Teen Loss

Silent Grief: Living with Guilt

As mentioned in my introductory post, my first real experience with death came when my sister Carmella died at age thirteen.  I was fifteen at the time, and she just so happened to not only be my sister but my best friend in all of the world.

As a bit of background, Carmella (or “Mellie” as we called her) developed asthma when she was six.  I remember so well the wheezing, the tight cough, the look of fear on her face as her air passageway would tighten up and wouldn’t allow her to breathe.  It was horrible to see.  Many times, I ran off crying — screaming — for somebody to help her.  Please, God, somebody help my sister!  Watching someone you love gasp for breath is horrifying.  It’s such a helpless feeling!

She spent so much time in the hospital that all of the personnel knew her by first name and I must say they treated her so good.  She was very small for her age — looked more like a seven or eight year old when she was thirteen.  “Stunted growth due to the asthma” is what the doctors said.

Mellie received weekly asthma shots from Dr. Greene in Margate City, NJ.  I still remember our visits there (for years).  We had to wait a long time just to see Dr. Greene, then we had to wait at least 30 minutes after Mellie’s shots to make sure she didn’t have some kind of allergic reaction. Week after week this went on for several years.

As time went on, she became more and more asthmatic — the shots were no longer working, and neither was her inhaler.  She went on a steroid — prednisone — and that wasn’t good at all.  Little did I know that her heart was damaged from all of the asthma attacks, and she was in critical condition.  You have no idea how many times I’ve wished my parents had shared that one piece of information with me! 

I didn’t know my little sister was dying!  Nobody told me.  Instead, she packed a little suitcase (as  they were called back in the day), and was sent off to live at the “Betty Bacharach Home by the Sea” in Atlantic City.  I still have nightmares about that place — waking up in a cold sweat choking on tears.  It was frightening.  She went to live there during the week in hopes that the salt air from the ocean would be healing for her asthma.  The place was filled with little children in iron lungs from polio.  The machines were frightening and I hated it that my sister had to live there.  She was little, and she was so afraid, yet she only cried when we had to leave her after a visit.  I can’t imagine what must have gone on inside of her young brain.  God, I wish my parents had told me what was going on!  I was old enough to understand, and I would have been able to talk to my sister about it (her dying).

We had visitation on Saturdays and Sundays — no overnight visits, though.  Those were the rules.  So, every Saturday my dad got to pick her up and visit her, and my mom got to have her on Sundays.  They were divorced at the time.

Mellie left for the Bacharach home in January right after her birthday, and after she left our house was empty — dead.  My mom drank heavily and cried all of the time.  (I didn’t understand why at the time.)  I missed my sister so bad I felt like dying.  And, my baby sister (who was only five at the time) had no idea what was going on.  She saw a lot of sadness in the house, but nobody explained to her what was going on, either.

The very abbreviated story is this:  On a Saturday night in June, there was a Disney movie playing at our local drive-in theater. I begged my mother to take me and my baby sister Ruth to see that movie.  We had a big argument that night.  My mother screamed at me that she didn’t want to go.  She would always call Mellie (every night) and talk to her for an hour.  She yelled and yelled that if we went to the movies she’d miss her phone call with Mellie.  I yelled back that I didn’t care.  I was sick of hearing nothing but “Mellie, Mellie, Mellie”, and I was sick of my mother lying around drinking and crying.

So, my mother gave in and took Ruth and I to the drive-in.  When we returned home, two State Policemen were standing on our front porch.  My mother drove into the driveway and said without emotion, “Your sister is dead.”  I can still hear my mother saying those words.  I’ll never, ever forget that moment!

The policemen had been trying to get in touch with both my mother and father that evening, but found neither one home.  The Bacharach Home had called — my sister was having a severe asthma attack and had been taken by ambulance to the Atlantic City Hospital where she died as they tried to open her passageway to get air into her lungs.

