Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Bereaved Mother

Every week, Danny and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: My friend’s baby son died. How can I protect her from well-meaning questions like “How many kids do you have?”

Nicole: Aww, jeez, this poor woman. I definitely think you should ask her what she prefers: for you to send a quiet message asking people to refrain from bringing it up, or for her to just field them as she normally would.

Danny: but if there’s any chance you think Samantha might find that out and be upset, it’s better to check in first

though I think it’s a kind instinct, and you’re certainly not trying to overstep anything

Nicole: I am a very firm proponent of “if you THINK maybe you should check first, check first.” But I do think it’s a very kind instinct and would always be seen as such.

Danny: my only reason for suggesting “quietly alerting everyone else without asking first” is that she might feel worse at the prospect of knowing everyone in the room knows/may be thinking about it?

Nicole: Yeah, I would just worry that someone would shoot her a nice email after, saying “Karen said not to ask you about your kids at the party, I’m so sorry to hear about your baby.” People are just clumsy, and sometimes feeling like you were Managed is hard.

Danny: oh gosh, I didn’t think about that—that people would want to offer condolences

Nicole: right?

Danny: this is like a Russian nesting doll situation of fraught possibilities

Nicole: so err on the side of transparency, is my advice

Danny: and just frame it as an offer, don’t try to sound Overwhelmingly Serious: “I know getting asked about kids has been hard for you, would it help if I gave the women who don’t know you a heads up not to ask, or would that feel worse? Whichever you prefer, I’m happy to help run interference in any way I can”