Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

No Good Time to Die: The Residue of Guilt

There is no good way or time to die. There is only better and worse. 
There is no ideal way to say goodbye to people we love that will leave us feeling happy. Death comes and people we know are gone forever.

Then grief descends and our world changes. Gradually we accept that this death has happened and will not be undone. This acceptance may take months or years.

There is guilt, too, that we did not do something, anything, to prevent this death. What did we miss? If we had noticed something or done something differently, would they still be alive? We feel guilt for many things — we were not always as kind or considerate as we could have been, we were often too busy with work to celebrate life with each other we were resentful of the other at times, and we knew that they were not always happy with us, and we wondered why they stayed.
Yet I think that the person who died accepted this about us and, ultimately, even though these things bugged them, they accepted them as part of who we were, what made us unique. They loved us in spite of our imperfections, and sometimes because of them.

After we accept the fact of death, we then have to dismiss the residue of guilt that clings. We have to forgive our lapses in judgment and accept that this is who we are, that we live in a world that is not always fair, that we are not perfect, that every dream does not come true, and that grief now sits at the table beside us, next to our morning coffee and warm, buttery scones with jam.

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