Here's what one mom wants you to know
February 13, 2015 6:58 AM   Subscribe

When a child dies, too often people stop saying his name. Some people didn’t want to bring him up for fear it would remind me of his loss. But as with most bereaved parents, there is not a moment when I’m not aware. I feel the loss in my cells, even when I sleep. Saying my son’s name to me is one of the sweetest gifts anyone can give me. Phoenix Lind Anderson. It is the music of my heart.

Phoenix Lind Anderson.

posted by 724A at 7:25 AM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

posted by longdaysjourney at 7:41 AM on February 13, 2015

posted by aryma at 7:51 AM on February 13, 2015

posted by MartinWisse at 7:54 AM on February 13, 2015

posted by domo at 8:19 AM on February 13, 2015

Thanks for posting.

Sophia, beloved niece.
posted by chapps at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Phoenix was my godson.

People who choose not to get their children vaccinated are cavalier and deluded about reality to a degree that I find almost unbearably offensive. I don't wish horrible tragedies like this on them, but I do wish they'd sit down and get to know someone who's gone through one. It changes you forever.

(Fourteen-year-long lurker, and this post got me to sign up; thanks, roomthreeseventeen, for posting.)
posted by pwe at 8:49 AM on February 13, 2015 [57 favorites]

I think fondly of a party I went to hosted by a Napalese friend... It was a "brothers and sisters day" party, because he missed this holiday from home. We all told stories of our siblings. One woman came and talked about her brother, who died from cancer as a teen. At first I was shocked, but it obviously made her very happy, and eventually we all relaxed and had a wonderful time hearing her fond memories.

When my neice died it was amazing how many times friends or aquaintences reached out to share their story of losing a child. For a while I had this awful sense of a hidden pandemic, but then it came to feel like kinship, and like all these people needed a space where they could speak of a lost child and it would be welcome.

Now when I am asked about whether my brother has kids, I always mention both her and her brother, and i tell people that she died. I don't want her forgotten... But i also don't want the person to continue asking about her and end up embarassed... And I feel a knot of fear before I say it that it will be too much for them to hear, or that I am doing something socially inappropriate.
posted by chapps at 8:51 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sorry for your loss, pwe.
posted by chapps at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2015

Maybe having non-vaxxers sit down with parents who have kids who have died from preventable diseases and talking is a potential solution . Not in a preachy way, not shaming them for their (poor) choices. Just talking and sharing experiences as parents who truly love their children. i would hope that could change some minds.
posted by CPAGirl at 9:00 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry for your loss as well, chapps. And yes, figuring out how to navigate these kinds of conversations in a society that just. doesn't. want. to. hear. about dead kids is always challenging.
posted by pwe at 9:03 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

And yes, figuring out how to navigate these kinds of conversations in a society that just. doesn't. want. to. hear. about dead kids is always challenging.

This. Right now even more so now that strangers see my almost three year-old and ask if I have more kids. They're just expecting a quick answer: "no, just him" or "no, I have a baby at home". They don't realize that in my head I say "no, I have two sons, except one of them died when he was three months". But no one expects that sort of drama at the park or the supermarket, so they put me in the terrible position of having to lie and say "just this one".

For my baby LD
For Phoenix and all the other babies who are rarely mentioned but never forgotten.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:23 AM on February 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


No children of my own, but I spent a lot of time in graveyards while researching my family tree. The little gardens devoted to stillborn children affected me the most. Right after the gravestones with mother and child having the same date of death, that is.

One ancestor was the Parish clerk. IIRC (it's late and I'm on my tablet so I can't fire up RootsMagic to fact-check), one after the other, he recorded birth date, death date for a dozen of his own children. Then he recorded his wife's death. An epidemic snatched both her and a couple more children who had survived infancy. In the end, two daughters made it to adulthood.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 9:44 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Our son is 6 months old, so while I can't imagine what it's like to go through this, my brain can't stop trying. I'm now sitting at work with tears streaming down my face. Thanks and all my sympathy to everyone posting their stories here.
posted by bjrubble at 9:47 AM on February 13, 2015

One of the children in our daughters' preschool died after choking on a vitamin. He was his mother's only child. Our girls are now high school age and we've long since lost touch with his mother, and I don't even remember his name, but not a week goes by that I don't think about him and be grateful I haven't experienced such loss.
posted by Gelatin at 10:22 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Linda Anderson is a terrific writer, able to convey to the extent possible, and 100% is not possible, the agony and emotions of losing a child. She really clarifies the case to vaccinate. It was never a question for my wife and I with our three kids. I grew up hearing stories about my grandmother's lost siblings. One died from the flu, the story goes he went out in a rainstorm without his boots on although I think that was told in that way to get me to dress appropriately for the weather, and another died of tetanus after stepping on a nail in the barn. It is one thing to lose a child over something not preventable, but to die of a disease that has a known vaccination is beyond me.

My best friend growing up, we were 13 when his brother died at 11 of a brain tumor. He made a decision at that time that he was going to try to prevent other "little brothers" from ever suffering the same fate and went on to become a neurosurgeon. He lives in another state, but we still talk often and we still tell stories about the time his brother did this or that. Especially the time the football got stuck up in a tree and his brother threw a huge rock up to knock it down and while he succeeded, he also succeeded in having the rock come down and hit is brother in his nose. The point is that while a lot of people were afraid to talk about his brother, he never wanted his memory to go away and his brother remained a part of everyday life thereafter. "Boy, [my brother] would love to be here with us. He always was willing to go first sledding down a hill." His brother would be about 50 years old today.

To all the parents who lost a child, my deepest sympathies. When the snow clears and I go visit my family plot, I will take the time to tend to a grave of a child as Phoenix' mother does, so that that child will not be forgotten.
posted by 724A at 10:23 AM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think of the babies and small children in my family's tree who could have been saved, had cures or vaccines been developed in their day. And every time I hear about people who won't vaccinate their children, I think of those children, and I think of their parents and siblings, and the holes in their lives.

It may come down to this, anti-vaccine people: you would rather risk a child's life than have a potential (and statistically miniscule) chance of a side effect. You want a perfect child, and anything that meddles with that Cannot Be Allowed.

/dismounts from hobby horse
posted by datawrangler at 10:23 AM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

We lost our infant daughter to a hospital-acquired antibiotic-resistant infection, and the way Linda describes her feelings about vaccination reminds me of how I feel about the problem of antibiotic resistance. It's a topic of national importance that has an extremely personal significance to me; that's one of the reasons I went back to grad school, to arm myself to work on that set of problems.

I'm always inspired and a little humbled when I see someone take the darkness of losing a child and do something good and important with it. I hope one day I can do the same.
posted by gurple at 11:12 AM on February 13, 2015 [21 favorites]

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:52 PM on February 13, 2015

posted by Jubey at 7:55 PM on February 13, 2015

'...the inscription emerged: “…all the light and all the joy, we buried with our darling boy.”'

posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:26 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:35 PM on February 14, 2015

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