Guilt. It is one thing people do not acknowledge when they are grieving for someone who died. People talk about sadness, aloneness, and emptiness, but never that tiny voice that says, ‘What could have I done differently to prevent their death?’.
As guilt is often swept under the rug, the negative emotion is never addressed, leaving it festering for a long time, unmasking it only at the brief moments of being away from family and friends. Good thing, there is a healthier approach to guilt when grieving. Here are some of them:
1. Understand that the guilt is all about
Knowing your enemy is half the battle. Acknowledge the guilt and the fact that it is a normal part of the grieving process. Do not invalidate your feelings. Grief is uncomfortable, and that is a fact. The sooner you recognise that, the better you can manage your emotions.
Beyond accepting your feelings, make sure to understand where they are coming from as well. Pin down the reason. Do you feel guilty because you survived? Because you did not do enough? Because of the mistakes you did?
Know what it is that you are guilty about, and see if it is a rational or irrational way of looking at things. More often than not, the demise of a family member is often outside of people’s control, and you should not feel guilty about such.
2. Confide to a friend or a support group
It is never a good approach to bottle up negative feelings. You need an outlet. Otherwise, you will end up ‘exploding’ in situations you would not expect. Sometimes, even decades after your loved one has passed. Often, at the people you love the most. Before that happens, talk to friends and family members about what you are feeling.
Consider consulting Croydon bereavement service experts so you could be involved in a support group. Visit a therapist. There is healing power in bringing dark thoughts out into the light and out in the open. You may feel a bit odd and uncomfortable discussing your struggles with someone else, though, but that is normal.
Being vulnerable is never easy, but keep your eyes on what is important: moving on. The act of disclosing your thoughts would help you further process what you are going through and how you can respond in a better manner.
3. Find forgiveness
It will not be easy, but you should still try. Remember that forgiving does not mean excusing yourself from the shortcomings you did, if ever there really are. It also does not mean forgetting your loved one. It only means that you have accepted your reality, regrets, disappointments, failures, and whatnot.
Some people find ‘goodbye rituals’ helpful in finding forgiveness, as they give closure. Some write a letter for their loved one, putting all the things they failed to say and the feelings they are going through. There are those who read it at the funeral service or just leave it in the casket as it is being rolled down to the ground. Others even plant a tree to honour their loved one. Ask the funeral director how you can incorporate such goodbye rituals in the service.
Again, remember that guilt in the grief process is a normal emotion. It is also normal to cower at such an overwhelming feeling, but do not let it overpower you. Deal with it head on and find healing in the process.