You know that look. The look someone gets when they’re uncomfortable with your loss.  That look that says your pain is too much for them to handle.  You’ve seen people with that fear, that sorrow, the panic in their eyes just before they look away. You instinctually look away as well and may even catch yourself murmuring an, “I’m sorry.”   Don’t.

You have every right to feel whatever you are feeling about your loved one’s death. How can someone else possibly know what it’s like to be you right now? No one can tell you what you should and should not be feeling.  No two people, even if grieving the same person, can have the exact same experience with their healing process.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the grief journey, one cannot always tell when something will trigger intense emotions. Some things, such as driving by the hospital, might be obvious triggers you can prepare for while others, such as randomly hearing a certain song in Target, can catch you off guard.

There is no need to ever apologize to anyone for your grief feelings and expressions, whether predictable or not. In order to heal and be healthy, it is imperative you acknowledge and express all the undeniably painful, wretched thoughts and unimaginatively painful feelings you have along this winding, twisted, jagged, rocky, steep and slippery road of grief.  Just keep going.

GUILT: Is It Part Of Your Grief?

As long as you blame yourself for your loved one’s death, it’s likely you will never heal.

It’s completely normal to reflect back on your loved one’s life and wonder what you may have done to contribute to their decline or death. It’s understandable if you catch yourself feeling regretful, asking why or what if.  People sometimes ask themselves what they could’ve done differently during the weeks and months after a death.  All of this is very common and a normal part of grief.

Perhaps it’s beneficial to consider how guilt is currently affecting you. What does it prevent you from doing?  What are you gaining from blaming yourself?  What would your deceased loved one tell you about the guilt you feel?   What would a good friend tell you about your self-blame?

Some people think they don’t deserve to heal or feel better. Others think it is disloyal to not assume some kind of responsibility for the death. You may be using guilt as a way to discipline, punish, control or limit yourself.

Guilt and blame don’t help us feel better. Guilt and blame are associated with negative thoughts and feelings.  If we’re engaging in this, we are doing nothing good for ourselves.

By continuing to feel guilty for your loved ones death, you could prevent yourself from healing. Self-blame can keep you stuck for a long time, unable to move forward into the very different but next part of your life.

Even if the death truly is your fault or you absolutely insist on blaming yourself, consider the task of working towards self-forgiveness rather than living the rest of your life with the weight of guilt and blame.

Many feelings in addition to guilt may crop up as you maneuver your way through grief. Working your way through the smaller pieces towards a larger place of peace with your loss is a good goal. Addressing any unresolved guilt and working through it by letting it go or forgiving yourself is what may need to happen if this is one of the pieces of your grief that is standing in the way of your healing.