Most people, upon hearing of your loss, are themselves at a loss. They have no idea what the right thing to say is. If you’re among the thoughtfully enlightened, you may hear ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’. Nothing else is more healing than those few words spoken from the heart.
Other people, when confronted with your loss, are rendered speechless and can appear thoughtless. But, the majority of people you will encounter are just caught off-guard and say the first thing that comes to their mind which, at times, can feel very hurtful to someone who is suffering. It helps if you can assume that it was well-intended, because it probably was.
A few examples of what they say (and what you think)
I know how you feel. (Unless you have lost a child, you don’t)
He’s in a better place. (No, his place is here, living, laughing and growing old)
God must have needed another angel. (Not more than I needed my child)
It was God’s will. (Maybe, maybe not. Don’t presume to know God’s will)
You can try again. You can have another baby. (Babies are not disposable or interchangeable)
The variations are endless and each can leave you feeling sucker-punched. It may be that you now embody their greatest fear, that of losing their own child, so their words are thrown out in defense of having to feel what you’re feeling. This is a good time to ask yourself if you think their words were meant to cause you more pain and hurt. Most likely not. More likely they were born out of an ignorance of the depth and breadth of your loss, an ignorance you once had and would give anything to have never lost.