I’m constantly scanning Pinterest, searching for interesting monuments or unusual methods of transportation for the deceased (aka hearses), or perhaps inspirational quotes or those that attempt to put grief into words. Not long ago I found one that falls into that last category; one that spoke so strongly to me I knew I had to do more than simply post it on our Facebook page. And yet, at the same time, I knew I would probably embarrass a few folks for no other reason than because, at some point, they have spoken these words. Please believe me, that is not my intent.
The observation came from Angela Miller, an author and speaker on all things grief related. Her son Noah died tragically at the age of two, an event that led her to utter the following words:
“Easy for you to say ‘God needed another angel’ since God didn’t ask you for yours.”
When I first read this it took my breath away because I know sometimes we speak without fully understanding the depth of meaning held in our words. She’s right, it’s easy to say God needed another angel . . . if you’re a believer it paints a beautiful picture of what has transpired and where and with whom your child is . . . something that should serve as a source of comfort and strength . . . as long as we aren’t the one who is suffering. We aren’t the one of whom God required the sacrifice.
Before I continue, let me assure you I am aware this isn’t how angels work. First of all, Biblically speaking, angels don’t come into existence each time someone dies. Second, God doesn’t need anything from us, most certainly not our children. I think most of us realize these things but we use the term angel to lovingly refer to the one who has died, especially when it’s a child.
But have you ever thought that angels come in different shapes and sizes and ages? In all probability, everyone who dies is someone’s “angel” and to look at the person who is grieving and tell them God needed their loved one more than they did is a slap to God and of no comfort to the bereaved.
Remember my question about different shapes and sizes and ages? What about the police officer that dies in the line of duty? Should we rightfully say he or she knew that could happen when they chose that profession? How would we feel if it was our husband or wife or child that died in that manner and someone looked at us and spoke those very words?
And now, with the turmoil in our world . . . what about our servicemen and women . . . especially those who have been recently deployed? Let me state right now—and pay very close attention to my words—I am neither condoning nor condemning the events currently underway which involve our military. But those events have sent many of their number overseas onto foreign soil—and left behind their spouses and children and parents and siblings. And should that person die during any conflict, knowing they died defending their country will not make up for the devastating loss to their family. To tell them they should be proud of the sacrifice demanded of them shows little respect for the pain they are enduring.
“God needed another angel”. The next time you’re tempted to use that phrase regarding anyone who has died, please think again. If it was your angel, could you so easily utter those words?