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7 Things to NEVER Say to a Woman Who Has Lost a Child

lost a child

I am, unfortunately a mother who has lost a child.

My first child.

I would never wish this pain on anyone. It is the deepest sadness that fully engulfs your soul and I truly hope you will never have to experience it. And, if you are a bereaved mommy reading this, then you know exactly what I mean.

I can never go back to who I was before and I have found this strange new level of clarity that I feel only comes with this sort of traumatic event. My son, William, would be turning 8 years old this November and even after all this time people still do not know how to talk to me about him.

Nobody wants to talk about the death of a child, because it makes them uncomfortable to even think of something so horrific happening. Well, I am proof – it happens. I love to talk about him and it hurts when I am met with sudden awkwardness just by mentioning his name.

If you have any one in your life who is dealing with the loss of a child whether it be a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, etc… please just know the best thing you can do for them is LISTEN.

I completely understand that in our society today some phrases have become the norm for comforting people dealing with loss, but I am here as a mother who has buried her baby to tell you they are awful to hear and everyone should just refrain from saying them…

1. Time Heals All Wounds

Um NO. NO it does not. Even when people say to me that time will lesson the hurt I get infuriated because every year on the anniversary of his death I can feel it the same as I did 8 years ago in that NICU room. Time cannot take this pain away. We adapt and learn how to live with it but it never leaves.

2. He/She is in a Better Place

Every time I have heard this phrase I honestly lose it. Envision the M’Lynn scene from, Steel Magnolias. I do not want to hear that. I want my baby here with me and nothing could ever change that.

3. Everything Happens for a Reason

This is honestly a sucker punch to my gut. Have you lost your mind? How can you find reason in something that makes absolutely no sense? What reason justifies my 4 day old, precious, innocent William dying?

4. God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle

This is one phrase I am guilty of saying myself…. I said it repeatedly to my husband those four days we had William and after losing him I realized that we are absolutely given more than we can handle. Whats important is how you handle it and allow yourself to grow from it.

5. You Should be Grateful for What You Have

Just please do not say this. A woman who has just experienced any kind of loss does not want people telling her how grateful she should be. Let us grieve.

6. At Least…

This phrase has many different endings to it, but honestly they are all awful. If you find yourself beginning to say something along these lines – JUST STOP. I have heard so many but here are a few that I wish I had never heard…. At least you know you can get pregnant, at least you have a healthy child, at least you got to have him for 4 days, at least he is no longer in pain, at least you know you can carry to term, and the list could go on for days and days.

7I Know Exactly How You Feel

This phrase also instantly infuriates me. No, you do not know how I feel so please do not say you do. I honestly had a girl try to compare losing a pet to my losing a child. Every single human being is unique and no two people will ever experience the same feelings as you, so please do not try and compare to make anyone feel better. It is undermining my feelings and does not make me feel any better.


Believe me… I know that almost 100% of the time people just do not know what to say so they say what they have heard to be acceptable. I know that when I hear these phrases that no malice intent is behind them but it does not make them sting any less.

If someone you know is dealing with the death of a child the best thing you can do is listen to them, let them cry on your shoulder, offer literature on the topic, take them to a closed group dealing with their kind of loss, drop food & supplies on the porch, and just be there for them when they are ready to open up.

I was very lucky to have found a support group in my area where I met 2 women who have become my soul sisters. We do not talk every day but those women honestly know my heart and soul better than most and I am forever grateful for their friendship during those dark days and do not think I could have gone forward without them.

Please just allow us to grieve and know that losing a child is something that will never leave or be fixed by any words that you can say.

My husband and I cherishing our last day with our precious baby.

My husband and I cherishing our last day with our precious baby.

mommy and W

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4 Responses to 7 Things to NEVER Say to a Woman Who Has Lost a Child

  1. Natalie DuBuc October 3, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    Katy, I’m literally crying for you as I type this message. I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure this loss and pain. Your son is beautiful. It’s every mother’s/father’s worst nightmare. I can’t even begin to fathom how I would go on?

    My sister lost her son, Hank 4 years ago and you’re so right…..the pain doesn’t go away, we just learn how to adapt to it.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    All my love,

    Nat

  2. Katy Johnson
    Katy Johnson October 3, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Thank you Nat! It really means so much to me. I am so sorry for your families loss and just let your sister know she is definitely not alone. Your babes are beautiful and hope to run into you someday in OKC! ??

  3. Rainey Land October 3, 2016 at 11:57 pm #

    I love you, Katy. All of these things have seemed cheap and pacifying, (is that even a word?), to me ever since Laura died. I remember when we were kids and it seemed like, in a way, nothing was real and that our innocence would go on forever. Obviously, it didn’t. Our family has experienced so much pain and loss, and it hurts me to know that you have had to face tragedy like this. I didn’t know, due to time and space, but I know you have a husband and children who love you, and know that the rest of the family, me anyway, are here for you even though we aren’t as close as we once were. We should change that. I am waiting on the arrival of my third, and would love for all of our kids to get to know each other like we did when we were kids. I will hold William in my heart like I do Laura and your father, and so many others. I hope I never need the strength you and your husband have had to find, I would surely buckle under the wieght of it. Your strength and love inspires me. Thank you so much for opening up and teaching us how to share in someone’s pain in away that isn’t demeaning or trite. Love always.

    Rainey

  4. Katy Johnson
    Katy Johnson October 6, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    Rainey- thank you so much. You have no idea how much it means to me and I could never truly explain it with words. I love you and appreciate the support & encouragement and would absolutely love to get our kiddos together. I will send you a private message so we can figure something out. I am so excited to hear you are expecting and can’t wait to meet baby #3! Love you cousin and thank you again!
    Love always, Katy

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