Child Loss,  Stillbirth

Child Loss: Things People Say

Losing a child is horrible.  There is no description that can define the pain.  Unless you’ve lived it, you can’t fully “get it”, and there’s not one person who has experienced the loss of a child that would wish this kind of pain on anyone — not even their worst enemy. 

There are some things that are a blur and will always remain a blur following the death of my thirteen year old sister and then later on following the loss of my son and six miscarried babies.  But, the things that remain clear to me are the things that were said to me during my darkest hours of grief. The words that were meant to soothe the pain often didn’t.  And years later, I often find myself thinking about those careless words spoken so many years ago.

I don’t believe people mean to hurt when they say things to a grieving parent.  But, the words just seem to come out all wrong.  And, so it is my hope that by sharing some of these things others won’t continue to make the same mistakes.

“She was sick, so it’s best that she died young and didn’t have years of suffering ahead.”

“God always chooses the most beautiful flowers first.”

“God needed one more angel and so He chose yours.”

“It’s for the best.  You would have had a lifetime of struggles with a child that was sick.”

“Accidents happen.  That’s just how life is.”

“The next time you get pregnant, you need to take better care of yourself.”

“You’re so lucky that you have two other children.  Just count your blessings.”

“At least you had her for a while with you.  Some people never get the chance.”

“The baby probably had something wrong with it.  That’s why these things happen.  Count yourself blessed that this loss happened.”

“Rely on your faith.  It will get your through.”

“Just pray and everything will be okay.”

“Well, this was just not meant to be.”

“You’re strong.  You’ll get through this just fine.”

“In a few weeks you’ll be feeling good as new.”

“I lost my dog last year, so I know how bad you’re hurting.”

“I know just how you feel.”

“I know a lady who lost two children at one time.  At least you only lost one.”

“Think of it this way — God chooses only the strong to carry this much pain.  You’re one of God’s strong ones.”

“Time heals all things.”

“If you keep busy, you’ll feel much better in a few weeks.”

“In another month you’ll be pregnant again.”

“Now your lives will settle down.  I know dealing with a sick child was wearing you down.”

“God teaches us great lessons through our pain.”

I could go on for probably another hour with things that were said, but I’m sure you’re getting the picture.  I believe each of this things were said by people who meant well, but……the words only pierced deeper into the already open wound left by child loss.

Nobody can know exactly how another person feels!  God doesn’t need more angels or flowers in heaven.  No, life wouldn’t be easier or better without my child.  There are no replacements for children.  Time does not heal all things.  Great lessons can be learned through our pain, but great lessons can also be learned through our joy.  A few weeks isn’t enough time to bring about any healing from child loss.  And, faith is not measured by the amount of grieving we do.

Need I go on?  Words can hurt so much — even when they’re meant to help.

What helped me the most?  I often tell this story when I’m speaking to others about what to say to a grieving parent.  Something that helped me the most was hearing no words.  I will never forget when my son died a man from church coming up to me and just put his arm around me and allowed me to weep on his shoulder.  He had no words.  His eyes cried tears of sorrow with me.  He walked me to the car and gently helped me sit down.  As he waved good-bye his tears ran down his cheeks like a gentle rain.

I knew he was sharing my pain, and that helped me so much!

teardropAlso greatly appreciated were the words, “I’m praying for you.  I don’t know what to say that can help you feel better, but I’ll pray every day for God to somehow bring hope to you in this time of sadness.”

You and I know that there are no words that can bring healing.  And, tears are only a little bit water and a lot of feeling.  That’s why it helps so much to know that others are sharing in our pain in a sincere way.  We don’t need people telling us how to grow a bigger faith, how to stay busy and forget out pain, or how things will get better in few days.

We need a few moments of genuine sharing in our pain and a gentle hug and shared tear.

My love to each one who visits this site.  If you are in the darkness of grief right now, I am praying.  I have walked this path of child loss and it’s not easy.  But, together as we share and care, we will begin to find new meaning in the days ahead.



If you are in the Somerset – Johnstown , Pa area on November 14th, I’d love for you to join me and others as we talk about how to face the holidays without our child.  I promise you an evening of encouragement!  You can register here.


