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Empathy in Action: Understanding What Helps and What Hurts - Part 1: "Everything Happens for a Reason"

In a world where nearly 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, the silent prevalence of this grief touches more lives than we might imagine. This statistic is not just a number—it represents neighbors, friends, family members, and perhaps even you. When faced with such a loss, our instinct is to reach out with words meant to bandage the wounds of those we love. Yet, despite our best intentions, these words can sometimes cast shadows on the path to healing, offering little comfort to the grieving heart. Sometimes our attempts at comfort serve to ease our own discomfort with their pain, acting as a balm for our own souls rather than theirs. This is not an admonishment, for truly, the landscape of loss is treacherous, and to navigate it gracefully is no small feat.


Are You Speaking Life or Death?


Consider the wisdom of Proverbs 18:21, which tells us that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Words, when wielded without thought, can be unwitting harbingers of pain. Before we reach out in support it is crucial to pause and ponder—will our words be a bridge or a barrier to healing? This is not to say that you should shy away from reaching out; your support is a beacon of hope in the fog of sorrow.


Over the next few weeks we will discuss common phrases that are often shared with those enduring the pain of pregnancy loss, accompanied by insights into why they may hinder rather than help. Fear not, for we will also explore how to genuinely express your support in a way that uplifts and affirms.


Join me as we seek to understand the heart of those who grieve, that we might be better companions on their journey through the valleys of loss. Your presence and love are invaluable gifts in these times of healing.


We're kicking things off by diving into one of the most frequently heard phrases when consoling a mother grieving the loss of her baby:


“Everything happens for a reason”

 The image displays a title that reads "EMPATHY IN ACTION: UNDERSTANDING WHAT HELPS AND WHAT HURTS" in bold, capitalized lettering. The text is colored in dark grey against a light purple background. Below the title, a watercolor heart in shades of pink occupies the central portion of the image. To the right within the heart, there is a paper note graphic with the text "Part 1: 'Everything Happens for a Reason'" written in a casual font, suggesting the beginning of a series focused on empathy and support. The overall design of the image conveys a theme of thoughtfulness and the start of a discussion about the impact of words and actions on others.


In the tender aftermath of loss, the words "Everything happens for a reason" can sound like a distant echo, void of the warmth and understanding needed in a time of grief. While this phrase is often spoken with the intent to provide comfort, it can unwittingly seem to diminish the very real and present pain of losing something as precious as the hope of a child. In the rawness of such a moment, the heart cannot grasp a reason that justifies its sorrow. It is not the logic of purpose that heals, but the love and presence of God that binds up the brokenhearted.


God's tapestry of life is woven with threads of joy and sorrow, mystery and clarity, pain and comfort. In His sovereign design, He creates beauty from the ashes of our deepest hurts (Isaiah 61:3), yet He does not dismiss our pain. Instead, He sits with us in it, offering His unfathomable peace and comfort. Our words to those who mourn should reflect this divine empathy, not seeking to explain the inexplicable, but to assure them of God's abiding presence and love in their darkest times.


What to Say Instead


Let us then offer words that do not attempt to rationalize the unthinkable but that acknowledge the depth of pain while affirming the promise of God's redemptive love. Let us say:


"My heart aches with you in this time of loss. It's hard to see through the pain now, but we hold onto the truth that God is with us in every moment of suffering. His love is unchanging, His compassion knows no end, and His arms are always open to give refuge and strength. I am here for you, to listen, to pray, and to stand with you in hope, trusting that God will bring healing in His time and way. He is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. Your pain is not unseen, and your tears are not forgotten. Together, let us lean on His everlasting arms, which hold the promise of a comfort that surpasses all understanding, and a peace that will, in time, ease the sting of loss."


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