Guilt is insidious, it creeps under our skin and becomes a part of us before we realise it’s happening. When linked to a bereavement, guilt is often a burden we put on ourselves rather than something that others make us feel. Let’s explore the roots of this strong emotion and in doing so hopefully we’ll see how we can regain control and break free from its power.
When a death occurs we feel a sense of helplessness. We would have done anything to stop it happening, but sadly it is a reality, and we feel overwhelmed. So where does guilt come in? Usually guilt comes as we look back over events surrounding the death of our loved one and we imagine how things might have unfolded differently. We sometimes come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, we could have done something that would have changed the outcome. We say ‘if only…’ or ‘what if…’ and it gives us the feeling that the death was our fault because of something we did or didn’t do. If we did take action we may feel that events were therefore within our control and we could have changed the outcome.