Friday, May 31, 2013


I often hear about "Mummies Guilt" - the thing mums feel when they realise that their child is eating chocolate while some other mum has home-baked goodies on hand for her children all the time (which are, of course, sugar-free, fat-free and delicious). Or when their child is watching their third episode of Play School for the day, while next-door's children are doing Tot School and can already read and write, despite being only two years old. Etc. Etc. There always seems to be someone doing "a better job" and that leads to guilt. 

I think there should be another version: Bereaved Mummies Guilt. It's the thoughts that pop into your head that you need to fight. Thoughts like "maybe she died because I ate chicken from the deli section once" or "if I hadn't had that soft-serve cone, he'd still be here". Of course, it doesn't matter that you had the soft-serve before you knew you shouldn't, or that the chicken was the only option and it was better than skipping lunch altogether. 

Or there's the even more ridiculous thoughts: if I'd gone into labour earlier, my child would still be alive. Although (probably) true, it's ridiculous. You can't MAKE yourself go into labour, so it can't be your fault.  "But" says the voice in your head, "your midwife told you various things to try and bring on labour. If only you'd tried all of them, instead of just one or two. If only you'd listened..." But even those aren't guaranteed to work. And you shouldn't feel guilty about something that you couldn't control.

But I do.

I feel guilty often, even though I know it wasn't my fault. 

I don't think people can truly understand it unless they've been through it. Expecting parents know they can't protect their children from everything once they are born. But surely you should be able to protect them while they are still inside of you. Pregnant mums take vitamins, watch their health and avoid danger foods thinking that by doing the "right things" their child will be protected. But then you find out your child hasn't developed as they should, and will only live a few hours after birth, if they make it that far. Or you find out that your child died inside of you, in the one place they should have been protected. You feel violated, that something so horrible should happen in you. And then you feel the guilt; like somehow you weren't a good enough mother, because you couldn't protect your child in what should have been the safest place of all. 

I think there's an added layer of difficulty for Christians. "If I'd prayed more, she wouldn't have died" or "if we'd told more people, they could have prayed, and she would have been healed". Or how about "God saved their child, not mine. He must favour them".

I know that is theologically wrong. That God isn't like that. But knowing something doesn't stop the initial thoughts from creeping in. Bereaved Mummies Guilt is teaching me the importance of 2 Corinthians 10:5...

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

It's a battle, and it's tiring. But no matter what, God's love is deeper still.


Sarah said...

It's a battle, and it's tiring ... so, so true.

I know what you mean about guilt. One of the first things I thought of when we heard Evie's diagnosis was "Probably the day her bladder/kidneys were forming was the day I forgot to take my prenatal vitamin!" It sounds silly, maybe even comical, but that was my real thought.

Losing a baby is so hard and feels so wrong because it is. Parents shouldn't have to bury children - it's not the way things usually go. More and more I simply just can't wait for the day when all will be made clear ...

Larissa said...

It doesn't sound silly to me, because I've definitely thought likewise for me. I think it's because it's our instinct to protect our babies, and if something goes wrong, we think we haven't protected them enough.

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