How Does She Explain an Unexplained Death

Question: Dear Luise: My sister lost her only child when he was about 24 years old. How should she answer people when they ask if she has children without having to explain everything? His death was (and still is) an unsolved mystery. She feels guilty if she says “No” she does not have children. She feels uncomfortable having to explain if she says that she “used” to have a child. Thank you. J.

Answer: Dear J.: I, too, have lost an adult son and the cause was not determined. The “assumption” was sleep apnea.

When people ask if I have children I say I have a son who is deceased and I have a surviving son.
If they ask what happened, I say, “It wasn’t diagnosed”, (because it wasn’t.) Your sister can say the same thing. If pushed further, she can say she’s “not comfortable discussing it; it’s too painful”, (and she can *always* say that.)

Curiosity is natural. We often ask people if they have a family. Morbid curiosity is something else and doesn’t have to be respected. I have never yet met anyone who didn’t back down when they realized I was facing a loss of that magnitude and didn’t want to go into it further. Blessings, Luise

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