A Memorial to My Husband

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grief - Unresolved Feelings and Regrets (Should-a, Could-a, Would-a)

Your loved one is gone now.

Maybe your loved one went through a long battle with an illness and you were the caregiver and gave your all but you still think, "I should have done this. I would have done this or I could have done that".

Your situation may be that it was a sudden death. You never had a chance to say goodbye. Maybe you had an argument the night before or that morning and said things you cannot take back.

In my case, my husband and I buried our heads in the sand and didn't want to face the fact that he was really that sick. After all, he was an Army Airborne Ranger, having served 30 years in the US Army. He survived many near death situations and close calls but he made it through those times. Why wouldn’t this time be any different? We still had the belief, strength and hope that he would make it through this crisis.

In the days following, you mull over and over in your head what you "should-a, could-a, would-a" said and done if you had only known. I have and am still struggling with the "should-a, could-a, would-a" regrets and guilt.

We all need to learn (including myself) not torture ourselves over what we have no control over now.

1. If you were the caregiver, he or she knew you loved them by the time you spent with them and caring for them.

2. If you had an argument before. You know in your heart it would have been resolved. We all say and do things at times that we don’t really mean. Your loved one knows that and I can guarantee they do not hold anything against you for it.

3. If you tried to get him or her to go to a doctor or the Emergency Room and they refused, you did all you could do. They were going to do what they wanted to do and nothing is going to change that.

Whether you were with your loved one at the end or not, I can almost without a doubt say they were thinking of you at that last moment. I was with my husband at the end. I was also with both my mother and father at their times of leaving this world. Since those times I have said more than once, "I never want to go through anything like that again, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be any place else at that time".

Again, if you were not able to be with your loved one, your love was with them at the time and they are with you now.

I have a friend who lost her husband in 2006 and we were talking and venting about grief and dealing with life after losing a spouse. She copes with her grief in her own way.

She believes that if on the day her husband passed away of an undetected inherited family medical illness and it had been a normal day with her husband driving their son to school; she would have lost both of them. Her sister in law would not have known she also had this same condition, as well as the daughter. My friend now knows that her son should have a medical check up periodically to monitor this inherited condition. As we ended our conversation she also mentioned, "How many lives would have changed and been lost if he had been driving on a freeway that morning?".

Don’t misunderstand, she loved her husband dearly but she has chosen to see the other side of "Should-a, Could-a, Would-a".

I thought to myself, "What a unique woman to have learned to cope with her loss in this way". I cannot apply her thinking to my situation. I see no benefit to anyone whatsoever for my husband being gone. Maybe one day when I have been on this journey a little longer I may be able to look at things from a different perspective, but not yet.

The point I am trying to make is that we have to help ourselves along this "journey we never wanted to be on".

1. Just remember you loved him or her and that will never change. Tell them now. Talk to them.

2. Do you REALLY feel that you did all you could for your loved one? Tell them now. Talk to them.

3. Whatever happened that "day or night" it was their choice such as not going to a doctor or an Emergency Room.

4. Whatever happened that "day or night" was out of their hands also; they didn’t plan to have a car accident or be a victim of some other event.

I still have my own issues with questioning why this happened and questioning my faith in God and I will discuss that in another post but The Serenity Prayer does seem appropriate at this time.

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
~ Reinhold Niebuhr

As always, let’s help each other on our "journey". You can email me at: Grief - Life During and After