Guilt and grief tend to play very well together. So often I see people tormenting themselves over what could have or should not have been done. As the story plays out in their mind it gets worse with each go around. I have seen some intense rumination, to the point they are not even sure they believe the story anymore. It may not be a conscious behavior, however, check in to make sure you are not doing this as a means of punishment in order to prove your love for this person who is gone. We grieve deeply… yet punishing and suffering deeply does not prove love or your dedication. It only adds difficulty to your already hurting soul.
When we are bereft, we are sleep, nutritionally and hydration depleted. We can have brain fog and memory issues. None of these add to logical thinking patterns. So therefore, when people are presenting the version of their mistake it is often a slight variation of what likely happened. This is not to say mistakes were not made. Maybe we didn’t make the best choices. It is important to remember that guilt is only justified as legitimate if someone intentionally did something to cause harm or disruption on another. Maybe you did zone out one night when caregiving and focus on a TV show. Possibly because you were exhausted from your day and tired of the realities of loving someone with a terminal disease. Maybe you did yell at your teenager about spending all their money they owed you before they were killed in a car accident. Sometimes these things are true. However, ask yourself if the motive was to cause them deep pain? More than not, people do not want to hurt their loved one. We also must realize that one single situation doesn’t define your entire relationship and existence with this person. As humans, we all have difficult moments in our relationships.
Guilt will not bring them back. It will only delay you in being able to honor and embrace the loving memories and feel bonded to the one who died. If you are in a state of self blaming and shame, there will not be room for what can comfort you. Your healing gets stymied from guilt and a perpetual cycle of darkness ensues. If you feel an apology is warranted — speak out loud to them with your apology, write a note, speak to a trusted person, go to the final place of internment and talk to them etc…ask someone to help you with self forgiveness. Again, guilt doesn’t bring them back, it only keeps you from experiencing or remembering anything pleasant in the relationship. From the numerous of conversations I have had at the bedside with the dying, over and over, I heard how they want their loved ones to keep living and enjoy life. Start with forgiveness of self for what you believe you have done wrong. Grief is hard enough without adding unnecessary suffering. You did the best you could at that time. ♥️