Grief and life after Jessica: “No, I have three children.”

I had a conversation with an acquaintance recently, triggered by a discussion about whether I was planning any more children. The conversation went something like this:

 

Her: “Well, two children is enough.”

Me: “Three.”

Her: “Oh yes, I forgot about Jessica.” (pause) “Well, two really. Nice to have one of each.”

Me: “No, not two really. Three. I don’t have one of each. I have two daughters and a son.”

 

Sophie and Thomas with Jessica's photo cushion -

 

This is one of the hardest things about being a mother of three children with only two living. That constant battle to remind people that my eldest daughter existed. That she is still part of our family, and will always be part of our family.

 

I hate the fact that sometimes people “forget” about Jessica. That parenting my dead child means having to fight against her existence being erased.

 

It is horrible being a mother of three and yet in the eyes of some people “not really” being a mother of three.

 

With people who don’t know us well, or didn’t know us before Jessica died, it is perhaps understandable to some extent. I won’t deny Jessica’s existence though. I would rather pretend she hadn’t died when speaking to strangers than to ignore the fact that she lived.

 

Sometimes those kind of comments come from people much closer to us though. It is incredibly hurtful when close friends or family make remarks that imply that Sophie is my only daughter. She is not my only daughter. I have two daughters. Just because one of them is no longer living does not mean she is no longer my daughter.

 

Jessica lived. Her life had meaning; her life mattered. She was loved; she is still so very loved. She is as much my child in death as she was in life. Just because she is not here with me does not give you the right to erase her from our family unit.

 

I have three children. Not “two really”, not “one of each”.

 

I didn’t cease to be Jessica’s mummy when she took her final breath.

 

She didn’t cease to be part of our family when we laid her to rest.

 

Just because she is not physically here does not mean she is completely gone.

 

The fact that my daughter died does not mean she no longer “counts”. It is incredibly hurtful to suggest so and it makes me incredibly angry when I hear that.

 

It is right up there with “at least you have two others” or the implication that Thomas’s arrival has made up in any way for the loss of Jessica. As though having other children makes me miss the one I lost any less. Yes, my other two children give me a reason to keep going and give me a focus but that emptiness and longing for Jessica is still very much there.

 

She is my child every bit as much as her siblings are. That will never change.

 

I am a mother of three. Whether you perceive me to be so or not. My daughter existed. She was, is, and will always be my child. And I will fight for the rest of my life to make sure that her memory lives on.

Follow:

16 Comments

  1. Gráinne Reid
    October 2, 2018 / 6:22 am

    Every child is a blessing and you have been blessed with three amazing children! Jessica will never be forgotten, you are an amazing and inspiring mum xx

    • Louise
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 8:36 am

      Thank you Gráinne x

  2. October 2, 2018 / 6:59 am

    I am shocked that someone spoke to you like that at all, and angry on your behalf. And to say ‘I forgot about Jessica’ is terrible. Sorry that you have to deal with this on top of your grief, it shouldn’t be a factor x

    • Louise
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 8:37 am

      Thank you Jocelyn. People really don’t think sometimes before they speak x

  3. October 2, 2018 / 7:46 am

    This has made me feel so sad. Jessica will never be forgotten and people, no matter how far or close to you, should never be afraid of speaking her name. Of cause she’s still your daughter, still part of your family, still part of your wider family, because I know I always think of her too. However, not all people feel the same, its not that they want to forget her, or expect you to forget her, they probably just think its better to just move on and get on with life with the living. This seems alien to me as I guess it does to you too, but not everyone deals with things in the same way. I just hope that they didn’t mean they’d forgotten about Jessica, but they’d just forgotten to include her in their number. If they had any compassion they were probably horrified by their error and just carried on regardless to cover up their mistake. I hope that’s the case anyway. People can be insensitive, everyone can at some point. Don’t let this hurt you, Jessica is, and always will be your little girl xxx

    • Louise
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 8:41 am

      Thank you Anne. I think people sometimes really don’t think before they speak. This lady was a much older spinster lady and I suspect of a generation that tended to bury grief and try to move on without talking about these things. I honestly don’t think she realised that her words could be hurtful x

  4. October 2, 2018 / 9:55 am

    Oh my goodness! I can’t believe anyone would think this and that they would actually say it to you. Jessica was with you for six and half years and has been gone a matter of months. Of course she is still your beloved daughter and of course she always will be. Why don’t people think before they speak? I feel upset and angry for you! x

    • Louise
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 6:39 pm

      Thank you Sarah. I honestly don’t think people realise what they’re actually saying at times and how insensitive those words can be x

  5. October 2, 2018 / 11:05 am

    That is shocking! It could be a tiny bit understandable if it was someone who didn’t know you and Jessica but for someone just to “forget”. They should be ashamed! I am so angry for you!
    Jessica is a big part of your life and family and always will be.

    • Louise
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 6:39 pm

      Thank you Kim. She will always be a huge part of our lives x

  6. October 2, 2018 / 1:38 pm

    Oh I’m so sorry- that was so crass and insensitive! It’s made me so angry for you, how could anyone think that was ok to say… And unfortunately I know it is fairly common.

    • Louise
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you. Yes, all too common sadly. It wasn’t the first time I’d had that kind of comment although the first time someone was that direct and blunt about it 🙁

  7. October 3, 2018 / 1:28 pm

    I can just, just, get my head around an acquaintance or someone you not didn’t know well or at all not realising and saying something so thoughtless. But for someone close, it’s inexcusable. I’m dreadful at knowing what to say in situations, but hope I’m better than that, of course you’re a mum of three. Much love to you.

    • Louise
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 11:14 am

      Thank you Briony – people just don’t always think about what they’re saying x

  8. Anna
    October 5, 2018 / 9:49 pm

    What a touching post. I’m sure this person has no idea of the hurt and upset caused by a throwaway comment. I looked after Jessica when she was a little baby… she was very special and loved back then and she still is now!

    • Louise
      Author
      October 8, 2018 / 11:23 am

      Thank you so much Anna. I am sure they didn’t realise either. I remember you looking after Jessica – we always had such wonderful care from everyone on Ocean Ward and I always felt Jessica was in such safe hands there x

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.