At some point in everyone’s life, they have felt feelings of guilt. Thoughts such as these can occur: “I wish I wouldn’t have said that,” “Oh, I should’ve helped more,” or “If I could, I would go back and do it all over again”. Which then can lead to regret. With the stages and process of grief, guilt is in there. They are: shock, denial, guilt, bargaining, and acceptance. So when a parent loses a child or baby, at any age, many of us go through feelings of guilt, on some level. Parents may have voices saying, “I shouldn’t have let him drive that night,” “I should’ve known something was wrong,” or “I wish I would have called the doctor’s office.” Sometimes, being pregnant, a mother can feel this guilt alone, because the father is not carrying the baby.
I have felt my fair share of guilt over the course of this past year. Even things that I talk about with my counselor, which could be heard as far-fetched reasons, still play in my head. Most mothers and fathers are raised to protect their babies and children, at any cost. So, when a child or baby is taken so suddenly from them, sometimes without a reason, a parent says to themselves, “What did I do wrong?”, “What did I not do?”, and” How did this happen?” We are supposed to guard our children with our very own lives. And with a pregnant mother, and in many cases, when a baby dies, we feel like, “This just does not make sense.” We feel out-of-control.
I still have days that I struggle with this. Guilt. And sometimes it hurts so much because I think to myself, “You died inside of me Emily, and I didn’t even know it.” I continue to think about her, and when she did die. That exact moment, I do not know. I wonder if she suffered or was in pain, just as most parents that lose a child think at one point or another. And then I go back to my initial thought of, “Emily, you died inside of me. I hope you did not suffer, my baby.”
I have learned that grief is a process that includes many of the stages mentioned above, and that it is fluid. You can think that you have “gone through” something already, and then months later, have a “trigger” that brings you right back. And that is okay. I have also learned to not go around my grief, but to go through it, whatever it is, in that moment, as hard and painful as it can be. My counselor says to me often, “Where you are, is okay, and where you are supposed to be right now. Embrace it.” We are often times taught in our society to only embrace good feelings, and to push the not so good feelings away. That it is “better” for us. But I have been taught that, that will only delay the grief process. And I believe that this has a lot of truth to it.
How has this past year been for me? The hardest year of my life. But, I am thankful that I have learned to accept what I am feeling in the moment, and not to deny it. Through going to group and a closed Facebook group that I belong to, with other bereaved mothers, I have learned that feelings I am feeling, are normal. And are being felt by these mothers as well. It is almost like I said that same thing at some point, or had that same thought. I think to myself, “It’s okay, I’m okay. This is normal to feel this.” And I just sit on this thought.