Guilt – Part One

I read recently that many parents who lose a child often feel unworthy of sympathy and comfort because they blame themselves for the death of someone they were charged to protect. 

That’s brutal. That’s so ugly.

I read that and thought: We won’t have to deal with that. Everyone knows this wasn’t our fault.

The next day, my family doctor informed me that one theory for Brody’s death was simply that his blood sugars had gotten too low. I was devastated. That would mean his death might have been preventable. How could I ever live with myself if that were true?

I heard guilt speaking to me and I agreed with everything she said.

Guilt sounded like another mother, telling me in disgust that I should have known better – that I should have done more. She never would have been so confident in Brody’s progress. She never would have ignored his disease the way I did. Never. If she were his mother, she never would have let him die.

Guilt looked like a close friend. She could see all of my imperfection, all of my insecurity, and she didn’t see any of it in herself. I failed unforgivably. She knew it and so did I.

I cannot remember another time in my life when I felt so unworthy of love. I slid into a deep, narrow pit of guilt. As dark and suffocating as it was, I believed I deserved to be there – hidden from the world.

It was so dark in that pit, I felt like the light was gone from my life forever. I could not see a way to find peace. Happiness was impossible. Those who loved me would learn what I had done and despise me.

On Tuesday night, I was frantic, overwhelmed and unable to sleep. I didn’t want to wake Jensen because I felt I’d been such a burden to him already. I began desperately texting friends: “Are you awake?” “Are you awake?” “Hey, I’m so sorry. Are you awake?”

Jensen must have heard and he got up to check on me. He took my hand and said, for the first time in his life, “Maybe we could do some yoga.”

“What?” I asked.

“You like that. It will help. Go ahead. I’ll follow you.”

“Okay. Start in table top,” I explained. “Inhale. On your toes. Exhale. Downward facing dog. In hale. High plank. Lower. Chateranga. In hale. Exhale.” And so on.

I was distracted. I was breathing. I was doing something that has always made me feel powerful and peaceful. I wasn’t alone.

When we got up from child’s pose, Jensen brought me a glass of water and a sleeping pill. He said kind, calming words and reminded me that we’re going through this hell together. His love and compassion pulled me up from the pit for a while, and I made it through the night.

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