Child Loss: Forgiving the Child That Died

Before I begin this blog post, please know that this is a subject that is often not mentioned.  Almost never.  Yet, I feel it’s something that we need to address if we’re ever going to come to terms with our child’s death and find some semblance of peace.

I’ll use a personal experience as my reference, but ask that if you can find the strength and the words that you’ll comment at the end of the blog so that we can have some honest discussion about a very closed topic pertaining to child loss.

Let me explain what I mean by “forgiving the child that died.”

When a child dies, it feels like the life has been sucked right out of us.  We struggle for months (sometimes years) to find purpose in living again.  Most times, we say we’re living for others……….and we get angry.  We fill up with angry grief! 

It’s difficult to explain, but I’ll use a personal example and maybe this phrase will make more sense to you.

When my sister Carmella died at age 13, I had no clue that she was terminally ill.  My parents knew this, but I don’t think they really believed it.  Do we ever really and truly believe our child is going to die?

About six months of so after my sister died, I found myself filling with an anger like I had never felt before.  I couldn’t verbalize exactly how this anger felt, but I could tell it was consuming me.  I was angry!  I think it’s fair to say at one point I was angry with the entire world because my sister died, and most of all I was angry with her!

“How could you leave me?”  “How could you go without saying good-bye?”  “You must have known you were going to die, and you didn’t tell me!”  “Look what happened to us as a family!  Because you’re not here, we don’t even feel like a family any more!”

I didn’t “say” those words to anyone (except God), but I sure did feel them.  In fact, there were times that I screamed those words as I lifted my head up to the heavens crying so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath!  “How could you?  How could you leave?  I didn’t want you to leave!!!”  Innocent anger aimed at the one who had died.

If we’re honest, many of us have experienced this same kind of anger.  If a child died due to an accident such as a drowning or a four-wheeler accident, or a car accident — something that we warned our child about time and time again — in our thoughts we’ve probably lashed out crying and said, “Why?  Why didn’t you listen to me?  Why did you have to speed?  Why did you have to drink and drive?  Why did you have to drag race?  Why did you walk over to the deep end of the pool when mommy told you a thousand times never to go there?”

You know what I’m saying, I’m sure.  We get angry — at first it seems like our anger is directed at our child, but deep down we know our anger is directed at the terrible fact that our child died. 

“My child died due to an accident.”  Those are such difficult words to say.  We also express this anger when there has been an illness. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner that you were sick?  I could have gotten you help and you’d still be alive!”  “Why didn’t you take your medicine?  If you had, the seizure would never have happened, and you’d still be here!” On and on it goes.  Child-directed anger spoken from a bleeding, wounded heart of love. 

We don’t know how to handle the fact that our child died so we get angry — angry at everyone and everything, including our child. 

It took me years and years to get past the “angry at my sister” part of grief.  I was way too afraid to tell my mom and dad how I felt for fear of them misjudging me.  What I didn’t know at the time was they were feeling this same type of anger because they didn’t know how else to handle this much pain either.

When I was about thirty and had become a mom myself, I remember rocking one of my children and thinking, “If you ever left me I don’t think I could forgive you.”  Whoa!  Where did that thought come from?  I thought long and hard about that as the tears fell down my face onto the little innocent one I was holding.

What I really was thinking was, “If you die I will become so broken that I don’t know if I’ll ever find a way to live. I will be so lost that I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way again.”

In our grief, it’s normal to feel angry.  Very angry.  Why?  Because life hurts and a natural response to pain is often anger.  The only thing is there’s a problem when we hold on to anger.  It never helps.  Built up anger only magnifies our pain.  At some point, we need to release — let go of the anger. And when we do, the tears will fall like a torrential rain.  More so than we could ever imagine.

It took me many years to understand that my anger was not really directed at my sister.  My anger was directed at the fact that my sister died.  I didn’t want her to leave.  I still wish with ever fiber in me that she had not died.  When she died, a large part of my family died, and we truly were never the same again.

If my sister had been given the choice, she most assuredly would have chosen life.  But, that wasn’t in the plan for her.  Her life ended at 13 years and 132 days.  Far, far too brief.

Your comments on this part of grief are encouraged.  Sometimes I think we’re too afraid to say how we really feel because of being judged, of being made to feel like we have no faith in God, or of being made to feel like we’re crazy for having thoughts and feelings that nobody talks about.

It’s time to open the lid to grief and let the anger out.  It’s time to talk and share and encourage each other as we stumble and fall and stumble some more on this path called child loss.  There’s no map.  There is no leader to show us the way.  We each have to find our way out of the dark pit of grief.  I’m convinced that as we share our thoughts we will help encourage one another.

My love to each one.  We are a family — not by choice — but by circumstance.  And, I’m so thankful for each and every one of you who visits this blog.  I appreciate hearing from you!  As we share, we grow and learn together!

Mother's Love Forever

 

Love,

Clara

PS  If you don’t have a copy of the book, “Silent Grief”, you can order it now by clicking on the photo in the sidebar.  In the book I’ve shared many more thoughts like this — the ones that aren’t always talked about openly.  As one grieving parent said, “When I first read Silent Grief, five years after my teenage son died, I felt relief and reassurance that I was not a freak.  My feelings were real, they were valid, and they were survivable.”   

