I have an older brother. He was born dead, seven years before me. I don’t know what his name was, if he even had one. I don’t dare ask.

From Jennie Vansaco’s excellent “What’s in a Necronym?“:

Fifteen years later, the clinicians Robert Krell and Leslie Rabkin identified three types of replacement children: bound, resurrected, and haunted… A “haunted” child lives in a family overwhelmed by guilt, which imposes “a conspiracy of silence.”

Yes. Even though none of us would describe me as a replacement for him.

How can someone without a name, with such tiny feet, leave such a large footprint?

He probably never even wore shoes.

He is still here, screaming in the corner of the room, using all the air in all the breaths he never took.

4 thoughts on “haunted

  1. Hope you don’t mind me commenting, read this under the stillbirth tag. I’m just wondering how you think a helpful way for parents to deal with this situation would be. I lost my daughter at full term and fell pregnant again very quickly. It’s early days so my main fear is that something will happen to this baby but another fear is that we won’t be able to parent as well as we would otherwise due to our grief. Interested to hear your ideas as a younger sibling of a stillborn baby x

    1. I am so sorry you lost your Isobel. Thank you for commenting. I think openly acknowledging your fears and your grief is helpful. You seem to be doing that. Hooray! I suspect my parents didn’t.

      It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes as a parent. Finding a way to repair ruptures in that relationship is ultimately more helpful than trying to be perfect. A few years ago, my therapist encouraged me to read Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel J Siegel. I am not a parent or any sort of relationship expert, but it was interesting and seemed like it might be helpful.

      Sending you best wishes for healing, and for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby!

      1. Thanks so much, have seen some of Dan Siegel’s work but not read that so I’ll check it out. Yeah we’re seeing a psychologist together and intend to make Isobel a part of our family by celebrating her birthdays and getting involved with baby loss charities. Hopefully if we have other children they will know they are loved and valued in their own right not as a replacement for Isobel but it is genuinely so hard to deal with another pregnancy. Have you talked to your parents at all about their experience or is it just a total taboo subject? x

      2. Being pregnant again must be terrifying, especially so soon after such a devastating loss. I can’t even imagine how brave you’d have to be.

        There are a lot of subjects in my family that feel taboo. Sometimes I feel centered and skillful enough to try to talk to them. Now is not one of those times.

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