Alone.  She died without family.  She was in a hospital struggling to breathe.  I’m sure she was so afraid and wondering why my mom and dad weren’t there.  When she died, part of me died, too.  And, that part of me remains dead.  There is a part of my heart that has never recovered from her death, and it never will.  And, the guilt — the guilt I’ve had over the years for being the one responsible for us not being home that night to receive the phone call to come to the hospital has been at times a guilt that is hard to explain.

I have never gone to another drive-in movie theater.  Ever.

I don’t think my mother ever forgave me for that.  I know my father never did.  And, I can only pray that Mellie did.  Guilt is a terrible part of child loss that many of us have to live with and in time we have to learn how to let go of it.  In our next post I’ll share with you some of the things I’ve done over the years to lessen the guilt, and finally to understand that it was time to let go of the guilt.  I can tell you it’s been a long, painful, trying process!

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It’s still hard to visit my sister’s gravesite.  I miss her so much!  She was my sister, and sometimes people brush aside how painful losing a sibling is, but I can tell you that siblings suffer from loss, too.  We suffer long and hard.  And, we feel a lot of the same emotional trauma that parents of child loss feel.

My tears are flowing right now — flowing hard and steady.  Sometimes life just really stinks, and child loss is definitely one of those times.  We can wish ten million times over that it had never happened, but that doesn’t change anything.  We can’t go back and have a second chance.  This is it, and it’s darned hard!

Thanks so much for listening.  Next time we’ll talk more about the guilt part.  I’d love it if you’d join in on the conversation and share a bit of your story, too.  Let’s learn together, and support one another through this journey we call child loss!




  • Carole Delfino Musgrave

    I am so sorry for your loss my dear. i have so much guilt with the loss of my daughter Lisa in 1991, and my son JohnPaul in 2009. Part of my guilt is that in my deep grief, I didnt acknowledge that my other children lost their siblings. Now because of this 2 of my children no longer speak to me. Guilt is so awful. I know Millie is resting in the arms of God and is saying, there is nothing I have to forgive.

    • Clara Hinton

      Thank you so much for your sweet words. I appreciate them so very much.

      I am so sorry for all of your losses — your daughter, Lisa, and your son John Paul. And, it’s a loss when our living children don’t speak to us. Have you tried writing to them and letting the words flow from your heart saying how deeply you were grieving and that you didn’t know how to even find the strength to battle your own grief, let alone acknowledge their grief? Child loss is so very deep and complex. I wish there was a universal manual all of us could use with Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 of how to grieve the loss of a child. Of course we know that’s impossible. We each grieve so differently.

      I would make every attempt to tell your children how sorry you are and then forgive yourself. Give them time to work through their pain. My sister died many, many years ago and there are still days when I feel such raw pain from her loss. Your children need you in their lives. They just have too much pain and feelings of abandonment right now. I’m praying they’ll find it in their hearts to talk to you — soon.

  • Karen

    I suffer from guilt also. My Son, Joshua, died in a one car accident on 9-12-11. The day before, he was heavy on my mind. I wanted to call him or text him, but I didn’t, because it was his day off from work, and I didn’t want to be a meddlesome mother. He died at1:45am. Why didn’t I call him, it could have changed everything. But, after 22 months, I have finally realized that everything happens for a reason and it is all in God’s hands. Joshua was not only my second son, but he was my buddy. My friend, who would always call at the right time, or just shoot me an email just to say hi. He was 25 when he left us. Even though I have 2 other sons, Joshua was the bright spot in my life.

    • Clara Hinton

      Karen, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son Joshua. As a mom I can appreciate the fact that you didn’t want to be meddlesome. I’m the same way — always wondering if I should send a text, or give a quick call, or send off a simple, “I love you” email. I used to hold back, but lately (maybe because I’m getting older), I’ve realized it’s okay to listen to that small voice inside of us and just “do it.” We can never say “I love you” too many times!

      I’m so very glad that you’ve arrived at the point of being able to give it all to God. We can’t go back and change the past, but we can learn from it. And, there is peace when we can hand over our guilt to God. The guilt is too much for us to carry — much too heavy a burden.

