5 Things NOT to say to someone who has lost a child

 In grief, Life, parenting, trials

I want to issue a gentle warning before I even start this post. Those of you who follow me and my blog regularly know that I am not confrontational or abrasive in nature. Rather, I love using this venue as a way to encourage others in their walk with God and their struggles in life. Today, however, it’s time to go a little deeper. This is all done with the most sincere of hearts and the sole desire to protect others from some of the hurtful comments that I have encountered. This is not directed at any one or ones in particular. Believe me when I say that the days following the loss of our daughter are all sort of a blur of grace at this point.

It is well-known that my husband and I lost a child 24 weeks into a pregnancy. What is not as well-known is that I also experienced some incredibly odd and hurtful remarks in the days and weeks following that loss. Let me state up front that I don’t believe for one second that anyone meant these things to be harmful. People have good intentions and want to somehow help. Problem is, in order to do so, they often wind up trying to find a literary “bow” to place upon the figurative “package” of your sorrow, and, in doing so, they make light of or diminish your pain.

In doing this blog, I am going to get specific. I want to show you specific examples of how your words can bring more harm than healing. And yes, these are actual things that have been spoken to me or others I know who have lost a child.


  1. Heaven got another angel. I understand the idea behind the sentiment: it’s a sweet thought to imagine the child in the glory and splendor of Heaven, having now become an angelic entity. It is not only a false sentiment, however, it is also wholly non-Biblical. No where in Scripture is it implied that children (or adults for that matter) become angels upon their death.
  2. God must’ve wanted that sweet baby all for Himself. We actually had people tell us this as a response for how to broach the topic of losing the baby with our then 5-year-old son. I was shocked by this suggestion. Imagine explaining to a child that God chose to take the baby away from us because He wanted her with Him? It not only paints God as some sort of cosmic thief, but also opposes His nature.
  3. At least you have your other two children. Yes, I do, but no, that does not erase the void left by the child I lost. Would you say to someone who currently has two children and loses one of them, “Aw, don’t worry. You still have the other one!” Of course not! Why? Because each child is unique and, as such, loved uniquely, as well. The child I lost was special to me in her own way. I love my two sons, but loving them does not make me love her or miss her less.
  4. It’s probably better that it happened. When babies die like this, it often means there was something wrong with them. First of all, why would you assume that I would have been incapable of loving and cherishing a child with special needs or issues? Secondly, not only is that not true in every case, it’s also a gross generalization that makes it seem as if a baby with issues has less value than one without.
  5. God has a plan. Think of how He’ll use this! Listen to me. Neither of those statements are untrue. But the time to say them is not, I repeat not, directly after someone has lost a child. It comes across as unfeeling. The truth is that people who are going through it know those facts, but need time before they can come to that place of acceptance. In many cases, this could take years. Don’t try to point someone to that while they are in the very beginning stages of grief. It’s just not time yet.


You may be reading this and thinking in exasperation, “So what do we say, then?” To which I say, “Who told you that you had to say anything in the first place?”

A person who is grieving something so deeply is not ready for you to try to make their situation alright. They just need to grieve. As such, they may just need you to grieve with them. Silent hugs are amazing. So are smiles and “I love you”s. Be helpful in real ways. Bring a meal, offer to watch other kids they may have, clean their house, buy them a restaurant gift card for those days they fall apart and need an emergency dinner plan.

Basically, stop feeling like you can make things better with your words or that you need to make things better with your words. The reality of losing a child is that it will be God alone who can work healing in the grieving parent’s heart. Be sensitive, pray, and let your presence and help be known and offered. Beyond that, wait. Grief is a tricky process that creeps up on us and surprises us with how and when and where it strikes. Be ready to listen when your friend is finally ready to release their tears and talk about their pain. Listen, just listen.

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