Shortly after Luke & Asher were born, I began to notice that people; friends; didn’t really know what to say to me/us, so instead of just remaining silent, they would try to be comforting and do far more damage to our already aching hearts than good. I know it was absolutely never done intentionally, but there are really just some things you should NEVER, EVER say to a grieving parent.
1) “Everything happens for a reason.” While I know that God has our entire lives mapped out already and that “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,” Romans 8:28–IT STILL HURTS. And telling a grieving momma or daddy that everything happens for a reason is not helpful. Sometimes the only reason there is for a child to have died is sin. When sin entered the world, so did sickness and death.
2) “God only gives you what you can handle.” First of all, this isn’t true at all. He will give you more than you can handle on your own, because we aren’t supposed to handle things on our own. Absolutely the only reason I am still here today, is because He saw me through it. He held me up when I couldn’t do it on my own; which was constantly. He gave me purpose in getting out of bed each day. And He still does. Because guys, losing my baby was far more than I could handle without Him.
3) “At least”……at least you have your other children. At least you can have more babies. At least they didn’t revive him and leave him brain dead. At least one of your twins survived….. Guys, there is NO “at least” in infant and child loss. None. Already having kids at home doesn’t take away the love you have and the pain you feel for the baby/child you lost. Having the potential to be able to have more children in the future doesn’t take away the love you have and pain you feel for the baby/child you lost. Not to mention–sometimes this baby was the couples only hope of having biological children. Sometimes they have suffered unimaginable losses before this one, but suffered those in silence, or you just didn’t know about them. Sometimes the potential for having more children isn’t there at all. Having Asher here with us still does not take away the pain we feel over the loss of Luke. Our love for Asher doesn’t erase the love we have for Luke. Having 4 living children now doesn’t take away the pain we feel from the loss of our first baby, Azaliah or the love we have for that baby. There is no acceptable time to ever use the phrase “at least” to a grieving parent.
4) “Things will get better.” Sometimes what I needed to hear was simply “this sucks. I know it hurts and it will always hurt. But I love you and I’m here.” That’s it. Don’t try to tell us that things will get better. We already know they will probably get better, because surely every day for the rest of our lives can’t possibly hurt this much……right?? But in the right here and right now; when the grief is so consuming and overwhelming and suffocating…..just be there for your friend. Let them know you love them and even better, let them know that you love their baby/child too. And that’s it.
5) “I know how you feel; I lost my (insert parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, sibling, friend or pet).” Please don’t compare the loss of your parent, aunt/uncle, grandparent, sibling or friend to the loss of a child. Especially the loss of a “fur baby.” We have had our fair share of losses in life, but I’m telling you nothing, nothing compares to the loss of a child because it is completely against the natural order of life. Again, those losses are difficult but really, don’t compare your loss of any kind to that of any other persons loss of any kind–even if you both lost your mother, your life experiences and relationship with her will effect how the loss affects you. No two people grieve the same and no two losses are the same.
6) “You’re such a strong person.” No, I’m not. We aren’t. We continue living because we have to. Yes, we have a choice to continue on, but doing so doesn’t mean we are strong. Don’t assume that a parent that seems to have it all together on the outside, actually has it all together. Most likely, if you even are able to make eye contact with them, you will see otherwise.
7) “You still aren’t over this??” Ok, thankfully no one has ever said this one to me, but since we lost Luke, I have made so many amazing friends that are also loss mommas; both twinless twin mommas and mommas that have lost a singleton. And there are far too many instances where these friends have come to me or to our group of grieving mommas and reported that someone has actually said this to them! In high school I had a sweet little dog that was only my dog. She was a Christmas gift one year for only me. My junior year, she accidentally got poisoned out on our farm and I was devastated for months. Guys, this was a dog. And I have friends on facebook that post about the loss of their dog/cat/other pet months later after their loss and still get tons of responses with condolences. But for some reason people think that parents should be “over” the loss of their infant or child in a matter of weeks, no longer than a couple months. I don’t understand this one at all. The loss of your child is something you can never move on from. Move forward, yes; but move on, no.
This is definitely not a comprehensive list, by any means. Each situation with child or infant loss is different; so please use common sense in the situation and if you find yourself struggling to find words to speak, just DON’T! A silent hug does far more good than words do sometimes.
And one last note. Daddies hurt too. Very, very deeply. They have also just lost a baby or child. Ask them how they’re doing. Reach out to them and show them some extra love too. Why do people often neglect the daddy even when he’s standing right by the momma?? Please don’t forget the grieving daddies out there. 💙💙
Edited to add: several loss momma friends of mine have said that they all feel the best thing to hear is simply something along the lines of “I’m so sorry this happened. It sucks. I can’t fix it, but I’m here for you and I love you.” Don’t ignore what’s happened as if it didn’t happen. Talking about our baby/child won’t remind us they’re gone, because we could never forget! But it will show that you care for them and for us. And that is worth so much. 💙💙