  • Cindy

    So many times I hear, I was there, I was there. I was there all the time and as soon as I stepped away for a minute, that is when they died. Why is that? I know my brother was always there with his daughter. He stepped out, and she died. I know I certainly feel guilty after I lost my son. I feel like I stopped praying. When I was constantly praying, God would always get him home somehow. I wish I could have been there with him or at least know the moment he died. God has other plans.

  • beccaroo

    I have four children. I have always told each of them they were special. The oldest, my daughter ‘K’ was special for she was my first baby. Next”J” (daughter) was special for she was born in North Carolina, we are from Michigan, so she was my southern bell. Then there is another daughter, “R” she was a surviving identical twin, so she was my lil fighter. Lastly my son “M” my one and only boy.I was a very loud, confident mother who loved hanging out with my kids. I nursed each one of them, took them to the park, played games with them, read to them and cooked with them. We went to church and I thought we had a very great family.Then we moved when K was 12 and J was 10. We did not move far from where we were but we moved away from their house. Things seemed fine at first but then I noticed my K had difficulty making friends in this new town. A few years passed and things were worse. K was hanging with a tough crowd and J was left invisible for most of our attention was on K. Little did we know J was struggling. J eventually had our complete attention by the time she was 15 for she was continually truant from school, would disappear and not come home overnight at times. I tried all normal tactics, grounding, taking cell phone away. Finally I had no choice but to go and plead with the judge to put J on probation with the courts. She seemed to better but after a time the courts let her off for her good behavior. By 16, J had started up again. Leaving and not coming home. We took her car away. We were really confused. Her behavior was erratic. I took her to a psychologist that tested her and counseled her. It was discovered she had memory loss and add. We started her on adderall and we seemed satisfied to know she would do better in school now. J became pregnant at 17. This was a terrible blow. I wanted her to have the baby because I feel abortion is wrong but my husband disagreed. So did J. They both wanted to terminate the pregnancy and they did. J moved in her senior year for a fresh start with her aunatching her behavior. J began to spiral and admitted to us she was using drugs. Opiates. She was snorting them.I tried pleading, threatening, bargaining,anything for her to get help. She would run and run. J graduated to heroin. I continued to chase her. I went to scary places in search of her. I was obsessed with trying to straighten this child of mine out. It became my life for so long. At nineteen J came over at a late hour of night. I was sitting on my porch in the dark when she walked up the driveway. In a very calm tone I said to her, ” J, what has happened to you? You were my lil southern bell. My sweetest child.” She took my hand and told me in detail that she was raped by four young men in the back seat of a car in the tiny village we lived in. She had thought it was her fault for she snuck out of the house that night. She knew one of the guys quite well and even had a crush on him. They raped her anally and vaginally. She said she just wanted to be messed up from that say on.We cried together and stayed up most of the night devising a plan that she would go to a detox center and get professional counseling. I told her I would help her in any way I could and I assured her this was in no way her fault. I was devastated to know that she had been through so much. She had never told one single soul. She held this secret for so long.
    J went to treatment but did not stay. She ran again. And again. She moved to Arizona. She ran there and drugged and drugged. She met another addict and they made a daughter. They continued to drug. Finally after years of prayer, J called and wanted to move home. Her bf went to jail. We were all THRILLED for now she could finally get help! Our family loved on her and her baby. We detoxed her off of all the pills she came home with. We made plans to send her with her blessing to a recovery program. On March 18th of this year J relapsed and died. We are all devastated and all I do is cry. I guess I feel guilty for ever moving in the first place. I feel guilty for treating my daughter as a rebellious teen when she was really an injured girl. That is the guilt I have and will continue to have.t in a town about a half hour drive. She would come back on weekends but mostly go and stay with her friend, Ashley. The first quarter of the school year she made the honor roll. Soon after, however, J started skipping school there as well. Unbeknownst to me she was selling her adderall also. Then J met a new guy. He was trouble and by the spring she was now 18 and had quit school altogether and was completely out of control. I kicked her out for she would not comply with the house rules.I had younger kids still w

  • Amber

    My son Ethan had a diaph. hernia (cdh) when he was born. I had to make all the decisions myself, alone. He fought bravely for 3 wks and 2 days. The doctors said there was nothing more they could do for him, but it was my choice. I hated that! I chose to tell them to end treatment. I had to be the one to tell them to turn off the oxygen. I held him when he passed. The guilt I live with sometimes is unbearable, but I have to realize that I made the best choices I could and that Ethan doesn’t hurt anymore. Yesterday (7/25) would have been his 7th birthday.