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61 Comments

  1. My son died by suicide. I’ve been angry at lots of different people, but find anger for him is almost nonexistent . I’m just overwhelmed by how terribly sad and afraid he must have been. Funny, when he was alive , his depression angered me because I didn’t understand it.

    1. Pat, First of all, I’m so very sorry about the death of your son. Suicide is always such a tremendously difficult death to try to understand. I don’t think we ever will. I feel like reaching out and giving you such a big hug. We certainly don’t understand depression, and it makes most of us angry when we see someone depressed. We think they should “snap out of it” and it’s impossible to do that.

      My love to you. Thank you for your comment.

  2. I’m angry that my son didn’t take me with him, I’m left with trying to go on without him. I’d so much rather be where he is and with him. I miss and love him more than a broken heart can hold……..

    1. Your anger is one that so many of us are afraid to say aloud. We’ve all felt that, I’m sure. We just cannot fathom being separated from our child. And, there is a real anger for our child leaving without us.

      I’m so, so sorry for the loss of your son. Life is hard — beyond hard when we’re dealing with child loss. Thank you for your comment. This is how we grow and learn together. I know that many others feel the same as you and I.

  3. Our 17 year old daughter, Olivia, died drinking texting and driving – i was a 20 year EMT and i found her – we had been actively involved in “ghost outs” safe teen parties – community safety – the whole deal – i’m SO mad at her – she broke every rule – all the things we had talked about –

    1. Amy, This is just what I’m talking about. You have a justifiable anger at your daughter. She knew all of the “rules” — she understood that there would be consequences to her actions. And, yet……. The thing that has helped me most is remembering that we don’t always do what we know is right. And, especially at 17 we think we are invincible. My children have done things that have made me shake — they’ve broken every rule in the book, and I don’t understand it. My sister that died did the same. She knew what would trigger her asthma attacks, but she still did those things. Why? She was still a child and children don’t think as adults.

      I am sure that Olivia never thought in a million years anything would happen to her. I well remember doing some really stupid things at age 17. I just didn’t think! Very few of us do at that age.

      I pray that there will be a day your anger can be released. It might take the better part of a lifetime. It’s so hard!!!!! We try our best, and even then it doesn’t always work.

      My love to you. I am so very sorry for the loss of your daughter.

  4. My 3 1/2 yr old son died from drowning in our pool, on july 2 2013. He had vision problems and had high functioning autism. I have blamed my girls for not watching him as these were the rules when i cooked dinner,then i still blame myself. Then I blamed him and screamed at him for not listening to stay away from the pool. I have been very angry at him for leaving me because he was my world. My heart and soul. Life is so unfair and i feel i have no more purpose here. Thank you for sharing these posts and your feelings.

    1. Michelle, Oh, my! This is so, so hard! It’s going to take a lot of work and really, really long time to get rid of the anger. We keep replaying over and over in our minds how easily this could have been prevented. But, it does no good, and then we revert back to being angry all over again at the absolute unfairness of life. And, the truth is that life is very unfair. There is so much guilt that goes along with the anger — something we’ll talk about in another post. Sometimes it helps to “scream it all out” and then we have to do it all over again because there’s so much pain-filled anger inside. All we want is our child…….

      I am I so very sorry for the loss of your little boy. My love to you. I pray that you will one day find purpose in your life. It’s a long, hard road. 🙁

  5. My son died from a drug overdose. Was it intentional? Probably not, but I’ll never know. I was so hurt, but mostly angry for the first year after his death that I couldn’t even properly grieve. This second year has found me learning to deal with the anger. The first step was to go to the cemetery and tell him how angry I was, which ended in my begging his forgiveness for my anger. After all, he was the one with PTSD and addiction. Who am I to be angry that he’s now at peace? It still hurts horribly and I’ll never be who I was before, but I’m trying to be happy for him.

    1. Marty, Thank you so much for your comments. I know that you have just helped so many! You did something that is so important. You went to your son and told him how angry you were. And, I think that was probably a turning point for you in your anger. I appreciate your closing statement: “Who am I to be angry that he’s now at peace?”

      It’s so hard to say those words and really mean them. But, that’s our goal….to work towards getting to that place in our grief.

      I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son. PTSD and addiction are horrible things to deal with — your son is now at peace. I pray that one day you will find peace, too. My love to you from one grieving mom to another.

  6. I’m not angry..my son died 13 1/2 months ago in an explosion. He was just 21…had everything going for him. Life was just starting. I was so very proud of him! I have been strong for my other children and husband…but now I am just so tired..so empty..so broken inside. This past month has been very hard ..hard to just function. I don’t know how to do this…how do we survive? I get exhausted just doing every day things. I would like to travel back and fix everything..make it like it was…but I know I can’t.

    1. Mary, Oh, I’m so sorry. Please take care of yourself. Trying to be strong for everyone else eventually takes a toll on you. Grieving drains our energy like nothing else. How do we survive? Sometimes we go on auto pilot — not even realizing we have to breathe. Sometimes we do as I do after my son died — I went into a “grief cave” — removed myself from everyone for a while. All I could do was cry. Just to walk a few steps to the bathroom took every ounce of energy in me. It was a long time until I got feeling “okay” again. One day at a time…..one breath at a time….we travel this journey very slowly because it’s such a rough road.

