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shrike3

(3,466 posts)
Sun Aug 27, 2023, 11:03 AM Aug 2023

"Can I forgive myself for my daughter's death?" Shocking, heartbreaking. [View all]

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/aug/27/can-i-forgive-myself-for-my-daughters-death

It’s been two years since my daughter, Martha, died in hospital, just before her 14th birthday. I divide my life into before her death, and after: nothing is the same and the change is permanent. Alongside Merope, Martha’s mum, I’m grappling with how to live. Consciously or not, we adjust a little more each day to our new reality, wondering: can we manage to appear “normal”? Is it possible to keep being friends with families and not be flayed by envy?

If grief can be defined as learning to be in the world without a person you love, I have a lot of learning still to do. As things stand, my thoughts revolve around two questions – they dominate my days. The first is: can I forgive the doctors and the hospital who so badly let her down? (Martha’s was a preventable death.) And second, at the core of everything: can I forgive myself for failing to save her?

When you raise a child for 14 years, the line where you end and they begin gets blurred; the cliché is that they become part of you, with all your instincts and priorities transformed. From the time Martha was born in 2007, I saw myself, first and foremost, as a dad; from 2009, I was the father of two daughters and it gave me a huge sense of self-worth and fulfilment. I did what parents do everywhere – the bathtimes, the picture books on repeat, the school run. It felt right; it was a lot of fun.

snip

My primal, existential role was to protect my child, to keep her alive – and I failed. Most bereaved parents know a version of this feeling. It’s one of the reasons losing a child can be different from other types of grief. Not only is such a death an inversion of the natural order. And not only was Martha denied anything that resembled a full life (“She had so many plans,” her sister, Lottie, said.) But I was responsible for her welfare during all of her short life. So when I went to see Martha’s body, post-autopsy, at the undertakers, what I howled was: “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Written by the child's mother a year earlier:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/sep/03/13-year-old-daughter-dead-in-five-weeks-hospital-mistakes
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