Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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P is for Powerless (A difficult truth)

Smashed Fruit on the Sidewalk P is for PowerlessI’m trying to let go of this guilt that I carry, to let go of this heaviness in my chest that tells me, You failed your babies and that’s why they died. But letting go of it means also accepting that there was nothing I could do—and that means acknowledging how powerless I really am.

I have never felt so out of control of my life as I did when I lost Calvin, and when I lost Rainbow, and when I lost Gaelen. I think holding onto this guilt is, at least in part, my way of maintaining a sense of control, of hanging onto some belief that I have a say in whether my children will live or die. It’s hard to give that up.

At face value, it seems obvious enough that we can’t control everything, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure you can walk up to any mentally stable adult, ask Do you accept that you can’t control everything? and be 100% confident in the response being Yes.

It’s easy when it’s presented that way, when the consequences aren’t so clear, when you aren’t thinking about how this lack of power can throw your world into disarray and turmoil.

When it starts to pose a threat, though, it becomes a much harder concept to accept.

It’s so much more difficult for me to say:

  • I accept that I cannot control everything that happens to me.
  • I accept that I cannot control everything that happens to my loved ones.
  • I accept that I cannot control everything that happens to my children.
  • I accept that I cannot control everything that will determine whether my child lives or dies.

Just the act of writing those sentences, especially the last one, makes my heart pound faster. And thinking about saying them aloud makes my head hurt. But I do know, cognitively, the truth in my inability to control whether Calvin, Rainbow, and Gaelen lived. As their mother, however, I feel like I should have been able to save them. And I didn’t.

How about you?

Have you encountered this tension between letting go of guilt and accepting your powerlessness? Have you accepted your lack of control? Are you able to say all of the I accept… sentences above? Were any of them more difficult for you?

This post is a part of a series called Unpacking Grief, which I began as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

Crystal is a mother-wife-writer whose explorations include parenting, grief, food, and semi-crunchy living. She is currently an MFA in writing student, a content editor for Still Standing Magazine, and the technical editor for Switchback.

0 thoughts on “P is for Powerless (A difficult truth)

  1. What everyone has written is all true…. It’s extremely difficult to let go and accept what we cannot control. The feeling of guilt is not as powerful as it used to be but even recently I still ask myself how I couldn’t discern the leaking of fluid back then which led to premature rupture/placenta infection. I secretly feel ashamed of my ignorance and don’t like sharing this to others.

  2. Losing your child can make you feel powerless. A mother’s instinct is to protect her child but sometimes a mother can do everything right and it still not be enough. I like to have control but Carleigh taught me I really have no control at all.

  3. After years of counseling, I was able to let go of the guilt. It was so hard for me, but very freeing. That is not to say that regrets don’t hit me in the face very often, but I remember that I cannot change anything that happened. Praying for you, dear. You have 3 angels who love you, and I hope you soon have an earth angel to hold. xoxo

  4. bless your heart…you are right…the associations with our various guilts are difficult truths. I always seem to feel guilty not so much about failing Matthew because I do know I couldn’t have done much differently at all, based on what I knew…but not knowing more. Not having EVERY.SINGLE.POSSIBLE OUTCOME. prepared for and anticipated…for not being able to have the foresight.

    And who of us can? In my head, I know that.

    In my Mother’s heart, I feel something altogether differently.


    1. Lori, that lack of knowledge is something that really hurts me when I think about the day I delivered Calvin… If only I knew then what I know now, I would have done so many things differently. This is actually going to be my “R” post. And, the head vs. heart thing… you are so right, and our babies fill our hearts so much. ((hugs))

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