Losing a child is an emotional hurricane. It rouses erratic emotions that fuel each other until they funnel into a whirlpool of devastation. Anger, depression, discouragement—among all these emotions, one that often tugs at grievers for months and years after a loss is guilt.
Guilt over My Miscarriage
In my case, I met this guilt early in the grieving process. My first pregnancy ended in a heart-rending miscarriage. A life that had started as a surprise was cut short, destroying the excitement that had built up since my positive pregnancy test.
After I lost the baby, Kenny, my husband, would clock out from the office every day and meet me, shoulders sagging and eyes glossing over. Seeing him weep in utter brokenness over losing his child, I could no longer hold back the hurricane that had strengthened inside me. We repeated this routine for weeks until our hearts could bolster itself with courage and joy again.
During these first few weeks, though, you can imagine the guilt that washed over me. I kept thinking of all our conversations about having many children, arguing and teasing each other over the exact number. Kenny would make an excellent father, and I had grown to like the idea of having a baby soon.
I felt like my body had betrayed me. The nestling safety of any other mother’s womb had turned into a murderous scene for my baby.
If I had gone to the doctor sooner, perhaps my OB would have caught any problems. If Kenny had married someone else, maybe he could have enjoyed fatherhood without the pain of child loss. If—you get the point. Unfortunately, these ifs wouldn’t bring our child back.
Stop Feeling Guilty
In reality, I couldn’t change what happened. Even if I had contributed to my miscarriage in some way, I could never prove that I had any part in it.
If you are going through child loss, you’re likely feeling the exact same way. You may or may not know whether you could have changed the event, but you do have a choice.
You can beat yourself up with the ifs until there’s nothing left of your shattered and bleeding soul. Or you can face the guilt head on by confessing these thoughts to a loved one or grief counselor.
After all, do you think that your child would want you to live in such guilt? How much sweeter would life be if you could think back on your baby with fondness!
A Question of Honor
Although guilt creeps back in again sometimes, I try to push it from my mind. Perhaps having guilt over losing a child is normal, but harboring these thoughts will only stir up an emotional hurricane again.
I remind myself of one important task that compels me to keep going during gloomy days—honor. Rather than wallowing in a guilty cesspool, I choose to honor my child’s memory.
For me, this honor means opening my experiences up for the world to see. It means offering what little condolence and support that I can. It means weeping with others who weep and building a bulwark against my rising and waning guilt.
For you, honoring your child might mean helping others going through similar losses. You might show more love and patience toward others than before, or you might use your experiences to inspire people through their own rough storms.
No matter which way you choose to honor, remember to toss your guilt overboard. Losing your child will upset your life, but your child wouldn’t want it to throw you off course forever. Find the support you need to overcome your guilt. Through your joy, you will show your child great honor and, in time, even look back on his short life with more peace and affection than you ever thought possible.