    2. Hello Mary

      I can totally relate to your words “I was so very proud of him! I have been strong for my other children and husband…but now I am just so tired..so empty..so broken inside. This past month has been very hard ..hard to just function. I don’t know how to do this…how do we survive? I get exhausted just doing every day things. I would like to travel back and fix everything..make it like it was…but I know I can’t”

      My son passed away 17 July 2013 at the tender age of 14 years. That evening haunts me everyday. I sometimes sit and think is this all that my life is worth – GRIEF

      I lost me essence to exist…. what made sense and perfection in my family was lost the day my son pulled that trigger…

  7. My daughter Hannah was 7 when she accidentally drowned 22 months ago. She was autistic but I tried my best to make her understand how dangerous water was. I ask on a daily basis why. Why did you leave me? Why did you go down there? Why why why! And stupid me thinks I get a response. Shortly after Hannah’s death I lost a baby boy named Connor at 19 weeks (during pregnancy) and then this past July we lost another one at 12 weeks. My health has declined. I’m only 29 but I feel so much older. So I seem to ask the same question. Why me? Why my family? Why only 7 years?

    1. Lauren, You have so much grief, so much pain — in such a brief period of time and at such an early age. I hope and pray that you will pause from life and spend some very needed time taking care of yourself.

      I’m so very sorry for the tragic loss of Hannah and your two babies. You have every reason to ask “why?”

  8. This hit home for me. My son died by suicide 9-5-13 and I have tried to hide my anger because I am ashamed of it. How could I feel anger toward him when he was in such pain? I believe he was suffering from post-deployment depression and PTSD, but he chose not to share this with me, only mentioning insomnia. I feel angry that he did not call me, ask me for help, or give me ANY warning signs. None. I am angry that the VA did not help him, the only place he reached out for help. In fact, the day he died he received a rejection letter from VA. I am angry at the “friend” who thought it was a good idea to buy my son a gun! Anger toward the girlfriend who was lying to him and ultimately dumped him. Anger toward his apartment manager who would not help me when I knew something was wrong. I hide these feelings because I know I should not be angry, but it is there. The tears are falling. Hard.

    1. Rachel, I’m so so sorry. You have every right to be angry!!!! My goodness! So many people could have done something to help! I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your son.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope there is a day when you can find some peace. Please don’t be ashamed of your feelings.

  9. I still can’t let myself feel that anger because my logical self says it’s wrong! It’s wrong to be angry with my dead child……it’s wrong to be angry with God for taking him…..it’s wrong to get angry at the “comforting” comments from well meaning friends and family. I just hit the two year mark of losing my oldest sun in a drunk driving crash. I am starting to allow myself to speak up about those “well meaning” phrases that cause more harm than good….but I really don’t know if I will ever be able to allow myself to feel the anger that I know I need to in order to continue healing.

  10. When Robbie died, I was angry. Still angry. He told me he was clean. He said he was doing good. That was at Thanksgiving, and he was gone December 15,2013. I am mad that I didn’t recognize he was using, that my nephew knew and didn’t tell, that the last conversation was via text. I didn’t hear his voice…maybe I would’ve known. I am very angry. But no-one will understand why I’m angry. We went through years of trying to help him. His illness of addiction won. My one job was to be there for my kids. I couldn’t fix him.

  11. I can’t bring myself to be mad at my son, even though he took his own life last Nov. but I have found myself being mad at God and every one around me including myself…I have gotten over being mad at God and being able to ‘Thank Him’ for the 26 years he did give me with my Son.Even though that was not enough time for this Moma, it should have been me that my children buried not the other way , around…it’s not natural for a parent to bury a child and I have found myself cut of from the outside world…’how dare they move on and laugh and smile’ while I can barely function on a minute by minute, hour by hour or day by day basis….All my childrens life i prayed one prayer…’God, take me if you have to have someone but please don’t take one of my children’ because I know I could not take it…I would gladly take one of their places without hesitation I had always said if something were to happen to one of them that they may as well dig another grave beside my child because I could not take the pain….The God awful night of learning my sons death, I hit my knees and went to praying for God to take me and breathe life back into my baby….God never promised me that he would not take one of them but I knew for sure that for all these years God had heard my prayers…I started saying that prayer the day my Son was born and laid him on my chest…26 years of praying this very prayer and for what….This has taught me that our children are truly on loan to us from God Himself and now I must live out my remaining days in grief, broken, never to be put back together again…i am just a shell of a person that begs God to take me home so I can be with my son again, even though I have two daughters, all which are grown but even they don’t call or come to the house and I don’t blame them, who wants to see tear after tear after tear and watch as their Mother can not even get out of bed most days…I’ve heard of ‘grieving to death’ and ‘dying from a broken heart’ now I truly know the meaning of the phrases and that is exactly what is happening to me at this very moment…my only wish is that God would hurry the process along instead of making me linger as i open my eyes each day and think to myself ‘Really God’ you’ve given me another day to suffer….There is no LOVE greater than the LOVE of a Mother and NO PAIN greater than the loss of a child….

