The majority of the parents we spoke to in the development of this resource reported that they had, at some stage, felt guilty about what had happened to their child. Some felt guilty that they were there when the burn occurred and could have perhaps done something differently to prevent it or to treat the injury. Others felt guilty that they were not there but thought they should have been. Regardless of their whereabouts when the injury occurred, most parents felt that they “should” have better protected their child.
It is worrying to think that unpleasant events can happen to any one of us. If they do happen, we often ask “why me?” These thoughts can also be maintained by an underlying belief that if we do bad things, bad things will happen to us, and if we do good things, good things will happen to us. Finding that the reverse of this can be true (that if we do good things, bad things can still happen to us or a child we love) can seem unfair and shatter our view of a ‘just world’. Alternatively, we may have always felt that the world is an unfair and unjust place and this experience has simply reinforced that view.
The reality is that accidents, by definition, are unfortunate incidents that happen unexpectedly and unintentionally. Coming to terms with this is not always easy as we strive to feel that we have some control over the world we live in. Accepting that some events are uncontrollable, or that any one of us can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, may mean that we have to accept that traumatic events can occur at random. Although this might be scary, acknowledging and accepting this helps you to let go of unhelpful thoughts about being responsible and the associated feelings of guilt.