Uh Oh, they just asked the Question

(As my wife and I work on writing a book for parents who have lost a child, we will be blogging our thoughts/insight of some of the subjects we are going to try to address. This is one of them…)

“Do you have any children?” & “How many children do you have?” are 2 of the most common questions a couple will receive, especially when they have been married for a few years.

The questions are quite innocent in their nature. It’s one of those things that we “naturally” say when in a conversation with someone we may have just met or haven’t seen in a long time. It’s like asking “How are you” and which we often respond “I’m fine”. Which, we know in reality, we aren’t really “fine”, but who wants to hear about how we spilled coffee on our shirt this morning, and the dogs escaped from the house, and how we got behind a really slow guy on the highway which caused us to be late for work this morning?

So, despite the innocence of the questions “Do you have any children?” or “How many children do you have?”, when you are a parent who has experienced a loss of a child, those questions can be hard to answer.

Do you simply try to avoid the “awkwardness” by answering with a simple “no” or “not any yet”? Do we go out of our way not to make the person who asked the question feel bad, by diverting the answer? As a parent who has lost a child, I know too well what it’s like to face those type of questions.

I have at times taken the “let’s not make this awkward” approach and answered with the “I’m fine” response and simply say “yes, I have one son” (or before [R]uebin was born, the “Ummm, not yet”). However, I have found that after I respond in that way, I feel guilty. I don’t have just one son, I have two amazing sons!

So now when I’m asked the questions “Do you have any children?” followed by the “how many?” My response is yes, 2 amazing sons. Which then allows me to share the story of how God is using our oldest in a way I could never imagine. Yes, he’s not here with us on earth, but he is still our son and that will never change.

So if you are that parent who has lost a child, don’t be afraid to make it “awkward”, it’s okay, it will give you a chance to share your story. And if you are that person who asked the question, please ask us more questions about our child (children). What was his/her name? Who did he/she look like? What’s your greatest memory about your child? Trust me, we want people to ask these questions.

“My oldest son’s name is Nathaniel Jensen, he had the cutest face and the most wrinkly little hands and feet you had ever seen.”


  1. Nancy Salois says:

    Thank you for sharing your feelings about the loss of your precious son. Friends just lost their baby and I was at a lost in how to talk about it. Your experience, however painful, has helped others. God never wastes a tear. God bless you!

  2. Micheal says:

    I don’t know, Seth. Seems like you’re putting the awkward into conversations that weren’t seeking it. I seriously doubt that anyone asking “how many kids do you have?” means “how many children has your wife given birth to?” or “How many kids have you -ever- had?”. I’m pretty sure they mean something more along the lines of, “If I invite you and Pam over for supper, how many chairs will I need at the table?”. Family members in heaven aren’t usually included.

    My mother died in 1979, my father died in 1981. I believe they are in heaven. If someone asks “are your parents still with you?” I know they mean here on earth, not “in my heart” or in heaven too, so I say no.

  3. Beth says:

    Awesome! I would have to say that altho I have never lost a child in the sense of permanent loss, I have a very difficult teenager that we feel we have ‘lost’ due to choices that she has made. God works miracles, she will grow up and come into her own. But that sense of loss is still real and your message applies here too. It’s very easy for me to say that I have 2 children and then add, ‘Oh and one more’. It’s easy to dote on the 2 that please me in order to escape the sadness that the other brings. Don’t quite know why your blog brings this to mind this morning….Hmmm. But perhaps as you write your book this would be a good chapter to include? It’s important to realize and appreciate the beauty even in the difficult children that God has given us.

  4. pastorseth says:

    Beth… good thoughts, I will keep those in mind for sure. Thank You.

  5. kelly says:

    I honestly like the concept. Also for people who lost children at a very early stage, like a couple of months pregnant and especially pertaining to those that lost when they were very young themselves(Teens-twenties). Mis-carry, ectopic pregnancy and other type loses. I happen to be one of them and experienced all three. I did feel guilty and awkward when people asked me if I have children. The question really hit me as I got older and the thought was weighing on me. I didn’t feel good about myself.
    I did say no to the question of course. Then I felt bad, guilty. Especially when I don’t think I will ever be able to have any. Just reading the part where you said RE: {So now when I’m asked the questions “Do you have any children?” followed by the “how many?” My response is yes, 2 amazing sons. Which then allows me to share the story of how God is using our oldest in a way I could never imagine. Yes, he’s not here with us on earth, but he is still our son and that will never change….} Reading that made me think, I do have children and even if I keep it to myself, It makes me happy and made me realize that I can say, “I am a mom!” And I’m going to see them one day!
    Satan was making me feel unsatisfied because I feel I cant have children. I may not have given birth, but they were conceived and are alive forever with God! You made me aware I have children and It makes me feel proud and excited and strangely,… Complete in a sense. And with God I have nothing to feel guilty about. Wow! Thank you Seth n Pam. I’m not sure this was where you thought it would go but just that one thread, gave me a 180 perspective on a big part of my life. So from experience, your book will change lives for the better. Nathaniel Jensen will change lives for the better.

  6. Paula says:

    I say that I have one living child when asked that question. So does my husband. I’d say we are very open people. Our struggle with infertility was something that we shared with so many people that by the time our son was born he had over 200 baby gifts. So many celebrated with us. The strange thing is that when we conceived unexpectedly, without the help of doctors, nurses and an embryologist and later miscarried, we soon were expected to move on. Do we love the baby we carried for only 12 weeks less than my seven year old? How ridiculous? The Lord has given so much to us through both of our dear children. Knowing you have grieved deeply and the Lord brought you up from that place to a place of healing is amazing. I’ve never been wounded so deeply, yet come to a new place of peace, of quiet strength and of faith in Our Dear Jesus!

  7. elaine says:

    I lost a child she was 21 yrs. & I miss her very much there is not a day that goes by that something reminds me of her, I know in my heart she is with our God , & that gives me comfort !!!

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