  12. I was angry at my son Jeffrey at first, but I have let that go. I still find myself being angry at the world. the car behind me who is to close it a person who is not being patient. I find I have a very short fuse. not fair I have been cheated out of a life with my son.

    1. Michelle, I get what you’re saying. Most of us get angry with our child at first because our child left us too soon and most always without any warning. It hurts worse than anything we could ever explain.

      And, then comes the anger at the entire world. Why? Just because and that’s all the reason we need. The truth is — we want our child back and life is so unfair for taking our child. When Jeffrey left you, your entire world was turned upside down and inside out.

      The anger will eventually become quieted, but our grief for our child never leaves. We always carry a pain in our heart because that place was reserved for our child only.

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m sure that many others have identified with what you’ve said.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  13. I never had anger towards my 20 year old son. he passed from cancer. But the Drs were another story. They recieved the full brunt of my anger. It will be a year in May and the empty feeling is something im all too familiar with. I do feel better after finding this site. It definitely helps to know your not the only one to feel like this after losing a child. Grief isolates you

    1. Jenn, I’m so sorry for the loss of your son due to cancer. And, I “get it” about being angry with the doctors.

      When a sick child dies, it seems like we have to find a reason and someone to blame. It’s natural for us to do that. In fact, I think most every parent of child loss does that. And, it angers us that with all of the medications available, all of the modern technology and equipment advances we have, that doctors still misdiagnose, still make mistakes, and deaths of our children still take place.

      My doctor failed to see a problem with my son who died. I wish that I had confronted him about it. Instead, I held my anger inside. I feel like I will never put the anger totally to rest until I write this doctor a letter and tell him just how I feel — even if I end up not mailing the letter. Writing on paper our feelings seems to be a good avenue to release some of the anger.

      As May approaches, I hope you have some kind of plan in place for the first anniversary date of your son’s death. It’s so important for us to plan ways of getting additional support because you are so right — grief isolates you.

      My love to you. Thank you so much for your comment.

  14. Thank you so much for this group. My daughter died of a drug overdose. I’ve lost some friends who seemed to think it was her own fault, so she got what she deserved. I did go through a very short period of anger at her for letting it happen, but it quickly shifted to myself. I suddenly remembered all the things I could have done, but didn’t. Then, I turned my anger toward God.
    I’ve gotten through all that (It’s been almost two years), but it likes to come back at me when I least expect it.
    Again, thank you!

    1. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your precious daughter. Most definitely the drug overdose was not her fault, nor did she get what she deserved. Those are cruel statements to make, and I’m so sorry you had to hear them. Sometimes people say the most inappropriate things all in the name of love.

      You’re so right — our grief does like to reappear along with our anger and surprise us. Just when we think we’ve made progress — one step forward, two steps back. That’s why we continue to take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one breath at a time.

      Thank you so much for your comment.

  15. I am sometimes angry at my son. He passed tragically over 3 months ago at the age of 19 1/2. He was hit by a car. But he spent the night at a sorority party drinking and if he wasn’t drinking he would have had his wits and not been crossing the street at the time he was hit. I may be angry but I still love him and miss him every moment. He was our only child and a bright light in our world and to the many friends and people he touched. Ethan’s mom – Susan

    1. Susan, I’m so sorry over the tragic loss of your son Ethan. We do get angry at our children, but we always, always love them with everything in us!

  16. Your FB posts often mirror exactly what I am struggling with on any particular day. I am very, very angry at my daughter. On the third anniversary of her suicide I will be getting on a cruise ship. My life is destroyed by what she chose to do and no matter how much I hear from my therapist, my psychiatrist, that the mentally ill have no real “choice” when they “choose” suicide, I feel right now like I want to disown her. I gave her my life, she took my life with her. I’m also a tad angry at God for allowing this, and that’s a first for me. I feel as if I am not living, just alive. My anxiety and fear levels (complex ptsd) are sky high. If someone looks crooked at me, I cry for hours. I almost lost my life giving birth to her. How did she dare do this to the person who loved her unconditionally, stood by her side, fought for her, struggled with her illness. No one has ever “had my back”, I thought someday she would. Instead, I got stabbed in the back. God help me.

    1. Dear Daughter OfLourdes, You have no idea how much I appreciate the honesty you’ve spoken. You’ve said what so many feel, but often are too afraid to say for fear of getting judged or criticized!

      Death by suicide is one of the most difficult of all child loss deaths to understand. We thought we knew what our child was thinking and then we find out we really didn’t, and it cuts us to the core. You have so much to be angry about on so many different levels.

      The anger you’re feeling is all normal — very normal, especially in light of such a not-normal tragedy! And, being a “tad” angry with God is nothing to be ashamed of at all. Most of us have been there and wondered what in the world God had in mind for our lives when we know He could have prevented this. Right now everything seems all messed up — including your relationship with God. I’m thinking you are feeling betrayed by so many, most especially your daughter and God. And, that’s just how it seems.

      When you are away on the anniversary of the 3rd year since your daughter’s suicide, I pray you will be able to take some of that anger and toss it out to sea. It’s going to take a lot of work to get through the anger of your daughter leaving you in such a horrifying way and a way that is impossible to understand. Breathe very deep and very slowly several times a day. Find ways to express your anger — tell your daughter how you feel. No, she won’t be able to answer you, but your pain has to begin coming out or it will consume you and eat at you all the days of your life.

