When do you tell your living children that they had a sibling who died? Let me give you some context … My best friend gave us one of those nice things you can buy online where you get your kids names made out of scrabble pieces and they interlock. Liberty, Cosmo and Rocco. It is in our hall. Rocco (my younger son), was born around the time that Cosmo (my elder son), learnt to read. I think this kind of demonstrates the point I want to make. When do you tell your children? You don’t have to – it’s obvious if they live in your house and know their own parents even one tiny bit. As I hope is blindingly obvious from my posts by now, I do not think it works to pretend that your child did not exist. Of course I talk about Liberty so why would I not discuss her with her brothers, my own children? Why would I not openly discuss with them what is the most notable thing about our family?
I could try to separate them out from myself and my life. I could pretend when I am sad that ‘mummy just has something in her eye’, and they could grow up in the dark not knowing who their mother is or how she feels or the true story of their own family. I believe that it is better for them to know the truth, to grow up with it as a reality and accept it from as early possible. I also believe that, to do not that, would break the trust and bond of their relationship with me, the most important person in their lives, (until at least five according to most psych’s – sorry Daddy!)
It’s not been easy but you know what, they can handle it. They both have reacted in different ways to the situation and depending on what else is going on in their lives at the time. That seems normal to me. Sometimes they just say inquisitive things like; “Mummy, if Liberty was here with us, would she sit in between us and would it be on a booster seat?”. Sometimes it can make us all a bit sad to consider how different things would be. For example, Cosmo was marginally bullied by a child at school when he started in reception, and he said one day; ‘If Liberty were here, she would be the in playground and older than Lillie, (not the real name), and she would help look after me’. They miss her.
When I came back from America with the record, we all sat together that morning and listened to the four songs. Rocco started crying when he heard ‘I Can Love You From Here’, just in a sweet, quiet way, and said ‘I wish she was here’. Cosmo calmly explained that ‘We do too, but that it’s OK. And that we can still love her just the same. We don’t know where she is, no. But that doesn’t really matter.’ We were astonished. I then began to reflect that, despite the crazy, life changing trauma of dealing with losing my baby, it has taught me a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about life itself. They say that in order to truly live with freedom, you need to understand about death. Imagine if you could feel like you know something about death from such a young age …. Maybe you will be wise enough to live your best life from then onwards… I don’t know …. Just thinking aloud.