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Three Reasons Why the Idea of Karma is Awful After Loss

February 13, 2018

Long ago, when I was an unbroken woman, I believed in karma. Embracing karmic phrases like “what goes around comes around” and “everything happens for a reason”, I unwittingly believed that life, eventually, would always turn out to be fair. Then, our newborn daughter Lucy died. I learned quickly that nothing in life has to do with fairness. Especially pregnancy, infant, and child loss. Now, when I hear someone utter those phrases, I feel sick to my stomach and fight the urge to argue their misguided perceptions. It’s a harsh thing to ponder, even though once upon a time, I believed in those concepts too. As any bereaved parent knows, the world changes irrevocably after your child departs it, and nothing makes sense as it did in the “before”. Words and phrases that are so commonplace have become injurious, and the pain lingers.

“Karma” Makes Me Question Everything I’ve Ever Done

When Lucy died, I was absolutely blindsided. The inevitable question, “Why?” reverberated through me with every inhale. Why did this happen to us? Why my baby? Naturally, I blamed myself. I thought that if it wasn’t something I’d physically done to cause her death, then it must have been a result of something I’d done to wrong the world instead. I desperately began reviewing any and every crummy thing I’d ever said, any action through my entire life that made someone feel low, any mistake I’d ever made. I drove myself crazy with it. Finally, I determined that I couldn’t possibly find enough horrifying historical evidence in my past that would ever warrant such an unimaginably painful fate. It was then I denounced any belief in karma. I now know that life isn’t about what’s fair; that’s simply not how it works. Everything does not happen for a reason. There is no good reason for my daughter dying, and no one will ever convince me otherwise. Infant loss does not discriminate, and it doesn’t select its victims based upon what good or bad they’ve put out into the world.  Fairness is not factored into the equation.

Related: A Life That’s Not Fair

The Notion of Karma Belittles Our Loss 

When faced with the idea ‘what goes around comes around’, I feel invalidated. It makes my suffering, along with my precious daughter’s life, seem insignificant. As if this earth-shattering, life-altering loss were just a product of the shrugged shoulders of fate deciding that we’d earned this misery. We didn’t deserve this. Our baby didn’t deserve this. No one deserves this. I also have a difficult time swallowing the idea that because we’ve lost our baby, we’re guaranteed immeasurable goodness in the future. There are no guarantees in life, and sometimes, I wish people would just stop pretending there are.

Related: It’s All My Fault

Karmic Phrases Are Annoying

As any bereaved parent knows, people say aggravating things without realizing they’re being annoying. They have no idea they’ve made the loss parent feel invalidated or irritated. Karmic phrases certainly fall into that eye-rolling category for me, though most people would never know it. As a loss mama, I’ve gotten good at letting it go and realizing that most of the cringe-worthy things people say are unintentional. That still doesn’t make it any less vexing as they jokingly exclaim, “Karma!” when someone “gets what they deserve.” It takes me right back to wondering if I “deserved” to lose my baby. If I could make a list of things that people should not say around baby loss parents, these phrases would certainly be placeholders.

Which phrases make you cringe as a loss parent?


Photo by Lindsey Middleton on Unsplash

Jessica Orlaske
Author Details
Jessica Orlaske is the mother of beautiful little Lucy Rose, whom she was only able to spend a precious day with after suffering a placental abruption. Though the loss of Lucy has transformed her life into one of heartache and challenges, Jessica continues to search for Lucy’s light in all things and find ways to honor her sweet daughter with love and kindness. She has found healing through writing and sharing her story with others.


    • Lynda

      February 16, 2018 at 11:02 pm

      I lost my precious son 10yrs ago this September. He was 28yrs old. I will never understand why he had to go. He was a healthy happy sweet boy/ man. He loved life to the fullest and he also had an appreciation for what was the unexplainable. He believed in crystals and read Tarot cards and had a understanding of what was and is beyond us. I didn’t realize he had this gift until he got ill. I NEED to connect with him. I don’t know what that looks like nor how I can do this but my heart literally hurts and my grief is buried in me( at this point) and needs to be freed.

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