Grief and Forgiveness Part Two: 12 Tips for Self-Forgiveness

Coping with Grief / Coping with Grief : Litsa Williams

For further articles on these topics:

Remember when I wrote a post on grief and forgiveness and promised I would follow it up with a second post on grief and self-forgiveness? It was a solid six months ago, but I suggest you go back and check it out if you want a good introduction to forgiveness in general. And, while you're reading some recommended pre-reqs for this post, I would also recommend this post on guilt and grief and this one on guilt versus regret.

Are you caught up on those posts and feeling all tapped into your guilt feelings? Great. Well, not great that you have guilt feelings... But great that you're thinking about them. After all, what is Step #1 in coping with tough feelings?  You guessed it: Acknowledging them. Sitting with them. Feeling their horrible, intrusive, sometimes totally overwhelming presence.

Guilt, in particular, is a doozy. Not only that, but it's an incredibly normal and common grief emotion. Even research says so... and so do the comments of the zillions of grievers we work with, talk with, and who comment on our posts here. I won't rehash all the guilt posts we've done, but I will say this: After someone dies, we feel guilty for so many reasons. For things we did, for things we didn't do, for things we knew or didn't know, for decisions we made or didn't make, for things we said or didn't say, etc.

We can get stuck in these vicious cycles where we rehash everything. Sometimes our guilt is warranted, sometimes not so much. Either way, we often have people telling us not to feel guilty... which of course isn't helpful at all. We can't just will our way out of feelings (But wouldn't it be nice if we could?). But what do you DO about guilt? How do you move forward? There is ultimately only one choice, and that is to find a way to forgive yourself. I know, I know. Easier said than done.

Let's begin by doing a refresher on what forgiveness is and, perhaps more importantly, what it isn't. There are many definitions of forgiveness, but the one we prefer is: 

A willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior to one who unjustly injured us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity and even love toward him or her."

(Enright et al., 1998).  

An important point there: Forgiveness does NOT mean excusing something or eliminating the mistake. It means you make decisions about what to let go of and what to hold on to.

Now the big question: How? Last time we focused on forgiving others, but the one thing that can be even harder than forgiving others is forgiving ourselves.

