Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our Children's Guilt

There are times that I really see some distinctions between parents who lost their only children and parents who had a surviving child. Although our grief is similar in many ways, those of us who had surviving children often have different trials and tribulations to face. 

Tonight, I was reminded of that again. 

Every once in awhile Sam will bring Toby up. Honestly, I don't think he remembers much about Toby. Sam was  3 when Toby died but he only knew him for 7 weeks. They weren't old enough to start playing yet. They didn't interact often. When they did, it was great, but it takes Sam awhile to start warming up. 

So tonight Sam randomly* asked us why Toby died. We told him that Toby had been sick but that we didn't know he was sick. A few minutes later, Sam said, "Mommy, I'm sorry I didn't tell you Toby was sick. I meant to, but I forgot."

This isn't the first time he's said something like this. Another time, he told us that he was sorry that he couldn't make Toby grow up-that he'd tried but he couldn't. 

Yesterday, in the middle of a conversation, he off-handedly remarked that "IF Iris grows up..."

It's hard to know what our surviving children feel. Guilt that they somehow couldn't stop it? Fear that it will happen to them? 

When I was pregnant with Iris, people would remark that "Sam must be so excited!" Um, no. To Sam, babies meant screaming, crying, ambulances, death, and funerals. We would try to convince him that Iris was not going to die (like we knew) and he would shrug and say, "But some babies do" and we couldn't argue with that. Instead of trying to force excitement on him, we just let it go. Now, almost a year later, he's starting to get used to the idea of Iris being around. 

Dealing with our surviving children and their emotions is a whole other level of sadness and guilt. 

*not totally random. My uncle passed away today and we were telling Sam about his death. 

3 comments:

Jayden's Mommy said...

I feel the same way sometimes with our oldest Jayda she is 3. She brings Jayden up quite often; she asks me many times" where is? Lets just get him back! And she grabs my hand". We havent mentioned the word die to her. I hate the word it just hurts me. I also have a extremely hard time watching them sleep so soundly. Anyway I can go on. But its a horrible struggle. They keep us going but they also are a constant reminder of our little men.

Rebecca said...

I do believe that having surviving children can make a huge difference in the way we grieve. In some ways, for me, it was better to have a living child because it forced me to keep on keeping on. We HAD to get out of bed, had to keep working, had to celebrate all the holidays in our usual style, had to go to birthday parties, had to be around other children, and had to do a lot of things that we might have otherwise avoided if we hadn't had another child still living. In some ways, that was better for us because if we'd lost our only child then we would have lost most of our motivation to do anything.

On the other hand, it made the grieving a lot harder in other ways because there were things we had to face up to before we were ready. Plus, we couldn't have days where we just checked out and stayed in bed. We wanted to, but we couldn't.

It is a struggle for sure. I have a hard time watching them sleep, too. My son has sleep apnea and my daughter has seizures. Between the two, it's kind of a nightmare at bedtime.

Ashley said...

Found your blog on Tesha's link-up.

I also lost my son in Aug 2010 to SIDS. I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful son.

Just wanted to say hi.