Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fun Guilt

We went out of town this week. My husband and I realized that our youngest son didn't have any memories of his own of a city we liked to travel to. We had plenty of them with his brother DJ and sister but he just heard the stories. He didn't remember much at all since he was so little when he had gone along.

Most of our vacation spots are like that for him, he was so little when we went that he only has memories through the pictures he looks at. We just don't take vacations anymore, the whole family unit isn't able to go now since DJ's death. Without all five of us it doesn't feel right to go and enjoy some place-that is a guilt that parent's who lose children have. We don't feel that it is okay to go and have fun, we have to really work at it and make a point to do it or life does completely pass us by.

This week though my husband and I worked at it and went out of town to create new memories for Jake. In this case I can say "new" memories because these are good times, these are fun opportunities that he gets to experience without too much haunting from his brother's death. There are so few places that our family has gone to travel since DJ's death that DJ was not part of. Jake hears so many stories of when we were here or there as a family, as a complete family group but so few places are just his memories. Jake has gotten robbed of family vacations.

Even this trip, as short as it was had memories flooding in of old times. I had to make a point of not saying the memories out loud, I didn't want Jake to feel that it wasn't about him and that it was all about our own memories of his brother. I wanted Jake to feel important and special on this trip, not shadowed over by his brother's death. That is another guilt we have, if we talk too much of our lost child than the remaining can feel less significant, less important. How do we balance that guilt? We don't want to forget our child but we can't forget our remaining child. We have to try to balance it out, we have the memories in our head and not all of them have to be expressed out loud all the time.

Guilt is a circle for a parent that loses a child. Guilt of not talking about the child, guilt of talking too much about the child. Guilt of making the remaining children feel less important, guilt of not giving those same children the same opportunities the other child had. The guilt can go round and round until you are exhausted.

This trip though I have no guilt. I am not the type of parent that has much guilt anyway, I can't live my life that way and I make a real effort not to allow false guilt into my world. However it still lingers occasionally and I am thankful that Jake got to have an opportunity that was his. He got to enjoy life this week and have a new experience. Hopefully this will be the beginning of breaking that fun guilt down and creating memories and blocks of good opportunities for him and all of us in turn.

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