Feelings of Guilt

Grief is a natural response to loss. It can be felt in many ways. Grief’s impact can be emotional, social, spiritual, physical and financial. It is as individual as the person you loved and lost. Grieving while living away from family and friends can be especially difficult. This is a place where you can share your thoughts, and get ideas on how to cope. It is here for you to get support and validation.

Feelings of Guilt

Postby KarenH » Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:35 pm

It is common for people who are grieving to experience feelings of guilt. This is a normal part of the grieving process, and usually eases with time. It may help you to:
1. Acknowledge your feelings of guilt, and find a supportive person to express them to
2. Ask yourself what things are bothering you the most and express these to a supportive person
3. Write down your thoughts and feelings of guilt
4. Be honest with yourself about what you feel guilty about
5. Forgive yourself, and ask for forgiveness
6. Remember that no one is perfect and that it is not realistic to expect any relationship to be perfect
7. Acknowledge that you do not have control of everything that happens
8. Remember that there is not always an answer to our “why” questions
9. Do not judge the decisions you made before the person died - acknowledge that you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time
10. Seek professional counseling if feelings of guilt are interfering with your healing process

Please share any experiences you have had with feelings of guilt and what strategies have been helpful to you.
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Re: Feelings of Guilt

Postby willow4peace » Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:52 pm

I experienced feelings of guilt after my Mother-in law died in 2011. She was under Hospice care at home only 2 days. I was alone with her for a few hours when her peaceful condition changed suddenly. It had only been an hour or two since her last dose of morphine. The Hospice nurse said we could give the medicine every hour if needed. I knew my Mother-in-law was dying, but I was afraid of killing her by giving her another dose of medicine so soon. I panicked and froze in fear. I called Hospice and they sent an angel of a nurse to the house to help me. We worked together to get my Mother-in-law comfortable and soon my husband came home. She died with all of us holding her hands a few hours later. I sometimes relive those traumatic events of that day, not knowing when it will overcome my emotions like a tidal wave. The real traumatic events that I went through were not given here.
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Re: Feelings of Guilt

Postby dscowan » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:39 am

As previously indicated, guilt is one of the most common feelings that accompany a loss. Nighttime can really magnify these thoughts. They can replay in your head over and over again.
Many folks have a ….what if, if only or I should have….
People generally make the best decision they can with the information that they have. Hindsight is 20/20 and can be a dangerous thing. People second guess themselves and experience pangs of guilt.
The bottom line is that it is okay to experience feelings of guilt. Feelings are not right or wrong, good or bad. Guilt may or may not be illogical. The important this is to understand it and cope with it. If guilt is unrecognized or unattended to, it can cause unhappiness and poor health. It can consume you.
Remember that you are not the person you were before the death. If you are experiencing rational feelings of grief, learn from them. Change from them. If there is no reason behind the guilt and you still feel guilty, accept the feelings. Accept your limitations. And when you are ready, let go of the guilt and allow the loving memories of the deceased remain forever in your heart.
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Re: Feelings of Guilt

Postby d_butler » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:34 pm

Children often experience feelings of guilt when a loved one dies. Many children believe that something they did or said caused their loved one's death. It is important to be honest with children and use simple language that they can understand. Reassure your child that feelings of guilt are a normal reaction to grief and nothing they did aided in their loved one's death.
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Re: Feelings of Guilt

Postby andygetz » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:32 pm

Many of us are hard wired to focus on the negative rather than the positive. it is therefore not surprising that we can often be burdened with guilt after the loss of a loved one. We may spend a great deal of time and emotional energy wishing we had done things differently. We may judge ourselves for not doing more, saying more or for being unable to stop an unexpected death. The truth is probably that you have done far more good than harm in the life of your loved one. It is helpful to learn ways to forgive yourself when you feel you need to and to slowly allow yourself to recognize the positive. It can be helpful to acknowledge the feelings of guilt, they are deeply embedded in the grief process. It is also important to be self compassionate. Perhaps you could start with forgiving yourself and freeing yourself of one particular action you feel guilty for.
It can be helpful to really listen to your negative thought and challenge whether it is really true and reflective of your relationship with your loved one. It may be that your loved one did not die at home and you feel that you failed to take care of them. If you review this thought carefully you may begin to accept that even though it was not your first choice you did the best that you could at the time, which included making a decision to ensure that your loved was well attended to.
Have you been able to gently let go of a thought that resulted in feelings of guilt? How do you work on self compassion through your grief process? Please share...
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Re: Feelings of Guilt

Postby m_postotnik » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:21 pm

Many people confuse guilt and shame. According to John Bradshaw, "Guilt says I've done something wrong; shame says there is something wrong with me. Guilt says I've made a mistake; shame says I am a mistake. Guilt says what I did was not good; shame says I am no good (1988)." It’s important to be able to distinguish the two in regard to your grief. Some people who are grieving may have done everything that they could possibly have done for their loved one, yet still believe they could have done more. They think that they should have known all the signs of decline and disease progression in their loved one even though they are not medical professionals. They think they should have done more for their loved ones even if they took care of them 24/7 in their homes. They think if they had only made the right choices, their loved may have lived. If you are feeling shame, you probably felt bad about yourself before your loved one died. It’s important to realize that we are human beings and we do the best we can at any given moment in time. Grieving people whose feelings of guilt go beyond guilt into shame will have more difficulty in reconciling these feelings, perhaps needing professional help. Do you have experience with this? How were you able to move past shame?
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