Looking For Someone to Blame in Tragedy

Have you ever noticed when something bad happens, people automatically look for someone to blame?

When Emmy died, there were people who wanted to blame us for a myriad of things.  There were others who wanted to blame the surgeon or the hospitals and staff that cared for Emmy, despite the fact, we, as her parents, were quite satisfied with the level of care she received.  People wanted to lay blame where there wasn’t any.

Why, when something tragic happens, do we automatically think there has to be a culprit, there has to be a well-defined reason, there has to be something that could have been done that would have avoided the end result?

The answer isn’t pretty…

Because we’d like to think it couldn’t happen to us.

We would have seen something was wrong.  We would have noticed the one thing that could save our child’s life.  We would never, ever have missed the obvious.

How arrogant.

We are not in control of every minute detail of our lives.  We can’t account for every circumstance, every decision made by someone else, every path God will lead us down.

Yes, there are times when life is cut short by poor decisions, but trust me…God can override poor decisions.

Tragedy happens.  It doesn’t always have a direct cause that we humans can easily pinpoint.  We’d do better to offer compassion to those reeling in the aftermath than heap salt on the wounds by playing the blame game.

If I sound irritated…I am.  I’ve seen too many of my fellow grieving mothers, fathers, spouses, etc have to deal with blame in the depths of their grief.

From what I can tell, none of us who have grieved a loss like a child or a spouse have managed to avoid blame altogether.  There is either someone out there who thinks we made poor choices prior to our tragedy or poor choices following our tragedy or both!

The one thing that makes this blame game even harder on a grieving family is the fact that we are already dealing with guilt…mind-numbing, all-consuming guilt.  To this day, I continue to go over every What-If scenario I can think of when it comes to what I could have done differently for Emmy…all the way back to my pregnancy with her.  It is a battle that has me running to the Lord over and over again.

This post is really a plea for you to think.  Think before you speak.  Think about what it would feel like to hear what you are about to say.

And if you forget to think…ask forgiveness.

Stop looking for someone to blame.  Stop believing you would somehow have done a better job given the same set of circumstances.  Stop thinking you are so all-powerful you have the ability to control your entire life.  That’s a bunch of new-age hogwash.

When faced with someone else’s tragedy, offer compassion and care because every single thing that runs through your mind has already run through their grief-stricken mind…only amplified.  And if it hasn’t run through their mind {yet}, it isn’t YOUR job to put that in their heads.

NEVER think you are comforting someone by telling them what YOU would have done differently.  You just don’t know what you would do, nor the path God will put you on.  Stop looking for someone to blame and start looking for ways to offer love and compassion.

Wondering what you can say and do for a grieving person (particularly a grieving mother), visit my post entitled Grief ~ What Can I Do?

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18 Comments on Looking For Someone to Blame in Tragedy

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18 thoughts on “Looking For Someone to Blame in Tragedy

  1. Amy,
    Thank you for saying this on behalf of those of us who have lost. Mine were miscarriages, but I have heard the same kind of talk from others or in my own head. Really, I get that kind of input on all types of parenting decisions that aren’t grief related, but just don’t follow convention because I am following the Lord and my husband or when I have made a mistake in parenting. This was well said, and you are very brave to speak out for those who are hurting. My heart goes out to you and so do my prayers.
    .-= Dawn´s last blog ..Providence =-.

  2. Well said, Amy…I think that this advice holds true in MANY situations! Hugs to you as you think of your beautiful little girl…You are such an inspiration to others!

  3. You are so right. I think we do all want to feel insulated from the possibility of it happening to us. One thing that I have always been strangely grateful for in our situation is that there was never anyone that I could blame other than God, Himself. I never faced the danger of becoming bogged down by all the “what ifs” and “maybes.” It was almost like fast forwarding through that part of the grieving process, but I trust that the Lord did that to protect my heart and focus it on Him.

    I am so sorry to read about the loss of your little girl, and I long for the day when mothers don’t have to say, “goodbye.”
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning and Dreaming =-.

  4. Blame & lack of assuming responsibility is an action of the devil. When my brother passed away in Jan, there were people that blamed, that judged, and I kept telling my parents they did the right things. They were the ones that had taken care of him for almost 30 years & the decisions they made were theirs. I don’t fault them AT ALL for their decisions & actions. They have enough to grieve without the added grievances of others.
    .-= Michaela´s last blog ..My how they reproduce!!! =-.

  5. Nicely said, Amy. Hopefully the grieving are able to forgive those who say or do something stupid… b/c they don’t know what to do (not so much refering to the blame game as just general awkwardness & saying the wrong thing). Who hasn’t been it that position? I did really appreciate your post on how to help!

    • Rose,
      I think most grieving people are able to eventually forgive stupid comments b/c you are right…we’ve all been there. Awkwardness is to be expected.

