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Do I have to speak to my daughter from her dead brother?

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Do I have to speak to my daughter from her dead brother?

I would like to teach my 6 year old daughter that there was a stillborn brother before her. But I'm afraid she understands that if he were born, she would be "dead". Because he must be our last child. Emmanuelle, Antwerp

Claude Halmos

Psychoanalyst

answers

It is indeed important that you speak to your daughter about her dead brother; because it's part of his story. And she can, it's true, ask you, "If he had lived, would you have had another child?" It's easy to answer him: "Maybe or maybe not, but in any case, we're pretty happy you're here." It's the truth. And there is no reason for it to be traumatic for her. We are here at the first level. That of reality.

Unfortunately, there is another one. That of your "imaginary"; which makes you turn it into a nightmare. And imagine that your daughter will conclude, from the information given, that she would be "dead". Totally enigmatic. But let the rest of your letter enlighten. You tell me indeed that, having already two boys, you want, at your third pregnancy, a girl. And that, at the announcement of a boy, you had immediately the presentiment that he would not live. But he is indeed dead at birth and your suffering has been terrible. You are nevertheless "fallen pregnant" very quickly and your baby girl is born. But you were immediately persuaded that she could only have been born "thanks to" the death of the previous boy. And that you were, moreover, responsible for this death. It's impossible.

The desire that you probably had that the boy you were carrying was a girl did not have the power to cause his death. Because, contrary to what we all believed in our early childhood, our thoughts (even "bad") do not have the power to kill (if they had it, humanity would have been depopulated for a long time). So I think you should see a professional who helps you get out of these beliefs; to mourn your dead baby and also probably to understand what happened in your story so that you have to make you pay so much for the happiness of having a girl.

Psychoanalyst, author of Speaking is life (Nil, 1997), Claude Halmos responds each month to four letters selected from an abundant mail, of which we publish excerpts.

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