Parenting After Loss: He Knows

This blog post was first published at Still Standing Magazine.


As the years pass, and I spend them parenting after loss, I’m amazed at how our son, Keegan, responds to having a brother whom he has never seen. Keegan is 4 years old. And he knows. He knows that he has a big brother.

While pregnant I was concerned about parenting after loss. I wasn’t sure how my heart would handle it. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure if my heart could handle it. But somehow my heart can love on earth and beyond. So, Keegan, he knows. He knows my heart. Yes, parenting after loss is so hard in what they know.

He knows that he has a big brother.

I imagined sitting down with my son one day to have “the talk”.

I didn’t know what I would say during this talk, but I imagined the day would come and I would have to tell him. Tell him all about his brother who lived for seven days. But he knows.

It all happened organically. No intentions or plans. It just happened.

Related: Siblings Grieve Too

We took our son to the gravesite of his big brother when he was about 6-7 months old. I bawled during that visit. Actually, my husband and I both cried our eyes out that day. It may be one of the few times that I’ve felt pure anger about our loss. I was angry that my sons would never get to know each other. Angry that we were visiting a cemetery instead of planning his 7th birthday party. I was angry that my son was staring at a headstone instead of his brother’s face. And I was angry that my heart was still broken.

I was angry.

Angry that he knows!

We had another visit about a year later. This time our son was a little older and we cried less. It was his first formal introduction. We didn’t explain much, but we told him that we were visiting his brother. I was worried about how his two-year-old mind would process such information. I didn’t know how it would make him feel. What he would say.


But, he knows. Now every time we pass a cemetery that looks similar, he smiles and says “my brother is there.”

He smiles!

He smiles because he knows.

As time continues to pass, he sometimes speaks of his brother. While playing, he’ll smile and say he’s playing with his brother.

Related: Brotherly Love; How Sibling Loss Shadows the Surviving Child

When he learns a new trick, he’ll smile and say his brother taught him.

Our son Colby died nearly 7 years before Keegan was born. And he knows.

I was afraid of him knowing. But the thought makes him smile. Every time, he smiles.

That makes my heart happy.

He knows.

And he smiles.


Photo Credit: LKP Studio