    • Clara Hinton

      Sue, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your daughter. There is such a special bond between a mom and her daughter…..we can’t even find the words, can we? My love to you.

  • Katia

    Thank you… I”m going to share this message with friends and family,
    I am a grieving mother of a precious six year old who’d be celebrating her 11th birthday this week,
    Sending Love and prayers to each grieving parent and grieving person who is missing a loved one.

    • Clara Hinton

      Katia, Thank you for sharing. The more that we can educate people on this type of grief, the better support will become available. We have a long ways to go, but… voice, one step at a time, and we’ll do it!

      I’m so sorry for thie loss of your little girl. My special love to you.

  • Leslie

    I’m so sorry for your losses. I lost my 2 year old son to brain cancer on Feb 8, 2012. Many did not know what to say so they nothing. I lost contact with many friends and some family relationships will never be what they once were. I am finally ok with that. I know of one statement, among many, that stands out loud and clear that someone said to me within a month of my sons passing. Via a phone call ” i hope you are aware that you are not the only one grieving. Other family members are grieving just as much and I should call them to see how they are doing”. My response.. Click! Some things are much better left unsaid! Xoxo hugs to you!

    • Clara Hinton

      Oh, Leslie. I’m so sorry. What a horrible thing to be told! You are so very right — some things are much better left unsaid! My special thoughts and prayers are with you. I’m so sorry for the loss of your little son.

  • Christy Fetterman

    Thank yo so much for sharing this Clara! What a blessing you are to me! I am so very glad our paths have crossed!

    • Clara Hinton

      Christy, Special hugs are being sent your way. I’m so glad our paths have crossed, too. I’m looking forward to getting to know you more in the weeks to come.

  • LindaMarie

    So well said and I’m sure that everyday is still a struggle for you. And you are right no one knows what you personally at going through. Grief is different for everyone just like Men grive different than women I’m so sorry for your losses I lost my little Sister 23 years ago and not a day goes by when I don’t think of Her. Linda

    • Clara Hinton

      Linda, We are both sharing a similar grief with “sister loss.” That’s a terrible pain, and yes, I still find myself struggling especially around her birthday and the date when she died. Those two days are extremely difficult.

  • Crystal

    I love this and yes words unspoken were much more appreciated than the people who said these things to me I remember a stranger saying better to have lost him now than later I kicked him out of my house

    • Clara Hinton

      Crystal, I always feel that strangers have no right to say anything at all. I’m glad you sent him from your home!

  • Debbie Adams

    I wish I had the hugs. When my family would see me break down they would run the other way. And I do mean run the other way. No hugs no tears.Just take off to where they didn’t have to see me like that and not deal with it. I went and still are going through my daughters death. I have never in my life felt so alone through this. I feel as if I am the only one who really loved her and is hurting over her death. How else can you feel when you have no one to help you or seen their tears. Oh tears at what I can remember at her funeral. But after that nothing. Deal with it. The worse one was ” Oh no here we go” and turn around and walk away. Why because I lost the one most important thing in my life My child. I have a right to grieve to break down. Why can’t they understand that. Years are mins. The pain is still there and it will be 6 yrs. It hurts so bad sometimes I can’t breathe. My heart hurts. I feel like I am a robot. I turn myself on and off. I have no choice I have to when my daughters son is around. I can’t let him see me like that. But at night there is no holding it back. My family has fell apart. What ties we had seems to be gone and no one try
    s to even pick up the pieces. It’s like no one cares anymore. How sad is that. But that is ok cause i will grieve for her in my own way and as long as it takes for me to be able to move on if that is what you call it.

    • Clara Hinton

      Debbie, When I read things like this, it breaks my heart. I am so, so sorry. This is very sad — sad beyond words, and you deserve so much more than to be treated like this. I think you expressed it perfectly when you said, “years are minutes.” Most definitely take the time you need to grieve the loss of your daughter and do it in your own way. I just wish so much you had some support because that would make things a lot easier for you in so many different ways. My love and prayers are with you.

      • Debbie Adams

        Thanks so much Clara. Those words mean the world to me. My love right back to ya and my prayers are always with you too. Also my email got deleted so I did not receive any of my comments if there was any. Thanks so much for everything you do. Your words really touch us. God Bless.

