*One of the purposes of my blog is to help people know what things are just not helpful to say to a bereaved parent. Many of these things can be downright hurtful. I know they come from a good place, but it is so very important to think about what you say before you say it. As I would say to my preschoolers “choose your words”. Would you want someone to say those words to you? This is one of those things. *
“At least”. It’s a short, simple thing that can be attached to many things. It’s something that I’ve come across time and again in this bereaved parent world that I am now a part of. I vaguely remember hearing a few “at least” phrases early on, but thankfully I was too numb to process it. The following are some examples that I have seen a few times:
-“At least you have other children”
-“At least you can have more children”
-“At least he doesn’t have to feel any more pain”
-“At least he lived a full life”
Those are just a few of the “at least” phrases I have seen. It makes my skin crawl every time I read those words or hear anyone speak them, when it’s in reference to a death but specifically the death of a child. There is no “At Least” in child loss. Ever.
I’m tackling this subject because I know that when a child dies people don’t know what to say. And sometimes things slip out that the person saying just doesn’t realize are hurtful. This is one of those things. I think during horrible times people often look for the silver lining. They look for one thing that somehow isn’t so bad. Something good to come out of a situation. But here’s the thing. During this specific, horrible thing- there is no silver lining.
Let me repeat- there is no silver lining. Leaving the hospital without your child, seeing their friends and siblings miss them, and seeing them in a casket. Well, there is nothing good about that. The fact that there are other children in the family? It doesn’t take away even one bit of the sadness for the one missing. The fact that a couple who lost a baby during pregnancy, stillbirth, or as an infant can try again to have another? It doesn’t take away the pain or replace the one that didn’t get to come home.
The fact that he won’t feel pain anymore? Yes that is a good thing, but I would much rather have him here, so that I could help him through those hurdles. The fact that he lived a full life? He had so much more to live- driving, prom, college, graduation, and the rest of his life. Those things were taken. I love that he lived a full life but I would give anything for it to have not been cut short.
Are there good things that happened in the wake of Gabe’s death? Of course. We saw a beautiful community, friends and strangers who reached out to us, and new friendships were formed. Those things are intertwined in the death of my son. That makes them all very bittersweet. I am so thankful for the love that was extended to our family. The fact is, though, that my child is gone. And none of the good that may come from his death will erase the fact that he is gone. No “at least” can make it feel better.