  • Jo Anne

    Your website has helped me immensely! My son was 48 years old and suffered a massive heart attack. His sister and I flew to Vegas where he was in the hospital for surgery. He lived a week after the surgery and we were with him. I keep saying if only I pushed harder for him to get a physical. He was a wonderful son and brother.

  • Rebecca Medrano

    Yes I do live with guilt. First I wish I would have talked to my son more instead of letting him live his own life. Second the last time I saw him. My husband and I got into an argument earlier. I went to bed then I woke up to my son, daughter, and a stranger talking. I got upand sat in the kitchen with them. I didn’t talk much because I was upset with my husband. Now the last my son seen me I was unhappy that his last time to see me. I didn’t even talk to him much. I did talk to my son 2 days before he died. I was telling him that my husband just bought me a car. I was telling him how pretty it was. We talked for a while then he had to go. He was going to the movies. I miss my son. I love my son. He was killed 1 year ago today. With my youngest son I don’t have guilt. He was killed 7years ago August 30 on nicks birthday. We hadn’t celebrated nicks birthday since. Last year on this day I had told a coworker that I planned on having a small dinner for his birthday. I never got to tell Nick he was already dead before I got home from work.

  • Pat

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. I lost my daughter, Sara, at 16. She was diagnosed at 8 with a terminal, genetic disease, Juvenile Batten Disease. It slowly took her away from us; seizures, then blindness, large and small motor skills, cognitive abilities, and speaking. Sara went to the hospital because they thought she had pneumonia, but it turned out she had an empyema, which caused her lung to collapse. Almost 3 horrible weeks in a hospital, where they didn’t really know what to do, and surgery, my daughter came home. Four days later she died in my arms. I feel so guilty that I wasn’t a better advocate for her, and taken her to a better hospital with better doctors. I also feel guilty because of all the times I was angry, not at her, but at the disease, but took it out on her. I can only hope and pray that she has forgiven me for not being as good of a mother as she deserved, she deserved better than me.

  • susan Macaulay

    Thank You for sharing that. My Loss of a child was my first grandchild. My son and his girlfriend were both drug addicts. When they became pregnant she stopped for a while but he didn’t so she began using again. The baby was born full term but was born still born I was prepared to take the child if need be and raise him. But for whatever reason god decided he would be born stillborn. My heart and soul were crushed as I beleved through the pregnancy that this would make my son sto using drugs but instead the baby was born still born. He was 8 lbs 4 oz a beautiful baby who looked like his father. I held him hoing he would wake up and the terrible dream would be over but it wasn’t. I cried and cried till I had no more tears. I cried for this innocent life that was taken my heart was broken Gabriel that was his name was baptized in the hospital and we had a funeral for him. I know in my heart now its been 6 six years this was the most painful thing I could go through. My arms still ache to hold this child and its been six years I have yet to hold another baby cause I can’t get past the thought of loosing another child.
    <3 Susan MacAulay

    • Clara Hinton

      Susan, I’m so very sorry.

      It took me many years to look at a baby following my little boy Samuel who was born still. I couldn’t be around babies. It was too difficult. It is just recently that I can honestly say I look at babies and can hold them and feel comfortable about telling their parents how happy I am for them. When a baby is born still our entire world of hopes, dreams for the future, and our anticipation for things comes to an abrupt stop. It’s like our living has come to a screeching halt! Be kind to yourself. You’ve been through a lot.

