As promised, here is the final excerpt from my book, The Only Way Out is Through to share with you. This book has been such a wonderful journey in the making, and I hope the strategies outlined in it may be helpful to so many of you, no matter what transition you are going through.
Strategy 3: Guilt in Search of a Transgression
Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion to death.
Each person, in his own way, feels a sense of guilt when confronting loss and death. You feel responsible. You feel that you have control and are omnipotent. And then there’s always that nagging thought, in the back of your mind, that if only you had done something more, things might have ended differently. Consequently, accidents of every sort, and suicide in particular, leave parents with an even heavier load of guilt as they ruminate over all the ways they failed their child. Parents that are held accountable for the loss or death of a loved one and are punished by the authorities, or by those close to them, often feel the relief of some of their guilt. Ironically, in these cases, guilt can find redemption. According to Webster, guilt “is the actor’s state of having done a wrong or committed an offense.” Therefore, as long as you feel the need to punish yourself, you cannot get on with the business of living.
All of us are victims of irrational thinking—the notion that we have control over something that is beyond our control. But in reality, you have no control. In an effort to punish yourself, you may even return to the last time that you were together with your loved one, ruminating over that moment, trying to make amends for a lack of communication, a fight, or a forgotten goodbye.
In the face of a death, feelings of guilt take on a radical, even brutal
significance: no further discussion can clear the air, one can no longer
make amends. All theoretical efforts to make amends founder on the
fact that the deceased is no longer there.
—Verena Kast, A Time to Mourn
Be sure to look for The Only Way Out is Through: a Ten Step Journey from Grief to Wholeness on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com!