Four years into grieving for my daughter, I’ve grown tired of hearing that someone is praying for me. The sentiment is nice, but I find myself wondering what that really means. It’s one of the trigger phrases along with “everything happens for a reason” and any nonsense about “karma” that make me cringe. I grew up going to church every Sunday and remember praying for those who were ill. And often those people died. I also remember praying for others who were ill, but those people lived. We pray for people’s healing or for an event to occur. God “answers” the prayer, and we thank him. But where does that leave my daughter and me? Where does that leave me and my empty arms?
When Zoey was diagnosed with a condition considered to be incompatible with life, we prayed. Lots of people did, including a group of nuns. And then she died. Nobody thanked God for that. And it seems I’m the only one that blamed him. Because when babies die, people say it’s because God needed another angel.
That’s nonsense. And it’s hypocritical.
Please know that I understand that those who are praying for us have a good heart and have the best intentions. I appreciate their sentiments, kindness, and love. And I can even appreciate the space where they are. Their faith is important and is a driving factor in their lives, and that’s wonderful. That’s what they need. It’s just not the same place where I am. I am four years out from losing my only child. I am a year out from two phone calls that crushed all of my hopes informing me that the embryos from our in-vitro fertilization did not survive. I am 9 months into the adoption process with no end in sight. I am staring at the possibility of never raising a child.
If prayer is the answer and God has a plan, what did I do wrong?
Did I not pray hard enough? Was it because my Caring Bridge page didn’t get shared enough, so people across the country weren’t praying for Zoey? Did I not do enough for my child? Or was God just really pissed off at me?
I’m caught in a triangle between what I grew up believing about the church and God, what I need to believe about the universe and our place in it to function and continue living, and an often blinding anger at losing my child.
Related: I Couldn’t Find Solace in Faith
I’ll admit that I pray every night. But I don’t pray for us to get a phone call about adoption or for anyone’s healing anymore. I just don’t think it works like that. I pray for peace. For strength. I pray that God will take care of my baby girl.
To those that often say they are praying for me, thank you. I appreciate it but please also understand that I don’t think there’s a magical set of words that will fix everything. I’m not suggesting that anyone should stop praying or start questioning their belief in God, but if you pray for me, pray that I am strong enough to take on this world that can be so very nasty and pray for me to find peace. And I’m also suggesting that what I really need to hear sometimes is that I am loved, that my child is remembered, and that oftentimes life is really crappy to people who deserve better, and that there’s not a damn thing I did to deserve this.
Dawn and Joe have been married for nine years. While pregnant with their first child, they learned their daughter, Zoey, would have Trisomy 18. Zoey lived for 120 beautiful days. Dawn blogs about life with Zoey, surviving after loss and, subsequently, their struggle to grow their family at anchoringthewaymires.com.