Listen to ‘Dear Sugars’: The Empty Chair Part 2

Courtesy of The New York Times | The Dear Sugars | Originally Published 11.07.2017 | Posted 11.18.2017

When a parent loses a child, the decision to have another can be fraught with mixed emotions. One letter writer, who calls herself “Mama with Complicated Joy,” had a baby following the death of her older son. “I feel like I’m nursing twins,” she writes, “grief on the left side, joy on the right.”

In our second episode of The Empty Chair series, the Sugars call on the writer Emily Rapp Black to help answer letters from parents who worry that their grief may overshadow their surviving children.

When Ms. Black learned that her son had Tay-Sachs disease, a fatal congenital disorder, she and her husband decided to have another child. She likens the experience to walking in a city built on top of ruins, “There’s always this ruined love, or the lost child right underneath what you’re doing in your present life.” Together, Ms. Black and the Sugars sort through the guilt and emotional exhaustion that can accompany childbirth in the wake of loss.

Ms. Black is the author of the memoir “Poster Child” and The New York Times best seller, “The Still Point of the Turning World.” Her work has appeared in Vogue, Salon, Slate and The New York Times. Her next book, “Sanctuary,” is coming out in 2018.


“A Small Good Thing,” by Raymond Carver

“Lincoln in the Bardo,” by George Saunders

“The Lovely Bones,” by Alice Sebold

“The Year of Magical Thinking,” by Joan Didion


The Dougy Center

The Compassionate Friends

Bereaved Parents of the USA

New episodes of “Dear Sugars” are released weekly. You can also read the Sugars’ advice in their Styles column, The Sweet Spot. Do you have a question for the Sugars? Email or leave a voice mail message on our hotline at 929-399-8477.

How do I listen?

If you don’t see an audio player on this page or to subscribe to “Dear Sugars” for free, follow the instructions below.

On your iPhone or iPad:

Open the preloaded app called Podcasts; it has a purple icon. If you’re reading this from your phone, tap this link, which will take you straight there. (You can also use the magnifying glass icon to search; type “Dear Sugars.”)

Once you’re on the series page, you can tap on the episode title to play it, and tap on the “subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your phone free.

Or if you prefer another podcast player, you can find “Dear Sugars” there. (Here’s the RSS feed.)

On your Android phone or tablet:

You can listen and subscribe using the free app RadioPublic, which is available worldwide. If you’re reading this from your phone, tap this link to play the latest episode and learn more about the app.

Or if you prefer another podcast player, you can find “Dear Sugars” there. (Here’s the RSS feed.)

From a desktop or laptop:

Click the “play” button above to start the show. Make sure to keep that window open on your browser if you’re doing other things, or else the audio will stop. You can always find the latest episode at

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