I have always struggled with what to say to people when they have lost someone. It was always uncomfortable to me to try to please them. I felt like whatever I would rehearse and plan to say would just fall short and come out like word vomit all over that person’s feet. That’s a horrible thing to imagine, right? Well, I have for sure done that and also had it done to me. I just want to simply help keep you from doing the same.
I was in college when I heard the most profound statement with regards to this topic. Someone was explaining the loss of a family member and I heard another person respond, “I’m so sorry for you and your family’s loss. I am praying for all of you.” That’s so easy and painless. I thought, “Wow! That’s amazing. That’s exactly what I can say if this happens again.” No more rehearsing, no more word vomit. This is solved!
When we lost my dad suddenly on April 7th, 2013, I found myself on the receiving end of this. Most of what everyone said and did was amazing. People were sharing stories of my dad and his impact on their lives and it just felt so good to hear all of that. I mean, we knew he was special but hearing these stories made me feel lucky to have had the 25 years I had with him and to have him as my dad the most influential person in my life.
Then, when we lost Sawyer, on February 28th, 2015, things were a bit different. I don’t want to paint a false picture so I will state that the majority of our friends and family have always said and done the right thing. For some reason, the painful comments just seem to stick out even though I try not to allow it.
I remember hearing with both Dad and Sawyer, “Time heals all wounds.” Let me be the first to tell you, this one sucks! Time doesn’t heal wounds. Time only allows you to learn how to cope with your loss. With time, I have learned how to trust in God’s plan in my life, lean on our Lord when it gets hard and to get on my knees when I can’t handle something. That’s not “time’s” work, that’s God’s.
I have also heard, “Well y’all are young. There is time for more.” Holy moly! This is a big NO!!! There will never be a time here on earth for me to have my daughter back. I can have more children, but I will not have her. I’m fully aware that I will see her again in Heaven but for now, she is not with me and her absence is still something I am working through and know I will forever work through.
How about this one? “Y’all get pregnant so easy. Don’t stress. It will happen” This goes for now while having one child at home and for when we were trying immediately after. We have been so fortunate to get pregnant quickly and I am so grateful for that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel stressed about the process or worried while trying.
Once we were pregnant with Beau, a whole new spectrum of crazy comments started. “Well if you hadn’t lost Sawyer, you wouldn’t have this baby.” Ummm, no. That’s not really how it goes. God’s plan for my life was always to be exactly what has happened. I just didn’t know His plan and I’m constantly reminding myself that His plan is unraveling right before my eyes.
The most current comment I hear is, “Wait until there is two of them. Then you will see how hard it can be.” This one really bothers me. Yes I know I only have one at home. I promise I think about it more than you do. I have two children and it’s a constant, painful reality that I am only raising one. I would gladly take on the stress of two at home a year or so apart if it meant I could have my two with me.
These are literally the tip of the iceberg. These are just the ones that resonate in my head over and over. Something you may not realize is that comments like these last forever for most of us. They can really stick around and haunt you until you can brave the strength to remind yourself that none of this is true. Some days they don’t bother me and other days, they rip me apart. I just felt it necessary to share some “No No’s” when talking to someone who lost. When specifically speaking to someone who has lost a baby try, “I’m so sorry you lost your baby. I’m praying for you.” Of course, then you do need to pray for them. Beth, the founder of Sarah’s Laughter taught me that one and its by far the best thing that I think you can say to someone. Please validate their loss. Please validate their pain. It hurts very badly, and all people really want to know is that you care.
Hope this helps! Please feel free to share any other comments that you find painful to hear. To anyone reading this who has lost a loved one or a baby, I’m sorry for your loss. I would love to pray for you if you need it. Please send me a message if you need prayer.