Am I A Bad Mother?

Updated: Jun 27

Every morning, before I get out of bed, I scan through my phone, looking at photos of her. Remembering her, wanting to hold her, brush her hair again. The unfortunate reality is that death is permanent and despite my heart aching for her, she can't come back. As the days, weeks and now months pass, my ritual is becoming a little less gut wrenching and I am able to get out of bed, and then start my day. I think that by crying in the mornings, before I face the world helps give me some time to reflect and process the loss.


Last week, I was walking to my local high street wearing my Airpods, listening to Sara's playlist and just thinking about her. Decided not to use the car, but to get some steps in, when I received a message that Siri read out. Without any warning, the message simply triggered my grief and I started to cry uncontrollably.


I continued to walk, tears streaming down my face and audible sobs coming from my body. I was oblivious to the fact that I was crying in public. I have learnt that you cant control when you feel sad, you just have to let it come out. I was standing by a pedestrian crossing, HGVs and cars speeding past. When a stranger asked if I was ok. I was irritated by him disturbing me, angry that I had to take my Airpods out to hear what he was saying to me.


He asked again "Are you ok? Don't do anything stupid!"

I replied "I'm ok"

"You sure", he asked

"Yes, I am sure, my daughter died, just let me cry. I am not going to do anything stupid, I have two sons!"

He made sure that we crossed the busy road safely, and when we were on the other side, he shared the following:


"I'm 54 years old, I am originally from Ireland but then moved to Liverpool. My sister was shot dead by police during the troubles in Ireland, no one was prosecuted for her murder, she was 6 years old, and I was her 21 year old brother. She wasn't my child, but as her older sibling I felt responsible, not a day goes by that I don't think of her."


This was shocking, and reminded me that I was fortunate enough to have had 14 years with my baby girl. He asked how Sara had died, I replied that it was mental health and that she has taken her own life. I remember thinking, will this stranger think that I am a bad mother for not being able to keep her in this world. Was she poorly treated or abused? Surely it must have been awful at home for her to do such a thing?


When you lose a child to suicide you can't help but feel that you were a "bad" parent, not seeing the signs that your child was struggling and not being able to keep them in this world. The guilt and the constant "what if" scenarios replay in my mind. The truth is that there were no warning signs that she was considering taking her own life. She was quietly confident, with an incredible sense of humour, spending time with all of us at home.


Friends, would reassure me that I wasn't a bad mother and that I was doing a good job, and yet despite all my efforts she died. I am working mum in investment banking, with two sons and a husband. My eldest son is at university and studying Music, and younger son is doing his GCSEs and my husband is a Development Director raising funds for the bursary. We are a middle class family living in suburbs of Surrey, and yet our youngest child took her own life. This is no reflection on us, we are not to be blamed or held account, as she didn't have a 'choice' in those moments it was a compulsion, she didn't have time to think, or how much we loved her.


Are you a good mother? If you measure yourself against the fantasies projected all around you, almost certainly not. But back in the real world, you almost certainly are: you’re a good mother because you love your children, because you do what you can to keep them safe, You’re a good mother because you have to be.


Sailor (Sara) Court 5th March 2007 - 17th Sept 2021 Memorial Tree in Regents Park.

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