In fact, don’t tell anyone who has experienced the loss of their child that it ‘happened for a reason’ or that it was all ‘part of God’s plan’. To tell a parent that the death of their child can be explained may sound comforting to some, but if you stop to think about what that really means, it makes zero sense. What possible reason could there be to cut short a perfect life so full of potential, to deprive a brother of his brother, to force parents to decide what clothes their son should wear to his funeral? What reason is there for making a visit to the cemetery part of your Christmas tradition, or for your child’s birthday to be celebrated with tears and missing and wondering how they would look, what would they sound like, what would they be interested in at this age? How could anyone worship a God and call Him loving while believing that He deliberately ends the life of a child and causes the parents the greatest pain imaginable? The answer is simple – God did NOT cause Owen’s death, and there is no ‘reason’ that he had to die. Love and loss are a part of this world and when you love someone so much and then they die, it is soul wrenching and it is nightmare beyond description. No ‘reason’ for it, no explanation.
I will say this, however. Good can come out of tragedy. Let, me say that again, good can COME OUT of tragedy, but I cannot believe tragedy is caused to beget good. People who hurt can grow more compassionate and loving and reach out to help others. They can savor the good days and live in the moment, because they know what it is to have days so dark that you can’t fathom how it will ever be any different. They can let the small things go and be better at forgiveness. So many positive character changes can come from adverse life experiences. God most certainly orchestrates those things and inspires, prompts, and encourages family, friends and even those completely unknown to parents prior to the loss to reach out to them with comfort and prayer. Others can feel the good coming out of loss too, as foundations are started with the goal of helping others, or growing scholarships, or providing comfort and support. Safety measures can be brought to light and made law, with the goal of not putting another mom and dad through the same nightmarish loss of their child. These things bring honor to the life and child so desperately missed and they allow parents to have an ongoing, albeit different, relationship with their child. In this new relationship, parents live to honor their child’s life, to make sure they are never forgotten and to turn pain and sadness into power that brings light into the world.
So please, instead of telling us that the death of our Owen happened for a reason, tell us instead that there can be no explanation for what happened. Tell us it is heartbreaking and tragic and undeserved for such a beautiful and loving little boy to no longer be physically part of our lives. Tell us that you are sad too and that you will love, remember and honor his memory with us. Tell us that you have changed how you live your life, your relationship with your own kids or how you approach each day. Tell us that you will support us throughout this grief journey, knowing that it will last a lifetime and that we will never ‘get over it.’