Guilt Is A Wasted Emotion

Recently, a friend said to me that guilt is a wasted emotion.

I’ve spent the better part of a year tormenting myself with guilt over Clara’s death. I’ve had countless people tell me that I shouldn’t feel guilty, that I did nothing wrong, that I couldn’t have changed anything, that I couldn’t have known what would happen.

Some of that I agree with, and some of it I don’t.┬áNone of these things have struck me with the force of what my friend said to me, though.

Am I guilty of misjudgment, too much pride and hubris, trying to “play God”, and ignoring medical advice to my own detriment?

Yes, surely I am guilty of some of that, if not all of that.

Does it matter? Does it bring my baby back to my empty arms?

No. No, it does not.

I have been punishing myself for long enough, I think. Guilt is a wasted emotion, and my emotions are too valuable to waste any longer.

Parents who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy, an infant, or a child, are familiar with being told to “get over it”. I’m here to tell you that we will not, and should not, get over the loss of our babies. They are just as special to us as our (or your) living children are. They will never stop being our children, and one does not simply get over a loss like that.

I am going to get over my guilt, though. It is time. I have been well and mightily judged for my part in Clara’s death, even if only by myself.

I am ready to stop wasting my emotions. I am ready to spend my energy loving all of my children, loving my husband, honoring Clara’s memory, and cultivating magic and happiness in our home again.

Guilt is a wasted emotion... | The Destiny Manifest

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I'm Heather, a married mama of two teen girls, a stillborn baby girl (7/1/12), and a sweet and wild preschool girl (4/2/14). I've been blogging at The Destiny Manifest since 2001. I like to write about appreciating all of the beautiful little things that surround us, particularly in the face of grief, infant loss and mental health issues. Every day is an adventure!

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  • Kat Biggie

    Yes friend, this is exactly right. Although it is easier to tell ourselves this and harder to put it into action, right?? xoxo

    • I have been actively trying to tell myself to let go of the guilt when it sneaks up on me. It’s not easy, not even a little bit, but it’s a step in the right direction from just letting it wash over me and take me down, which is what I have been doing. Baby steps… and good friends… I can get through this. xoxo

  • Oh. Oh wow. This is beautiful, heartfelt, so good and so right.
    I know that I’m the one that said those words to you…but you are the one that is living them.

    as a sister in infertility, I never lost a baby, but I have lost the idea of a child more than 48 times over the 4 yrs I spent TTC. I don’t ever expect you to get over anything and I don’t think that anyone else should expect that from you.

    But to be kind and good to yourself, that is fundamental. I have been living under my own dark umbrella the last year and I know how much it hurts to just breathe some days. Those moments of pure sadness you will have but read your words here over and over again…and let go of the guilt behind it. You are stronger than that emotion my friend. xox

    • Your words mean so much to me, Kir. As soon as I read what you said, and said it out loud to myself, something clicked. Those few words have opened up something in me that has been completely closed off for almost 11 months… more really, because I am a master at carrying guilt over so many things. I feel like that one phrase opened my eyes and awakened my heart somehow.

      I have been so fortunate this year to be surrounded by so many understanding, strong women, and that is worth more than I can ever say. Thank you for being one of them, Kirsten. xoxo

  • You are absolutely right to let go of guilt. It is, as you say, a wasted emotion. You are right that it’s a way of punishing ourselves and we do it even when we’ve done no wrong.

    I don’t know if this is any help to you, but our second daughter was born very premature and I felt guilty for a long time about that, even though she was alive. I say this just to let you know that guilt has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with reality. You did nothing wrong, and with the terrible loss you experienced you deserve kindness. So, yes, spend your energy loving your children and husband, and also spend it loving you.

    • Thank you for sharing, Yvonne. I can definitely relate to your story about your daughter, because my second daughter was born premature and had a NICU stay, and I felt tremendously guilty for it for years. It takes so much energy to feel that bad all of the time. It’s taking a lot of energy to “let go” right now too, but I feel like that will lessen as I get used to allowing myself to feel other emotions again.

  • Natalie the Singingfool

    How devastating. You’re right – if there’s nothing you can do to change it, then you’re just punishing yourself. Good luck.

    • Thank you, Natalie. Good luck wishes are always appreciated!

  • I’m so glad that you took this step!

    • Thank you, Roshni! This step was a long time coming.

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