Guilt Over Mother’s Death

Question: Dear Luise: I lost my beloved Mother for over 1 month now. She was the most precious person in my life and I loved her the most. I am also a mother. My mother never took care of herself instead of constant poking from us. She was ill and we visited her and she was having some respiratory problems. I was about to stay with her from the next day and take care of her and also make necessary arrangements but had to leave as we had to visit my inlaws. I was not feeling good leaving her but we did that day. The next day she died and my father called us. None of us imagined that she would die and we never understood the severity as she would not  tell us much about her condition. Since then I cant sleep and I feel so much pain inside me for leaving her that day. I do not know if I am ever going to forgive myself. T.

Answer: Dear T.: I always write the same response to this question because all I have to share is my own experience for what it’s worth. Your mother has only been gone a month. Most of us who have lost a loved one are still pretty fragile for quite a while beyond that. You weren’t prepared and you sound like you’re understandably finding it a terrible reality to have to adjust to. On top of that, you have responsibilities that are really hard keep up with when grief and shock are taking their toll.

All know for sure is that none of us feels we did “enough” or we did it “right.” We all have guilt. I’m pretty sure all our loved ones felt was gratitude.

I can tell you is to hang in there and know that if and when you are willing to have grief counseling, it may bring you comfort. Some find it helpful and others don’t. We’re all so different. You say you don’t want to try that but you also say that you need some help.

When I lost my mom, I found my help within. Not from a religious perspective but because that’s how it turned out. I lost my eldest son just as suddenly when he was 52. It was startled to find what took me down were my expectations. He was healthy, had just had a productive and happy day, went to bed and had a fatal sleep apnea induced stroke. He never even woke up. I expected that I would go first and I was more than willing for that to be the case. My list of expectations involved what was fair and reasonable…and that’s not necessarily Life. We can hope and dream, and plan and anticipate…but…we can’t “expect” anything. Not really. It’s a hard pill to swallow. From my acute sense of injustice, I landed in self-pity and no one could help with that. I just had to get it. It took a while but once I saw that my not having life (and death) be the way they are was taking me down…I came out the other side knowing I was in charge of my perceptions, joy, sorrow and yes, anger. That may not be your road…but it’s all I have to offer. You have resources, we all do. When push comes to shove most of us have to go inside and access them…with or without outside help. Give it some time and be kind to yourself. Blessings, Luise


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