Thursday, January 29, 2015

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

I have a bone to pick with Harold Kushner.
This book is pretty famous.  It's been recommended to me often since Lydie died.
The whole premise is that God doesn't cause bad things to happen to good people.  He doesn't even let it happen.  God doesn't have this kind of control.  God cries with us.  God is in the people who love us who lift us up and carry us.
I can agree with that.  I don't believe that Lydie's death was part of God's plan.  I don't think she's in a better place.  I think the best place for her is home with her dad, her brother, and me.  I think bad things happen to good people.

But here's what I can't agree with:
    Consider the following sequence of events.  In the delivery room, a baby is born with a congenital heart defect or some other serious ailment hidden from his parents' genetic background which threatens his survival.  If he were to die shortly after birth, his parents would go home, saddened and depressed, wondering about what might have been.  But then they would begin to make the effort to put the loss behind them and look to the future. 
     But the child does not die.  Through the miracles of modern medicine and heroic devotion of nurses and doctors, he survives.  He grows up, too frail to take part in spots, but bright and cheerful and popular.  He becomes a doctor, or a teacher, or a poet.  He marries and has children.  He is respected in his profession and well-liked in his neighbor.  His family loves him; people learn to depend on him.  Then, at age thirty-five or forty, his frail health catches up with him.  His congenitally weak heart, which nearly failed him at birth, gives out and he dies.  Now his death causes more than a few days of sadness. It is a shattering tragedy for his wife and children, and a profoundly saddening event for all the other people in his life. 

So let me get this straight, Kushner thinks 0 years is better than 35 years?

And Kushner thinks that a baby's death causes "a few days of sadness"?

That a baby's death is not a "shattering tragedy," the way a 35-year-old's death is?

That having the opportunity to become a doctor, or a teacher, or a poet is worse than not having the opportunity to become anything at all?

Tell me I am misunderstanding this. 


  1. This particular God I keep hearing about is really, really bad at his job. He keeps screwing up and trying to cover his mistakes, when if he is so powerful, er...maybe he could just not make sick babies in the first place! But no - I'm clearly misunderstanding something here, or I don't have enough faith. Oh and damn those stupid heroic doctors and nurses, they should have just let him die and not interfered with God's plan. It's nonsense.

  2. The whole thing is crap. The whole situation sucks and it just isn't fair.
    I just spent my afternoon reading thru your archives. As someone who has had several losses (but also had rainbow babies)it sucks. You move forward but you don't move on from the death of a baby/child.
    I hope you are able to find a doctor or some kind of medical professional who can help you sort thru the cord issues and can ACTUALLY help you. Even if that is just to hold your hand or help you know your actual risks if you ever decide to try again. Nothing will ever, ever replace Lydie.

  3. I thought about this, and it's absolutely garbage. It seems obvious this guy has never lost a child or known anyone who has.

  4. The craziest thing is that Kushner's son died when he was 14.

    I understand that if Lydie died when she was 35, her death might have impacted more people. She might have been married and had children. But do you think her husband and children would wish that instead she died at birth? It makes no sense at all.

    I want to write Kushner and ask him if he would have been sadder if his son died at 35 than 14. If that would have been tougher. I'm pretty sure no.

  5. I think that's a crock of shit.

    So basically, mourning a person who never contributed anything to the world is easier than mourning a person who made something of themselves?

    He seems to forget the fact that when you have to mourn that baby who never contributed anything...YOU'RE MOURNING EVERYTHING THEY NEVER CONTRIBUTED. Allllllllllll the possibilities. Gone. Poof.

    He can't possibly think that's more simple. Eff that.

  6. I also do not agree. It reminds me of when Helen met her neighbor and found out that she had lost her 19 year old to a drunk driver. Helen said that must be so hard. Her neighbor said, " It is harder for you. I have 19 years of memories and you only have 5 days".

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  8. I don't agree with Kushner at all, either. I'm not even attempting to figure out the answer to why this happened to us.


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