“It’s Not Your Fault”

Wildflowers over Te Ti Bay (Miranda Hernandez)
Wildflowers over Te Ti Bay (Miranda Hernandez)

I know it’s common after loss to tell bereaved parents that the death isn’t their fault. But I heard it from multiple people, and it honestly annoyed me. Because my son’s death is my fault. I made the choice to go overdue in my pregnancy, and if I had listened to my providers and chosen to be induced, my son would be here today. This is an unfortunate fact, and nothing anyone says to me is going to change that. (Please don’t try).

I think people are conditioned to tell bereaved parents it isn’t their fault because they are worried. If parents blame themselves, what might they then do?

The difference comes though in how I feel about the concept of fault. In all the choices I made in my pregnancy, I considered my child first. Everything I ate and drank and all of my activity and decisions were centered around what I thought was best for him. Knowing what I know now, I realize I was missing some important information, and because of this, even with the best of intentions, I am part of the reason my child died. I accept this. I accept it, because to do otherwise would deny things I know to be true. However, I don’t blame myself. I don’t know if that distinction means much to other people, but it does to me. Because while his death is at least partially my fault, it certainly wasn’t intentional. I genuinely thought I was doing everything right, and those intentions mean a lot to me.

I don’t know if this is helpful to any of you. I remember in those early days, all I could think about was why I didn’t induce when it was offered. Memories of the end of my pregnancy ran over and over in my head on a loop, and I just kept wishing there were a way to go back in time. It felt back then like a constant waking nightmare, and so I understand if any other loss parents are currently feeling that way. And I won’t tell you it’s not your fault, because I know it’s not my place. Feel what you need to feel. I just want you to know you aren’t alone.

Life is hard. Losing a child is impossible. Our brains consistently try to make sense of this nonsensical world, and blame and guilt is often part of that process. So I think what I want most to say is: feel whatever you need to feel, and know that there will always be people here who love you and support you, no matter what.

💙🐘💙 Miranda’s Blog contains my thoughts on stillbirth, child loss, mental health after loss, pregnancy & parenting after loss, and thoughts on grief positivity & grief support. 💙🐘💙
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