This past week, the 9-month old son of one of my wife’s extended family died from a terrible, untreatable genetic disorder. It was a very rare mitochondrial defect that caused a lot of neurological issues including severe, continuous pain for at least the last several months that was only controlled with generous amounts of morphine. It was described to me as “think of the worse sunburn you every had, over your entire body, all of the time.”
It’s such a senseless, tragic situation. Neither my wife or I really knew the parents, and I only saw the baby once, a few weeks ago, so it’s not been particularly hard on us personally.

My first message from this is a great opportunity to feel fortunate with the good health and well-being of my children and family, and a reminder to feel compassion for others who aren’t so fortunate.

The second thing I take from this is just how glad I am to be an atheist, how much easier it is to deal with these kinds of situations. My perspective is that it’s just an unavoidable part of existence that sometimes terrible things happen for no particular reason. It’s a tough message, but one that gives a certain amount of comfort to me to recognize that bad things in life are nothing personal.

I’ve heard a lot of the comments about how “everything happens for a reason” and that “this is all a part of God’s plan”. I’m sorry, but how is that possibly a comfort?!?? I cannot conceive of any reason for this kind of suffering inflicted or allowed to happen to an innocent could ever be justified. Any plan that includes “afflict newborn infant with unrelenting pain leading to death” as one of it’s steps in the product of an evil monster. Thanks, but no-thanks on this bridge to nowhere, as Palin once said. Any omnipotent deity that causes or allows this to happen is a monster and would never be worthy of worship or praise.

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I agree too. I had a daughter who died at 6 weeks old from trisomy 13. At the time I was still struggling with my "belief" in a god and when this happened I really turned my search in a god up a notch. I just wanted there to be some meaning to this loss but the idea just didn't make sense no matter how hard I tried for that "blind faith". One of the many horrors of that experience that I will never forget is when I had my 6 week check up (a bit late but not too long after her death) and the nurse informed me that "god only gives you what you can handle". I'm amazed that I didn't put my foot right up her ass over that comment. Things happen. Some bad, some good. It didn't happen because I'm any stronger than her. Too bad her ignorance is on full display when she'd have done better to just do her job with a squeeze of the hand or some other small sign of compassion.
I'm the father of two little girls, and I've tried to put myself in the position of the poor parents you've described. I'd be absolutely inconsolable. And I don't think believing in a supernatural being whose plan it was or the baby going to a "better place" would make me feel any better at all. The loss would still be the loss, and they still have to deal with it, whether or not there is any deeper meaning to it. In the end, I think these religious responses just make it easier for the people doing the consoling, so they have something to say.
Sad story, poor baby. :(

For me there is no comfort in believing that there's some grand plan, put in place by a being that we can't see that thinks it's okay to torture believers and non-believers alike including children. If a human did that, no matter how powerful this human, humanity would despise that person, we would not give him a pass on atrocities because he had a grand plan.

I know that people say those things (it all happens for a reason. etc.) because they are at a loss for words. But maybe they should just realize there ARE no words for tragedies like this and leave it at I'm sorry with an offer of human comfort and help.




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