It is very rare that I hear an Angel parents say that they do no not feel some blame or guilt after their child or children has died. I would go as far to say that those say they don’t feel some blame or guilt haven’t got to that stage yet or are in some sort of denial. But feel free to correct me on that.
This blame hasn’t been born out of the fact that the Angel parent has done anything wrong, and hindsight often compounds it. That looking back, questioning if they had done something different, then there would have been a different outcome. the fact is that hindsight isn’t a perfect science and personally, I think it only serves to make Angel parent feel worse, ‘beat themselves up’ as I would say. Blame and guilt are one of those nasties that rears it’s ugly head, just to make an Angel parent feel worse than they already are.
Since Daddys with Angels began in 2010 I have always asked those asking to join one of the closed group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/329303123838641/?ref=bookmarks dads only group and https://www.facebook.com/groups/136004399807343/?ref=bookmarks mums and dads group) to tell me a little about their Angel. Sometimes those asking to join will think it is a group for something else, despite the capitalised letters saying, ‘PLEASE READ BEFORE ASKING TO JOIN’ …slight dig intended. I ask the question just to make sure that potential members know what they are asking to join, and sadly 😦 weed out some of the fakes and sunglass sellers who try to get on every group trying to sell crap. I only ask for a little as I know one of the hardest things for an Angel parent to do is share their whole story, especially to someone they don’t know.
It isn’t until new members feel comfortable and safe in the groups that they will open up and share more of their story. They will have seen others posting about losing their child to SIDS, cancer, other illnesses, suicide or murder and will not feel alone in what they have to say. For some this will be the first time they would have shared their story in any detail, some will not have even with their family and will use the positive responses (because that is what you get in DWA groups) to gain the strength to share their story with family and friends.
There is a one scenario which is rarely discussed or shared and the conversations I have are mostly confined to private messages, emails and the occasional phone call. That scenario is losing (not that loss really fits here) a child because of domestic violence. One Angel mum, who had lost babies! because she was assaulted, described her babies as ‘silent Angels’ . She uses that term as she was made to feel guilty, to take on the blame, that she had done something wrong to have been hit and abused, and has therefore not felt able to tell their story.
Other Angel mums/victims of domestic violence I have spoken to also felt that they could not share their stories, for exactly the same reasons. Those who have been systematically abused in this way are not to blame for the behaviour of their attackers. They are victims and have been made to feel they are responsible. Their attackers are responsible for their own behaviour. It’s easy for me to sit and write this, the hard part is for these mothers to get to a stage where they accept they are not to blame. Having an Angel brings with it it’s own blame and this is heightened by losing a child because of domestic violence.
Anyone ( I say anyone, as there are situations when a mother will begin a new relationship after a violent relationship and her new partner will be understanding towards her loss) who has lost a child as a result of domestic violence are welcome to join us at Daddy with Angels. You, a I have said above, don’t have to spell out your whole story. You will already be carrying the burden of an immense sense of blame and we will help you work through that. We will also give you the support you need to realise and accept you are the victim and are not responsible for the behaviour of the person who has abused you.
I often talk about the ‘cortisol monster’ ( but that’s a different story….watch this space) and how he will make you ill if you bottle things up. Sharing your story is an important part of an Angel parents journey. By sharing your story, you will give others some understanding of how you are feeling and why, and you are less likely to be visited by the ‘cortisol monster’. That being said, you have a right to share your story, that you have an Angel and should not feel that you have to hide the truth away.
In addition to seeking support following your loss you should also consider seeking some support about being the victim of domestic violence. There are specialist services who will be able offer you that sort of support. Some of these can be found by folowing the link below.