Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Worry, They Grow

For some reason today I keep hearing something a stranger said to me the day my Aubrey died.

Something that I have resented for months now.

Aubrey died after Ellie so when Aubrey died it was not just the day I lost a daughter, but it was the end of the fight for us, for all of us. It was the end of hope and the end of maybe and possibly. It was the end of life as I knew it.

I walked out of the hospital that day knowing I would never go back. No more babies to visit. No more meetings with doctors. Just funeral arrangements and a world-shattering grief. It was over. Both of my babies were gone.

That day, as I walked out of the NICU, after seeing my Aubrey for the very last time, the mother of the baby in the space next door, was walking back in. As we passed each other she said something I will never forget.

"Don't worry, they grow."

I cannot explain to you the agony of those words.

I realize that she was only trying to encourage me and that she did not know both my babies had died. I often wonder if she realized when she walked back in that Aubrey was not in her incubator anymore and felt horrible for saying something so careless. Part of me hopes she did.

You see, my babies did not grow. They would never grow. They died.

Everything didn't work out for us. And I resented her assumption that it would.

But today I have been thinking and examining my heart as I wrestle with why I can't seem to let go of those words.

The truth is I am guilty of doing to others exactly what that woman did to me.

It is never ok to impose your reality on someone else. It is never ok to assume that how things have worked out for you is how they work out for everyone. And it is never ok to offer an impossible guarantee to someone desperate for hope.

Yet I know that I have done it too. I have said to people who can't get pregnant, "Don't worry, it will happen." I have said to friends with crumbling marriages, "Don't worry, you'll make it." I have said to people struggling with depression or finances or loss or tragedies of other kinds, "Don't worry, everything will be ok." I've honestly said those things.

They've been said to me. Before and after my girls died.

But either way, it was never right.

I want to be better than that. And I can't believe it took losing my daughters for me to realize how many times I said the wrong things, how many times I offered the wrong advice, and how many meaningless promises I made on God's behalf.

When people are going through hard times the best thing to say is sometimes nothing. At the very least we should utter only the words we are sure of.

God will carry you.

What else is there to say really?

My babies did not grow. Maybe yours did not either. Or maybe it was your marriage that didn't heal. Or the house you lost anyway. The cancer that came back. The spouse killed in a car accident. The drug addiction your brother never kicked. The adoption that fell through. The pregnancy that never happened. The parent with Alzheimer's.

Quite simply, yours was the situation that didn't workout ok in the end.

I have spent the last 19 months coming to terms with being in the "everything didn't work out ok for us" group.

Just like I wanted it for everyone else, I wanted it for myself even more. I wanted to be the miracle story, the success story, the mom who never lost faith and watched her babies beat the odds. I wanted so desperately for everything to work out in the end.

But it didn't.

Hearing "Don't worry, they'll grow" sooner might have actually encouraged me. But that day, that moment, it only rubbed my face in my less desirable and horribly painful reality.

I don't know what you may be going through or what you may be facing. And, although I wish I could, I can't promise that everything will be fine nor can I promise that it will all work out the way you hope.

I can only leave you with this.

Don't worry, God will carry you.

Let Him.


  1. Rachel, this is such a wonderful post. I too used to say the wrong things. It took me losing my babies and enduring this loss and heartache to realize I had been saying all the wrong things. xxx

  2. I too thing about all of the cliche things that I have said to people and it irritates me to know I did this. My only hope is that now I know better and will be more understanding and sympathetic to what others are feeling. I do think it takes something tragic like what we have experienced to have your eyes opened to how hurtful this can be to others. xx

  3. So true. I didn't realize how some things that are said just don't help til we found out Carleigh would've live. Definitely an eye opener.

  4. Rachel,
    Thank you for reminding me of that truth today. You are amazing!

  5. This is such a beautiful post and so true. I never even realized any of this, but youre right, Im promising something that I cant deliver by uttering those words. I think I'll adopt this instead. *HUGS*

  6. How, Rachel? How do I let Him, when I can't even talk to Him, let alone like Him. How can I trust Him to carry me after this? How do I know He won't drop me? I'm not asking in an angry way, I'm serious. How am I supposed to let Him back into my life, when I can't stop hating Him? I'm glad for you that you were able to, but how did you?

  7. I appreciate the way you stimulate my mind with your words in a way that I learn and grow. I love you my friend. Thank you for sharing your heart with me.


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