Guilt and grief – this can be the result of losing a friend or loved one and it can be devastating. There are numerous reasons why someone could or would feel guilty, in addition to the grief they’re already feeling, from their loss.
Is there anything you can do about the grief and guilt you feel when a friend or loved one dies? Let’s examine these feelings and how to cope with them.
Why Do Many Experience Grief and Guilt?
There can be any number of reasons why some people experience grief and/or guilt after the death of a friend or loved one. Obviously, grief is a result of loss. You will never again get to physically talk with or touch your friend or loved one. You will miss them. This is sad and it causes grief.
But there can also be many causes of guilt along with grief. Here are some examples:
- The need for order – When people are grieving, they may not see the connection between blame and guilt, though many experience it. When people don’t have something or someone to blame, the chaos and unpredictability of the universe tends to slap them right in the face. They feel like they could have changed the outcome somehow if they had done something differently. However, some things are out of our control and that needs to be realized. Sometimes, people want to hope they could have controlled the outcome, so they hold onto guilt. Even individuals who feel like they always want or need to be in control can’t stand in the way of death. It is a fact of life and must be accepted.
- They feel they did something wrong – You aren’t necessarily guilty, even though you may feel that way. Frequently, it is completely irrational for grieving parties experiencing guilt to feel that way. Don’t look at the time with your loved one and start dissecting every moment. That can make you more upset. Don’t play the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” game. Guilt can be all-consuming, despite being irrational. In order to feel guilty, an irrational brain can come up with just about anything.
- Because they actually did something wrong – If you are showing signs of feeling guilty, it’s likely that people will come up to you and say things like: “Don’t feel so bad, it’s not your fault”, “There’s nothing you could have done”, “You’ve got nothing to feel guilty about!” But what if you actually do have something you feel guilty about? Truth be told, we all make mistakes. Sometimes dire consequences of a significant nature result. What’s done is done. In your own heart and mind, you must ask God, the deceased, the universe, etc., for forgiveness and do your best to forgive yourself. It’s time to move on. Feeling guilty will not benefit you or anyone else in any manner.
How to Cope with Grief and Guilt
For coping methods, the following are suggested:
- Think about what your loved one would offer you in the way of advice.
- With all of that guilt, try to do something constructive.
- Consider lessons you may have learned from the experience.
- Absolutely, positively, forgive yourself.
- To balance your thoughts of guilt, try to replace them with positive thoughts.
- Admit it to yourself if your feelings of guilt are irrational.
- With others, discuss what you’re thinking and feeling.
- Take a good close look at your thoughts. After examining your guilt, try to consider what it’s truly all about. (Is it about control, is it irrational, or is it reasonable?)
- Realize that a normal part of grief and emotion, guilt, is felt by many. You are not alone.
American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory Can Help Cope with Grief
Here at American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory, we completely understand it’s hard to deal with loss, whether sudden or expected. For this very reason, on our website, we offer resources to help friends and loved ones cope with loss. Grief counseling, videos, and other guides can be of great assistance to those who remain behind after the passing of a friend or loved one.
Please do not hesitate to contact us today.