'Pretending he never existed': Couple's heartbreaking argument about late son

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

There's no rule book on how to deal with the death of a loved one. That is especially true when the lost family member is a child - as the grieving parents of a six-year-old boy have discovered. 

In a reddit post the mother explained she never quite knows how to answer when people ask her how many children she has. 

Writing on reddit, the woman said her husband accused her of trying to forget her son Josh, who was killed in a boating accident, by telling a new acquaintance she had two children instead of three.

In the post she explains when Josh was killed several years ago he left behind his younger brother Luke who is now 12. The couple have since had a daughter called Ava, who is currently four.

The woman went on to describe taking Ava to various "mummy and me" classes, where she'd talk to other parents. 

The woman saw pictures of Josh in the family home and asked who it was

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

"Because my boys were closer in age, everyone at Luke's activities knew about Josh and it was never talked about" she said. "With Ava the normal parent chit chat sometimes leads to people asking if Ava is our only. Sometimes I say I have 2 and other times I say I have 3. It really depends on the situation."

The mother said when her daughter had a playdate with a friend at the beginning of the year, the age difference between her kids was bought up, and asked if Luke had trouble adjusting to having a younger sibling when Ava was born.

Wanting to avoid an uncomfortable conversation the woman chose not to bring up Josh. "I just said, 'that wasn't an issue for us. Luke wanted a younger sibling and loves having Ava around'".


A few weeks later the friend visited the house and saw pictures of Josh and naturally asked who it was, so the woman told her it was her eldest son who passed away, but that she still struggles to talk about it.

"She was understanding and supportive, but my husband overheard and after she left he accused me of trying to wipe away all memories of Josh," the woman wrote. "I told him I wasn't trying to do that but in the past when I have casually brought up Josh's death it always makes the other person uncomfortable."

"I never said that Luke was an only child before Ava. I said that Luke didn't have any jealously surrounding Ava's birth and was happy to have a little sibling. That was true," she wrote.

"My husband said a lie by omission is still a lie and was very upset with me for trying to pretend that Josh never existed."

"That is not what I am trying to do," the mother said adamantly. "We got into a big argument over it and he ended up venting to his parents who still think I am the a--hole over this".

"Did I handle the situation poorly?" the grieving mother asked reddit users.

 Other readers agreed with the woman, that it was a case-by-case situation and neither her or her husband was in the wrong.

"It looks like they're going through grief very differently, but that doesn't mean anyone's in the wrong," one user commented.

"You don't owe the story of your tragedy to every person you meet" another user assured the poster. "It's exhausting and debilitating. Skipping that conversation is not erasing his memory"