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How to Answer the Question - How many children do you have?

How to Answer the Question - How many children do you have?

As a Loss Parent, how should you answer the question - How many children do you have?  On Instagram and Facebook, we usually post a heart question to the loss community once a week. Recently we posted the question “What do you say when someone asks you how many children you have?”.  We had a flood of responses. 

We can summarize the answers with one common theme. How you answer this depends on who is asking and how you are feeling at that particular point in time.

So many of you gave this advice: You should answer however you feel comfortable (which is not the same every time), with no pressure to disclose everything and if you choose to respond including your heavenly baby/babies you do not have to feel responsible for the other person’s reaction or lack of. Guard your hearts if you choose to share, not everyone understands what your life is like as a loss parent & they may react in a negative or awkward way. It's okay when this happens loss mom, it stings but remember you are not alone in this.

One mom ended her answer with this thought which I think is a fantastic idea for everyone “I do wish people would reframe their question and instead say “tell me about your family” to give you the option of how to approach it 💛”

Here are some of the responses from various loss moms (they are split in 3 categories)



1. People’s Awkward Reactions after a Loss Parents responds to this question

I still say two boys. Then they say how old that’s it I have to tell them🙄 Then they say well then you only have one. Ummm ok thanks tips but I’d like to recognize that for me I have two. I’m very thankful I took a grieving class for a few weeks to teach me that people say the stupidest things🙃


I'm only 3 months into being a Bereaved mama, but this topic has already come up several times. I've always answered with 2 (our second is in heaven). I feel like I've made the other person feel awkward when they realize our second passed away, but I feel like I can't just not mention our baby girl. I AM a mama of two. She lived and was so loved, even if she's not here with us now.


I’m currently pregnant. People always ask if this is my first. I always explain that it’s actually my 4th, but that my daughter and twin boys were born at 23 weeks and 22 weeks. I usually get the sad, sympathy looks, but I explain that I am glad I got a chance to talk about their little lives.


2. Depends

It depends on how deep I want to open my grief vault. Sometimes I say “4, two that can run and two that can fly” and sometimes I say two 👼🏻💙👼🏻💙


Always a hard question to answer... my answer usually depends on the person and place of the conversation. It depends on if I am wanting to engage in a heartfelt conversation.


It depends on who is asking. If I feel I can’t get into it I’ll say “I have two girls at home and we’re expecting another soon”. If the situation is better and I feel I can trust the person to be sensitive I’ll say “I have two older girls, my third was stillborn last year and now we are expecting another”. It’s always so hard though. I do wish people would reframe their question to “tell me about your family” to give you the option of how to approach it 💛


It just depends my son was my only child before he passed away. Usually, I don’t like to go into detail if it’s someone who doesn’t exactly know our situation. Some days I’ll say 1 some days I’ll say I don’t have any to save me from the heartache of explaining. it’ll always be a hard conversation to have.


As many have said, it depends on the audience. Sometimes I say that I have 2 children “at home” which it technically true since I have one who is not physically with me. It spares me from the guilt of not acknowledging her. But other times I will explain that I have a 9-year-old and a 1-year-old and a daughter who would have turned three this year. It’s an awfully hurtful question sometimes. And it still catches me off guard three years later💜


I was just having this conversation with my therapist. I haven’t been asked that question yet, but I fear for the day I do get asked. The baby I lost was my first. I would feel guilty saying I have no children, so I think I would say I have one and not go into any detail. If someone continued to press on I would probably tell them my story depending on the circumstance. I think it’s important to feel comfortable with sharing and not sharing depending on the situation.


Agree with all the moms saying that it depends on who is asking and my energy level at the time. I’ll say 1, and if they keep asking, I’ll say he died. Or if it’s someone who’s just asking as small talk who I’ll never see again, sometimes I say none. Then I apologize to my son. I think he understands that sometimes mom just can’t handle it, or that the person asking doesn’t deserve to hear my story. I will definitely use the “I have no living children” though. I’d never thought of that. 💚


I almost always tell people that I have two sweet babies in heaven and that I’m praying for more to hold in my arms here on earth❤️ It all depends on the situation & the person asking. If I feel comfortable talking about my angel baby then ill say i have my princess in heaven, but I don't feel up for it...ill say I have no children. I always feel very guilty when I say I have none but I only say that when I know I am not emotionally ready to say her name....♡


Depends on who is asking and whether I am in the emotional space to explain


It really depends on the situation. It changes and I’m 💯 ok with that. I actually did a whole podcast episode on how to answer this question because I know how tricky it can be. (Smooth Stones Episode 6) 💗💗💗


I usually answer with 3 girls and 1 of them is in Heaven. But it depends on the moment.


Depends but 99% of the time I say two, one here and one in heaven. If it makes them feel awkward, oh well, they won't dwell on the 5 minutes of discomfort, we have to live with their loss forever, it's not ever pleasant or comfortable for us. We need to answer as it feels right, but don't ever not speak up in fear of making someone else uncomfortable. I've actually found for the most part that people respect being honest about it, some even then share they are a loss parent as well. 💜


I usually answer: two on earth and one in heaven but it depends on who is asking and my emotional state at the moment.


3. Straight Answers

Lately, I don’t even find myself pausing to think I immediately blurt out 2. When they ask follow up questions like how old is your oldest I say our daughter died and she would have been 14 months old. I’m pregnant now with her little brother due in 2 weeks and I get asked all the time if this is my first and I simply say no. People’s reactions when I tell them my daughter died has actually been pretty unexpected in a good way, I’ve been able to hold my composure a little which is also unexpected. It doesn’t mean I don’t cry when I walk away or that I don’t cry when I get to my car. I feel a tiny bit stronger every time I acknowledge her and say her name to a stranger. It took a while to get here and some days I can’t do it but most days I can ❤️


I have one and she’s in heaven ❤️


I'm A Mommy Of 4. 3 In Heaven And 1 Here In Earth


I just answer 2, if they ask further I explain my son in heaven and my living daughter


four- every time! I love talking about my girl, even if it makes for some awkward/insensitive moments


I have 2 children, a daughter who passed away and a son 💖💙


4, 2 on earth and 2 in heaven 💙💙


I have two children 💙💙one on earth and one in heaven


 I say 2. If they ask further, I say one daughter in heaven and my son and his age. Thankfully not many ask much after that.


I always say I have two angel babies 🤍


2 boys & 2 girls on earth. 2 boys in heaven 💙💙


I stick to the truth. I have 3 babies. 1 in heaven and 2 on earth. If they ask how old I say “Savannah would be 4, Alyssa is 2 and Mckenna is 2 months” most of the time people don’t catch the “would be” lol so it feels nice to just have a moment of normalcy


Right now I proudly say 4 but there are other times I shrink back and say 3. There are no right answers they both stink! 💚


I'm A Mommy Of 4. 3 In Heaven And 1 Here In Earth


I just answer 2, if they ask further I explain my son in heaven and my living daughter


four- every time! I love talking about my girl, even if it makes for some awkward/insensitive moments


I have one in Heaven and one on the way” - I will always include my firstborn


I only mention my living children. I am not ready to talk about my angels 👼🏻 😢


(PC: Nynne Schrøder )@nynnes

Lisa Giordano

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