My heart has been broken, divided, smashed, and left empty by the loss of two children, an infant son and an adult son. I’m still in “recovery” and I will be for the rest of my life. I’ve come to understand that pain is the reality of child loss. At least I know what to expect. What I’m not okay with are the things that have been said to me following my losses! Why do people say these things to grieving parents? Do they think these comments will help? Do they not take time to think through what they’re saying? Or do they really believe what they’re saying will give comfort?
Maybe I’m sounding harsh, but I really wish that sometimes I had a neon sign above my head that said “don’t say these things to me!”
Shortly after I delivered my stillborn son, I can’t tell you how many times I was told “God needed one more little angel, so He chose yours.” What? What did you say? NEVER! I will never, ever accept that as a reason for the death of my child! The God I know doesn’t need any more angels. There are enough angels already, and for sure God didn’t need my precious baby! That statement felt like a punch right in the center of my heart! I assume that the people who said that meant well, but they didn’t think it through. I even received several sympathy cards saying the same thing. “God needed another rose in His garden.” “God needed another flower, so He chose yours.” I cringe every time I think back on this. I finally got to the point when someone said this that I just looked and walked away. How is this supposed to comfort a grieving parent? How would this point a broken parent to God? This statement makes no sense at all.
After my adult son died, I wasn’t told any more that God needed another rosebud in heaven. But, I did get told something that shattered my heart just as bad! “God only takes the best first.” WOW! Another blow to the heart! So, because my son was among “the best” God struck him at a young age with a massive heart attack, killed him in front of his children, and left a grieving widow? I don’t see how anyone in their right mind could possibly think that telling me this could give me comfort! My son died too soon and in a tragic way. His death left brokenness that will be felt by family and friends forever. In no way do I think he died because “God takes the best first.” Where is the help in this statement? I certainly never felt it!
Time and time again I continue to get told, “I know exactly how you feel.” One woman referenced her grief when her dog died, and then said, “Oh, I know exactly what your pain feels like. I’ll grieve my dog forever.” Believe me, I’ve had my dog die, too, but in no way is that pain comparable to the loss of my two sons! It’s offensive to me to think that someone else knows “exactly” how I feel. That’s impossible! I will never know exactly how another parent of loss feels. Each parent has a uniquely different pain. Yes, we all feel brokenness. We all feel like there is a huge, gaping hole in the heart. But, every parent has his or her own set of memories and experiences with their child that makes their pain uniquely different.
I wish that others understood that sometimes it’s better to say absolutely nothing and simply listen. I have a need to tell my stories of loss again and again. Why? Because I don’t want to forget even one thing. I need to remember because I need to validate my loss. I need the pain validated. I need the lives of my children validated.
About two weeks after the delivery of my Samuel who was born still, I was in church and most people either said something that was totally absurd such as, “Well, at least you don’t have a child with birth defects or heart problems.” I cringe as I think of that one. Soon after, I ended my friendship with the woman who said that. Standing in church, an older man came up to me, put his arm around me, placed his head on my right shoulder and cried real tears of sorrow. He never said a word. He didn’t have to. I understood immediately that his heart wept with mine and I will always cherish that moment when I knew that someone cared that much.
I was so sensitive to words after the loss of my children, that often the slightest slip of the tongue hurts. It has been twenty-nine years since my Samuel was born sleeping. It has been almost three years since my adult son Mike died so unexpectedly. I still grieve. I will always grieve. Holidays and anniversary dates are especially hard. What helps? Just being remembered. A simple hug. No words needed. Just look into my eyes and show me that you care!
*****If these words resonated with you, I know that you will receive help from the book Child Loss – the Heartbreak and the Hope. I wrote this book a year after my son Mike died. If you are grieving from a miscarriage, stillbirth or other early loss, I know that Silent Grief will help you. I wrote this book shortly after the death of my precious Samuel. If you are struggling in grief and feel like you’ve lost all hope, I know that Hope 365 will help you. Hope 365 is like taking a daily vitamin of hope for one full year. I promise that if you read each brief hope filled meditation a day, at the end of ninety days you’ll begin noticing a shift in your thinking. Hope will begin entering your heart and help you so much on this grief journey!
It is my prayer that something that was shared here today has been an encouragement and help to you!
Child Loss Book – any age
Silent Grief – early child loss
Hope 365 – Daily meditations for the grieving heart