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Survivor's Guilt, the Guilt We Don't Talk About

Survivor's guilt is a guilt that I have heard in passing, but have never really heard discussed to the level that it ought to be. I will never forget trying to understand a client that I had in my first social work job who had been successful and came home to find her family passed and she was the soul survivor. I wondered at the time how someone could go so far downward in a spiral, now I know....survivor's guilt.


Each morning when I wake up and realize that no, it was not a nightmare and yes, Adeline is really gone; I panic. I struggle to breathe as I feel a tightening in my chest. I want to scream out in pain and scream as loud as I can. I want to yell at someone, I want to take out my anger that I feel for being alive on someone, but I can't. I have to remain strong for the kids and I can't let losing Adeline destroy me to the point that I can't be mom to Huxley, Althea, and Andrew....most of all, Adeline would not have wanted that.





Adeline loved her siblings with all that she was. She loved her dad and I with a passion that I don't believe I can ever feel again. This is not to say that our other kids do not love us, but just that Adeline's love was a different type of love from anything that I have ever felt. In fact, when I focus in on feeling her presence and her love, I feel as though I can still feel her love surrounding me. I know that this is her message and her gift to me.


The guilt that I feel right now breathing is so hard. How do I breathe when by baby girl can't? How do I eat and enjoy how something tastes, when she will never eat or taste again? How do I begin to live life when she can't? How do I get over the guilt of not being able to save her? I did everything wrong during the fire, put her on the ground and asked her and Althea to follow me because I heard Andrew screaming. Why didn't I put her hand in mine and bring her with me? Why didn't I put her in between Althea and I? Why didn't I think to send them out the window onto the porch roof instead of having them go down the stairs and out the front door? These are the questions that are constantly playing through my head.


Then I think of Adeline and her spirit. I close my eyes and feel her love surround me and I know that it was her time. In the beginning days, I was able to find comfort in knowing that it was her time. She passed in a way that was painless, which I am thankful for. She is with Jesus building that dream castle that she told us all she would have for us, which I am thankful for. She got to recognize so many of her hopes and dreams in her short 9 years. She accomplished things in 9 years that I have not been able to accomplish in 38 years, which I am thankful for.


However, I am also really angry. I want my baby girl here with me. I have prayed one thing since the day that Andrew was born and that was that I would outlive my babies, that I would live long enough to see each of my children become adults. I didn't ask for more because I thought that it would be selfish to do so. I only wanted this one thing. I feel so angry that I could not have the one thing in life that I wanted, the one thing in life that I prayed to God for was not granted. I don't know what I did to deserve this fate, what wrong thing that I did that set into motion the dominoes that caused this catastrophe to happen, but for whatever it was....I am truly sorry.


I want her back with a passion that I didn't know that I could feel. I would literally allow myself to be tortured to death if I thought that it could bring her back. I would do anything to have her in my arms just one more time. I miss her so much. I know that I can't have her back. I know that this whole will be a torn blistering and festering sore in my heart until the day that I die and can be reconnected to my Adeline. I know that this day will eventually come which gives me some comfort and peace, but I know that Huxley, Althea and Andrew need for me to live for now. They need a mom that is full of the same passion, wit and humor that I was before. They deserve a mom that can laugh and play and joke with them. They deserve the mom that I was before the fire, but I don't know how to be that mom anymore. I don't know how to make myself better or how to fix the things in life that are falling apart around me.


I don't want to be a statistic. Reports different from anywhere between 16% and 80% (huge difference but based on global studies, etc) of couples who cannot survive a child's death. Adeline loved both Shane and I with that same fiery passion. She loved us as a family. I don't want to ever lose that family that she loved so much. My only hope, my only prayer through this all is that we find a way to connect and be stronger as a family than we were before rather than weaker. I want us to find a joy and happiness that I know will never be the same or complete again, but that will be the best that we can have without our sweet Adeline.

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