This is going to tick some of you off. That’s okay. Remember this is only my opinion. Hopefully it will get all of us thinking about how we view God and others, especially during difficulty.
Unfortunately, over the past two years I have had several friends go through the agonizing experience of losing a child. Most recently, my beautiful friend Katie. I was so blessed to meet the miracle that was Hallie Lynn Green. I am eternally grateful to Chris and Katie for allowing me into that precious time.
It is every mother’s nightmare. Which is why neurotic mothers, like myself, would get up multiple times once the baby was sleeping through the night and check to make sure he was breathing. Or the first night the baby sleeps waking up with the sun coming through the window and panicking, wondering if when I looked in the crib my child would be lifeless.
Many fear this, but no one actually thinks this will happen to them.
No one is capable of preparing for a loss this deep. No one.
Maybe you have lost a child or know someone who has. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you never will.
However, if you do, please, I am begging you, do not respond to their news by telling them that “God obviously needed another angel.”
Honestly, it’s one of the ridiculous things that Christians say when we are at a loss for words. Friends, it’s okay to be at a loss for words and avoid saying something as asinine as God needing to take someone’s child to add to His choir.
If God needed another angel, why not just create one? The God I know would not allow one of us to experience such intense sadness for the sake of adding to the heavenly host.
I have three babies in heaven. That’s a post for another time, but I can tell you that anytime someone said to me, “Aw, God needed a sweet little angel.” I wanted to punch them in the face.
I cannot imagine serving, loving and worshiping a God that manages the heavens and eternity that way. Can you?
I know that some of you reading this have said these very words to avoid the uncomfortable silence that looms over a conversation this weighty. I’m not calling you an idiot, I’m just asking that you please, be comfortable in the silence. Or, if you are unable to be comfortable, be uncomfortable for those few moments, usually brief, when you express your condolences.
The thing that meant the most to me after losing a baby early in pregnancy, was coming home to find a small vase of beautiful white roses on the doorstep. The card said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
That spoke volumes.
Pardon me while I step down off my soapbox. May you never experience the loss of a child, whether while in the womb or after birth. The pain and void that it leaves is indescribable.
I beg you, if someone close to you does lose a child, or someone you are merely acquaintances with or don’t even know, please don’t tell them that “God needed another angel, so He chose their baby to go back to Heaven.”
Do you have experience walking through this with a friend? Have you lost a child? What is your best advice for someone wanting to provide comfort after something so devastating?
I love this! I can’t tell you how it turns my stomach when I hear that “God needed another angel, so He called so-and-so home.” That’s ridiculous. The things people will say to try to explain the unknown are unbelievable! First of all, I want to say I am very sorry for your losses. While I don’t have children of my own, I am a third grade teacher and I treat my students like they were my own, I am very protective of them, so I can only imagine what you went through. That being said, I also lost many relatives and friends in my life, including my father when I was eight years old. While yes, I do strongly believe in my heart that my father is indeed my guardian angel, I don’t believe that God “took him” from me. The God I believe in doesn’t do things like that. There are lots of things in this world that God is not responsible for, but He gets all the blame. I strongly believe that things like sickness and death are works of the devil, but the love we receive after we die does indeed come from God, and our spirit lives on, thanks to God. That does not mean that He wanted us to die, and especially not because He “needed another angel.” I love the word you used – assinine…that’s exactly what it is. Thank you so much for putting in writing what I’ve always believed. God bless you!!!!!
Thank you so much for reading and for commenting.
I love what you said about sickness, death and love. I agree.
I appreciate your encouragement. There are times when my writing is the only thing that keeps me sane.
Blessings to you, my new friend.
You are right on the money with this post! We lost our daughter Caroline Elyse September 13 2011 (she was stillborn at 36 weeks-I was scheduled for my c-section at 37 weeks) because she also had Trisomy 13. I know God’s plan was perfect in everything we experienced during this journey…execpt for the DUMB things that people said! I am SURE the things that folks said were with the best intentions- but boy some of the comments were just absurd (esp. before she was born-knowing with her type of T13 she would not be coming home with us).
It honestly has made me realize that when people do experience a loss of ANYKIND it is best to just let them know you are thinking of them, praying for them and to offer any help if they need it. Getting into a deep conversation about “WHY” this has happned is not going to help anyone!
Thank you so much for your comments.
I am so sorry for your loss. Sincerely.
I have three babies in heaven. They didn’t all get there the same way, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about what they would look like, how old they would be, what color eyes they would have.
It was not until I had the exact same thing happen to a friend of mine (scheduled for a c-section, but baby girl died in the womb) that I realized how careless we can be with our words/condolences.
I have actually gone the other way with a couple of friends and not reached out enough, because I didn’t want to do/say the wrong thing.
I appreciate your reading the post and taking the time to comment. It is great affirmation for those of us who walk beside our friends to know that sometimes silence is more comforting than nervous chatter.
Blessings to you, my beautiful friend.
HI, my name is Stephanie and I came across your blog through Katie on FB. I’m currently carrying to term a child with anencephaly, “incapable with life”. You can find my blog at godsgrowingfamily.blogspot.com But I wanted to say that I liked your sentence about punching someone in the face. I haven’t read all the rest of the comments, but having two other kids and someone said to me last week, “at least your blessed with two other wonderful children.” I played it off and left. But my two healthy children don’t make up for the hurt and loss of another. The gym needs a punching bag class for moms that need to get out frustration!
I am so glad that you commented.
I hesitated to word it that way, but then I thought, “No, that’s exactly how I feel when someone makes a ridiculous statement about the “why” of my situation. You are SO right on, that a healthy child does not make up for the loss of another. It’s not as if they are a pair of shoes or a lipstick color.
