Grief and guilt often go hand in hand. Grief is experienced by everyone in different ways. A lot of the ways that we grieve show up differently depending on the nature of the death of a loved one and our distinct relationship to the person who is lost. The grief we experience often has a tendency to be accompanied with guilt.
Grief and Guilt, wondering if you did the right thing
Being the closest person to one who has passed away brings more opportunities for feelings of grief and guilt. The spouse or close family member who is a caregiver for a dying loved one will have so many mixed feelings and emotions when someone dies. You may question your own choices about the treatment they received. Wondering if you had made different choices, could there be a different outcome. Questioning if there was anything you could have done to save them or help them better.
Guilt about not allowing people to say their final goodbyes
I have listened to a widowed woman talk about taking on others grief and guilt about not being able to say goodbye when her husband was dying. She talked about how so many extended family and friends did not know the true dire state of his health. She was his main caretaker and was very protective of him and how many visitors he had during this time. As she learned about the guilt these loved ones felt in regards to not knowing how bad it was and never truly being able to say goodbye. Grief and guilt took over as she questioned her decisions about being so protective of him in his last days.
Feeling Guilty for Needing Help
It can be hard for anyone to ask for help. When a death occurs especially if the death is of a spouse or someone who is a large piece of everyday life, life changes quickly. Under these circumstances, you need help. It still may be hard to ask for help and you may find yourself feeling guilty about needing so much help.
Spilling your feelings to others may even make you feel guilt. Grief that overflows and doesn’t seem to resolve itself needs to be released at some point. It may even produce feelings of grief and guilt about needing emotional support.
Grief, Guilt and Shame
The combination of having grief and guilt can turn into shame. Once your guilt has turned to shame, it can start to affect your mental health. Shame can turn into toxic shame. Shame says, I did something bad, toxic shame says, I am something bad. It is very important as you walk through grief that you recognize the truth about your guilt and shame.
Everyone experiences grief and shame at some point in life. If you find yourself feeling guilty about your grief or the way that you are experiencing it remember you are not alone.
Build of a support system and find a support group for optimal healing.