  • Carine

    One of my true friends sent me this beautiful poem:

    Please, don’t ask me if I’m over it yet.
    I’ll never be over it.
    Please, don’t tell me she’s in a better place.
    She isn’t with me.
    Please, don’t say at least she isn’t suffering.
    I haven’t come to terms with why she had to suffer at all.
    Please, don’t tell me you know how I feel
    Unless you have lost a child.
    Please, don’t ask me if I feel better.
    Bereavement isn’t a condition that clears up.
    Please, don’t tell me at least you had her for so many years.
    What year would you choose for your child to die?
    Please, don’t tell me God never gives us more than we can bear.
    Please, just tell me you are sorry.
    Please, just say you remember my child, if you do.
    Please, just let me talk about my child.
    Please, mention my child’s name.
    Please, just let me cry.
    –Rita Moran. Published in Compassionate Friends

  • James

    God only takes the best! flipping sickens me that saying! always from someone that hasn’t lost a child doesn’t know what this heartbreak pain is like! unbearable!

    • Clara Hinton

      James, Yes, that one drives me nuts. It just hurts so bad to hear that. I don’t know how people can think that helps.

  • Marty Lynn

    I was told that God understood my pain after losing my son, because he, too, had lost a son. My mind screamed out” yes He did, but he knew his would rise again in three days.”. I had no such luxury.
    I also had a well meaning lady tell me she couldn’t believe I was still sad after two weeks, because I’m such a happy and upbeat person.

    Sometimes it’s best to just give a hug and a prayer and let the parent know you care and keep your mouth shut.

    • Clara Hinton

      Sometimes I don’t know what people are thinking when they say things like this. I guess the truth is — they aren’t thinking! I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son.

  • Dale Rychliski

    You couldn’t have said it better. I lost my 20 yr old son in 2001, my 43 yr old daughter in 2008 and then my husband committed suicide in 2009. How do you keep tthe faith you appear to have? I just don’t have any… None of this will ever get better, it comes and goes, as I’m sure you know. My heart hurts for every parent that loses an child, it’s an inconsolable pain…

    • Clara Hinton

      Life can get to be unbearable at times. Believe me when I say I’ve had periods in my life when I wasn’t sure I’d make it through. Your losses are so close together — that much grief weighing down on your heart daily is a pain like none other. I’ve gone through periods when I’ve not been able to pray at all. I’ve had to rely on others to pray for me. Then, other times I’ve literally slept holding my bible cradled under my arms and every time I’d wake up during the night my tears would wet the pages of my bible. We each have to find our way through this horrible journey and not one step of it is easy — just take it one day, one breath, one minute at a time. My special thoughts and prayers are with you. I’m so very, very sorry for the losses of your son, daughter, and husband. My heart is hurting with you.

  • Susie Becker Aagard

    I’m so tired and completely worn out. My son passed away in Aug. of this year. I have tied to be strong but with the holidays coming up I feel lost. So tired of people telling me how I should feel How do they know how I feel? They still have all their children. I just want to curl up in a ball and disappear.And cry. All I hear is you look great. If they only knew what I felt on the inside. Pain. Dispair. Heartache. He died in a farming accident. Caught in a big round baler. People find that out and the questions start flowing..I feel so lonely. Is this all part of the grieving process? My husband feels I need to see someone. He’s worried my health is falling apart. No one will listen when I need to talk about Ty. Right away they close me off. So so tired……

    • Clara Hinton

      Susie, I’m so, so sorry. It’s so early on in your grief yet to be feeling much of anything except tired and worn out and so full of pain. You haven’t even had time to fully digest what has happened. Yes, this is all part of the grieving process. I wish that you had people willing to listen when you want to talk about your son. That’s so very important! Maybe that’s where a counselor could help — just to be there to be a listener. If you feel that would help you in some way, then by all means take that brave step to see a counselor and share your thoughts and sorrow. The tiredness is the heavy weight of grief. It literally wears us out. Again, I’m so very sorry for the tragic loss of your son. I hope and pray that you will get more support to help through the weeks ahead.