My heart aches for what you must be feeling. Please hear me when I say that you are incredibly brave. God will honor that you are carrying this child to term instead of taking the path down other options. I cannot even begin to imagine the days ahead for you and your family. My prayers and thoughts are with you. I pray that you will have the strength you need when you need it. I look forward to reading your blog and learning more about your story.
Preach it Joy. My younger brother lost his firstborn to SIDS 6 years ago. Lots of people said this very thing to my family. But at the funeral, our home pastor looked right at my weeping brother and sister in law and said, “God didn’t take Emma because he needs another angel. God weeps as you weep. He mourns with you. Pain and loss are the result of sin in the world. And while we will NEVER understand a loss this deep, God is STILL good and he can still be trusted.”
It was/is also comforting to know that Emma will only know heaven. And I can’t wait to see her one day so she can tell me what she’s been up to.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
What a beautiful truth that God weeps with us.
The perspective that Emma will only know heaven is so powerful.
Joy, thank you so much for sharing this with such candid honesty. I have a hard time thinking of my son, Porter, as an angel in heaven. Porter was a person, a human being whom Christ came and gave his life for. Angels are certainly amazing creations by God but we are not the same creation. The other thing that I find hurtful is those that say “everything happens for a reason”. I know God can make something beautiful from our losses like changing and impacting others lives but that statement that so many Christians use is hurtful. My friends who have asked questions, asked to see our pictures, and cried along with us have been the most healing and helpful. Seth and I are fortunate to have those friends.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I agree that we are not the same creation. And you are so right about the “everything happens for a reason” comment. It doesn’t make anything easier or better. One thing I learned from Katie is that she wants to talk about Hallie. She doesn’t want to pretend that it never happened, when clearly it did and made a major impact.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m also incredibly grateful for your genuine friends.
Speaking as a mother, I can’t even begin to fathom having to survive a moment like the loss of a child. And of course, it isn’t a moment. It’s a lifetime of having a piece of your heart taken away from you. I don’t know how someone keeps breathing when that happens other than the sheer fact that you have to.
That is the mom in me. And I totally agree that saying “God felt like bringing your baby back early to heaven” has to be gentle like sandpaper on your heart. But there is the other side of me that genuinely believes that those we lose during our lives do becomes our own personal angels – especially someone’s children. It seems to me that eventually someone would take a bit of comfort if they actually could feel that way, too. I don’t know. Nothing would ever make it all better. I’m not even sure it could make it better. I think faith and hope are our best bet when your heart is torn open and that’s why we do have angels. But I also recognize that that is my own truth and my own belief.
Does any of this make sense? My condolences always come from a place of love and my heart just wants to hug anyone who is hurting. But I also recognize that there are some people that should pick silence during the tough times. I hope I am not one of them! 😉
I love this post. I love the honesty and I love that it is truly coming from a place of kindness within you.
This definitely makes sense!
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and heart. I love that you would share a different perspective. That’s what this is all about. If everyone totally agreed with me, how boring would that be?! 😉
I completely understand what you are describing when you say that someone we lose can become our own personal angel. I can absolutely sense my grandmother at times, so much so that I can smell her perfume.
I feel that it’s different with the death of a baby, whether through a choice, like abortion (which is a whole other conversation, I know), or through illness, or reasons unknown. In many ways, a mother still blames herself for the loss of life. I guess some of us are just wired that way?
This particular statement, you worded so well, “has to be as gentle as sandpaper on the heart.” Any time I have heard it, I picture my baby like the little cherubs in pictures.
Angels are not sweet little babies, they are fierce. They are warriors. They are hardcore. Which is why any time in history that they have appeared, the first thing they said was, “Do not be afraid.”
I hope I am not confusing things here. This is the product of further thought on the subject. Thank you for reading and commenting.
I always want this to be a safe place for discussion, no matter how raw. As long as it is done respectfully, we should be able to discuss anything.
Love and Light to you!
I wish you were in Texas so we could get coffee and chat about this! This is so interesting, and like you, I really enjoy being able to have a conversation that is just that. Not an attack but rather an honest sharing of thoughts. And that reminds me – I love your take on angels. But have you met babies?? They are some of the fiercest creatures out there! Or maybe that was just my wild monkeys. Seriously is there anything with more power than a hungry baby screaming in the middle of a full basket Target shopping trip??? 🙂
And one more quick thing – I love what you said about your grandmother. I started to mention that kind of stuff, but it sounds wacky if you have never experienced it. For me, those experiences solidify my belief that death just changes us. However that does not make it any easier for those of us still hanging out here. 🙂 Thanks again for the post. I really thought it was lovely. Take care of those sweet babies of yours. Jo
We would definitely have coffee! Probably more than once 🙂
That made me laugh about the hungry baby in Target.
You could not be more right about that!
Like you said, death definitely changes us. I could go into great detail, as I’m sure you could, all the ways that it does.
And yes, people tend to think it a little wacky when you venture into the spirit realm, but I delight in pushing the limits of comfort.
My daughter, who is 14, is incredibly unique and very in tune spiritually, especially for her age. We have loooooooong discussions about this very thing.
I find it fascinating and that it clarifies Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
I have an entire post drafted about the “Darkness.” However, you are right, it weirds people out. So I have held off posting it. Meanwhile the spiritual war rages.
See…I’m rather strange myself 🙂
I hear you… Sometimes people don’t know what to say and say lines like the one you mentioned… I think extending condolences is best with just the condolences and not the extra words… 😦
Agreed! This didn’t make me so mad before I was on the receiving end. I really started thinking about the words and if I believed them. I don’t. That’s not how my God rolls.