“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

November 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Grief, twins | 11 Comments
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I have previously written about being asked “How many children do you have?”  Over the years, I have different responses to this question.  It may always be a tricky question for me to answer or maybe one day I will come up with the perfect response.  I will let you know.

“How many brothers and sisters do you have?” is the bereaved sibling’s version of this question.  They are both such common and polite questions but the answers for some of us are so complicated.

The other day on the playground a classmate asked one of the twins, “Do you have any brothers and sisters?”

She answered, “Yes, I have a twin brother and my 2 other brothers, Jake and Sawyer, passed away. ”

The second grade little boy answered, “Jake and Sawyer probably passed away to get away from you.”

Our little girl walked away.  She is not perfect, she has and will say mean things at times too.  I wish I could protect all of my children all the time.  Jake and Sawyer have taught me that I cannot.  As much as I hate it, there are things beyond my control.  I am going to do my best to teach kindness to the 2 who are physically with us.

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  1. You are helping Alyssa and Fletcher become such incredible, loving, caring people. Too bad not everyone is focused on that goal.

  2. I just started reading your blog. I lost twin boys in January and I often wonder how our future children will answer this same question. My heart breaks that a child would say that to your daughter. What a wonderful thing it is that she acknowledges her brothers that have passed, though. That shows strong and loving parenting.

  3. Not to In any way excuse the mean remark, which is just really nasty, but it may be that you’re dealing with the other kid not necessarily having a firm grasp either that “passed away” is a euphemism for “died” or that death is a real and permanent and very sad thing. I think I would teach the kids to say, “but they died when they were babies.” Harsher-sounding language when you’re an adult speaking to adults, but much mor helpful for comprehension when you’re a kid speaking to kids.

  4. Oh dahlin’. I couldn’t agree more with Krystal, you have taught Fletcher and Alyssa to remember Sawyer and Jake in so many loving, wonderful ways. It is so important that they can talk about their brothers who have passed away. Kids can be incredibly cruel, and we can’t always be there, absolutely one of the hardest parts of being a parent.

  5. So cruel. I just cannot understand what inner emotion drives kids to be mean. Hate this happened to Alyssa or any child.

  6. Lanie, you have done such an amazing job with Fletcher and Alyssa. I’ve found so many young kids can say such cruel things, but they generally have no idea what kind of impact what they say can have. I truly feel lucky to have such loving little (and adult) cousins!

  7. Your daughter handled the situation perfectly, she shouldn’t waste her time on such mean people

  8. Your daughter is braver than I am. I still have so much trouble with the “how many” question. What a trouper.

    As for kids being mean… it does take a while for a sense of empathy to develop, but I – like you – consider it my duty to help that development along, both in my own kids and in my students. Kindness and common courtesy go a long way throughout a person’s life; but sometimes it’s hard for them to see what an impact they have.

  9. That is so heartbreaking. My son died at the age of 17, I hate that question too, but always answer two children. My other son cannot talk about his brother (his brother died two months before he turned 10) He has become very good at brushing over questions he does not like answering, children of all ages can be insensitive and cruel. It is not the best way to deal with it, but that is the way he handles the hurt and pain. It is heartbreaking as mothers that we cannot protect our children.

  10. […] Go, the twins decided that today would be a great day for a Lemonade Stand to remember their brothers.  They set one up at the end of our driveway and raised money and awareness for the March of […]

  11. […] am wearing purple for World Prematurity Day.  You were full term but all of your siblings were premature so I think you would be okay sharing your special day with them.  You were born on […]

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