who are you, why are you asking and do you really want to hear the truth when asking, “How many children do you have”?  Many people have stories you will never hear.

All my best

Barbara Gillett. Saunders

Grief counsellor/Thanatologist.