A Lesson on Empathy: Why You Never Ask About an Age Gap
- Are your parents divorced?
- Did your mom have a baby before she got married?
- Are your sister and brother from the same father?
- Is your sister your half sister?
- Was your brother a mistake?
- Did your parents plan to have such a large gap in your ages?
- Are you his mother?
- Were any of you adopted?
- My child/ sibling is my family’s miracle baby
- We are a rainbow baby family
- Actually, my family background is not something i’d like to share with you right now
- My family struggled with infertility/ child loss and it's not something we really share with the public
- The age gap may be large, but its perfect because it's us
I also wanted to share the experiences of someone else who has been through this before. Dylan, whose younger brother passed away from SIDS, shared some really impactful information with me. Dylan wanted to share this:
“My whole life everyone has asked why my 12 year old sister Emme and I have such a big age difference, or if we have different parents. Or even worse, if she was an accident. In reality, she was a rainbow baby: a child born after a family loses a child. My brother Ryan passed as a baby, and my mom was nervous to have another child for many years after. Emme is a blessing in our lives and represents hope. While I know the people who ask these questions do not have bad intentions, the question can bring up a lot of feelings for me and I’m not always ready to share the answers. I often stutter and explain that there was a child in between us who passed, but I’d much rather tell that story when I’m ready”.
I think Dylan opens up about a really important point here. It is not that siblings and parents who have experienced loss are not prepared to answer questions or to share their story. The issue is that we want to be able to have the respect and privacy to share that piece of ourselves when we are ready to do so. Having a random person in public question your past can make you feel as though you have been forced to share a very private piece of your life. I urge you to replace this line of questioning you may be used to with words that are meant to lift people up. I urge you to help us feel comfortable sharing what we want when we are ready. Let's end the stigma around pregnancy and child loss. We can do this together with the help from those willing to step up and listen.