Not Ready to Make Nice

The other morning, as my daughter and I were heading down the garage steps to get into the Jeep, she stopped abruptly and plopped herself on the top step, crying. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “You stepped on me!” she wailed. I did? I didn’t think I was anywhere near her but perhaps I did step on the heel of her shoe. I didn’t argue with her because her perception was that I had hurt her, even if in my mind I wasn’t near her at all. Instead, I sat down next to her and gathered her in my arms. “I am so sorry, I did not mean to hurt you. Will you forgive me?” And then it occurred to me: “Do you know what forgive means?”

These are my most candid moments as a parent–the ones where I really have to stop and think about something in order to carefully explain it in 4-year-old terms. What does it mean to forgive?

I explained that when we forgive someone, we still love them even if they hurt us.

Okay, it’s not the most complete definition, but it was the best I could devise on the spot with minimal coffee.

But really, forgiveness is much more complex. For me, related to the death of my baby, forgiveness is muddled with anger, betrayal, sadness, and guilt. I’m angry with my midwife, I’m angry with myself, I’m angry with the universe.


“A conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”

Wow. How does a person even start? To forgive my midwife. To forgive myself. To forgive the situation that nobody can change. 

Why does it matter? Why can’t I live the rest of my life harboring this guilt, anger, and bitterness? Advice about forgiveness abounds. We hear it from psychologists, poets, religious leaders and our mothers.

But all of these feel-good sunshiny quotes I found online–I say “Eff you.”

My baby died.

My heart hurts.

I just cannot make myself forgive that easily.

I’m still mad as hell.

Is there anyone you haven’t been able to forgive? Have any of you been able to forgive someone without receiving an apology? Has anyone received an apology but still wasn’t able to forgive that person?

12 thoughts on “Not Ready to Make Nice”

  1. I can forgive other’s much easier than I can forgive myself for anything. I don’t know why, but I’m REALLY hard on myself. I’m much more gentle on other’s. Wish I could treat myself much nicer. It sucks and I completely relate to the anger and bitterness. I can’t let any of it go. I want my baby. I want to know why me. I want to know why some people have it so easy and can be happy, while I die inside because I want my baby back so badly. Big hugs xo

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  2. You have every right to carry around that anger and in time, it may change and mould itself into a different feeling that is more manageable on a daily basis. I was so mad at myself when Evalyn died as I constantly questioned myself. I knew that her movements had slightly reduced. But in the moment I was thinking about ringing the hospital, she started kicking me again and I told myself “ahhh. She’s ok. She’s kicking me again now.” It took me a long time to forgive myself for never picking up the phone and just asking to be checked. It made me feel like I was a bad mother to her because when she needed me the most, I convinced myself that she was ok. And in a way, I was slightly mad at her because I think that had she not have given me that kick when I was in doubt, I probably would’ve have got to the hospital and who knows, maybe I would have got there in time to save her.

    It’s taken me a long time to forgive myself . . but I have. Some days I still doubt myself but I keep telling myself that even if if I had of gone to the hospital, would it still have been enough to save her? Maybe I would’ve been waiting in reception for too long. Maybe it would have taken the doctors too long to get her out and save her. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. The “what if’s” in life will drive us crazy. I’ve learnt to try and not dwell on them too much which in itself is incredibly hard.

    I hope one day you find some peace. There is never closure because that would mean that an ending is found and our love for our babies will always be ongoing. But I hope you find some peace in amongst the hurt, pain and anger. I am sending much love your way. xxx

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  3. I’m with you on all of this. You can keep being angry for as long as you want. Just yesterday while talking to my husband, I told him I still despise the neonatologist that rushed us to take my daughter off life support. I still see her face in my mind and I want to punch it. I feel like I’m the one that is to blame in my daughters death and so most likely I will never forgive myself, though I do a pretty damn good job of just pushing it down and thinking I’m ok with myself. Sending you hugs xx

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  4. I have forgiven those who marginalized my grief early on (the friend who sent me a birth announcement, my boss, etc.). I have forgiven the staff who reassured me that Matthew would be okay… Birth announcement friend gave a half assed apology. My boss redeemed herself with actions. The medical staff did apologize. But I don’t know if any of this matters… i just reached a place when I let my anger go. Perhaps my headspace was too full of other things to hold onto it any longer. I’ll never forget though… and, even though I’ve forgiven my friend, there’s no ongoing relationship… I think the only one I’ve truly not forgiven is myself. And the universe.

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  5. I’ve been reflecting on how I continue to be haunted by shame and guilt
    It’s my hope that these emotions won’t continually be triggered for forever. I know that solution likely involves forgiving myself or at least not blaming myself but I guess I’m not ready to let myself off the hook quite yet. I also still like to blame God, not sure if I’ll ever be able to let that go either.

    Liked by 1 person

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