Following a crisis in our lives, it is not unusual to look back and wish we had done things differently. Maybe it was something that was said to a spouse or partner that was insensitive or misinterpreted. Maybe it was rushing the time that you were able to spend with your baby. Or, maybe it was making the choice not to take pictures and now wishing you had.

The bottom line is, all any of us can do when living in crisis is to simply make the best decisions possible at the time. When our world feels like it's crashing down around us, it only makes sense that the things we choose might not be the same as those we would under different circumstances. In the midst of deep grief, it's easy to get caught up in the regrets and think about them to the point of driving ourselves crazy. If our partner in any way seems to be holding those decisions against us, the situation is ripe for a lot of pain and misunderstanding.

I would like to know if any of you have experienced significant regrets and what you did to be able to move on. I can share some of my own experiences, but would like to hear from you first. Thanks!


  1. I wonder if it falls into the scale of the significant but even though we have a lot of pictures, many of them were taken by my wife and only have our baby with me. I simply wasn't aggressive enough about taking pictures even though I do quite a bit of amateur photography. Perhaps it's a false hope that more pictures leave us with a feeling of something more as we combat the sense of loss but I still wish I'd been more intentional about pictures of my baby and my wife.

    I also wish I'd spoken to her more; my daughter died at 8 months of a rare disease but we didn't know about it for a long time and even then she wasn't doing too badly until the final week and a half. I did spend a lot of time holding her and I gave her a lot of bottles (my wife had to give up breastfeeding when we found out our daughter wasn't strong enough to get enough milk this way) but all that time I didn't speak aloud too much. Most of it was just being self concious though I would talk to her here and there. I wish I could have talked to her more when I could have.

    Because things are so recent I can't say I've quite moved on but the pictures that we do have are a comfort so I return to them often. I've tried talking to her at her grave, not in some superstitious sense (I'm a Christian) but more in the sense that it's the kinds of things I would have wanted to be able to say to her if she was alive and could hear me. That feels weird too but just visiting on a regular basis makes up for it and adds another small dose of comfort.

  2. Thankfully I don't have any massive regrets in my life.

    Things have not always worked out as planned (far from it sometimes) and there are things that I have done that I might undo if given the chance, but on the whole I can't maintain any regrets because everything I have done is what brings me to where I am right now.

    Most of the things I would like to change are completely beyond my control. Those decisions that were within my power to do or not do I just have to mark down as being made without adequate consideration. I just have to forgive myself and move on.

  3. Following a loss, I think it's pretty normal to wish for more, no matter how many moments or mementos we have. I'm convinced that regardless of what words we were able to find at the time (or even now), our children felt and continue to feel our love. When you think of times, even as adults, when you feel most secure, it's often not when someone says something, but simply when they hold you tight and let you know they care.

    I also think it's tremendously healing to go to a gravesite or special place and express ourselves. In no way is it weird, although I can definitely relate to the feelings of self consciousness. I think in many ways, one of the greatest gifts of my daughter's life was teaching me that I really didn't care what anyone else thought about the things I did to live through that tragedy -- no one knew what I was feeling and I simply had to take care of myself. Another healing thing to do is to write a letter or keep a journal. The grief needs to come out in order to be able to heal -- no matter how you express it. Try not to let your feelings of self consciousness prevent you from doing it.

    I think irishdad said it well when he pointed out that all of these experiences -- including the regrets -- make us who we are. We not only have to forgive ourselves when we wish we had done things differently, we have to understand that when we are in survival mode,we simply don't have the luxury of considering all the various options. We just needed to survive.

  4. Thank you for your blog. There aren't many places to talk like this in my communities. My wife and I recently lost a baby at 20 weeks gestation. It is our third consecutive miscarriage in 15 months. One of the most emotionally and spiritually powerful things that's happened to me through this experience is when my wife was holding the baby after she delivered and said 'I would do it again for you' (meaning Amelia, our baby). This was a powerful expression of love and sacrifice on the part of my wife. She says she has no regrets about choosing this pregnancy. I can't think of any regrets so far (it only happened 2 weeks ago). I don't want to have any regrets so I will act as skillfully as I can given the knowledge I have at the time and the emotional strength (that is waxing and waning at this point). Thank you for your comments. They give me strength.

  5. Hi Mike, thank you for writing. I'm sorry for your losses. I cannot even imagine how difficult that must be. It's wonderful that you and your wife have such a powerful relationship that you can stay connected and find the gifts, even in the midst of your grief.

    I have no doubt that there will be moments when you will question everything and wonder whether you can keep it all going. Know that it's important to let yourself feel those moments as well, just like you experience those that you find more comforting. It is all a part of the process of learning and growing that will inevitably be a part of this whole experience.

    I wish you both well and hope that you will continue to share with us as the journey continues. If there is ever anything I can do to help, I'm just a "click" away. Take care.

  6. Probably until one loses a child empathy for another is inaccurate. Then again do you need to break a leg to know it would hurt? Possibly adequate counselling and support can be a huge help in these overwhelmind times.

  7. My situation was a bit more complicated. My birthing choice was not the "normal" water broke now go to the hospital situation. I still wonder if I made the smallest decision to go to the hospital sooner than my son would be here with me now. Everything was happening so quickly and I had no time to think about what I wanted for me and my baby.

    I never got to bath him or put on his diaper or clothes. I never got to take photos of his body parts or have a real good look at him. We never got a nice photo of my son, me and his father. I didn't get to stop the doctor before he cut our son's umbilical cord because I would have wanted to bury him with everything.

    After experiencing the loss of our son, I read an article about a mom who brought her son back to life using a technique I believe was something to the effect of kangaroo technique as this was in Australia I think. I still think maybe if I just knew about that sooner, if I just did more research online, maybe that could have helped my son.

    So many what ifs and didn't have the chance to's and couldn't's, etc.

  8. The regrets and "what ifs" are pretty common, but I hope you won't let them eat you up. When you really think about it, if we could all foresee the future, we would endlessly be altering how we live and seeking to avoid those things which would hurt us. Personally, I don't think that would be possible even then.

    I have no doubt that you loved your son deeply and wanted to do everything you could possibly do to be sure he was ok, just as my wife and I wanted that for Kathleen. Bottom line is, we could not have known what was around the corner. I honestly believe that our children felt our love and are aware of the devastation that we feel at their death.

    I hope you can concentrate on the days your son was with you and remember how much love and comfort you both felt. Neither of you did anything wrong -- life just happened and it stinks. Hang in there.