  • Sunshine Lindsay O'Reilly

    guilt. its one of the things i struggle with day in and day out. my daughter was killed in a car accident december 29, 2011. she was 10. my husband and 2 of my 3 daughters were at a stoplight…..they were on their way to get my birthday cake……enter guilt.
    the really terrible guilt for me comes from getting on with life..i feel guilty if i enjoy myself somewhere….because i should not be happy….my child is dead. i feel guilty if im miserable because i have 2 other children who need a mother…..and i love my children and WANT to enjoy they. i feel like the guilt comes no matter what i do….i dont know how i will ever escape it.

    • Clara Hinton

      Oh, I’m so sorry. I think you’ve brought up such an important issue — learning how to live again. It’s almost as if we’re doomed if we do, and we’re doomed if we don’t.

      Being both a mother of child loss and a sibling of child loss, I can tell you that’s it’s so important for you to find some joy in living once again for you and for your living children. You’re very, very early on in this journey of loss. The grief is still new and raw and everything feels so distant and wrong right now. I believe your living daughters will help you find your way and so will your daughter who was killed in the car accident. There will be a time coming when you will know — you will really and truly know — that she wants you to find joy in living again — minus the guilt.

      There’s nothing easy about any of this, is there? Child loss is all so wrong.

  • Tammy Miller

    I am so sorry for your loss. We lost our second son a year ago and the guilt for things done and not done, should have done different, etc are long and painful. Regret is such an awful thing. I miss my son more than words can say. Peace is coming…it has to be…for us all…

    • Clara Hinton

      Tammy, I’m so sorry for your loss, also. I think that guilt is such a sneaky, difficult thing to deal with. It’s as if it is always there — prodding us, hurting us, making us rethink things over and over again, and brings on so much additional grief. If one thing comes from this it is this: We learn that this minute is all we have promised to us. Life is so fleeting and we don’t get second chances.

      My special thoughts are with you. You are so right — peace is coming. I long for that day.

  • Mary

    I lost a 17 year old son to suicide a year ago in May. He was on the autism spectrum and had bi-polar disorder. I turned over every stone in the universe to try to help him and it still wasn’t enough. There was more I could have done had I known he was in such a low point, but he didn’t want to be hospitalized again and he didn’t tell us. I’ve had to work HARD to shove the guilt away because I did the best I knew how with the information I had. But the shoulda, coulda, wouldas creep in. Let’s just say I do a lot of shoving away of guilt. He was a beautiful boy in every way and I miss him so much. Thank you for the blog!

    • Clara Hinton

      Mary, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your son. I think loss by suicide brings about a very different king of grief always tinted with guilt. We have so many unanswered questions, and it seems we are plagued by the “what if’s and if only’s” in our thinking. Any of us who has suffered from guilt knows how hard it is to deal with guilt so we do just as you’ve done — shove it away — push it back — and eventually we learn to live with it knowing that guilt is much too heavy a burden to carry day in and day out. Guilt is a deep grief in and of itself.

      I’m sure your son was a most special young man, and you must miss him terribly. Again, I’m so very, very sorry for your loss.

  • Susi

    Wow….how tragic! It’s just amazing how early death impacts so many people….and just changes everything. Back when my guilt over my daughter’s death prevented me from saying anything to almost anyone, I thought the guilt came from authentically shameful stuff. Cause I had that, for sure. But now I see how universal guilt is…and how unreasonable it can be.

    • Clara Hinton

      You are so, so right by saying death impacts so many people and “changes everything.” Guilt it a terrible thing and often takes years to work through! Thanks so much for your input!

  • Sharon Ellis

    I have so much trouble with guilt. My Logan was 10 when he was dx with leukemia, and I was 100% sure he was going to be fine. He had a lot of problems, and was so sick all the time. Just 4 1/2 months before his 31 months of treatment was to be finished he died suddenly and with no warning. He complained of stomach ache, then started vomiting and running fever so we headed to the hospital. They piddled around and never started his antibiotics, said they had spoken to his doctor about his hallucinations and pain but later I found out they had not. He had sepsis, and died within a few hours. I should have known the symptoms of sepsis, I should have called the doctor myself. How did he get sepsis anyway? Was it something I let him eat or did I not keep the house clean enough? Was it because I let him spend the night with his uncle who had dogs and maybe they had some kind of bacteria? I relieve it over and over….. if only.

