That question is a tough one. Right after our son died I would get so emotional when that question came up that I almost couldn't respond. I would do anything to avoid the question so I wouldn't have to answer it. Saying I had a son who died just made it more real. Now, it's easier. I just tell it like it is.
Here is the poem I wrote about that dreaded question about two years after he died.
It happens again like so many times before.
I’m at my sister’s house,
talking to her neighbor
someone I’ve just met
and she asks me the dreaded question
one that I’m avoiding
by talking about what a great day
this has been in Portland
and isn’t my sister’s garden just beautiful
and what do you do for a living
and where are you from.
And there it is,
after I’ve tossed the salad greens
put the tomatoes in the bowl
and sliced in the avocado
“How many children do you have?” she asks.
And never missing a beat
I say, I had two
but now, only one.
My oldest son died.
Then I leave to get myself together
and wonder what she and my sister are saying
while I am lying down in my room.