The Topic of Loss
Every bereaved parent will face the inevitable question: Do you have children (Miss Conduct, January 29)? I have developed two answers: With someone I don’t expect to meet again, I don’t mention my son’s death; if it is someone with whom I expect to have regular contact, I will. Although it is difficult to acknowledge, it can sometimes be more difficult to try to talk around it. Once it is out in the open, I am much freer to be myself. I am also free to talk about my son. Contrary to popular belief, we bereaved parents want to talk about our children and we want to hear other people use their names. That is one way that they remain alive to us. To ignore the loss or minimize it is a disservice to the bereaved parent. As a society, we need to support bereaved parents instead of ostracizing or pitying them.
Joan Baker Scott
My husband lost a child from a previous marriage a number of years ago. When he is asked about children, he always includes her and mentions that she has passed. It is very important for him to do so, because he never wants to feel that she is forgotten. People are often very welcoming and sensitive and often share heartaches of their own. I have found that if each party to the conversation is clear about their boundaries, it results in greater warmth and understanding. In the case of my husband, not asking would be more troublesome to him than asking and having the ability to share his memories.
I am frequently asked if I have any children, and without any hesitation respond, “Two—my daughter is X years old living in Y and my son died 13 years ago from cancer.” Miss Conduct’s advice to “give people a generic heads-up” is wrong. It puts the parent in a “special class” to be treated differently. And, the statement that the death of a child is “thankfully rare” is misleading—and this perpetuates the concept in our society that death is something we should try to ignore. It is a normal part of life and people need to see it as such.
I read with great interest the article about the vacuum robot competition (“Dust Up,” January 29). I own a Scooba, the floor washing vacuum of blessed memory from iRobot. My children gifted it to me many years ago and it provided great service for a long time. Recently I had an issue with the machine not vacuuming the dirty water and I contacted the company. The response I got was infinitely unsatisfactory, as iRobot no longer supports the product. I guess I’ll just have to mop after it.
We have both a high-end Shark, and a high-end iRobot, and the iRobot is better by far! We have two Goldens and a cat, and the iRobot works MUCH better on pet hair. The Shark was always getting stuck on things and whining
posted on bostonglobe.com
If my Roomba or my Sonicare toothbrush stopped working today, I’d have a new one by the end of the week. Can’t live without those two products. I also have the SharkNinja hand-held small vacuum and it works great. They’re doing something right in Needham. Listening to the consumer pays off big time.
posted on bostonglobe.com
I have four grandchildren, ages 8 to 13, and as an Italian-American Nonni, I am worlds apart from their other genteel, Southern grandmother who lives in Manassas, Virginia (“A Grand Popularity Contest,” February 5). I embrace being the silly Nonni who has parades in the house and loves wild and wacky. I venture to say in our households, there is no competition. Neither of us lives near the grandchildren. And, because neither of us are spring chickens, we try to cherish each moment (she’s 80 and I am 75). Our differences offer a unique perspective to each grandchild. My grandchildren delight and surprise me. I hope I do the same for them.
Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina
One challenge not mentioned: I have observed a significant difference between being a grandmother of son’s vs. daughter’s children. In my case, my daughters-in-law have complete control over whom their kids spend time with.
Fabulous article. Hit home a little more than I would like but opened my eyes to the fact that my feelings are normal and shared by many!
Portsmouth, Rhode Island
The article does not address the increasingly common situation of families extended through divorce and remarriage (as ours is). That makes for a complex grandparenting brew that has the potential to turn toxic, especially when you add the feelings of our children about their separated parents, in-law dynamics, and the different situations of near vs. distant grandparents. We’re just getting used to this situation with two toddler granddaughters, both living in the area so easy for us to visit, fortunately. And although we are both lucky enough to be on good terms with our exes, my heart goes out to the grandparents (and parents) in families torn apart in more disruptive ways.
As a grandma, it saddens me to read that some grandparents are in competition with their counterparts when they could be focused instead on this special relationship. “Joy” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of my three grandsons. When I am with them, I am totally engaged as we hunt for bugs under rocks, as we spot a great horned owl’s nest in an evergreen tree, as we complete complicated (for me, not them) Lego masterpieces. Being a grandparent has brought me so much joy—it never crossed my mind to be competitive about it.
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