“So did you guys have your baby?” Her voice was filled with excitement. I had been waiting for this question. We visited this little Mexican food restaurant frequently. It was right around the corner from our house. She had seen my belly. She had made conversation. I knew it was only a matter of time before she asked about him. I looked away and my husband saved me. He told her we lost him. Her face dropped. She was uncomfortable. I could see her panic, not sure what to say. What came out was like salt in the wound, “I’m sure it was for a good reason, right?” I didn’t hold it against her. I felt bad for her. I know it’s hard to know what to say. I know we ruined her night. But it still hurt. A good reason? What could possibly be a good reason for this? We’ve heard so many versions of this cliché:
Everything happens for a reason.
He wasn’t meant to stay.
Heaven just needed him.
God has a plan.
Something must have been wrong with him. Maybe this saves you from something harder down the road.
One day we’ll understand why this happened.
Please, don’t say ANY of these things to someone who has lost their child. I no longer believe that everything happens for a good reason. He wasn’t meant to stay? Why did I ever get him to begin with? He was meant for so much more than death. Heaven needed him…. no, I need him. He belongs right here in my arms. This isn’t God’s plan. Bad things just happen. There was nothing wrong with him. He was perfect. And even if something were wrong, I’d rather have the opportunity to face that, spending as much time with him as possible. One day we’ll see why this had to happen? I doubt that very much. There will never be a reason good enough to warrant the loss of my son. I don’t think I will ever look at my life and think, “Yes, this is why my baby died.” But I will try to make my life good again. I will try to use his life to make something beautiful and meaningful. I will allow myself to be changed. I will share my beat up heart with the world in hopes of making a difference.
If you find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of not knowing what to say, try this instead: “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say. I know nothing can make this better. But I’m sorry.” Be there. Without advice. Without answers. Without trying to fix us. We can’t be fixed. We will all have our own grief journey, and clichés will never be a part of them.