6 Secrets to Living Beyond Blame

6 Secrets to Living Beyond Blame

I needed to learn the secrets of living beyond blame when my life was suddenly defined by the consequences of a decision I made.

My Story

Eight and a half years ago I wokExpectant Nurserye in the middle of the night with a niggling sense of uncertainty. Unable to settle I slunk out of bed and sat in a dark, newly decorated nursery. The faint orange glow of a street light edged around the curtains of our box room, like an artificial sunrise. I sat in silence, surrounded by the lingering aroma of freshly covered paint and sense of new beginnings. Blanketed by the stillness of the midnight hour I stared at the cot opposite as it lay waiting for an inhabitant. My baby had kicked a Hot Chocolate resting on my bump a couple of hours earlier but now it lay silent and a seed of fear began to swell.

That night I chose not to seek medical advice until the morning. The midwife I called later reassured me, as did hearing my baby’s heart beat. Further delays ensued when I arrived on the antenatal ward until I gave birth to my firstborn son by caesarian just after 2pm. The surgeon had declared she was 90% sure our baby would be fine but he managed to shun the odds and was born limp and not breathing.

I have revisited that night many times and the truth afforded to me by hindsight is that I made a mistake. When I couldn’t feel my baby move I should have gone to the hospital. But there is another truth. I do not know to what extent I am to blame for the outcome.

A Blame Culture

When I qualified as a blame culture in medicinenurse it was fashionable to talk about the hospital not having a blame culture. Yet nursing today includes documenting and treating patients in such a way that anticipates litigation. It seems our society’s appetite for blame is insatiable. Have you tripped on a pavement? The adverts scream at you, “Someone must be to blame”. This together with our own perception that nothing bad should happen to us creates a heady cocktail of liability.

Now don’t get me wrong I am all for complaining and seeing improvements in practice. I have a whole folder in my filing cabinet marked Current Complaints’. But today each of the complaints I pursue are linked to making things better for the future not apportioning blame. I now realise that any perceived justice doesn’t change my feelings of bitterness. Only I can deal with emotions cultivated by a situation.

There have been other instances, and there will be in the future, when a choice I made had dire consequences. Today, I live differently.

 Simple truths that help to Live Beyond Blame

  1. I can only make a decision based on the information I have at the time. Retrospect and hindsight only happen after.
  2. I make mistakes and by definition these are not intentional.
  3. Everyone else makes mistakes and we can all learn from them.
  4. The consequence of a mistake does not indicate the severity of the error. 
  5. Bad things happen even when no-one is to blame
  6. A mistake is different to a sin because sin is intentional

Revisiting that night in the nursery is painful. I may never know the implications of the decision I made. I can choose to blame myself and others, allowing a cancerous anger to grow within me, or I can choose forgiveness. I made a choice to forgive myself and afford the same courtesy to the medical staff who cared for my son and me.

Recently I was sending JJ (youngest son) to the stairs for not doing something he was told. Just before he sat down he spun round, looked me in the eyes and flippantly quipped,

               “No-one is perfect mummy.”

He’s right. No-one is perfect and we don’t live in a perfect world.

I want to clarify that I don’t think it is wrong to fight for compensation. I don’t think it is wrong to recognise mistakes and seek change. But I do think it is healthy to live beyond blame. Although suing can dramatically improve your standard of living it may also be a hinderance to emotional wellbeing.

And God’s culpability in all of this? Well that’s another Blog entirely.

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By | 2017-06-15T10:16:53+00:00 June 12th, 2014|Categories: acceptance, cerebral palsy, compensation, legal action, mum of child with disability|Tags: |9 Comments

About the Author:

Qualified Nurse, Writer, Trainer, Public Speaker and unqualified parent of three. My days consist of Lego, laundry and loving three boys, one of whom has complex and life-limiting disabilities.


  1. Alex June 14, 2014 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Please can we have the God’s culpability blog next? Not that I’m blaming God, I just have some questions!

    We may have to agree to disagree, as I don’t see it as a question of a ‘mistake’ that night, more a question of ‘what if?’. But that’s also another blog I suspect. Neither, however, can change the outcome and this is an excellent set of top tips for living beyond blame – something I guess that many of us need to develop in small and large ways – so thank you. I agree wholeheartedly with you that forgiveness is the way forward. Transformational in fact.

  2. Phil Warrey June 17, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this, it’s made me reflect on a number of things.

  3. Kerri June 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I think we all play the blame game. I wrote a post about it, probably more than one 🙂 I think it is natural to want to say THIS must have happened for a reason. Maybe that is a better way, to think of the reason than the blame.

    RE: the person above I also wrote one where God was too busy stopping famines 🙂

  4. Mardra June 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    Such a beautiful and honest reflection. And advice that has come through experience – thank you for sharing. We all need to be reminded of these.

  5. Kathleen Bolduc June 20, 2014 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency. For many years I held on to the idea that my son’s intellectual disabilities were due to me not leaving him at the hospital when he was 10 days old and yellow with jaundice. I was given a choice of leaving him there or taking him home and bringing him in daily for blood tests. I was not given enough information at the time, so i chose to take him home. His bilyrubin count became very high. A couple of years later, when the extent of his disability was becoming known, someone told me that high bilyrubin counts cause brain damage. I was devastated. It took me many years of counseling and prayer to overcome that guilt (I write about it in my book, His Name is Joel: Searching for God in a Son’s Disability). God finally showed me that forgiveness is the key, and that forgiving myself was the most important part of the equation. You voice it so beautifully here. Thank you!

    • Born At The Right Time June 20, 2014 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you Kathleen, I will hunt out your book and have a read.

  6. Anita Morrison June 23, 2014 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I agree with you on so many things. We must let go of the guilt and blame. We live in a fallen world and sometimes bad things happen. Now days, no one ever wants to accept that something was an accident, they always want to place blame. When my sister was born in 1961, the doctor who used forceps to deliver her told my father that he thought he had “damaged” her. Months later it was found that my sister had brain damage, seizures and cerebral palsy. Many people asked my parents why they didn’t sue the doctor. My mother replied that, “It won’t change anything.” Right or wrong, my parents chose to let go of the blame and focus on doing everything they could to help their daughter reach her full potential. I don’t say this to denigrate anyone who has filed a malpractice suit, just noting that for my parents it helped to let go of the guilt and blame and focus on life instead. Thank you for this post.

    • Born At The Right Time June 23, 2014 at 5:46 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment and introducing me to your blog.

  7. robert June 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    hi i would like to ask for your views that the nhs in england and wales have been found to be deliberatly covering up huge mistakes and that this has been going on for years i know nothing will ever change our childrens outlook in life but surely everyone is entilted to the best care possible and in our case it was a definate cover up ….rab

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