The ABC's Of Grief - B is for Blame & Balance

Blame – v. To hold responsible or find fault with.

Balance – n.  A stable mental or psychological state; emotional stability.

We spend so much of our lives assigning blame. If we’re late for something, we blame it on traffic, we make a mistake at work and someone else has to be at fault and I can’t even begin to count how many things we blame on the weather. However, when it involves a death, blame is a whole different subject. It’s one of those things that goes hand in hand with grief and there are various degrees to which it can be applied. It can be externally directed at people, places or things, maybe even all three as it was for me. It doesn’t have to make sense, at least not to anyone else but like anger, you cannot allow it to consume you. Unfortunately in some cases, it may lead to criminal or civil lawsuits which can go on for years with no guarantee of a resolution.

After Mack died, I had to deal with blame on so many different levels. David and I even visited a lawyer but we decided not to go down that road, it wasn’t going to bring Mack back and it would tie us up with legal issues for far too long. We didn’t want to live that way. Every negative emotion is fueled by a tremendous amount of energy, it is up to you to make sure that your reservoirs are not depleted as a result.  If blame, like anger, is allowed to fester, you risk the possibility of turning into someone you really don’t want to be. This doesn’t mean that you won’t deal with these emotions at times; you will just slowly learn over time that it is counter productive to live with them on a daily basis.

Blame also plays an internal role because every parent, each and every one of us who has lost a child will always blame ourselves to a certain degree, no matter what the circumstances of the death. We didn’t protect our children and although in reality this is most probably not the case, this will be a lifelong feeling. You have to find a way to balance it out.

Balance is so crucial if you’re going to learn to live with your grief. In my last post on acceptance, I talked about balance but here it takes on a different meaning. When Mack died, I had to learn to find a balance for so many things. For example, it was important to me that Ruby, who was not even eight at the time of Mack’s death, remembered her brother but I had to find a balance between instilling memories and over doing it to the point that she would resent it.  I had to find a balance as people everywhere around me continued on with their daily lives while my entire world had crashed and come to an abrupt and shocking halt. I had to relearn to live my life without my beautiful boy and that put me off kilter for a long time…on some days, it still does.

I had to find a balance between wanting to talk about Mack all the time and controlling myself so that people didn’t feel uncomfortable or want to cross the street when they saw me. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family and an amazing network of friends who understood then and still understand my need to keep Mack alive.  These are not the people I’m talking about, it was everyone else. I had to find a balance between mourning the loss of my son and being an active mother to my daughter. I had to find a balance between living in the past with Mack and living in the present where everyone else was.

I think you get the idea…

Mistakes will be made but it’s all part of the process. In grief, you are walking on a tightrope, juggling multiple items and trying to carry the weight of a very heavy load on your shoulders. Balance is the key factor for all three. Without it, you’ll slip off the tightrope, you’ll drop the items you’re trying to juggle and that heavy load will fall. Of course, it’s all a matter of trial and error. No one gets it on the first try. You have to work at it, you have to hone and perfect it until you reach a level you can find peace with. For a very long time, the weight shifts back and forth, back and forth until some kind of equilibrium is reached and you can live your life. We can’t say we don’t have a choice on how we choose to live life post loss, we do. It’s not an easy one and it demands so much of you but it is within your grasp. Be prepared to slip, drop and fall so many times along the way that you will be emotionally battered and mentally bruised for what seems like ages. But each time, you’ll start again and slowly, ever so slowly, with your invisible scars to mark your journey, you’ll find a balance.

What other choice would you make?

About the Author
Gail Mendelman lives in Montreal with her husband David Belson and their daughter Ruby. In 2006, she lost her four year old son, Mackenzie Reed Belson (Mack), in a tragic accident. After six years, in 2012, she felt the time was right and created the blog 'Grey Mourning' ( so she could record her thoughts about living life without Mack. She works full time and is the co-founder, along with her husband, of The Mack Belson Foundation (
I'm Grieving, Now What?