When I went in for my 36-week growth scan and found out that my son had died I was absolutely devastated. A terrible mix of sadness and shock overwhelmed me. For the first few weeks I would wake up in the middle of the night, and for a moment I would forget that he had died. As my mind drifted from its dream state to waking, the harsh reality would hit me as I suddenly remembered that this was not a dream. Sadly, this was my new normal.
People don’t know what to say when you lose a baby. It goes against the natural order of things. In fact, there isn’t even a name for parents who lose children.
Think about that. If you lose your parents and you are an orphan. If you lose a spouse you are a widow or widower. If you lose a child, everyone is just glad they aren’t you.
Conversations with friends and family in those early days after a loss are awkward and uncomfortable. Some people know that all you need is a hug and a kind word, but many more open their mouth and say something that is well meaning but doesn’t make any sense.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
I can’t tell you how often I heard this after my loss.
I don’t know if people really think about what this means or if they just say it because they heard it somewhere and think it sounds profound. But let me tell you, when tragedy strikes people pull out this little gem like it’s the answer to everything. Like those five stupid words can bring order to the universe.
A car hit your dog and he died? Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.
You lost your job and your house? Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.
Your husband cheated on you? Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.
Your child is being bullied at school? Don’t worry, everything happens for a reason.
Don’t be sad that your baby died because everything happens for a reason. Though no one has any idea what that mythical reason is.
The implication is that in the future you will see that this was really a good thing. You will learn a valuable lesson from whatever horrible thing has just happened to you. So don’t be sad, just wait until that magical day when this all makes sense.
Let me tell you something. I categorically reject the notion that everything happens for a reason. Anyone who tells you otherwise has never experienced true tragedy.
What reason can you possibly think of that would justify a perfectly healthy baby dying? Can’t think of one? That’s because there isn’t one. There isn’t some divine wisdom that we just don’t understand yet. It just sucks.
Why did our baby die when another was born addicted to drugs? Why did our much wanted baby die when another was discarded in a dumpster? Why did our baby die when another is being abused? Every time I read about an abandoned baby, or a baby who was beaten to death, or a baby born addicted to drugs, I just to scream.
Everything happens for a reason? No way. The bottom line is that things just happen.
It’s random, people. If you are a good person, or practice a certain religion, neither has any bearing on the death of your baby. Did you really think that by being a good person you would get a free pass from heartbreak? Well guess again.
Things just happen. Sometimes bad stuff happens to really good people. Sometimes good stuff happens to really bad people. That’s just the way it works. You don’t have control over it, so stop blaming yourself.
Stop trying to justify bad things by insisting that they must happen for a reason. Stop trying to say that there must be some greater good or cause for a tragedy. There isn’t always a greater good. There isn’t always a lesson to be learned. Life can’t always be tied up in a pretty little bow.
Sometimes bad stuff just happens, for no reason at all.