Child Loss and Nagging Guilt

I should have known.  I should have been there.  I should have called, texted, spoken one more warning or given one more hug.

Should.  Should?  Should!

wistful woman looking out wet window

I have yet to speak to a bereaved parent who does not harbor guilt of some kind over the death of his or her child.

Not one.

Read the rest here: Nagging Guilt in Child Loss

Lenten Reflections : Letting Go of Regret to Make Space For Growth

Today’s fast is regrets.

That means learning to let go of past mistakes, missed opportunities, woulda/coulda/shoulda.

Because the truth is no one lives backwards.

It’s helpful to reflect on how past actions might have influenced present conditions but it is crippling to hold those thoughts and feelings so close that there’s no room for new ones.

Every one of the disciples ended up being less brave than they had sworn to be. Each carried a heart wound that could have stopped them from fruitful ministry after Jesus rose.

They might have allowed regret to bind them to the past but they didn’t.

Regret empties anticipation, flattens dreams and suffocated hope, because regret is a form of self-punishment. Whereas hindsight lets us learn from the past, regret beats us up with the past.

Alicia Britt Chole

There is no more fertile ground for regrets to flourish than surviving the death of a child (or anyone you love).

It’s even more tempting when the person leaves suddenly, unexpectedly and without any opportunity to at least say, “goodbye”. When Dominic was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident I woke to a world where there would never be a chance to say anything that hadn’t already been said.

It was devastating.

But it’s not helpful to rehearse what I might have said or done if I knew the last time I saw him would be The. Last. Time.

Instead I have to live forward, embrace lessons learned from my past without allowing them to destroy me.

The Lord’s mercies are “new every morning”.

I want to embrace them every sunrise emptied of yesterday’s regrets.

I can face today confident that the Lord who made me will mold me and use me even when I haven’t always (or even often) made the best choices. ❤

*I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.*

Regrets

Every parent has regrets.

We were too busy or we were not busy enough. We spoke harshly when we should have withheld judgement. We insisted on “good behavior” when our child was simply being curious and doing what all active children do.

The difference between most parents and bereaved parents is this: As long as there is breath, there is hope for forgiveness, for mending fences, for saying, “Hey, remember when” followed by an apology and understanding.

When your child is out of reach there’s no chance of making amends or even having a conversation.

So I’m left alone to work through any regrets I have.

I am forced to play both roles and make assumptions about what Dominic may or may not have understood at the time. I have to hope without confirmation that he would forgive me for the moments when I was less than the mom I wish I had been.

Most days I rest in the truth that no matter what, Dominic knew he was loved.

In fact, I try hard to imagine that even in the last second of his life-before he met Jesus-he may have been focused on my mother love and that if I could have been there I would have been.

But there are cold days and cloudy days and days when I feel oh, so inadequate and all the regrets come knocking at the door of my heart.

Those are hard.

So although I rarely play the “if you only knew” card with friends and family I will say this: Tell the people you love what you need to tell them. Let them hear you say aloud how much they mean to you.

Savor ordinary moments because that’s what life is made of.

There’s no regret in that.

Some Unexpected Things Can Make Grieving Harder

No one wakes up one day and just “is”. We become, over time, as our innate nature interacts with the world around us. First our parents and siblings influence us and then school, friends, life experience either gently molds us or pounds us into shape.

Often we get so used to our own way of doing and being we never give it much thought. It’s just “how we are”. We work around our faults and try to use our strengths to our advantage.

Most of us are pretty good at it.

Then something earth shattering comes along and suddenly the cracks are exposed and we haven’t the energy to cover them over.

Read the rest here: What Can Make Grieving Harder? Things You Might Not Expect.

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