I used to say things like, “Everything happens for a reason,” and, “This is part of God’s plan.” I’m not going to say those things anymore, especially when death is involved. Jesus’s death and resurrection were physical so that ours could be spiritual, but I think that in the original plan, there was only life, both spiritual and physical. And I think that in eternity, there will be only life. And while we are physically living, we are meant to experience life in abundance. I think that death is an indication that something is broken. I don’t think it’s part of the plan.
That is not to say that I doubt God. I’m a big believer in the redemption of all broken things, and I hope that I’m in the process of healing. I think these are God-given things that come after a death or loss, but I will not say that God planned the death of my daughter. (Nor will I say that God planned the death of my great-grandmother, who passed away after living a long, full life.) I think we find hope and redemption after a death occurs, and those are good things. I think we have healing, hope, and redemption because we have death, loss, and brokenness. I do not think we have death, loss, and brokenness so that we can have healing, hope, and redemption.
I don’t really know how it all works, but what I do know is that in this time of loss, it is not comforting to me to hear people say that it’s part of God’s plan. It’s not comforting to me to think of God as someone who plans death for babies and pain for parents. It is, however, comforting to think of God as someone who comforts, someone who loves, someone whose heart breaks with mine over the brokenness of death, and someone who brings healing, hope, and redemption.
So if you’re dealing with a death, be it sudden or expected, a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or a loss of any kind, I want you to know that there is hope for the future. There is always healing and redemption to be found. Just try to hang in there. I know that’s what people mean when they say that things happen for a reason. They mean that if you hang in there and work toward healing, healing will come. They mean that in time, you will learn a lesson or come to appreciate something about the hardship. They mean that this will not always be the completely and totally horrible thing that it is at this moment. But that’s not always the way it comes across. So if someone says something insensitive or hurtful to you, I know it’s hard, but try to remember that people are not always the most eloquent, diplomatic, sensitive, or helpful in times like these. They don’t know what to say, but they want to say that it’ll be ok and they love you.
And if you love someone who is experiencing a death or loss of any kind, consider refraining from saying things like, “This is part of God’s plan.” If your friend expresses this sentiment, you can certainly support the belief, but be aware that these words are not always comforting. Honestly, the best interactions I’ve had since my miscarriage three weeks ago have been with people who’ve:
- said, “I’m sorry.”
- said nothing, but just let me cry.
- said, “You can talk about it if you want to, but we totally don’t have to.”
- brought food and talked to me like a normal person.
- texted me cute/funny animal pictures.
- cleaned and/or helped me clean something.
- played games with me.
It’s ok if you don’t know what to say to comfort people. They don’t need to hear your theories on why it happened or what’s to come. They just need to know that you love and support them where they are right now.