    • Clara Hinton

      I am so, so sorry for the loss of your sweet Logan. Sometimes life is miserably difficult and painful and this is one of those times. Just the diagnosis of leukemia would have been hard enough to handle. The average person rarely thinks about the burden of guilt that so many parents carry when their child dies. We always go back and forth over and over again in our minds replaying the scene wishing we could change the outcome.

      The questions you have are all valid questions, but ones that will never have an answer — not in this lifetime. I think that’s part of what drives us half-crazy — not having the answers we so desperately want and need. That leaves such an open-ended grief.

      My thoughts and prayers are certainly with you. I think we can all identify with the words you’ve written. I’m sure your little Logan was an amazing little boy. I’m so very sorry. I hope that by visiting this blog, you’ll find some comfort and help. As we share together, I believe we will get some much-needed support.

  • Connie Heien

    Wow and i thought i was the only mother with guilt….my first born son and my buddy commited suicide june of 2011..he had alot of medical issues along with depression so this last surgery he had I believe put him over the edge, the night before he and his girlfriend(whom he has 2 children with)were fighting she called me so i left work to go to her and his aid she left with the children to spend the night with her mother and i stayed awhile and talked to my son he told me he was gonna ‘end it’ and i replied ‘please don’t talk like that,that would kill me’ you’ve got to understand he would tell me this on occasion i had him admitted,talked with the doctors who told me he was not gonna do anything..so that night he asked me to leave at first i told him no then he told me his dad was on his way..whom i had a restraining order against..i looked up saw my ex ran down the steps i stopped and looked at my son and said ‘i love you call if you need anything’ that was the last words i said to my son my buddy..he hung himself in the basement of his home..if i would have stayed he would still be here i beat myself every day over this i am having a very hard time trying to accept this i am still in shock that he is not here and i also feel guilty for not being a better mother to the son i do have living..child loss is the most painful,gut wretching emotion a mother should not have to go through.

  • Barbara

    This may be the only time i find this page thank you for your words. My son passed away last year in May he was a soldier and an amazing young man. We had just had a very long conversation about “no regrets” making sure our relationship was solid and if anything ever happened we each knew how much we loved each other. 15 min later he called and said he was in a motorcycle accident he had broken his leg severely but was ok. They airlifted him to a local hospital. After a 5 hour successful surgery they failed to have him on any sort of monitor so when he stopped breathing no one knew it. Guilt wow ya i do have guilt… Why didn’t i fly to Texas right after his accident so i could be with him. I would have been in his room and I would have known he wasn’t breathing. I had to make the decision to do the apnea test to take him off support..Was it too soon? should i have waited? what if i waited one more day 1 more hour? Someone said to me it is so soon maybe it was would he still be alive? I don’t know how much longer I can continue in this sadness i try so hard to find a new normal but it makes no sense to me. This is my second son to die my first was just 2 months old SIDS in 1984. It isn’t right. I gave one son up for adoption and we had just found him they never got to meet. The only meeting they had was at the funeral. Some days just make no sense at all.

    • Clara Hinton

      Barbara, I am so, so sorry for both of your losses. I think you said it all when you said, “Some days just make no sense at all.” Truer words have never been spoken.

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my time on this earth it’s that nothing is ever 100% certain. Things can change drastically in seconds. And, any of us who have lost a child know how true that is.

      I know it’s not much comfort right now, but maybe some day the conversation you and your son had before his accident will give you reassurance that your son knew how very much you loved him.

      I think our minds drive us almost to the brink of insanity with the “what ifs” and the guilt. It takes a lot of hard work to finally “let go” of this heavy burden, and I pray that there will be a day when you can do just that — loosen the grip that guilt is holding on you and let go. You did your very best. Hindsight is always greater than foresight. You had no way of knowing that he would stop breathing.

      Again, I’m so very sorry for the loss of both of your sons. Life is certainly not fair.