  1. Embrace Guilt. This feels like a weird way to start the process of self-forgiveness, but it isn't (I promise). It's important to know that guilt has value, and that self-forgiveness does not mean you will no longer feel remorse or guilt. You can forgive yourself—releasing the feelings of resentment and negative judgment—while still having a healthy level of guilt that stays with you. If this concept confuses you, read this amazing post by a mom who lost her daughter and embraces her guilt. While you're at it, read this post we wrote on why you should never tell a griever not to feel guilty.
  2. Figure Out What You Need to Forgive Yourself For. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we have generalized feelings of guilt and we don't even know what for. If you're going to do the work of self-forgiveness, it must be specific. This can be a very concrete process and you may want to write it down.
  3. Consider the Difference Between Guilt and Shame. It's important to be aware of the feeling that you made a mistake or did something wrong... and then the feeling that, by extension, you are a bad person. We all screw up. Sometimes those screw-ups are small, sometimes they're huge, and sometimes they're downright devastating... But there is a distinct and important difference between doing a bad thing and being a bad person. It's important to consider whether what you're feeling is guilt alone, or has it bled into shame. Research has shown that those who feel guilt, rather than shame, are less likely to make the same mistakes.
  4. Remember Your Motives. Sometimes we are quick to beat ourselves up about each and everything we did or decision we made before a death using the benefit of hindsight. It's important to remember what you knew at the time, why you did what you did, and what your intentions were.
  5. Sit With Discomfort. Guilt is a painful and unpleasant emotion so, no surprise, our instinct can be to avoid it (Read Grief Emotions Aren’t Good Or Bad, They Just Are). The first step in working toward self-forgiveness is acknowledging exactly what we feel guilty for and facing it directly.
  6. Accept That Guilt is Not Always Rational. You may try to reason your way out of guilt and fail. Others may try to reason with you that you should not feel guilty and also fail. It's important to remember that, though sometimes guilt is rational, sometimes it's not. In other words, we may continue to feel guilt even when we know we didn't have control over a situation, we had good intentions, etc.
  7. Consider If You Are Holding Yourself to a Different Standard. Would you forgive a friend or family member in the same situation? Or would you tell them to forgive themselves? If so, consider why you are treating yourself differently than you would someone else. What would allow you to forgive that person and not yourself?
  8. Talk to Your Loved One. Okay, of course, you can't literally do that... But you know your loved one amazingly well and can imagine what they would say. Write a letter to yourself as your loved one, or tell yourself what you think your loved one would tell you if they were here to discuss your guilt with you.
  9. Consider How You Have Grown. Guilt and remorse often make us better people. They help us become better people, by making us avoid making the same mistakes again. Take the time to think about how you have learned and grown from your mistakes.  We have a great journal prompt for this!
  10. Make Amends. This one can also be tricky because, oftentimes, the person you really want to forgive you or with whom you want to make amends is the person who died. So sometimes this means considering what else you can do that may symbolically make amends. For example, read how I remember my sister's boyfriend, John, who died of an overdose.
  11. Actively Decide to Forgive Yourself. When it comes to grief and forgiveness, at some point you have to be active. Sitting around waiting for guilt (or grief) to disappear without working at it is not a good plan. Once you have taken the steps above, make an active decision to let go of the self-judgment, criticism, and resentment you are carrying. Yes, it won't be easy. Yes, it might not come right away... But make an active choice to let go.
  12. Listen to a Self-Forgiveness Meditation. These meditations can often help connect us with forgiveness, and/or reinforce our active decision to forgive. There are many online, but here is one example.

What has your experience been with grief and forgiveness? Leave a comment to let us know!  And don't forget to subscribe to get our new posts sent to you by email.

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35 Comments on "Grief and Forgiveness Part Two: 12 Tips for Self-Forgiveness"

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  1. Mac  August 17, 2022 at 11:39 pm Reply

    I don’t know how to get past something that happened last year and I hope like heck this doesn’t backfire leaving this comment but I have major, major caregiving guilt. Last April, I had my first child. She is my joy and I love her more than I ever knew was possible. Unfortunately, after she was born she spent a couple of weeks in the NICU and I developed extreme postpartum depression. Eventually, it got to where I was having suicidal thoughts all the time and I was terrified to look at or hold her, but did what I had to do…until I didn’t and, after several days of no more than a couple hours of sleep, I made the poor choice to let her sit in the backseat after she’d just fallen asleep to run into the store, intending to get a shopping cart to put her in so it would be easier, but somewhere in there I forgot. I don’t really even know what was going through my head. It wasn’t hot and my daughter is completely fine but someone saw this and called the police so I got charged with neglect, but it was dismissed. I feel like I’m in jail anyway. I can’t handle how much I think about it. I keep asking what kind of parent would do that. Even though she’s totally fine and friends tried to tell me about mistakes they made as parents, the fact it actually led to a whole legal situation and I even changed my job to start fresh is making it seem like this giant stain. I’m afraid to be a mother again and need to get past it because all I want to do is be the best mom I can be from here on out.

