Surviving The Guilt

When you go to bed at night, you are (hopefully) easing into being content that the day is over. Everyone is home, tucked in their beds, you’ve accomplished what needed to be done and drifting off to sleep, satisfied. All is quiet and your family is safe.

That was how I felt when I went to bed the night Andrew died. My daughter was out with friends but my two sweet boys were safe and secure enclosed in the warm walls of our home. I went to sleep knowing that I had had a successful day of organizing a closet and taking down holiday decorations. All was right in the world.

An hour later, nothing was right. My world was turned upside down. My life, as I knew it, forever changed. I was inspired to write this after reading an article posted on Facebook, by Angela Miller, author and creator of A Bed For My Heart, an online community for child loss.

‘I Wasn’t Sure If I Could Survive’: What It’s Like to Lose a Child struck a cord with me. Particularly, this quote:

“One of the unique features about losing a child is that there is always a sense of guilt there,” she explains. “The role of being a parent is to keep your child present and on this earth and healthy and well, so regardless of the circumstances, mothers often feel like they failed. It’s such a huge burden to carry.” 

Cadmona A. Hall, PhD

I have had extreme guilt since losing Andrew. I couldn’t understand it…he was home. He was safe at home, in his room. I was 20 ft down the hall from him. I was right there. I had checked on him before retiring to my room. By all accounts, in my mind, I failed him. Failed to do the most basic part of being a mother…keeping him alive.

I’ve carried this immense guilt inside of me. Guilt that I could not keep my child alive. Guilt knowing that while I was asleep, he was literally dying 20 feet from me and I didn’t know. How could I not have woken up? Why didn’t my motherly instinct naturally kick in and stir me to get up. Why didn’t I know something was not right. Something was wrong. Why couldn’t I save my child’s life. Why didn’t I run into his room and revive him. Why was I content and at peace in my bed because I organized a fucking closet!

Why. Why. Why.

It has taken me a very long time to understand that I will never be able to understand that night. I know I did not do anything wrong. Andrew’s death was the most freak accident. It was not my fault. However, carrying the guilt and surviving the guilt is something I face every day. It is etched into my soul. The basic instinct of protecting my child was robbed from me.

“I began to see my writing journey as another way to honor Hudson’s memory; I also say often that the only thing that brings me any consolation after her death is knowing that her life can still have meaning, that she can still have an impact on others and the world even though she is no longer physically here. So if sharing my story helps someone else, I feel like that is the greatest way to honor her and to comfort myself.”

-Mandy Hitchcock

While I fight these demons inside, I push through, for Andrew. For his life. For his memory. Speaking his name. Sharing his story. Being there for others who have children with ADHD. Supporting them. Advocating. Anything I can do to honor Andrew.

Everything I do is honoring Andrew’s memory. Making sure to live a life that he is proud of. And that includes, surviving the guilt.