  • Sue

    That poem is so right on. My beautiful daughter died 16 months ago at 36 and each day is painful with every minute that I think of her daily, hourly and so on. I have support but even with support that poem fits beautifully. There is not a moment that I want to pick up the phone and call her, I hate myself when I do that and think maybe I am crazy but this site helps be back to reality, Thank you and hopefully I can share that poem, thank you Clara for your beautiful and kind words on your site, it helps me get through my daily pain

    • Clara Hinton

      Sue, You’re not crazy — you’re just a mom who misses her daughter with all of your heart. Meditate on the words of that poem and allow it to speak to you — especially during the more difficult days. I’m so sorry for the loss of your daughter.

      • Sue Saulter

        Clara again thank you for your thoughtful words, I love your site and your support, I will keep your words close to my heart Sue Saulter

  • Kim Clevenger

    I lost my son from suicide 8 yrs ago. I still remember the awful comments. I hate the one ” he was only here as a loan, he is home now” and the best, “what happened why did he do it”. And now since it’s been 8 yrs, I’m suppose to be done grieving and be back to normal. Nobody understands my “new normal”. I miss him every second of everyday!!

    • Clara Hinton

      Kim, Losing a child to suicide is a loss that has so much complicated grief — so many unanswered questions, and so much lack of understanding and support. People just don’t get it, and it angers me to hear such comments as were said to you. I’m so, so sorry for the loss of your son. I’m sure you will always miss your son every second of each and every day. My special thoughts are with you.

    • Peggy K. Gordon

      I am sorry about your son Kim, I also lost my son to suicide 3 years ago. The things that people have said and continue to say…so sad! I don’t believe I will ever be “normal” again as some say. I just have to try and move forward. I miss so much my heart hurts. Take care!

  • Elissa Smith

    As you said… so many things that people say you want to scream at them… but its not really about them or what they said… It may not be unfair that your child died, that my child died, that anyone’s child dies… I struggled so… I even looked up the statistics around children, young adults, that die… I alienated myself because I lost it when a church member said that his faith helped him in the loss of his mom… this happened a couple of months after my daughter died… and to be blunt… my faith was hard hit… the reaction to my melt down by several of the church group was basically to avoid me… so I removed myself from the church… 7 years now… and I’m surviving… but they aren’t any part of how or why… and yes I resent it… oh well… I’m sorry… so much pain and bitterness… the only thing I can do is to try to avoid talking about things… and that’s not really good I know…

    • Clara Hinton

      Elissa, Sadly, I’ve found from my experiences that many times people from church say the worst things. I don’t know why they feel that our grief in any way equates to how much faith we have. I understand your avoidance — I really do. I just wish people had been more caring and had stood by you in your pain — not avoided you. My mother went through this same type of thing when my sister died. It took many, many, many years for her to make her own personal peace with God. And, really, I don’t know how she did it. She went through some terrible things after my sister died. I hope there will be a day when things will be better for you. In the scope fo child loss, 7 years is not a long time at all. Your pain is still so raw. I’m so very sorry for all that you’ve been through.

  • Jill Meekins

    I am sure I haven’t heard all the insensitive comments that are coming my way in the 5 months my Tomm has been gone~but the worst one thus far was “life sucks sometimes”. I tried to remain calm and not just go bat crazy on her so my response has been silence

  • shawnna catt

    wow,im fighting the tears. i lost my only son 5 days past his 21st b-day. he was just a young man starting his life. he wasnt perfect,he had his faults but to me he was. when my mom found him and came to tell me what happened i got in the car and she said chris is dead! we went to his trailor and the paramedics were there,they was picking him up and got a call on the radio that the town snitch was getting beat up so they dropped my son and ran to help him out! they said my son was just a dope-head,and he didnt matter. well he did to me!!! he smoked weed and thats wrong but he was a very good boy!! that was 2001. time does not heal all wounds,and the pain does not go away!!! i miss him everyday!!!!

    • Clara Hinton

      The very last thing on earth we need when a child dies is for someone to use character judgement. Not one of us has a perfect child, but every single one of us will love our child with every bit of our being because that child is ours! I’m so very sorry that such horrible words were spoken to you. I hope there will be a day when you can find a bit of healing. My love to you.

