Guilt and shame after child loss
One of the heaviest burdens a mother of child loss will ever carry is guilt and shame. I know because I, too, struggled with feeling like the loss of our son was my fault. "If only I would have felt him stop moving sooner". "If only I would have been paying more attention." "If only I would have asked the doctors to induce me earlier." Are you familiar with the if-only game? Perhaps you have played it before too.
Guilt and shame are both rooted in what should not have occurred as much as in what did occur. The hurts, pains, disappointments, delayed hopes, and broken dreams of your life are all hidden in the deep chambers of your heart. Guilt and shame evoke different responses in us.
Guilt is a persistent belief that you have done something wrong. Guilt produces a certain amount of anger because we feel trapped in our own weaknesses. Guilt can lead to feelings of shame and anxiety. Guilt causes you to worry. Guilt fills your body with regret. Guilt keeps you up at night and ties your stomach in knots. Guilt wants you to over-analyze yourself. Guilt says that you are a failure and you failed your child. These are some of the lies of guilt.
Shame tends to create deep feelings of sorrow and sadness, as well as a lack of self-worth. Shame allows you to want to remain hidden. Shame tells you that you are worthless. Shame wants you to worry what others think about you. Shame says you will look stupid by telling your story. Shame says that you are an outsider. Shame is that feeling that you can't be your true self. Shame is feeling regret and inadequate. Shame is losing your identity. These are some of the lies of shame.
A painful memory or past trauma like child loss can produce feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, or low self-worth. The feelings then spiral, resulting in depression in some, but in others can lead to anger or resentment and an array of other toxic emotions that stimulate a stress response.
Guilt and shame are emotions that keep you in bondage. They are a tactic that the enemy uses to keep us chained. They are a tactic the enemy uses to keep us spiritually bound to this cycle of negative thinking.
We often believe the lie that child loss is a form of punishment from God. But this is far from the truth. We live in a broken world. A world full of lies, death, disease suffering, and pain. Jesus did not hide the suffering we would have: “You will have suffering in this world” (John 16:33). We suffer because He suffered first. And when we endure this life and all it can throw at us, the same way He did, we display our faith that Christ has indeed conquered the world. For “if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2Timothy 2:11–12).
For some, it is still hard to understand how a God that is good would allow suffering and child death. If God exists, then there should be no suffering. How could a good God allow these things to happen? The true God is no stranger to pain. Jesus gave Himself so that we would have life eternally. Life beyond this place we call home, to a place where suffering and death are no more.
Today, choose to give your guilt and shame to Jesus. It's not meant for you to carry alone. Surrender it to Him and let Him restore your peace. Let Him mend your heart. Let Him give you the generous gift of freedom and eternal salvation. He offers a peace unlike anything the world can offer.
If you don't know Jesus and would like to learn more about putting your hope in Him, please reach out to me. I'd love to tell you about Jesus and share with you my journey of walking through child loss with Him.