Born into tragedy: Woman reveals struggle

In Summary

• Her brother’s early death devastated the young family and they all mourned his death in different ways.


Misfortunes rarely come singly.

And at times the terrible sequence of misfortunes can make a family begin to wonder if they are being tormented by the gods and ask what they have done to deserve it.

So it was at her birth.

She was born into an atmosphere of mourning. When her mother was 6 months pregnant with her, her immediate older brother who was only 18 months old passed away.

Her brother’s early death devastated the young family and they all mourned his death in different ways.

And like many parents who have lost a baby, her parents were in a hurry to replace the one they had lost. And soon enough.

A year and a half after her birth her mother had a pair of twins.

This time the ongoing tragedy which had inflicted the family took a different form. The baby twins were born with what may be delicately termed as medical issues. They were simply not the bouncing healthy baby girls that all parents dream of. However both survived.

Having endured such a series of misfortunes was bound to have its effects on the different members of the family.

Her oldest brother who was four years old at the time of the death of his younger brother who was so traumatized by this death that by the time he was 13 yrs old he was already on drugs and subsequently failed in virtually all his exams in school and after high school he had no interest in holding down a job.

Yet another devastating blow to the family

The younger siblings did not understand what was going on. They loved him but were scared of his violent out bursts. He always looked so sad and kept to himself. Their father was constantly frustrated not knowing what to do with his first born son. His mother however loved the young man-the family’s black sheep-with all her heart. His death at 23 years old almost tore the family apart with everyone blaming the father for the death.

One major effect of her brother’s death on her mother and herself was that as mother and infant they were unable to bond. son as she was born Her mother was mourning for her dead son as she was born and she was emotionally unavailable for her to bond with. As her mother breast fed her and the baby looked into her eyes, all that she saw was emptiness…Her mother was not available emotionally for her to connect with.

Studies of his patients by Dr. Barry Grosskope MD show that a large percentage of the bonding that takes place between mother and infant occurs as the baby is breast feeding and locks open wide eyes with the mother in a gesture that is understood to be one of love and trust. 

When a mother does not reciprocate the baby’s eye lock, the child struggles trying to make contact with the mother even reaching for the mothers face. Failing to reach the mothers face and after several attempts, the child gives up the struggle and learns that the struggle is futile.

As I continued to work with my client she stated that even today she can clearly remember making the struggle to connect with her mother…..” I remember the blank eyes filled with pain and sadness, looking down at me.”

The futile struggle associated with her trying to connect with her mother shaped her personality and character into a cold, unemotional, non- empathetic, unmotivated, detached not only from people but also from the consequences of her actions and aloof for most of her life.

This same struggle resulted her going through life in a zombie like state for many years. Not feeling, distant, angry and disconnected. She was about 35 years old when her inability to connect with people was brought to her attention by someone that she had just met. Her reaction was to weep in front of new found friend. At the time she did not know why she was weeping but today she knows that something deep within her had been touched and named for the first time. What was touched included a deep loneliness that she did not understand at the time.

She gave birth to a beautiful daughter at 18 years old. Her daughter too was also affected by the death of her late uncle. Her mother did not know how to bond with her and her daughter’s life too has been impacted greatly.

Trust and our ability to form social bonds develop from the fulfillment of our needs when we are totally dependent in early life.

To compensate for the lack of trust and her inability to connect with people, she learnt to observe and listen to her thoughts, her reactions to people and situations, people’s reactions towards her and situations. Being verbally silent taught her that there was another world inside of her where whatever was going on audible. These two qualities of listening and observing have served her well on the journey towards her authentic self.


Imagine that your parents are faculty members in your school of life and they have set up a curriculum and initiated lessons for your development and spiritual growth.

Your life’s responsibility is to master these lessons even if it takes you your whole life. Parents act out, mirror, exaggerate and reflect whatever it is we need to learn. If you are having issues with your parents, have had issues with your parents or have issues in the future; try looking at your relationship with your parents from this perspective of you choosing them.

You will know that you have mastered a lesson when you RESPOND instead of REACT to an aspect of your parents that once triggered you. Once you have mastered that aspect of your parents, it will no longer hold power over you and like magic you will not even notice it. This could change your relationship for the better. Should you fail to master that aspect/trigger, the drama associated with that trigger will continue to repeat and intensify.

Our parents ultimately played a part in whatever happened to us or whatever we experienced as infants and children, Parents teach their children by what they do and not what they say. Since there are no perfect parents, in our early years, all of us were damaged//hurt on some level and to varying degrees at some point by our parents. Those events sent our live in certain directions.

It is an illusion to think that you know your parents well.

You may know their routine physical or verbal responses to you, other people, and situations etc. which support the illusion that you know them well, but you do not know them at all.

When a parent’s actions hurt a child or has a negative impact on a child even if that is not the parents conscious intention to hurt the child, it is a sign that something harmful/similar once happened to them, the parent, in their infancy or childhood. It only by you the child knowing your parents story that you can understand them rather than condemn them for what they did or did not do to you or for you.

If your father beat your mother, chances are that you, the son, will beat your wife or if you are a girl, /the daughter, chances are high that you will marry a man who will beat you. It then becomes your responsibility to do the necessary emotional work of healing your wounds. Failure to heal you or break the cycle will result in the wound being passed on to the next generation. Remember parents teach by doing. Healing the wound as your children watch will teach them that it is possible to heal oneself. One of the results of healing oneself is the willingness and joy of sharing your story in order to assist another person heal themself. Any self consciousness connected to your former wound disappears.

So much of our family histories are hidden in plain sight.                   

Author-Jane Abukutsa Is a Management Consultant, a Life Coach and a Speaker

Email: - [email protected]