sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
Our conversations with our children will shape the culture of miscarriage.
Tucker, my 4-year-old, loves to tell me about things I miss while I’m at work. These stories aren’t necessary “big” moments that he had; he giddily reveals events that seem trivial to me but clearly fill him with wonder and delight. Tucker often breaks into a story in the middle of other activities, a sneak attack I’m rarely prepared for.
While I was dressing his brother one morning, Tucker began to tell me about a time, I assume recently, that he talked to his cousin, Clay, on FaceTime. Tucker and Clay adore each other but live hours apart, so occasionally, they get to talk on the phone for a few minutes.
Tucker’s recounting was short and peculiar: “I talked to Clay on the phone and then he said he had to go to talk to his brother.” Peculiar, because Clay’s only brother passed away in the womb a few years ago. Knowing that Clay did not have a living brother, Tucker found the whole thing humorous.
I later learned that Tucker likely misheard Clay, but in the moment, I saw an opportunity. “Clay did have a brother,” I explained. Tucker’s face morphed to a thoughtful gaze. “He didn’t live a long time, but he was your cousin too, just like Clay. His name was Jaron.”
I gave Tucker a moment or two to reflect on this information, a fact that must have shocked him. “Jaron? Why didn’t he live a long time?” Tucker said.
“God lets some people live a long time and others live only a short time. Jaron got to live only a short time, but he was still part of our family,” I tried to explain.
I’m sure he had other questions, but in typical 4-year-old fashion, he became distracted by something else. Regardless, the conversation was important to me for a few reasons.
First, I was able to teach Tucker that children lost in the womb are indeed children. They have brothers, sisters, parents, and cousins. I never held or played with Jaron, but he was my nephew nonetheless, the child of people I love. And because of that, I loved him too. Also, he was Tucker’s cousin, and I wanted Tuck to know that.
Second, I wanted to honor Jaron by acknowledging his life, regardless of how short it was. Death of any sort is uncomfortable, but we give dignity to loved ones by remembering them. Telling Tucker about his cousin was the best I know to honor Jaron.
As we seek to change the culture surrounding miscarriage, we must have appropriate conversations with our children. They need to learn about death at some point, and to avoid conversations about miscarried children leads only the loss of dignity for the child and a continuation of the culture of silence surrounding miscarriage.
For resources on how to talk to your children about miscarriage or helping them grieve, we encourage you to explore the following links:
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Assistant Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University.