Later after the group, she said that it was nice to hear me talking about Henry, saying his name.
I do talk about Henry often and freely with family and friends who knew him. Its when I'm talking to other people that I hesitate. I like talking about Henry, but I hate explaining about him. I hate saying he died. I especially hate explaining these things when they are not relevant to the conversation. How and when I talk about Henry has felt more complicated since Kathleen was born. Before, I usually just kept quiet during parenting conversations, but now I am part of them and part of my experience is with my first baby.
I realized that group discussions actually make it easier to talk about Henry. I can say things like, "With Henry" or "With my son" or "With my first baby" and the discussion simply flows on. The next person shares their experience. But in a real conversation, with back and forth between a few people, comments like that usually elicit a response like "So you have another child? How old is he?"
It's not that I want to spare people, avoid making them uncomfortable. Maybe it is that I don't want to make myself uncomfortable—at least not when all I was trying to share was that babies are different (my son hated baths but my daughter loves them) or a suggestion (Henry really hated tummy time, but he'd work at lifting his head up if he was lying on top of one of us) or something similar. I want to just be able to talk about Henry, not about the fact that he is dead.
Of course, sometimes I do want or need to talk about the fact that my child died. And I struggle with how and when to do that too. Today, I slipped him into a group discussion where one person in the room knew I had a son named Henry who had died and nobody else knew any of that. Later, on a walk with two other moms, I mentioned him and that he died. They made sympathetic comments and we continued on our conversation about what we do for work and when we go back and what we are doing/planning to do with our kids when we do work. It didn't feel like avoiding the issue, just like continuing with what we were saying. And now two more people, two people I did not know when I had Henry or when he died, two people I've met because of Kathleen know about Henry so when I say, "With Henry" or "With my son" or "With my first child," I won't have to explain.
I don't purposefully hide Henry. I don't avoid talking about him, because I do like to talk about him. But perhaps sometimes I think too much about talking about him. I'm working on this, because I don't like people not knowing.
I have a son. His name is Henry. He was with us for 6 1/2 months. He's been gone for about 15 months, and oh, how we miss him.