Will My Family Ever Be Complete? The Decision to have a Child after Loss

Having children after the death of a child can be one of the scariest decisions and processes there is. For some, conception alone is not an easy road. For others, the stress only begins when the two pink lines appear… side-by-side with the realization that nine months is a long time to worry for the safety and health of your next child.

BUT, before all these joys and worries, is the decision to have another child in the first place. I believe it is important to note that not everyone has this ability to chose – and that is a loss worth grieving in itself.

The very question of whether or not to try again can cause an emotional rollercoaster.

Of course the decision to have more children is influenced by many factors – yet for people who have previously lost a child, there are new questions that need to be considered. One of those questions I am struggling with personally centers on this conundrum:

 I feel my family is not complete and that I may want to have another child. Still, I am not sure if I will ever feel complete because someone will still be missing. Zachary will always be absent from my family. He is irreplaceable and therefore I may never achieve the state of “completeness” no matter how many kids I have.

Have you ever felt this way?

How I see it, there are a few ways to approach this issue:

(1)   Have another child and see how you feel. If you are open to growing your family and your finances, partner and career are all in alignment, so to speak, then maybe it is a step of faith. When that next child arrives, likely you will know then how you feel. You may experience a sigh of relief that, yes, now you are done.


This is a risky option, because maybe you will still experience the absence of your deceased child in a full and tangible way – but you will also have another little life to love – which is a wonderful gift in itself.


If you have another child and still the ache for completeness haunts you like an ever present shadow, move on to point number 2.


Alexis Marie Chute Wanted Chosen Planned shadow baby loss


(2)   A less risky, more inward, option involves coming to peace with the feeling of absence. Although I wish I could change this, my son will never be alive in this world. Boy, it sucks just to write that – but you know what I mean. How exactly do we make peace with our losses and the gap they leave? I believe the answer has to do with intentionally thinking about that void. Sit with your new reality; embrace it, grieving it and letting go of expectations of past and future – and just be.


Tall order, right? It sounds a little impossible! And maybe it is… Only trying it will allow you to know for sure. To paint an analogy, I would have to say that I used to dislike certain features of my body. Yet, over the last thirty-one years, I have looked at myself from a hundred different angles, dressed myself and lived within my own skin for 11,315 days – and in all that time I’ve grown comfortable with myself and my shape. It is just me. I’m not perfect, but I’ve found it’s better/more productive/healthier to love myself the way I am, opposed to feeling tortured and embarrassed. Maybe it is the same with absence. The more we live with it, look at it from different angles, seek to understand it and let it be what it is, the more clearly we will understand our feelings about family without its shadow.


Is this helpful? When I read it thinking about my own situation, my answer in response is yes and no. Grief and peace, just like love, require a great deal of energy and commitment – but I think it’s worth it. It is worth looking inward and figuring out what is right for you and your family.


If you want to read another blog post about having children after the death of a child, please click here: “Family Planning After the Death of a Child”


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