We’ve all done it. Made up a story in our head about why our baby(ies) died. Let me be clear; I’m NOT referring to those situations where a physician told you something specific contributed to your loss (e.g., chromosomal issue, something causing issues with implantation, etc.). I’m talking about those losses that have no clear medical reason. The one’s that leave you confused, feeling stuck in your planning processes, and frankly… PISSED OFF!
Our brains are wired to try and make sense of the world. They operate (to a degree) as storytellers that organize information into concepts that make sense to keep us alive and healthy. When the ‘math ain’t mathin’, our brains will try to find any and every explanation possible to make it make sense (“it” being the loss).
Some of us go to Dr. Google and find ourselves down a rabbit-hole of despair filled with all the potential medical causes. Others start recounting the details of the days or weeks preceding the loss in effort to pinpoint the “smoking gun” so to speak. Most of us do some combination of the two, along with some other stuff. Very few people initially can sit with the idea/possibility that there wasn’t anything they could have done to cause or prevent their loss. So instead, we latch onto the idea that we did something, said something, weren’t in the right relationship, etc. that somehow MADE our babies die.
Common things people latch on to:
- I wasn’t in the right relationship
- I just made this significant career move
- I had an abortion in the past so this is payback/retribution
- I partied too hard before knowing I was pregnant
- my faith wasn’t strong enough
- I was doing too much/too busy to be trying to have a baby
- I complained too much about being sick during pregnancy
- I was super mean before I got pregnant so it’s karma
- the method I’m using isn’t the way I’m “supposed” to conceive
- I didn’t need to have any more kids
See yourself in this list? It’s not exhaustive, but it’s certainly thought’s I’ve heard a lot in conversations with loss parents. If I’m honest, a couple of these resonated with me too soon after the girls died.
These feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are not uncommon, but what they can be is destructive. What they are is shaming. What they do is attribute responsibility and accountability where there may not need to be any. What they do is help to send you into a shame-spiral (shout out to Brene Brown!) when you may already be dealing with the most unique grief experience of your life.
You’ve been through enough. You’ve been hurt in a way that only a select few truly understand. There’s no need to create EXTRA heartache that make it harder to move through your healing.
Examining these feelings and thoughts in-and-of themselves isn’t necessarily harmful. Spending too much time with them to the point that they become beliefs is where the problems lay. If you could have prevented your baby from dying, 99.9% of the time, you likely would have. Placing blame on yourself serves one purpose: it makes you feel like trash.
Accountability aka taking responsibility for things we were in control of, is appropriate and necessary in life. It’s healing for you and for those with whom you’re in relationship. Blaming distances you from connection to self and others. Ain’t nothing healing about that.