      I believe in God and I know you do, too. And, God will help you. He will help to calm this inner storm. This journey we call child loss is the hardest journey you will ever take. One day, one breath at a time.

      Thank you so much for your comments. I’m so terribly sorry for the loss of your daughter.

  17. January 12, 2013, I lost my only child (daughter age 31) and grand-daughter age 6. My daughter suffered from bi-polar but refused to take medicine. After a horrible fight with her boyfriend and he kicked them both out of the house she went to my mothers vacant house and committed suicide. She fixed my grand-daughter something to eat and left her in the living room. The garage is attached to the house. She had a late model pickup and sat in the garage with it running. When the carbon monoxide detector started going off my grand-daughter went into the garage.
    I am very anger at my daughter for not thinking about the harm that could happen to her child. What about her 12 year old son that was with us? She left him without a mother or his precious sister.
    I was only 17 when I had her. We were very close. I felt like we grew up together. She and her children were my future. She left me. I feel like I have to put up a brave front for my grandson. Most days I don’t want to be alive either. But the thought of my grandson being all alone is more than I can bare.
    Your site has helped me so much. It’s like you read my mind. Child loss is something no one can understand unless they have been through it.

    1. Kelly Jo, My heart is just about bleeding for you right now. This is such a tragedy. Bi-polar is such a difficult illness and when a person doesn’t take his/her medication, they aren’t rational as you know.

      Dealing with so much loss at one time is beyond comprehension. You lost your only child to such a tragedy. And, losing your granddaughter, too, only breaks your heart that much more.

      Your anger — deep, deep anger — is most assuredly understandable. In time, you will find ways to diffuse your anger, but for right now, it’s important to address your anger and allow it to be real. Talk about it to anyone who will listen (but, please not your grandson. He’s far too young to deal with this right now.)

      Thank goodness you have the will to live and care for your grandson. He needs you more than any of us can imagine. In the meantime, though, it’s important for you to take care of yourself, too. Your grief is so new and so raw yet. Often, year two is worse than year one simply because the dust has settled and now we have to push ourselves back into life again — like it or not. And, we have to figure out how to do this with a broken heart.

      At the end of every day, say this aloud: “She didn’t mean to do it. She didn’t mean to do it. She didn’t mean to do it.” It will help you to release some of your anger a little bit at a time.

      My love to you. Thank you so much for sharing. When we share our grief, we also dilute some of the power it holds over us. My prayers are with you and your grandson.

    2. My 2 year old daughter had bi-polar disorder. She also had a series of autoimmune diseases. Her mania was not being controlled (she wouldn’t take her meds)…so I think she decided she didn’t need or want to take her other medications either. She may have just been too tired of living….She died unexpectedly last November. I am so sorry for your double loss Kelli Jo. Your suffering is tremendous. I am so glad you are there for your grandson. I just prayed for you.

      1. Thank you Dee Dee. I am sorry about your daughter. That is a pain you can feel to the core of your soul. At times I feel like I can’t breath.
        Bipolar is such a horrible thing. I watched her suffer for so many years. She didn’t want my help. My mother even tried.
        Thank you again. I pray that we both find comfort.

      2. Dee Dee, my 23 year old daughter also suffered from a variety of auto-immune disorders: dying thyroid gland at age 20 (taking medication); very odd food allergies; small red dots under the skin on her arms that no dermatologist could ever diagnose. And she was diagnosed (a complex diagnosis involving psychiatric history and written testing) with schizo-affective disorder/bipolar. She was just beginning the “manic” phase; it was awful to watch. I fought this long and hard. I was her advocate, her mother, her friend. She just couldn’t live with the horror. She got away from me that day. I know how difficult this is for you; my heart goes out to you. People who suffer in this way wear a crown of thorns. They are actually blessed, accepted by God. My daughter wrote to me a beautiful letter, in it she said she was “going home now, to God, to rest”. This doesn’t ease the pain of losing her, but I know where she is.

        1. Daughter ofLourdes-
          Thank you for your thoughts. Mental illness is a tragedy of its own, but coupled with other life threatening diseases, it was an impossible combination…. We raised our daughter in a very dedicated Christian home, yet her mania caused her to behave in high-risk, ungodly ways…it was SO hard to watch her be self-destructive and immoral….I worried night and day….I did all I thought I could….yet I still am tormented with guilt….Four months before she died, my husband and I had moved over seas to work….would it have made a difference if I had stayed in the same area she was living? She was so difficult to live with. Few friends knew our true struggles. We also have another child with the same auto immune syndrome and another older son with depression, anxiety, and addictions. Two other children are healthy…I wish I could sit down and visit with you. It is hard being in a foreign land without much support, so this site is especially important to me. Thank you and Clara for your responses. I am so very sorry for own loss. May God give you comfort for today and everyday.

  18. My son died in January 2013. He died on his 27th birthday of an accidental drug overdose. I have talked to him about drugs since he was big enough to talk. Never in my life would i have thought he would ever use drugs, especially heroin. At times I am angry with him. I will never understand why he did such a thing. I told him all his life about making decisions and that one wrong decision could end his life. I wish he would have listened to. I wish i knew what happened to make him do such a thing.