  • gimpet

    As a pediatric nurse, I see the acute side of grief all the time. But I don’t see the long term imprint that grief leaves on the family. All I can do is be the liferaft and pour out kindness and compassion to the family of children who will not survive their illness or accident. My hope for your sister is that there was someone with her who poured out their kindness and compassion in her last moments.

    • Clara Hinton

      I’m sure you are a beautiful blessing to all those who need your love and compassion. Thank God for people such as you! I hope and pray my sister had someone by her side who held her and talked to her and tried to calm her. I’ve prayed a million times over that her final moments were with someone who had a heart of compassion!

      Thanks so much for just being you!

    • Clara Hinton

      I don’t know how I missed seeing that you are a pediatric nurse. My goodness, I have the greatest respect for you! And, I’m sure you’re a blessing to so many. I can only hope and pray that somebody with a heart like yours was with my sister as she took her last breath. God bless you in all that you do!

  • Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective

    I connected with your blog through that of your son. He seems like a very talented writer and photographer…and quite the “kid.” 🙂 Our son and his best friend died when broadsided by a drunk driver. I haven’t read your book, but will look it up. Congratulations on your writing successes.

    • Clara Hinton

      Rebecca, It’s so good to see you here! You’re so right — Chris is quite the kid! 🙂 I’m so, so sorry to hear about the loss of your son and his best friend. I’m hoping you’ll get a lot of support both here and from the book, Silent Grief. I don’t think anybody can really “get it” about losing a child unless they’ve been there. This is one journey that we wish nobody had to take!

  • coffeegrounded

    Clara, thank you for opening your heart to all. I have the greatest respect for how you connect to the grief we suffer and the deep comfort your words bring.

    I was overwhelmed when reading this story of the night of your sisters death. Your words reflect the angst, regret and shame of being held accountable for something, that in reality, you, nor anyone else is responsible for. Only God can answer for his call.

    You are a blessing, your mission, our gift. Thank you!


  • Violet

    I live with guilt everyday. My daughter passed away February 11th 2013 in a car wreck. I was driving and a cement truck abruptly stopped in front of me causing me to swerve into oncoming traffic. The last thing I remember is waking up seeing my poor baby passed out with blood coming out of her mouth. I feel so guilty because I’m supposed to protect her and not ever let anything harm her. That image haunts me every single day and I pray she forgives me for not protecting her. I should have been crushed in the accident and instead I came out with noting but a few lacerations. Why? I don’t understand… I’m so sorry Sophia. I’ll never forgive myself.

    • Clara Hinton

      Violet, I’m so very sorry to hear of the death of you daughter Sophia. When something as traumatic happens as you’ve experienced I think the daily trauma is worse than most people can ever imagine. There are times when we have no control at all over circumstances in life, and this accident is one of those times. Life has so many things that are so unfair and cruel. I pray that there will be a day when you can gain some peace knowing that you did everything humanly possible to protect Sophia. Again, I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your daughter, and I pray there will be a day when the burden of guilt is lifted. It takes years to get to that point, I believe. Please be kind to yourself.

  • Carrie

    My Violeta I cry with you my precious friend. I cry with all of you. Forgive me for commenting if it is out of my place to do so.

      • Clara Hinton

        Penny, Thanks so much for this words of comfort. I’m sure my sister knew she was going to die. Shortly before her death she insisted on being baptized. (In our church, a person’s baptism comes at the time that they are able to understand enough about what such a committment means.) I’ve often wondered if she needed just the right time to say “good-bye”. Thanks so very much for your thoughts. The burden of guilt is such a heavy one to carry! Again, thank you.

