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?