The question I fear the most

Today is World Mental Health Day. It’s also the second day of Baby Loss Awareness Week.

This tells me a) that there are a lot of awareness days – and lots of them are important and b) that it might be an appropriate time for a post about both subjects.

Earlier this year, I attended a festival with a group of friends I didn’t know very well. It was a great event, and I got to know lots of new people, who do similar work to me, have similar interests, and were generally a similar age.

This meant that I got asked the question I fear the most, quite a lot.

And what is that question?

“Do you have any children Ian?”

On the face of it, it’s a simple, straightforward question, and it’s obviously not one designed to offend or cause a sinking feeling in my stomach.

When I am asked that question, there are two possible answers – the long one or the short one. Or the truth or not the truth.

The short answer is the easier one:

“No, I don’t.”

But of course, that really isn’t the truth. The honest answer takes longer to explain and is quite a lot to tell people who I don’t know.

The reality is that I struggle to choose which answer to give, and I then struggle to get the words out.

Telling people, I don’t have a child sticks in my throat – it feels like I am denying the existence of Tilly. But choosing to tell people about her means I must find the words. That can be hard enough at the best of times, but it’s especially so with people I don’t know very well or when I or they don’t have much time.

Whenever I make what I consider the right choice, and tell people about Tilly, their reaction is positive. People are supportive and happ that I’ve chosen to talk about her. They all agree that I am a father and that I should never forget or choose not to talk about Tilly.

So that’s what I will do.

After all, how I can I say that baby loss shouldn’t be a taboo subject if I avoid it myself?

I know that my mental health receives a bounce when I do mention her, and people want to listen.

Thank you to everyone I’ve had this conversation with at work and everyone I met at Comms Unplugged. You’ve all been so supportive. It means the world.

Published by Ian Curwen

Communications professional and a bit of a foodie that wants to travel more. Sharing my observations on life.

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