    1. Susan, Right now in today’s society, drugs are just about everywhere. (My office is actually in a Drug and Alcohol office.) Sometimes (most often) parents cannot imagine their child experimenting with drugs, but it happens often — more often than we’d ever imagine. Why drugs? Why heroin? It’s a number of things — peer pressure, availability, wanting to experiment, wanting to feel better, wondering what it’s like, and on and on and on it goes. Sometimes it doesn’t matter to kids what mom said or how many times she said it. Why? Free will. We each have the ability to make our own choices, and so many of us make bad choices. That’s partly just life and partly a bit of defiance. Sometimes the more we tell a person NOT to do something, the more determined they are to go ahead and do it.

      As for your son, I’m so very, very sorry to hear about his death that happened on his birthday. There’s enough grief in your opening sentence to last two lifetimes. 🙁

      Of course you’re angry with him, and rightly so. He didn’t heed your warnings. And, then we play the “if only” game. If only he had listened. If only he hadn’t used that drug. If only he didn’t use too much. If only……….

      The saddest part of all of this is that nothing can change what has already happened. 🙁

      Have you actually “told your son” how angry you are with him? It might help if you write a letter to your son, take it to the gravesite, and read the letter to him. Let it all how. Scream. Cry. Sob. Let him know you’re angry beyond words for doing what he did. Why? Because you love and miss him so!!!!

      I know it sounds like something that’s maybe a bit silly to do, but the letter writing really does help to give some relief to our pain and anger. It won’t take it all away by any means, but it will help.

      My special love to you.
      Clara
      PS Remind yourself often that your son didn’t do this to hurt you. He made a bad choice. And, the price tag with that choice was a heavy one. But, he never did this to hurt you. Please keep repeating that over and over again.

  19. Hi Clara,
    When my brother died i felt the anger just like you have described; not rational but real. Because i was so young the anger turned into many years of depression and wishing that i had died too.
    However when my son died it was so different and there was no anger towards him just a total brokeness and longing to have him back. I did feel anger towards myself as a parent it was my responsibility to keep him alive and i felt an irrational sense of failing him.
    Affie xx

    1. Affie, You’ve described perfectly what almost 100% of parents who have lost a child feel! We got through a period of anger and guilt for not keeping our child alive. We know deep down that if we could have prevented our child’s death, we would have. But, that doesn’t seem to help us for a long time.

      Misdirected anger causes us so much additional pain.

      I’m so very sorry for the losses of your brother and your son. I really appreciate your comments!

  20. I lost my 25-year-old daughter, age 25, just 6 months ago. She died suddenly and with no warning signs of a pulmonary embolism. We were extremely close and she was so protective of me since I am disabled. One thing I have not felt is anger toward her. I feel a lot of anger, but not at her. At first, I was angry at God for taking her from me, but now I feel it’s anger in general – anger that she died at such a young age and was cheated of a long happy life. I feel cheated too. Someone led me to read what you write about a month after my Nicole died, and you have been a true help to me. My life is forever changed and I find myself no longer enjoying what I used to. I used to do so much with her that now things don’t seem enjoyable any more. One thing I find comforting for some odd reason (others tell me this is strange) is that she was at home when she died and I was holding her as I told her I loved her as she took her last breath. I feel fortunate to have had that chance. But then the roller coaster of emotions began and continues today. I cry every day and wish I could have just one more day with her to hold her and feel her and touch her. I feel broken and lost, if that makes sense.

    1. Nancy, I’m so very sorry for the sudden loss of your daughter. And, yes, everything you’ve said makes sense.

      I was holding my mother’s hand as she died, and that has been such a comfort to me. “If” I could have chosen, I would have been holding my sister’s hand, and my would have been holding my son close to me as they died. That’s the mom in us wanting to comfort and keep our child safe right to the very end.

      Your anger is certainly a normal response. I find that even though it’s been many, many years since the deaths of my sister and son, I still have that occasional angry meltdown and really let the anger fly. I just don’t know why that had to happen. Yes, I’ve learned so much about what’s really important in life since then, but I sure didn’t need two deaths to teach me those lessons! I get angry at that yet.

      Your anger over the loss of Nicole is normal, and will come and go. Our emotions are never really predictable following the loss of a child. Who knows what triggers will crop up from day-to-day? My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope and pray that as time passes and your grief becomes more manageable that you will feel a bit more able to enjoy some of life again. Always remind yourself that Nicole has not really gone away. Her spirit will be with you always.

      My love to you.

  21. I myself have been upset mad with me for when I was pregnant as I slept with payzlees dad once since we split up a year before I got pregnant I took the morning after pill and still got pregnant. During my pregnancy I could not get excited about it yes I bought everything needed for a new baby but I was not excited at all. This pregnancy was so different then my other two all I could eat was junk food and was really depressed throughout it. At 24 weeks I started losing amniotic fluid come to find out I had incompetent cervix at 26 weeks my water broke it was a Saturday night I last until Tuesday evening then they had to take Payzlee. My baby was 1 lb 15 ou 13 3/4″. Well the first 3 weeks of her life I was in and out of the hospital myself due to my c section stitches being taken out in two days my whole wound opened up and I kept getting infection after infection. Payzlee came off the vent off the bubble cpap and was on high flow nasal cannula. She could lift her body off the bed. She would pull her leads off and hold them up for the nurses with a smile. Anyhow she also had two grade 3 brain bleeds that never got better so when she was a month old we got flown to cooks children’s where they put in a vad which is like the step down to the shunt. Anyhow she just didn’t do any good after that was placed. So two weeks later we made to the decision to take her off the vent. Where she lasted 16 hrs before she passed. It kills me that I wasn’t excited that I couldn’t get myself to be happy and to top that off we found out she had a problem and couldn’t process proteins.

