If Only, I . . .
Fortunately, not many of us have to experience often the lost of a loved one, but when it happens, our lives are thrown into a total spin. There are so many painful feelings and it is impossible to do justice to explain these in one article; therefore, I will be addressing these individually, and other bereavement topics in future columns.
One of the problems people quite often share within a bereavement group is the overwhelming sense of guilt of which they cannot let go. In these sessions, we hear, “If only I . . . “
– could have gotten her to go to the doctor sooner.
– didn’t leave him alone.
– saw how depressed she was.
– kissed him good-bye.
– tell her I loved her.
– didn’t have that argument last night.
The reason we find ourselves experiencing these feelings is that after a loved one dies, we examine our relationship with a fine-toothed comb with regard to everything we ever did wrong. We recall every non-loving word spoken and every loving one not said, and every non-loving action performed and every loving deed not done. How could we not feel guilty?
Many of us have a bad habit in doing self-examination, especially with regard to a loved one, to look at the negative rather than the positive. Not being perfect, it is easy to discover something about which to feel guilty.
If we are to take an honest appraisal of our relationship, it is necessary to study it entirely. We have to accept there were times we hurt the person we loved by what we said or did not say, did or did not do. Remember! There were times this person did the same to us. We forgive him or her; now, it is time to forgive ourselves.
Also, do not forget there were many times, we made the person feel loved by what we said or did not say, did or did not do. If it was possible to put all the loving words and actions on one side of a scale, and all the non-loving ones on the other side, the loving would far out weigh the non-loving.
It is time for us to forgive ourselves for being imperfect, and start being proud of how much we showed our love, even with our imperfections.