  2. Mirko  July 24, 2022 at 11:43 am Reply

    My mother died at the hospital 4 days ago. I was her caregiver for 3 years. She was in a bed because She cannot walk after she fallen and broke the femur. She had dementia at a early stage, and while I was home with her, she was never stopping calling me. She was calling continuosly because She had fear I could go away. I could never exit her room, aside to go in the bathroom or to eat someting, so I was like in a jail. Going in the morning at work was a relief. While I was at work, a woman was having care of her.
    After 3 years of my mother calling me every few minutes, all day long, often during the night, I was serously stressed, and I started to feel nervous. The last weeks I could not more be nice to her, aside some moment, my stress made me scream at her “Stop please, don’t call me more!”, “Stay silent!”, she was calling my name every minute.
    Then, after 4 years in that bed, she stopped eating, aside a bite of bread with something, she was drinking very few. So I decided for the hospital. She was there at 11 in the morning. After 12 hours, she died.
    The guilt hit me as a stone. I didn’t had the chance to say her that I loved her, that I was sorry I was so nervous the last weeks, so that she thought I don’t wanted her more with me. I feel she died thinking I let her alone (I couldn’t be at the hospital because the doctor said I had to wait home until they call me), that she died thinking I stopped loving her.

  3. V  May 18, 2022 at 1:45 am Reply

    It’s so difficult, yet it’s so obvious! The answer is right in front of us but we never see it, because we look at everything else, everything that is undoubtedly keeping us from forgiveness.

    I never lost a child or sibling, I am a combat veteran and I spent the better part of a decade hating myself, life and probably everything/one who really cared.

    It cost me my marriage, home and multiple jobs. I’m by no means incapable of reason and logic, I am educated (BS and MA degrees) and in my 50s, so while this should seem so obvious, for those in it might as well be as clear as darkness!

    I had to hit rock bottom, because I allowed myself to, before getting off the mat. I’m a fighter by nature, but this was a fight that had a knockdown every round! But seriously, if you don’t try to get up, you don’t try to believe in yourself again, stay away from all the negative people and realize, this was particularly difficult for me, you’re not responsible for everything and most things happen beyond your control and stop questioning the “why and how come”, chances are there isn’t any answer to these questions!

    It’s a process, not easy but certainly doable and find someone you trust, really trust, not the fairweather friends!

  4. nils  April 1, 2022 at 12:00 pm Reply

    What if your motives WERE bad? What if you ARE a bad person? What if you KNOW you won’t change even if you experience the same situation again (not that you will – who has more than four grandparents)?

    • Litsa  June 5, 2022 at 3:34 pm Reply

      Nils, the nature of forgiveness is that it requires acceptance that you did something wrong – sometimes that includes bad motives. If that wasn’t the case, there would be nothing to forgive. I can certainly see that forgiveness may feel impossible if you don’t think you will change. In this case, it may be helpful to start by thinking about making a living amends.

  5. ANON  November 25, 2020 at 6:27 pm Reply

    I lost my virginity about 2 months ago. It was unprotected and I was extremely scared. I didn’t tell my mom but I told my sister. I didn’t tell her the whole truth though. I told her he used a condom. Pregnancy and STD’s were not in my mind atm. Tbh I kinda felt care free and that I was in contempt with losing it. Tbh I wasn’t though. We did it in the heat of the moment. It was so stupid and one of my biggest mistakes. I thought I got past it. Taking it day by day. But its gotten worse. I have been being selfish and insensitive to my families feelings. I didn’t see what I was truly doing to them. Until recently. I’ve had this horrible rash since I first had sex and I figured it was nothing. It got put in my head after several google searches that it was an STD. I told my mom about the rash a while ago but she didn’t know what it was either. I told her on Sunday that my rash had gotten worse so she called the doctors and scheduled me an appointment. On Sunday my sister told me I should tell my mom about losing my virginity. I didn’t want to because for one I didn’t want to hurt my mom and I knew she would be extremely hurt. I didn’t want her to look at me differently. Two I figured that would be the end of me and my boyfriend. I was just so scared so I didn’t tell her on Sunday. I wanted to tell her for so long but I was so scared. Scared of being judged and scared of hurting my mom. When I went to my doctors appointment I had my mom leave the room. I told the doctor everything and she tested me for some STD’s. She said she didn’t think it was anything but irritation though because I didn’t have any bumps or any ulcers. I got through the doctors appointment and I left to find my mom. She was outside. She asked me if I was having sex. I told her no which once again was a lie. I couldn’t hold it together for much longer. My sister was telling me to tell her but also to do what I thought was right. The way my mom raised me, I felt like telling her was the right thing to do even if that meant messing EVERYTHING up. We went on a college trip to this all girls college and when we were on the way back, I sat in this bench seat and asked her if I could talk to her. I told her that I looked up to her and hold her up on a high pedestal. I was so scared but I knew I had to tell her cause if i didn’t i was never going to tell her. So she was like she knew our relationship had been rocky and that she was sorry. I was like I really don’t want you to be disappointed in me but I know you’re going to be. She then said what do i have to be disappointed about?. I told her I had sex and it turned into both of us crying and her telling me that she had more expectations for me than that. That she expected more from me. She said he isn’t allowed over and i’m not allowed over his house. I honestly don’t care though. I’m NEVER going over there again. Anyways I cried and she cried and then we went home and cried the whole ride home in silence. She went to her room and i went to mine to cry. I cried so much because i broke my moms heart and I can’t believe that. I hate myself for that. So she says shes hurt and that shes disappointed. I already feel disappointed in myself but hearing that from her makes me hate myself even more. I am gonna have to take that as a lesson and learn and do better. Right now I can’t help but cry. I just wanna give up on life but giving up isn’t an option. I have to earn her trust back and do better. Be a better daughter and communicate. I have to let my guard down. I have to do everything I can to make this right no matter what. No matter what it takes I will do whats right. I will do better. I will never make a mistake like this again because i don’t want to hurt my mom like that again. I don’t want her to hurt like this. `