    1. Wendy, I’m so sorry. So much pain, so much guilt. You had a little fighter on your hands, didn’t you? Payzlee sounds like she tried so hard, and that should make you so proud!

      My own mother went through a lot of the guilt and anger you are experiencing. She said she told everybody she was mad she got pregnant with my sister (the one that died when she was 13). The guilt that my mother carried with her for years and years was horrible.

      The fact is that sometimes emotionally we don’t feel ready for another child, and when we find out we’re pregnant, our subconscious kicks in and keeps us from initially bonding. In your case, you ended up bonding so much with little Payzlee and now it sounds like you’re blaming yourself for her death.

      Please be kind to “you” — you’re not to blame for what happened and for your lack of excitement over the fact that you were having Payzlee. You loved her, and she knew that, I’m sure. Her brief life has imacted you in countless ways and will continue to impact you.

      I’m so very sorry for the loss of your sweet baby girl. Life is so hard. 🙁

  22. I have never felt anger at my daughter, she was in no way at fault for dying, and she would never have left us if she had benn given a choice. However, I hate the man who kiiled her, and his total lack of remorse. I have also been angry with myself and have begged her forgiveness for anytime that I let her down. It has been 10 years and I still miss her everyday.

    1. Lois, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your daughter. I appreciate your honesty in using a word as strong as “hate.” It’s a word some people are afraid to use, but when we’re open and honest we know that it’s something that a lot of bereaved parents experience.

      And, anger with ourselves……such a big part of our grief. We feel guilt over so many things! I think there is always this feeling of “I should have done more. I said have said more. I should have acted differently.” We can really beat ourselves up for not being the perfect parent (which none of us are).

      Releasing anger with yourself is such an important first step in better managing our grief. Why not try writing your daughter a letter and reading it aloud to her at the gravesite? I did that with my sister’s death — it was very, very emotional but it really helped me to forgive myself.

      Love,
      Clara

  23. My son died at birth 26months ago and some days I’m perfectly fine amd other days i dont even want to think or get out of bed. Just the other day my oldest son found a picture of his baby brother and he asked when can he come home. He’s 4 and of course they ask a lot of questions so i had to explain everything to him. It was so painful to explain but more painful once he finally understood. We talked about it for a while and he started to speak about how if he dies, how i won’t have anymore babies and how i would be by myself. I was hurt but still amazed how he cared so much about me being alone and hurt. I love him more than anything in the world. He’s truly my rock.

    1. Grief can paralyze us, can’t it? The pain is immobilizing. I found myself in bed many, many, many days following the death of my son, Samuel. It took every ounce of my energy to get dressed, and a lot of days I didn’t even do that. I was too exhausted from crying.

      Your little 4-year-old sounds wise beyond his age. Wrap yourself in his love, and he will help you so much on those really, really hard days.

      I’m so sorry for the death of your baby boy. I hope and pray that there will be a day when this pain of loss isn’t so raw for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  24. my daughter was in a single car accident she was 21 yrs old she was on life support for 11 days we had to take her off life support because her brain was just damage so bad there was nothing else they could do.it will be 2 yrs april 11 of this year. i got so mad and i ask why so much and i try and stay strong for my family but i am getting tired and weak i keep myself so busy to try and not think so much but i see her face all the time i cry everyday i miss my child so much she had a life ahead of her got her cna license and was going to make something of herself and it was took i get so mad and i have alot of fear in me now for my other 4 kids i stayed scared all the time i am just so tired and i fill like i am about at my breaking point i can’t be strong much longer i miss her so much the pain is so deep i have never elt pain like this in my whole life.my god everyone of us that has lost a child my children is my heart and a piece of it is gone.

    1. Janice, You’ve been through the worst trenches of pain ever, and I’m so very sorry. Your anger is a very normal response to a very not-normal happening — the death of your beautiful daughter.

      I think there’s a big misconception among us as parents that we have to stay strong for others. Eventually, our strength gives out and we come face-to-face with our own burden of grief (and grief is a really heavy burden to bear). Your fear, feelings of being so tired, and of reaching the breaking point are all warning signs that you need to begin taking care of yourself. It’s time for a “time out” for you. Give yourself the opportunity to cry, scream, and eventually release some of this anger you are feeling. As you grieve heavily, you will notice a shift beginning to take place. Your grief will actually become a bit more manageable. That doesn’t mean it will go away or that you will never feel pain again. It simply means it won’t hurt in the same way.

      My love to you. I’m so saddened to hear of the death of your daughter. Life is hard and at times so very unfair. And, this is one of those times.

