Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Mom Is A Survivor
Whether rational or not, appropriate or not, almost everyone who looses a child will experience guilt. Guilt begins with "I could have, I should have, if only I'd have..." Guilt because we feel there is something we could have done to change the outcome of loosing our child. Each person who writes on these subjects, do not know what others are saying. As I read through the content of each of these, I find that we all have the same feelings regarding guilt.
It was Thursday, the day before John died, I had a 3-hour brunch with him. We had the best time. We laughed, we planned for his future and I felt so close to him. He had been staying with his biological father. I had gone to pick him up that day for brunch and planned to go back to the house and pick up his clothes to bring him home. We sat in the car talking and listening to music for a while. I remember "Lost In Love" played and John commented on how much he liked that song and I agreed. John told me that he loved his father and that he wanted a chance to talk to him before he came home. He also had his clothes he wanted to pack and could probably be ready on Saturday morning. I told him I'd rather him come home now, but I respected his wishes and let him stay. When I drove off, little did I know that would be the last time I would ever have with John. The next day, I was getting ready for my afternoon shift at work. The phone rang and that was when I got the news that John had been shot. He died exactly 25 hours after I had left him and 18 hours before I was to pick him up to come home. The guilt I felt for not insisting that he come home that very Thursday, was overwhelming. I also had the guilt of letting him stay with his father at all. If only I would have known that Thursday was the last time I would ever hear him say, "I love you, Mom." Those were his last words to me. At that time, it seemed that John's life flashed before me. I remembered every part of his life and began to feel the guilt when I used to reprimand him or had to spank or punish him. Now I know those incidents were for his own good, but since he was no longer with me, I felt guilty for having to do the normal parental guidances throughout his life. I know I was a good mother and that John was a good boy. It did not stop the guilt that there must have been something I could have done to change the events of that horrible day when a girl took a gun and shot John in the heart. I felt guilty that I'd ever let him out of my sight! I should have been there to protect him in some way. If I could have only been the one who had to be shot, I'd have gladly given my life to save his life. I still feel all of these guilty feelings and I guess I always will feel them.
Mom to John
9/8/69 - 1/20/89
Yes these same words have come out of my mouth and still do. If only I had done more, knowing deep inside I did all I could do for my angel it was there all she had to do was except it. Knowing what I do now I see why she had to refuse it. The night she called me and ask if I would pick up my grandson at school after a dance, if only I had said no. It all goes through my head and rips my heart out everyday, if only, if only,.........I blame myself for her not being here now. I feel there was something I could of said or done. I still have lots of days that I can not accept that she is gone, I still wait and watch for her, I expect her to call me. I find myself going towards her house when I go out for something to see if she wants to go with me. At this present time I don't think the guilt will ever go away. My husband is one, that, men don't cry. Just last night we were at the kitchen table and when we made eye contact both started crying, without a word being said, we held each other and he said, "Pat it is this way every day." I said, "Yes I know, and more than just once a day." I can't stop thinking if only I had done just one little something a different way. If only, if only. I can honestly say that at this moment I can not say I am going to get through this and it is scarey, the thoughts that go thru my head at times scare me. Guilty because she was leaving and I didn't hold her and tell her bye and how much I loved her. Momma didn't get to tell her she looked pretty even though I didn't know she was leaving me. Guilty, yes I feel guilty, Momma was suppose to go first. How do you deal with it. My child is gone, and I don't like it. What can I do?
Mom to Melissa (Mitzy) Gail Romines
6/11-64 - 12/14/98
After your child dies, it is natural to feel some kind of guilt. "Why am I alive, and my child is gone?" "Maybe I could have done something differently." Sometimes you can just feel guilty for going on with your life. But you really do not have much choice. No ones life is the same after losing their child. I truly believe there is no greater pain than the loss of ones child. Guilt is a natural part of the grieving process.
Mom to Anthony
12-2-79 - 1-28-97
Guilt...something I always felt because of something I did not do or something I did and should not have done. So, why do we feel guilty for the death of our child? Trying to reason in my mind that "What If I" had made sure he was taught to be careful ~ I did! "What If I" had begged him to associate with the "Right People" ~ I did! "What If I" had said "Come to us anytime for help for anything!" ~ I did!and I thought he did! "What If I" had taught him the difference between right and wrong! ~ I did! But others did not learn this! "What If I" had just wanted what is best for him in this world of hate and crime! ~ Idid! "What If I" could have been there to stop his death! ~ I wasn't! "What If I" could have been there to say "I Love You" One last time! "What If I" could have held you one last time! "What If I" had prayed more for you everyday! ~ I thought I did! "What If I" could bring you back to us once more! ~ I can not! Or "If Only You Had Not Died! ~ but you did! Guilt brings so many thoughts to mind. You try to build strength and character in your children..to be honest and trustworthy to everyone. You teach them to be kind to one another. Todd never met a stranger. Todd was a special person to many that were in need. The night before he was murdered, he called us and talked to his Dad. He needed directions for a trip he was taking the next day. His Dad gave him the information he wanted. He did not talk to me that night,he said "tell Momma, I'll call her when I get back" ~ he never went ~ Todd died early on Sunday morning, October 13,1996, at 1:50am.
