I have done it two ways.
1. Say, "Two. Lucy, who just turned two, and Peter, who was born in October and died in November."
2. Say, "One. Our daughter Lucy just turned two."
Now, there are obvious problems with both approaches I've used. In the first approach there is an immediate need to clarify and explain that your second child just died- it was a chromosome abnormality, but it's okay, thank you for your condolences, but really, it's okay- we're okay.
This is really awkward for everyone involved and then you have to decide whether to go into the whole story (which can be a bit much), or just change the subject. They don't know what to say, you don't know what to say, but at least they know now. You got it out of the way and you can move on with your lives and friendship/conversation.
The second approach is probably more appropriate etiquette-wise, but it is so hard emotionally to not count that missing child. You have a pressing need for them to know about him, that he existed, and that he is no longer here, and that it all happened so recently. You almost feel that not counting him is an insult to his memory- you don't want to forget him and go on like he never existed. He mattered and still does. He counts to you.
The second approach leaves it up to others to find out about your missing child as time goes by. When they become facebook friends with you and notice pictures and posts about your dead child, or when it comes up during a discussion about picking baby names and you mention a child they don't know about. Or when you give a talk in Sacrament meeting on Father's Day and talk about your experiences with Priesthood blessings, the blessing of eternal families, and the importance of the Temple.
What should you do if you are the friend and find out the second way? I would suggest mentioning it to them later and expressing a short, "I'm so sorry" and then letting the grieving parent take the lead and decide if they would like to continue that conversation. That way it gives them an opening to talk about it if they would like to, and for everyone to acknowledges the loss and life and not feel like it is a topic that has to be avoided or is taboo.
It makes sense to use the second approach and let your dead child come up in a more natural way as a friendship progresses and you invest in one another. But to me it feels like this underlying conversation that needs to be had if the friendship is going to progress very far.
One way I deal with it is to have pictures of Peter and our family of four up in our home so that when people visit they can see them and it can be an opening for them to ask about the picture and in turn, ask about Peter.
I also wear my locket when I am feeling particularly down, and missing Peter. People almost always notice the necklace and comment on it, sharing a thought or memory about him, or even telling me how much they like it and how cute Lucy and Peter are (which always makes me feel better).
|Mother's Day 2012|
I also write about Peter here on my blog and post pictures of him so that as I meet new people and share my life with them, they can explore the blog and learn about Peter themselves and even feel like they have a safe place to post comments if they are not sure what to say in person.
I try to make it easy for people to ask me about Peter and give them openings to talk about him if they would like to.
What other tips do you have? How would you answer this question?