Grief and Guilt - How to Stop Blaming Yourself

Grief and guilt often go together and there can be several different causes for that emotion.

Yellow Lilies,signifying grief

Guilt - A row before death

Many bereaved people feel anguish due to the fact that they had had a row with their spouse or child or parent before they died. This is a natural emotion. But forgive yourself. All family members have upsets from time to time. Had you been able to make your peace beforehand it would have passed over as a minor spat. All forgotten. Be honest with yourself that this argument would have been over and harmony restored had you been given time.

Forgive yourself, forgive your loved one too. Because of the circumstances things get built up and out of all proportion to what actually occurred. It’s up to you to forgive yourself and forget now. Move on. Remember the happy times and learn to laugh again. Talk about the good times. Don’t spoil the memory of the happy years you spent together because of one argument.

  • Feeling guilty doesn't help anyone
  • Say to yourself - I did my best, it was not my fault
  • You would forgive others, so why not forgive yourself? 

Accept that more often than not there is no fault anywhere and there is nothing you could have done to change events. This is just going to make you feel worse. Accept what has happened and move on with your life. It is not helpful to blame yourself or anyone else. Life happens and is often beyond any of our control.

Why children feel guilty when someone dies

Many children imagine that for some reason they are responsible for the death. That if they had behaved better or done something differently it wouldn't have happened. They try to make up explanations for what has happened, and often end up feeling guilty. And frequently no-one will know that they feel like this. It is important to communicate clearly with children so that they have a clear understanding that it wasn't their fault.

See my pages on Children and grief for more information.

Caregiver Grief and Guilt

Guilt can take up so much negative time after a death or when a loved one has to go into long term care for whatever reason. We can only do what is best for ourselves and the family at any given time. Hindsight brings up many ‘if only’s’ or ‘could I have done things differently?’ We should only worry about things we can change and these afterthoughts do not solve anything.

Many carers cope for many years, do their best and then feel so much guilt as they feel they could have done more. This demonstrates unrealistic expectations of their capability, no one is superman or woman.

Many people cannot cope with the care role at all, you should be proud of what you achieved.

The carer needs time for herself/ himself too.  They tend to forget that they are entitled to enjoy some spare time. There is a huge sense of loss when the full time care role comes to an end. There is too much time for regrets, grief and these negative thoughts of ‘was enough done for my loved one?’  

Forgive yourself for any imagined lack of care. We are all human, we get tired and cross at times, and are probably less patient than usual at times. This does not mean you failed in your care, only that you cared enough to carry on when you were weary.

Give yourself time to grieve and find a lifestyle for yourself again, it is time for some enjoyment again after all your care of others. Well done. Good luck for the future.  Read more about coping with caregiver grief after the death of your loved one.  

Don't feel guilt for moving on from grief

Guilt can be caused by worrying about what other people might be thinking. And it is true that some people might think that you shouldn't be happy, that you shouldn't be re-marrying so soon, or getting on with your life. But that is their problem. You know you loved the deceased one. You know that you have grieved. And you know that life is precious and it is your time now, to make the most of the life you have left.

Related Pages: 

All the Emotions of Grief

7 Warning Signs you Have Caregiver Grief

Best Books on Dealing with Grief

10 Ways to Cope with Grief

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