During one of my therapy sessions the topic of answering “How many kids do you have?” came up. Just hearing my therapist ask it made my heart sink and whole body tense. After a few seconds of thinking, I said I want my answer to be honest, yet, positive. I threw out a few ideas to her like: I have one son who is up in heaven or I have a son who passed away.  Neither of these seemed to be the best way to answer; they weren’t positive enough nor did they provide a small amount of detail, like his name.

To women with kids, this question is no big deal, they can answer with a smile on their face and love in their heart. For women who struggle with infertility or miscarriage, this question feels like a punch to the gut. For loss moms, this question has a tendency to make our minds go into overdrive with thoughts like –  is this person ready for the truth, do I want this person to know the truth, am I emotionally ready today to tell the truth, if I don’t answer truthfully how am I going to feel later. There are so many thoughts that happen in the moment that question is asked but I think the most important thought is this –


It may seem that simple, until the moment arrives and the answer to that question is a brutality honest one; I have one child who is no longer living.  The person who asked was probably anticipating yes I have x amount of kids with a smile on my face or no we don’t have any yet with some weariness. No one anticipates someone answering that they have a dead child and this often causes a painful silence afterwards. It is not my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable with my answer. My honest answer is a way for me to honor my son and be his mother.

After a week of thinking about this, I came up with two different responses. So one morning, during Tek and Mommy Quiet Time (me sitting with my son’s urn on my bed while I journal) I wrote this and read it out loud:

“I want you to know that when asked how many children I have I am going to say:

I have a son named Theodore who is living his best life in heaven.

 What do you think? OR I can say:

I have a son named Theodore who is up in heaven.

Which do you prefer?”

Later that same day, I was driving to meet my sister to go for a walk at a park (one I had never been to before). As I drove, I spoke to Tek and asked him again which phrasing he preferred. When I arrived, I was in utter disbelief, there on a building, was a HUGE sign that read: BESTLIFE Fitness.

Call me crazy, but I truly believe that my son gave me a sign (literally) of how he wants me to answer. And so, when asked How many kids do you have?, I will forever answer:

“I have a son named Theodore who is living his best life in heaven.”

I may not have a smile on my face but you better believe I have love in my heart.

One thought on “How Many Kids Do you Have?”

  1. Mallory, thank you for addressing this daunting question we also now have to answer as Theodore’s grandparents. Your father and I have actually talked about this exact question and how we will answer it when asked “How many grandchildren do you have?”. We have thought about what our answer would be and have played different scenarios over and over in our minds. One of our biggest concerns is not to take away from the honor that our daughter is and always will be a loving mother even though her son is not here with us. We will embrace all of our grandchildren when answering this question…forever and always.
    Also, there is no right or wrong answer to this now challenging question. When asked it brings up every raw emotion all over again and our smile fades and our hearts sink. But you have given us a beautiful way to answer honestly and be able to honor Theodore’s precious life and you as a mother. We may not say word for word what you are going to say but it will be something in our own voices that blesses our little angel in heaven.
    Love, Mom & Dad

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