|A.Hanson, Minnesota, 2014|
In my work, I have found that parents who grieve the death of a child sometimes express comfort in thinking of their child nestled into the loving arms of a God in heaven. I support them in finding whatever means can bring them comfort in unimaginable moments of pain.
But linking the death of a beloved person to the activity of God by anyone else is problematic. It places blame on on God for the death, and creates a god who takes people from their loved ones at will. This particular platitude can absolutely ruin any sort of comfort that someone can find in their belief system in the arduous days, weeks and months to come. It opens a crack of disbelief in an already fragile grasp of meaning-making, and makes room for the intrusive thoughts of, "What is wrong with me that I don't belief God actually needed my child/sister/father?"
Saying, "God needed another angel" denies the very human needs of love, care, nurture, and relationship. It implies that God's need for something (which to be brutally honest, we can never actually know, although God never NEEDS anything, that is why God is God) is greater than ours and that our needs should always be subservient to those of a temperamental deity off in the sky. This is crap theology. Every single major world religion has precedent in their holy texts for arguing with their deities and for lamenting pain and suffering.
Finally this platitude ignores the experience of those who do not ascribe to theological systems that have a deity and an understanding of life after death. Or who are atheist or agnostic or have belief systems that are outside a very specific expression of Christianity.
Or bring a damn casserole over and say, "bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes." That's infinitely more comforting than claiming God swooped in like some vulture and took someone's beloved.