February 16, 2016
Every now and again the fact that I "lost" one of my children comes up. I rarely bring it up myself anymore. Under what circumstances would that happen? But there are times, like today at the hospital, that it comes up, for whatever reason.
I have really come to dread the follow-up question. "What did he die of?" I would like to think that I have never asked that question. Of course I don't really know, my memory is failing me and who would remember bits of a conversation anyway? But I'd like to think I wouldn't ask. The question should be outlawed or something equally ridiculous. Or etiquette should strongly dictate that it is just a question that is not okay to ask. Like someone's weight or age. I will tell you if I think it's something you need to know, or I need to share.
The reason for not telling is the smug judgment of all those who would never, ever, find themselves in such a position. I don't know how heroin got to be such a problem when no else's child is doing it. Depending on who's asking, I might give more details. (Let's just call them what they are, "excuses.") But I find myself doing that less and less, which I see as a good thing. I take it to mean, "I don't care what you think." And, Lordy, that has taken a lot of therapy.
I think the loss of a child, of any age, is a most horrible thing for a mother, a parent, siblings. I fail to see how cause of death can make it any better. Cancer or other diseases, accidents, suicide, addiction, the war...are some deaths more acceptable than others?
If I could give one piece of advice that everyone would abide by, it would be that once you hear of the death of a child that you don't ask the follow-up question. If they want you to know they will tell you. If they don't tell you, well there you are. They have a reason for not telling.