I don't even know how long it would take me to chronicle all of the things I have felt guilty about since losing my daughter. I feel guilty for smiling in pictures, for attending social events, for exercising, and going to the store. I feel guilty when I think I want more children or don't think I could mange another pregnancy. I feel guilty when I'm happy and when I'm not. I feel guilty crying then in the absence of tears think how I am a bad mom for not mourning her. I am walking an exhausting, emotional tight rope that will span a lifetime.
"Guilt is both a cognitive and an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes that he or she has violated a moral standard and is responsible for that violation. People can feel guilty about something they actually did or didn't do." therapy.com
Guilt is a typical response of being a devoted parent. I'd venture to guess it provides you an element of control over the uncontrollable. It's the tendency to think if I do everything right, then no bad will happen. My mom friends worry about everything. Is she eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Is that a bug bite or a hive? They feel guilty when they travel or drop their kids at a babysitters'. They feel guilty when they work late. I won't lie and say guilt is a new emotional experience for me but I will share the guilt I feel now is on steroids.
I've talked about how I don't feel guilty about Piper's death but I do feel guilty for my life after. I worked hard to provide my girl with a happy, healthy environment. I took all the vitamins, stayed away from microwaves and sushi. And given a choice, I would have gone in her place. Perhaps the most heavy one, is the guilt, I feel when other's encounter me in public. I imagine they look at me and wonder, how I am standing, clothed, clean and sometimes smiling. Depending on the day, I do too. Now I'll assume this is mostly in my head but I forgive them for the side eye and whispers because what I lost, is so great, you cannot imagine going on with your life. Living after your child died is unimaginable, but here I am. Proof that the world goes 'round. So when you see me at the pub or in line at the Food Lion, I too, am shocked.
There is no hiding our tragedy. I paraded around with my very large midsection, had baby showers and made plans. This cannot be an internal struggle where I wait for the storm to die down, my loss is obvious. When your child dies it is beyond difficult to give yourself permission to live again. I feel as if we have violated the natural way life should occur in outliving my child. How am I to function in a world where she does not live? It sounds impossible and depending on the moment feels that way. So there is the guilt. The guilt for creating a new version of your life. The mother's guilt.
The only way I can manage it the guilt is to justify it. It may look different to a lot of people but I know I would have kept on living my life with an infant. Choosing to live your life to honor your child is a challenging choice. There are still days where I only go through the motions and there are days when I am as close to 'me' as I am going to get. By forcing myself to participate in life I happen to find moments of joy and peace. My life has new meaning now that I live it for Piper. I try to feel all the feels and experience this new life extra, for her.
I am a mother. She is forever a part of me, a bond not even broken by death. So I go on telling myself how Piper died but I am alive. The guilt is all part of the game. Sometimes I have to give myself a good pinch and yell in my car.
Rest easy Piper Kai.
Piper Kai Bennett
I will scream, sing and share her story may it be short. Our only child was born still at 36 weeks secondary to an umbilical cord accident. This is our journey about choosing life rather than existence.