After Emmett was born everything was new. One of the new things that stuck out to me the most was all the feelings of guilt. The “Mom Guilt” was instant, like it was released with the cutting of the umbilical cord. And I remember thinking, “Nobody warns you about this. You hear LOTS of other horror stories, but not this!” This contrition makes you regret drinking coffee when you were pregnant. It makes you feel awful when you let your child cry for more then 2 minutes. It makes you blame yourself for a diaper rash. The gravity of your parenting role constantly plaguing you.So much of that experience as a mom has translated over into my walk with grief. Though when it comes to my part in guiding the boys through their sorrow, it is almost impossible to separate the “Mom Guilt” from the “Grief Guilt”. But for me in my personal battle with loss it is shocking how often that self-condemnation is waiting to dampen the mood.

When I find something funny and laugh out loud, I feel like I shouldn’t have the right to such happiness. When I accomplish a lot of work around the house in a day and remember that it wouldn’t have been possible if I still had a toddler to take care of, it registers as shallowness. When I spend any money that was given to us as a direct result of the death of Colin and Madeline I am haunted with shame and loathing. When I start to enjoy the comfort of a new routine, with it comes regret and remorse. The list could go on.

And in my head I can reason with myself and know that this guilt is not rational. I can admit that the drudgery of my life will not prove how much I love them and miss them. I know that neither of them would be honoured by bitterness or selfishness or isolation. Certain that Colin and Madeline would want there to be much love and peace and laughter in our home; and definitely no guilt in our hearts.  

But this is the daily battle of mothers and every survivor of great loss: to convince our hearts of these truths. To believe in our soul that this guilt is a lie. A devastating falsehood that has the potential to destroy us. To constantly remind ourselves that as much as our gloom can’t change the past, our joy won’t disgrace those who are gone either.


The Root of Sadness

I didn’t think it was possible, but my heart broke a little more today.
Since the accident there are a lot more tears at our house, and not just from me. There is a deep sadness in our home even though there is true peace and joy here too. They coexist in all that we do, and take turns with their dominance in our hearts. When my tears come I am very much aware that my sorrow is rooted in the loss of my husband and daughter. It is much easier for me to draw that parallel than it is for the boys.
For the boys the tears and pain are expressed in much different ways. Not because they don’t feel all the same things that I feel in the loss of their Daddy and little sister, but because when that overwhelming barrage of emotions comes they can’t always understand what those feelings mean and why they have them. Those drops of heartbreak and sadness become disappointment and confusion. Not being able to undo a button on a shirt, being last into the car, grapes instead of strawberries for lunch, or a favourite toy is being used; the list of irrational reasons could go on.
I try my best to be understanding and patient during these times. Many times I fail, but in my heart I know that this is a long road, one that will eventually end up with them finally reaching an age of understanding. And then a new part of their grief journey will start. And together we will have to navigate these murky waters again.
And as painful as my grief is for me, there is an extra burden of having to watch your children suffer in so many ways. Knowing that you cannot do anything to remove them from their path.
So when I heard Benjamin sobbing upstairs while I was making breakfast I assumed the culprit would be an uncooperative sock or excessive toothpaste. And when he came down the stairs and I asked him why he was crying, I was not prepared for his response:
“I miss my Daddy and my Madeline.”