  • Kim

    My 21 year old son died four years ago after falling into a ditch as he was jogging home and hit his head on rocks that were at the bottom of the drain. He was missing for 24 hours and I went out looking for him and found him facedown in the drain. The comments that sticks out in my mind is … ‘he’s in a better place’ and ‘at least you had 21 years’ !

    • Clara Hinton

      Kim, I’m so, so sorry. I’m not sure how anyone with a brain can think that comment would help. I hope that this blog will be shared with many so that we can help educate people about what not to say. Sometimes they just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind….without thinking. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I cannot imagine the pain you’re going through.

  • Mary

    People do say the strangest things. I think they just have no idea WHAT to say. I wonder before I lost my 17 year old son to suicide if I said some of these careless platitudes to others. I hope not, but I can’t be sure. Until you’ve walked in the grief shoes, you are pretty clueless. I tried to take each thing said to me in the spirit it was intended rather than what the actual words are. It isn’t always easy and sometimes I fail. But I try. Thank you for sharing your heart and giving a forum for this topic.

  • Debbie

    The comment that got to me the most was God needed another angel. I just wanted to scream back that He didn’t either! God doesn’t NEED Anything! I too agree that there are No Words that can help dealing with the death of your child.

  • kayla

    My son was stillborn 6 years ago I was only 18 at the time it almost killed me some of the things that people said to me… still to this day when I think about some of the comments it makes me cry some people are just inconsiderate I had a nurse in the hospital say ” I guess no one told u we have had a lot of babies die lately” and someone tell me ” I had an abortion so I know just how you feel” I couldn’t believe people said these things to me and I will remember then for the rest of my life… my son was full term (40 weeks) when I lost him and nothing will ever replace the hole I have in my heart I love him and miss him so much

    • Clara Hinton

      Kayla, When I delivered my stillborn son I can’t even allow my mind to think of the comments that were said. I don’t know if it’s because people really and truly don’t know what to say or if it’s because they don’t have a single clue of what it’s like for this type of trauma and loss. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your precious little boy. I’m sure he was beautiful and perfect beyond words. My love to you.

  • charlene stach

    It was one year oct 28th……my son Ty 21 was killed in a car accident, sitting in back seat, was a head on …I have so much pain…but I hide it well… work 2 jobs to keep busy and my marriage is over..i couldn’t love anymore…everyday I hear people say It true the good die young!! or I couldn’t imagine I would never want that to happen to me… I learn to close myself off from these comments or is it getting easier…one yr and I am suppose to be cured..i never been so alone and sad and ashamed of other peoples behavior…My son was killed he is never ever coming back!!!!

    • Clara Hinton

      Charlene, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son. People just spew out so many careless words. I pray that one day there will be enough education that people will learn how to be sensitive to those of us who have gone through the worst loss known to mankind — the loss of a child. My thoughts are with you in a most special way.

  • huntersoledad

    I have heard so many of those comments from those who feel they have to say something about the loss of my daughter. As my husband says, sometimes there are no words.

  • Bridget

    Read through all those comments now, and i must say: I have never been a religious person, so when i lost my daughter, i got very angry at all the people telling me God took her home etc. Some people just parrot what others say, thinking it is going to help. My pain is unique to me. My pain will NEVER go away. To all the parents out there that have lost a child, know that you have every right to grieve, even if your precious child has been gone for 50 years. No one has the right to tell another person how they should feel or behave either. When my daughter died, i was a Preschool Teacher. One of the parents in my class walked up to me and said “You better control your emotions in front of my son, i do not want him to tell me again that teacher had been crying in class”. The Principal of my school was so horrified at that Mom, she had her removed from the school. One of my family members recently told me i never deserved to have her in the first place (this same person cannot have children, thank goodness). Needless to say, she is no longer a family member, as we have cut her out of our lives for being a heartless creature. So to all the parents out there, the only advice i have taken is: live your life day by day, because some days will be unbearable, and others will be ok. Know it is ok to grieve and sob and scream and get angry and push unwanted persons away, because it is your right as a person to do whatever you feel will help you at that given time. If they all love you, they will give you all the space you need, and be there for you when you cannot breathe, when anniversaries are looming, when a memory floors you and makes your entire body want to shut down. Find the one person that can handle you at your lowest point because that same person will be there to help you up again, time and time again. I lost my daughter in 2007, it feels like yesterday. I have that special someone to lean on, cannot do without him. Find your special someone…