    • ANON  July 26, 2022 at 7:09 pm Reply

      we’ll update ig?
      i’ve gained her trust back and i was able to stay with my boyfriend. he got into the military so currently not with him. i do feel as tho our relationship has changed since everything tho. me and my moms relationship tho we’ll that hasn’t been so good. she’s more controlling now and wants to be in control of my life. ik she’s only looking out for me but most times it’s too much. she said ended up forcing me to tell my dad on his birthday due to some “disrespect”. i felt horrible about myself and the situation and him knowing made it worse because he questioned the hell out of me. so for it to come back up again just felt so surreal. i don’t know if i have personally moved on or healed from all the stuff but i have to keep moving and if that means not dealing then ig i’ll keep moving.

  6. Kelly Frasier  February 26, 2020 at 1:56 pm Reply

    Is there a ink to the “amazing post by a mother who lost her daughter” in the section 1.Embrace you guilt?

    Thanks, I’d really like to see the post, Sorry if it is here and I’m just missing it. 🙂

  7. Anna  December 11, 2019 at 9:43 am Reply

    Poor Anne.
    I did what you’ve done verbally & broken two sibling relationships forever. You’re not alone.

  8. Susan Davies  October 6, 2019 at 11:06 am Reply

    When my Mum was in hospital and we had the news that she had a short time to live as she had cancer that evening it still haunts me that when it was time for us to leave that she looked straight at me as if she wanted me to go over to her I did not pick up on this at the time and the day after she was transferred to hospice and never opened her eyes again . Everyday I am pained with guilt that I should have gone to my mum that other evening.

  9. Hudson  September 21, 2019 at 10:05 am Reply

    My friend which I met online just recently killed him self and I blame my self because I knew it wasn’t his first time trying to do that. The first time he told me I was 17 and I didnt really think it was that serious but I asked him what’s wrong and he told he will tell me when we meet and after that we talked for years online and he seemed happy. Then a year passed after he told me about the suicide then he started ignoring I asked if I did something wrong then he told he’s bored of talking to people then I thought I was boring him so we stopped but I always checked he’s online status after a month he stopped getting online then I called on his phone he’s father picked up and told me he killed himself and I just cant stop blaming my self

