This week The Guardian set me thinking about why the dead child is such a common trope. Any article with a still photo from Don’t Look Now is bound to grab my attention but the haunting effects of loss is bound to grab me too.
I believe there is an intrinsic pre-programming within us to want to protect children and for an adult character to lose a child generally creates a tremendous empathetic reaction in most of us. You can almost feel the loss even though it is fictional because the monster is one of our worst nightmares.
To be honest, I am not sure I could introduce this particular trope in my own writing as I don’t think I could do justice to the child-loss motif without trivialising it. But that doesn’t mean I might not try at some point in the future.