    • Clara Hinton

      Your comment is so helpful! I especially like what you said at the very end — “Find that person that can handle you when you are at your lowest point because that same person will be there to help you up time and time again.” I’m so very sorry for the loss of your daughter, and so very thankful that you’ve found that special someone to lean on for support. Thanks so much for your insightful comment!

  • Felicia Galindez

    I lost my son 3 months ago in a car accident and i have had most of the those remarks addressed to me. Its hurts that people would say those things but then again, there is that one family member that tells me everytime. No one can ever say anything to make you feel better and it is true. But it still does not answer the question Why? I suppose other will never understand what parents go through losing a child, until they experience it themselves.

  • Nancy

    I have heard these phrases’ so many times. I think the one I hate the most is: “I know how you feel” No you don’t, not if you haven’t lost a child. It is absolutely the worse pain in the entire world. I lost my dad and 2 brothers and I thought that was bad, that is until I lost my son. A piece of me went with that child. I will never, ever, be the same person. I will never find that happiness again ever. He was my shining star. Yes I had him for 23 years but I want MORE, so another phrase I hate is “at least you had him for 23 years” yes I did but I’m selfish and I want more. I wanted to see him get married, have children, struggle to make ends meet, learn how to take care of a home, grow old all of those things not to just see him “graduate” from high school and go to college. I could go on forever. It hurts badly and deeply.

    • Clara Hinton

      Nancy, I’m so sorry. People just don’t think. We want our children with us forever. They are the reason we live. I don’t know how people can’t seem to grasp that. 🙁

  • Vickie

    At first many of these comments just stunned me,then I started to think of nasty rep[lies but actually I usually don’t respond. One that bothered me is,Your son would not want you to cry! Of course that is true but then again wouldn’t you want someone especially your Mother to miss you. It is very hard to hear that when you are sobbing with grief. It makes you feel guilty and angry at the same time! The pain is so deep. Also you do have other children as if this child was a throwaway. I find the most helpful people just give a hug!

  • Anthony (A.J.) Borris

    I lost my only son.. 5 years ago in a car accident. And I still go through so many different emotions all the time , From sadness to hurt to anger to jealousy ( That other men still have there sons) I have 2 great daughters. That help me keep strong. But they know that Daddy’s not strong at all. My son was only 21 and NO! that’s not enough time. I feel that the whole world should have STOPED that day. Cause mine did. It’s very hard to talk with anyone about the loss of him .. Because you get to many comparisons.. Let me talk about my boy. when I feel like it. And lift him up, without a comparison of any kind , Cause he still shines in my eyes

  • jessica

    My son died as a result of a man running a red light and hitting the car my husband was driving. I cannot count how many times people have said to me “You are so strong. If I lost my child Id be a wreck (or some other combination of words which basically elude to me not appearing grief stricken enough). Please just say I am so sorry. Nothing else. Ask if there is anything you can do. If they say yes do it with love and please do not expect anything in return but a thank you. It is probably all they are capable of giving you at that moment. If you do not know what to say then just be there and when they want to talk they will. It isnt hard. You will not fix it. You will not make them feel better. They are not going to get over it, through it, past it. They have lost someone and are missing a piece of their LIFE. If you can understand those few things then you will likely be a blessing to someone someday.

    • Clara Hinton

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your son — so sorry for every loss that has been mentioned on this blog. And, I’m also so sad for the extra pain that has come into our lives because of things said by people who didn’t take time to think or by the disappearance of others we thought we our friends.

      On a different note, what a blessing it has been to hear of some of the ways people supported many of you. Thank God for family and friends who do “get it” — the ones who stop and take time from their busy lives to truly care!

      We’re all learning — this is no easy path to travel. That’s why we continue to need so much support!