Mom to Todd
5/25/64 - 10/13/96
Guilt: I could write a book on guilt about my son's death. Guilt about insisting he move into a group home to begin with, when he didn't want to, simply because I wanted to live my own life, guilt because I didn't go see him enough after he moved in, because I was afraid I would weaken, and take him out of there. The day he was hit by the car, I went right past his house two hours before, but had a doctors appt. also had to go to Motor Vehicle, and was planning on picking up my Mom and we were going to go get Joey and take him to lunch before we drove from LI (where he lived) to Queens, where I lived, a distance of about 50 miles. Since I hadn't called Joey to tell him, and we were running very late, we decided to forgo the lunch till that Friday, when we would pick him up on our way out to my sister's where we were to have a barbecue, and since he was coming anyway, we decided not to call him. On our way back to Queens that day, we heard on the radio, that a certain street was closed to traffic due to a horrible accident, and that the injured party was being transported by helicopter to the trauma center, I got a chill down my spine, but fought turning the car around to go see if it was one of my kids, since all 3 of them lived in that area. Guilt? I live with guilt every day, and will for the rest of my life.
Mom to Joey
6/21/71 - 6/23/98
Guilt is probably one of the hardest things to deal with in the death of your child. Most of us probably feel guilty just simply for still being alive when our child is not. I do anyway. It should have been me and not Jamie. I should have been able to protect him, after all, that's my job, and I failed him. I could not keep him safe. I was not there with him when he died. He died alone and there is tremendous guilt about that. I did not realize that this girl was dangerous. Did I not see because I didn't want to see? Guilt. If I had asked more questions, observed more closely, could I have seen something?
Then there is the guilt that he died and I didn't know. He not only died alone, he was alone for 33 hours before I knew he had died. I should have known. His dad and brother and I , all passed his house at some point during the day he was laying there and none of us thought about anything being wrong. None of us stopped by, none of us called him. I should have known when he didn't call me that day, even though days sometimes passed without us talking.
Then there is guilt about how I raised him. Did I not give him something he needed? Did I do it all wrong? What happened with him that he would even consider a relationship with a girl like her. All of his friends tried to tell him she was unstable, but he wouldn't listen. He had to find out for himself and then it was too late, he was too involved. Then when he thought he had gotten loose from her.... If I had raised him differently, done it better, given more...maybe he would not be dead.
Then of course there is the guilt I feel when I find myself enjoying anything. If I feel content or at peace for a moment. How can I feel content, how can I get pleasure from something when my son is dead? How can I find anything funny and have a good laugh?
I feel guilt because I am not comforted by all the people telling me he is in a better place, he has Ashley, he wouldn't want me to feel this way...Well, maybe so, but he isn't here and that's where I want him to be. So, I am selfish and I feel guilt.
I could probably write a book on this, so I'll just stop here. It's very, very hard to lay your guilt out for others to see. Rational or irrational, guilt is something you want to hide away. It makes you feel unworthy and unclean. But if you don't face it, if you don't acknowlege that you feel it, how can you ever find any peace?
Mom To Jamie
2/12/73 - 5/12/98
GuiltA Guide to Understanding Guilt During Bereavement
By Aphrodite Matsakis
Most people who survive a traumatic event feel guilty -- especially if other people were killed or severely injured. This breakthrough book, by a psychotherapist who specializes in PTSD, shows survivors step by step how to overcome chronic guilt and related psychological problems.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The Victim's Guide to Healing and Recovery
By Raymond B. Flannery, Jr.
Help for all victims of violence: the meaning of PTSD
Yearly. Monthly. Daily. Hourly. Even as you read these words, somewhere someone has become a victim of violence. Victims of homicide, assault, rape, robbery, terrorism, car accidents, natural and man-made disasters - to cite a few.
These acts result in psychological trauma with its states of terror and fear, and symptoms that may include hypervigilence, exaggerated startle response, sleeplessness, and recurring intrusive memories of the event. Such events and their aftermath often lead to avoidance of the traumatic situation and withdrawal from other life activities as well. In time, psychological trauma becomes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the effects of PTSD, if left untreated, may last until death.
It need not be this way. There are good nterventions that victims can utilize for themselves and with their therapists. For many years, my victim patients asked where they could learn more about PTSD. Since there was no book on the topic, I wrote this one so that the basic information about psychological trauma and PTSD would be available. Many victims and their therapists have found this book to be of remarkable help.
There is no need to suffer. It was not your fault. Learn about the aftermath of violence and what you can do about it. - The Author
I Can't Get over It
A Handbook for Trauma Survivors
By Aphrodite Matsakis
I Can't Get Over It was written to guide survivors of crime, accidents, rape, family violence, and sexual abuse through the process of recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now in an updated edition, this guide includes new information on suicide, traumatic memories, depression, guilt, and the new EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) technique.
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