Tough post to write. The bride and I recently spent some time with friends, a couple who had lost an adult daughter in an auto accident.
Unlike some such social get-togethers, they were very free and open in discussing their daughter: her life and death, the grief process, the healing, the hurt...in short, anything and everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask for fear of offending or creating an awkward situation. It was a sad (at times) but also comfortable evening.
Now this was a "typical" church family, regular attendees but not overtly zealous or the like. The mom mentioned that the one comment she frequently got--from well-meaning church friends--was "She's in a better place."
Our friends related how they grew to loathe that comment, just wanting to shake the commenter (or worse) and scream "Really? Danielle is better off dead in a car crash than with her family?"
I get it--religious people think comments like that one are helpful. But to a parent who has lost the light of their lives, it's insensitive at best.
I cannot fathom what it is to actually lose a child, but we came close when a loved one went off for awhile to a very dark, life-threatening place. The bride and I were prepared (or as prepared as one can get) to receive that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night. In sharing that sentiment with the dear friends of a support group that helped keep us sane during that time, we found that many of the other parents, like us, had already accepted the practical necessity of thinking about funeral planning, what type of service, what clothes we'd pick out, etc.
It was a grim, dark time...from which we have had the happiest of outcomes. Unlike our friends, who have somehow managed to keep on going without their daughter. They are OK now, but changed forever.