It is also really difficult and extremely complicated when someone dies with whom you had a challenging, or estranged or “toxic” relationship.
In these situations the feelings are so mixed…relief, then guilt that you feel relieved, then resentment that you feel guilty…repeat! It is hard to move forward when you are trapped in this cycle.
Feelings of guilt are also often involved in the end of life care or perceived cause of death. I hear bereaved express a lot of “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” about the medical treatment or lack of they provided for their loved one. When the death of a child occurs, often a parent will feel guilty for not protecting their child from harm. Many bereaved go to the extreme and even blame themselves for the death of their loved one.
Of all the feelings surrounding grief including anger, sadness, shame, guilt, loneliness and abandonment, guilt is the most ‘dangerous”. Guilt, in the grief world, is described as the “800 pound backpack” that keeps us stuck.
Your number one priority is to address your guilt and take that “800 pound backpack” off and work on releasing yourself. This is done through the process of FORGIVENESS. You might have to forgive a parent, a doctor, God, yourself, your deceased loved one, a family member etc. THIS IS HARD.
In a recent post, At Death…These Four Things Matter, August 20, 2014, “I forgive you” was one of the four conversations between parties that mattered. If you were not able to extend or receive forgiveness and reconcile a relationship prior to a death, it is never too late.
You might have to write a letter to the deceased asking for and/or granting forgiveness. You might have to say out loud to an empty chair what is in your heart. You might have to visit a priest, minister, rabbi or counselor and ask for and/or give forgiveness. Usually the hardest person to forgive is yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself as we all wish we had done things differently in the past. Remind yourself we cannot change the past but we have today and the future to change our behavior. You must convince yourself that you did the best you could under the circumstances and the dynamics that were in place at the time. If you practice forgiveness, first with yourself and then with others, you will release yourself to live an abundant and joy-filled life once again.
Are you ready to take off that “800 pound backpack” and free yourself and your deceased loved one?