  • Penny Hauer

    Clara I want to share something with you. My Mother was very sick she had Parkinson’s and I took very good care of her. Our youngest was a very good singer and was chosen to sing the national anth. At a Sonic game in Seattle. We lived in Montana. I knew if I left she was going to die just a feeling.She said go everyone knows my wishes that was no hospital when I arrived at the hotel my husband had called 4times to tell me she was in a coma. we did say good bye. And in the night she was gone.i wanted to go home but my husband words words were this She waited for you to go so you would not try to save her. She is at peace.just maybe baby sister felt the same way. Think about it we all take that journey alone. Please be. At peace. Penny

  • Vanessa

    My 15 year old daughter died by suicide and I feel guilty everyday! And now I worry about my son because I know he blames himself. He said that they were fighting that day and his last words were of anger. I know she loved him and forgave him because she left a bracelet that she had worn everyday for over a year under his pillow so only he would find it. I hope he is able to forgive himself one day.

  • Angel

    My 16 yr old son was murdered by his close friend, he put a gun 12 inches from the back his head and pulled the trigger. He left my baby on the ground like a dead animal to be found by a man walking his dog the next morning. I feel so much guilt that I also wasn’t there to protect him, that I didn’t pick up that this boy was NOT his friend! Also that I got up and showered and went to work like it was a “normal” day, while my son lay on a cold slab of metal being dissected for the autopsy and I didn’t know, had no clue. June 23, 2012 was the worst day of my life!!! Not only was our son taken, but so much of our lives that can not be explained. It changed the kind of mother I am, trust issues and so forth. Normal? There will be no such thing as normal again for us! Rest with God our sweet baby.

    • Clara Hinton

      I’m so, so sorry to hear this. You’re so right– so much of your lives cannot be explained. This kind of senseless taking of someone’s life is beyond our comprehension. Agaiin, I’m so very, very sorry. 🙁

  • kimberly

    angel,the same thing happened to my 18 year old son in Mar.18,2013.I was home and there was nothing I could do.I remember my house full of detectives and coroners and forensic people.It just never ended.I still have severe panic attacks when i am in that night and it feels so real.it;s been almost a year and it feels like yesterday.I;m sorry for everyones losses.he was my only child.just me and him against the world,thought we had it made.boy was i wrong.i am so tired of living without hm.i;m not really living,we just go through the motions because we are dead on the inside.

  • James Smith

    I lived in the Betty Bacharach Home from fall 1964 to fall of 1966. I was age 5 to age 7. I was/am chronic asthmatic (the newer drugs miraculously changed my life starting at age 38!). I do remember the morning after your sister passed. I didn’t know what death was then. Others explained it to me as best they could. She was gone for good and we all went to church -not the Protestant one I usually went to on Sundays I think. Sometimes I have good memories of the ‘home.’ Sometimes bad. Dr. Greene, Mr.Stewart, Mrs. Moury, Mrs. Sickler, and some nurses and counselors that would take us to the beach are good memories (one real mean counselor -maybe he was trying to make me stronger though but he was bad.) At the time I was very frail; weak and underweight. (prednizone put a lot of weight with water on me in ’66). I have some brutal memories of the place- bullying. There were actual secret boxing matches -I saw a small boy hit so hard by a much bigger one that he vomited and when a nurse came to the back room “Rocky” or Larry was able to fit a trash can over Vernan and the vomit then sit on the can act like he was speaking to us. My father was happy I was there -mixed with tough ‘city kids’ and said it gave me my “killer instinct.” I guess so -I hate bullies so much that when I was outweighed by at least 80 pound by one in high school I tried to take his eye out with a compass. It sounded a lot worse than it was though (missed but did get his face and throat). He got suspended longer than I. I argued that I shouldn’t have gotten in any trouble at all. All who knew who he was agreed. Anyway…In MY case I would have died if I didn’t go to the home. We were on the third floor and out of us I only heard of Carmella passing. I imagine the people on the first and second floor -crippled and with awful diseases died young. I am so sorry you lost your sister. Before my birth my parents lost an 8 year old son in a drowning and never lost that pain. ….Time heals but only with scar-tissue. Not the same skin. …I hope you are still, with all the bad luck in life, able to be optimistic and future- oriented. You deserve a good future!
    James Smith (Jimmy as a child)

    • James Smith

      I just read all the other stuff you wrote and the replies i did not see and am glad you are helping others so much. Going through a tough year now, but its with expected elderly loss and sudden severe debilitation. Not the loss of a child.