  6. When I got pregnant for the second time, it ended in miscarriage, and nothing cut me deeper than when my prenatal providor for the following pregnancy (who knew absolutely nothing about it except that I had written in my chart that I’d had a miscarriage last time) insinuated that it was because I was too fat that my baby had to die and that if I were thinner I would not have had that problem. People really do need to just bite their tongue when it comes to blaming others after the fact.
    I think that questioning in our own minds what would have should have could have and thinking about how we might have done it differently is one thing, but we should not share that with the greiving parents. I think that to wonder about what could have been done differently is grasping for hope. I don’t think it’s necessarily that we think it couldn’t happen to us, but that we are so terrified that it might that we are fighting tooth and nail to find a reason why it won’t. In our human weakness we forget the sweetest consolation is simply faith in the sovreignity of God and our hearts and minds frantically search for a human solution. If we have to stop and face that it is really something we have no control over (without the assurance of resting in the Lord) it’s frightening and depressing. We might get caught up constantly worrying what if one of our precious little ones will be snached from our arms without warning today or next week. So we grasp and seek a human “reason” why it doesn’t have to be like that, to chase away the fear. And the sick flip side of that is that while it helps us to feel better for now, it doesn’t grow our faith in God, and if we were to suffer a loss despite our best laid plans and reasons why we won’t, then we are left with the results of human reasoning that human actions can ultimately save or destroy life- we are left with a hole in our soul eaten away by the guilt that we didn’t come up with the right solution in time and it’s all our fault.
    .-= Mama Mirage´s last blog ..Large Family Bloggers – a call to stand in the gap! =-.

  7. Thank you for writing this. I have never lost anyone really close to me, so I do not always know how best to approach someone who has lost a loved one (especially a child). People usually mean well when they offer their “support”, but they don’t always understand what a death is like if they’ve never experienced it. I agree with you about trying not to look for someone to blame. I am gleaning so much from your wisdom.
    .-= floridamom2seven´s last blog ..Week In Review =-.

  8. Wow, do I know what you are talking about. It is sad really. I think for the most apart people are trying to comfort but there are those who think we failed in our loss. For us it was our “lack of faith” that caused our son,s death. I will walk away from that one for now.
    I think we need to get away from fixing the bad things that happen. It’s as if we believe our lives should be pain free and easy. That if it’s not then somehow we made a mistake. Jesus suffered and we are told we would share in that…and yet we will never know the ultimate suffering because he suffered it for us. We would do so much better by each other to enter into the suffering with people then trying to “fix” it. You can’t fix it, only God can and has….one day we will see that in it’s full.
    I’m sorry that your sweet girl’s passing was made all the more difficult. I remember several times feeling like my son died and then I suffered an entirely different death from all the judgement.
    .-= Sandi@A Mother’s Musings´s last blog ..One Decade =-.

    • Sandi,
      What you said about needing to “fix things” is so very true. We need to stop thinking life is to be perfect. {{HUGS}} from grieving mother to another.

  9. Thank you, Amy!!! Very well said.
    Our 13 month old was diagnosed with brain cancer and hydrocephaly at 2 months. We have had so many comments- like if I had a child with cancer, I’d get rid of my microwave or If you had only used better prenatal vitamins. ARGH!!!
    Thru all of this my husband and I have come to realize that it is their way of trying to control what could happen to them. It is hard to forgive and forget when those comments cut you to the core. BUT God is SO good to carry you thru the trials, sadness, guilt and grief AND bring about forgiveness to the others in your heart.
    I’ve been thinking thru how to post an article like this on my blog but if I can’t figure out how to word it, may I link to yours?
    Thank you for saying what’s been in my heart and mind over the last couple weeks!

  10. Insightful post! I am so sorry, Amy, for the extra pain you endured! I’m saying a prayer that the questioning and replay you do in your own head will stop, through God’s grace.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Good Reads =-.

  11. So very true. I am so frustrated by the way our society looks to blame others for any problem, issue or tragic disaster. You can see it everyday in the news, in politics, in work and in personal relationships. People have become so very arrogant. Sometimes stuff just happens and no one is to blame. Get real. Look for ways to fix rather than for someone to blame. Blame on achieves negative outcome. There is nothing positive to be acieved by blame. Society has become arrogant, unintelligent, childish and cruel.

  12. When our daughter died in an accident, my wife was the parent on duty, but she was riding her bike. I was 80 miles away at the time. She was in no way responsible – you can’t watch a 13-year-old all the time, nor should you.

    I couldn’t figure out why we kept taking her anger out on me, and only me. I was hurting as well, and running the funeral, which was awful. She kept exploding at me as I told her what the medical examiner, priest, funeral home, police reported to me, and was nasty about anything else that I said. Three years later, she was still telling me that our deceased daughter was our least favorite child, and continually came up with times – isolated occurences, such as a time when I had forgetten to say hello to her – once – that proved her point.

    I started avoiding her, and withdrew from her for safety. She’s now divorcing me, and blaming me for everything that went wrong (even though she ran away, and has left me with the surviving kids).

    A trauma therapist finally made a point to me that resonated. She felt guilty for our daughter’s death ( I was clobbered by it, but never felt guilty). Her attacks on me were her blaming me for our daughter’s death, which was her way of dealing with her guilt.

    Be wary of guilt and blame. They can be crippling. And be very wary of taking out your pain and guilt on someone else, especially someone in as much pain as you are, or you could cause an irreparable rift.