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Guilty Feeling when Grieving the Loss of a Child

Updated: Feb 15

child loss support for grieving mothers

One of the many normal feelings experienced after child loss is guilt and it is often accompanied by fear and regret. No matter how your child died, you have likely pondered if your child still would have died if only you had done something (or not done something) differently.

My daughter Katie died in a car accident. My husband felt guilty that he didn't wash her car as he originally had intended to. He felt that if he had taken her car to the car wash that she wouldn't have been able to leave the house and would not have died. On the other hand, I suffered with guilt over the argument that Katie and I had had the night before. Now, it seems so senseless. I wasted my last night with her over something as stupid as a messy room. Talk about guilt.

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Everything seems clear after the fact.

But what we all need to know is that we were good mothers and we were living our human and unknowing lives. We had no idea what was coming around the bend. Would I have argued with Katie if I had known it was her last night on this earth? No way! We would have stayed up all night hugging and talking and focusing on what was really important and sharing our love.

I remember telling a counsellor that I felt guilt over Katie's accident and that I felt like I failed my daughter.

I knew even when I said those words that it was an accident and there was no one to blame. It was an accident. However, as mothers we have a primal instinct to protect our children and keep them safe. Even though it wasn't logical, I still felt like a failure.

We put ourselves on trial and focus on all the negative things that happened leading up to our child's death. We criticize every conversation we had with our child, things we did, things we didn't do, and heap it all on our shoulders.

Inevitably, we feel as if we could have prevented their death.

I have a done a lot of work around my guilt. I wish with all my heart that we had stopped Katie from leaving the house that night, but I know that no amount of bargaining or wishing will change anything. I've learned to forgive myself for that stupid argument and know that I am not responsible for her death. But it has taken time and talking it through with my counsellor.