There are many clichés that can really hurt parents who have lost a child, even though they are usually said with good intentions. The ones I personally hate the most are, “Everything happens for a reason” and, “It was meant to be.” Whenever I hear these statements all I can think is, “What was the reason that my sweet baby had to die?! How was his death and suffering meant to be?!”
Since losing Aiden, I try to never say or use these kinds of sayings. I know how much they can hurt to hear, and they just don’t make any sense.
As contradictory as it may seem, in my mind there is one place where the idea that something was “meant to be” makes sense: the idea that all three of our children were always meant to be ours, we were always meant to meet their beautiful little souls.
I have thought, and others have said to me, that if Aiden had lived, we most likely would not have our daughter Emily. I got pregnant with her just four months after Aiden died. Had he lived, I personally would not have been trying or hoping to be pregnant again four months after having a baby.
Also, my husband and I had talked prior to having any of our children and said we both hoped to have two children total. So if Aiden had lived, we never would have tried for our third child, Gavin.
As I thought about this, it quickly came to me that all three of my children–Aiden, Emily and Gavin, were always meant to be our children. It doesn’t matter what I had planned, God or the universe or whatever you want to call it, always had these three special souls waiting to join our family.
With so much confusion and so many irreconcilable aspects of grief, in my mind this makes complete, unwavering sense. These three beautiful souls were always destined to be in our family. Even though Aiden couldn’t stay with us, Emily was still waiting to be our daughter, the timing of her birth just most likely would have been different had Aiden lived. And even though we had only planned to have two kids, Gavin would have surprised us and been our third, even if Aiden had lived.
I absolutely will never believe that Aiden’s death was meant to be. It was a horrible, terrible accident, for which there is no reason. But in my mind and my heart, I know I was always meant to meet all three of my children.
My sister once told me that she felt guilty for loving Emily so much and being so happy that she was here with us, because she was only born because Aiden died. As soon as I heard this, I knew in my heart that there was nothing to feel guilty about. Had Aiden lived, Emily still would have been born. The only difference being she most likely would have been born several years after Aiden was born, not several months after his birth.
Perhaps this is too simplistic of a view, or naïve even, or maybe just completely ridiculously contradictory and self-serving, to so firmly believe that things in life aren’t “meant to be” on one hand, yet at the same time believe equally firmly that my children were always “meant to be” mine. But it’s an inconsistency I choose not to question. It makes sense to me and brings peace to my heart. These beautiful children would have joined our family one way or another. I understand this way of thinking will not make sense for everyone, and I do not mean to bring pain to anyone by expressing it. My intention is to share the idea of how I can reconcile one tiny piece of such an overwhelming situation.
After the loss of a child, there are so many things that plague us with guilt, sadness and endless questions. I am choosing to not let this be one of those things. I don’t ever feel like either of my living children wouldn’t exist had Aiden lived; they just might have different birthdays. I never need to feel guilty about my gratitude for my living children, their births were not contingent on Aiden’s death. Whatever magic makes up the human soul and spirit, that magic had made our three children and they were all waiting their turn to join our family. All three of them were always meant to be ours.