Saturday, September 8, 2007

Childless issues

When a parent loses an only child or all their children, we learn there are unique aspects that confront us. I will be listing for you in this blog and the next, some of these aspects of being childless.

I begin today with what I believe to be three most important questions: "Am I still a mother?" "Do I need to make a new will" and "Will I ever have any more special events in my life."

First, "Am I still a mother?" Of course we are. We will always be a mother, whether our child is alive or has died, and we should think of ourself in that way, no matter who may ask.

It does become awkward when someone we first meet asks us if we have any children. How should that question be answered? Please don't ever say, "None." Acknowledge that at one time there was a child or many children. By saying, "None" we are saying they never existed. For me, I just simply say, "I have one daughter who died 13 years ago in a car accident. She was 27 at the time." Although the other person may now feel awkward, didn't we, too, feel awkward when confronted with the question. Tell it like it is and go from there. Acknowledging we are mothers and will always be mothers will make all of us feel better, and now we can ask the other person the same question and release the tension, letting them talk about their children. We have said what needed to be said, and everyone is more comfortable about it.

Second, "Do I need to make a new will?" The answer is "Yes, you probably do." If your child was not married and did not have any children from that marriage, you need to think about your will, your trust and any legal issues that will entail. Who do you leave your money and wordly goods to? If you have a grandchild, the task may be easier. Many of us who don't have grandchildren may have siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and special friends who are possibilities. Or there is always a charity happy to take a donation. I do not have any siblings or blood relatives, but I do have 3 godchildren (my daughter's best friend's children) who are now in my will, as are some friends, some of my favorite charities and a foundation to honor my daughter. I am very specific as to who gets what and just have to ake sure that my wishes are carried out. That is the best I can hope for.

Third, "Will there be any special events in my life?" Not as far as going to say, your child's graduation, birthday parties, wedding, birth of a grandchild. When our friends have these happy occasions and talk about them, they tear at our hearts. When my friend's son got married a few months after my daughter died, I couldn't go to the wedding. I explained why to her and she understood. Years later it became easier, but I still think of my daughter and what she is missing. I go to events and smile and congradulate where appropriate, but it is a sad time. My daughter should be here attending these events in my place or with me. But it will never be and I must accept that.

In my next blog I will talk about the other aspects of being childless: listening to others talk about their children and grandchildren, being childless and affects on your marriage, losing friends who still have children and helping people understand the new you.

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