“God Just Needed Another Angel” – and other things NOT to say to a bereaved parent
When someone close to us is grieving – particularly a bereaved parent- our first reaction is to sooth or comfort them somehow.
We usually say how sorry we are and then comes the point where we offer some other form of condolence.
In our minds, it sounds great. Coming out of our mouths, it still sounds good. Going into the ears of the grieving person it often doesn’t sound so awesome.
“I’m so sorry, God just needed another angel.”
This was one thing my husband and I were told again and again and again.
First of all… even if you’re a Bible believing person, this statement makes absolutely no sense! People don’t die and become angels. There are Angels (i.e. “Heavenly Host”) that are in Heaven with God, but dead humans do not magically sprout wings and become angels.
Second of all… No.
Over the last two and a half years I’ve thought long and hard about all the things that people have said to me that either hurt (out of no ill intention) or really didn’t make sense.
– The good news is that you’re healthy! … You’re right, as long as I’m healthy who cares that my baby died, right?!
– You’re young, you can always have another! … Yes, because babies are suuuuper easy to come by and that one didn’t matter anyhow.
– Just focus on your older kids. They’ll distract you! … If by distract you mean ask repeatedly why the baby is gone and cry along side me then, yes, you’d be correct.
– This is just God’s way of telling you you’re not ready. …So you’re saying that in order to tell me I wasn’t ready to have a baby, God allowed me to get pregnant but then decided to have the baby die? Really?!
– Take this opportunity to focus on your marriage. You’re at a higher risk of divorce now, you know. … Yeah… I don’t even have a snarky response for that one…just please DON’t say this!
– Just be strong. Don’t let this change who you are. …But it DOES change me. It changes everything.
– Call me if you need anything. …I won’t call. I’m sorry. But chances are… I won’t. If you think I need something… just do/bring it. I’d rather you bring extra toilet paper now and save me a trip later.
– The baby was too good for this world. … Again… no response really other than… please don’t say that.
– How many children do you have? … Three. I mean two. No… I have a three. But I only HAVE two. I mean… I have three but one died. I mean…
– It’s been a year. Don’t you think it’s time to be past this? …No. And I don’t think I ever will be. Life happened out of order for me. That’s not something that you just forget about.
– I totally know what you’re going through. My sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s aunt’s best friend’s daughter lost her baby too. … You know what… I bet that you DO know. This is something that has the ability to shake a person’s world and those around them. But right now… I just want to breathe.
Now yes, I am fully aware that, often, when these things are said there is never an intent to hurt.
But words hurt, whether we mean to or not.
I encourage you to be quiet. I encourage you to listen. I encourage you to be a support.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to a grieving person is the gift of silence and a listening ear.
No advice. No questions. Just be present and available.
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