e loss community is divided on this subject of guilt and fault. I know many bereaved parents find comfort in the sentiment, and I don’t seek to take that away from you. I only ask that you also acknowledge that other people may feel differently.
“It’s not your fault”
If you truly want to support someone who feels guilt, fault, or blame after the death of their child, then listen, acknowledge, and mirror back to them. This is so much more powerful and authentic than any glib phrase. Please don’t tell them “It wasn’t your fault”
If a bereaved parent feels guilt or blame about their loss, simply telling them not to feel that way is not a solution. Feelings don’t work that way.
Let’s try thought experiment: Don’t think of an elephant. What are you thinking of right now? Of course, an elephant. Why? Because thoughts don’t work that way. Now think about this analogy as it applies to telling bereaved parents that their child’s death was not their fault.
We talk a lot about blame. Everyone says it’s not my fault. Does it really matter? Are you any less gone?
I don’t think too much about actual dates, and so I missed the anniversary of my 39th week. And this is important to me, because it’s the date my providers had pushed for induction. And I wonder — if I had chosen differently, would I have a living child?
I hate talking about these memories, because everyone is quick to tell me that it wasn’t my fault. Screw that! I don’t care about fault. I want to share my story. I want to remember the last week of my son’s life. I want to share these things that complicate how I feel about his death. I want to remember that this experience wasn’t entirely sunshine and roses. I want to remember what was real.
I know what you want to talk about. I know how it pains you when others try to chase your words away. It isn’t a question of guilt. It’s fact — if you had chosen to listen, I would be alive.