      1. thank you its so hard i miss my daughter every minute of the day.people keeps telling me you are doing good and staying strong but i am trying to warn them that i am to my weakest point i can feel my body and what its telling me i am tired.and i still look down my road waiting for her to pull in my driveway are a phone call is it wrong in me that i have not accepted the fact she is gone this pain is hurting me so bad i have been told that i distance myself from others i don’t smile are laugh much anymore that i have change some.thank you for taking the time to reply to me and i am so sorry for your loss.

  25. My 18 year old son was killed in a car accident 23 months ago. He was in a car with a group of kids that had been drinking. The driver was drunk. My son was the only one killed. I have had a hard time with the anger. At times I feel like who am I am angry at. God, the kid driving, my son but he would have never wanted to leave. But I know he is safe in heaven. I have had so much anger at myself. As a mom feeling like I couldn’t protect my son. Angry that can’t change this whole nightmare and have my son back.

    1. Janice, I’m so, so sorry. Teens, alcohol, and cars…..every parent’s worry. Unfortunately, most of us (parents and teens) never think it will happen to us. Yet, statistics prove that this happens over and over again. My heart is aching with you. I’m sure you’ve had anger with everyone and everything at some point in your sorrow — a natural reaction to such a tragic loss. We keep playing the scene over and over again and keep asking, “Why? Why, God, did this have to happen?”

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with something I will be addressing in another blog post — the guilt we feel for not being able to protect our children from harm and ultimately death. We feel like such failures! And, we get so angry that just a few split seconds could change our lives so much! The angry “if onlys” come into play and drive us half crazy!

      Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing your feelings. Sometimes we beat ourselves up for having these feelings, but it’s all part of our sorrow and grief from losing our child. For a long time I think we get angry at life in general — how can life do this to us and how can life go on without our child when our world has been so broken?

      My special thoughts are with you as you travel this long, difficult journey. Working through this anger is one more part of working through the very hardest parts of our pain and grief. Will we ever be totally “at peace” with it all? No. But, we do focus more on heaven in the years to come, which is what you seem to be doing. That will bring some peace to your aching heart.

  26. Our beautiful 21 year old daughter Claire died of a massive seizure this past November. Just seeing me type that sentence is surreal….If I would have seen into the future that this had happened….I wouldn’t have been able to believe it. She was so vivacious, sparkly-eyed, fashion-oriented, a real people-person who enjoyed cooking, singing, acting, laughing, traveling, eating out, concerts, movies, conversations, playing with the dogs…. I still can’t believe she is gone from this earth. My husband and I were overseas when she died. I struggle with guilt over not being there for her. I have wailed in despair over this guilt. Perhaps I could have done something…While she had life long health problems, she hadn’t been having any flare-ups or recent unusual problems that we were aware of. I think she failed to take her medications correctly. On the flip side of her bright personality was also pain and suffering inside of her: physically, mentally, and emotionally. She hid it from most everyone. I think she may have intentionally stopped taking medications, but I am not sure…I did have a clear, strong preminition dream a few nights before she died, that God later had me remember after she died….it underscored her exhaustion with her challenged life. In the first 2 weeks after her death, like Clara said above, I too was angry with Claire. “Why did you have to die?!” Our family (of 7) seemed to fall into a million pieces…. We have a steady faith in God, and it is the only thing that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other…. I’m just sick that this has happened and nothing will ever be the same. It helps me though to focus on Heaven and the continuity of our eternal lives. There is much, much more than what this ‘fallen’ world has to offer. Finding all of you on FB today is a blessing to me. Thanks for letting me share.

    1. Dee Dee, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your precious Claire. It does seem surreal, doesn’t it? Nothing is totally “real” for a long time in the world of child loss. We say the words, but the full impact doesn’t hit us until months down the road on this journey.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts — especially that you went through a period of being angry with Claire for leaving you. I think so many parents feel ashamed that they felt this way, but it’s a normal part of grief for most of us. It’s so hard to just accept what has happened. Sometimes I find myself just sitting and shaking my head thinking, “This didn’t really happen. It’s all a bad dream and one day I’m going to wake up and find out that life is back to normal.” My grieving side says that, but my realistic side knows better. It’s just a coping skill when we’re not able to process everything all at once.

      Again, I’m so, so sorry for you loss. Holding you close in my thoughts.

  27. i have never felt that anger towards my daughter for dying, but i can understand others feeling this way. i do have anger towards the disease that killed her–we all grieve in our own way and feel things and how ever we feel is ok. this is the worst thing any parent can go thru–hugs to all

  28. My anger is primarily directed at my husband and myself. I do understand what you are saying and at some point I may feel anger toward my son, but at this point I feel his parents, us , we dropped the ball, we failed him. I have learned for the time being, to live as roommates with my husband but this relationship should have ended long long ago, very disfunctional. There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to each and every individuals grief journey. Thank you for writing this blog, it does help.

  29. My youngest son asked me two days why sissy wanted to die, why she wanted to go to heaven, i wonder if he is angry?

    1. Tara, It’s quite possible he’s feeling a bit of questioning and anger at his sister for leaving. That’s a normal part of a child’s grief, and one that should be addressed on the level of the child. As adults we can’t understand the concept of death. Just think how difficult it is for children!

      Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m so very sorry that you even have to address this topic with your son. It’s so hard!