  10. Sue  August 7, 2019 at 2:40 pm Reply

    My mom passed away 3years ago. Till this day I mourn her presence. It’s been very difficult over the past few years coming to accept that she is no longer here. I feel guilt restless nights were I can’t sleep because I replay the morning she died in my head. I feel guilty cause I feel like I could of done better to help. She suffered from a lot of medical issues and made it threw them all. Her passing so soon left me so confused! My child hood I was not raised by her but no matter what I never gave up on her. She was still my mom. Me and my sister never grieved with each other I can never express how I feel cause she holds a grudge against me thinking I was a reason that my mom passed because it happened in my home she felt as though if she was there she could of saved her! My mom passed 8 days short of her 50 th birthday from a hear attack. took a while but me and my sister are actually speaking and we can talk about her together. Why does her death still makes me feel so guilty ? Like I’m the reason she is gone? My mother was my best friend please someone help me cause this guilt can cause insanity

  11. Anon  April 15, 2019 at 7:55 am Reply

    I…I have a girl that I like who likes me back but we don’t want to date or should I say are not ready. At the same time, an other girl I know wants to have sex and I wanted to have full honesty with the first. She told me she rather I not sleep with this other girl even though we aren’t together. I like this girl and even if my feelings are confusing, I still want to lose my virginity and I feel like I can with this other girl. But with that I feel like scum and I have been thinking negatively again and I now wish I could fix things but I still want to lose it. I’m just at a lost and my chest hurts like holy hell. I don’t know if it’s guilt or pain because I love the girl but damn it I just don’t know what to do? Can I even forgive my self for being an insensitive asshole? I just confuse with where I am and why I’m even typing out this crap. I don’t even know if people read this but, I just feel so guilty, mad and a mixture of emotions that make me feel like hiding and avoiding my problems. I don’t know what to do. Do I stay loyal to a girl that doesn’t want to date me yet and wants me to be loyal or should I just tell a white lie, sleep with the other girl and just play it off like it never happen. God I feel like and asshole.

  12. Jessica Saravia  February 13, 2019 at 12:03 am Reply

    Hi. My moms in the next room on hospice. I believe in the last faze of the dying process. I’m doing all I can to make her comfortable. Yesterday was her burst of energy and I sat next to her when she asked me too, listened and comforted as best as I could. Today she has said very little and most made no sense. The waves of guilt come mainly at night. She’s always been a tough cookie, her mental illness made the last few years for my family very difficult. But her phases of dying were masked by the illness. I yelled at her to eat, i threatened the hospital if she didn’t drink and finally I walked away in annoyance when she only slept. Those “nasty” moments came after trying so hard to nicely coax her to do what she needed to do but nevertheless they came and my heart aches. The doctors only confirmed her cancer after sitting with me to plan hospice. They apologized for letting me know so late, though I knew in my heart cancer was what was causing so much pain. My guilt comes from not taking her to the doctor much sooner, she always refused when I asked to take her but my brain keeps saying I should have pushed harder. Between my actions, not knowing and not being a better caretaker the guilt whelms up inside. I sat next to her trying so hard to ask her forgiveness but couldn’t get past the tears to open my mouth long enough to say the words. All I’ve been able to say is I love you Mom. I sure hope I can forgive myself, I’m sure gonna try.

    • elise  August 22, 2019 at 11:10 am Reply

      same here … Aug 2019 — im gathering
      my village — it is all too much — ?

    • Scott  January 25, 2020 at 3:28 am Reply

      I am so sorry for your pain Jessica. My story is similar to yours. My mom and I were close but we lived on opposite sides of the country (U.S.) One day she told me about these intense abdominal cramps she was having. I told her to go to the doctor. She kept putting it off thinking it would get better on its own. After a few weeks of this she finally went in and the doc told her to take enemas. The problem continued. She still resisted going back. Finally she did and they took xrays which were clean. I wanted her to see a different doc. She kept putting it off. She couldn’t keep solid food down. We argued on the phone for weeks about going back to the doc and she kept pushing it off. Finally after five months into this ordeal she goes back and now the doc thinks its cancer. I had to get her permission to speak with him. I flew out there, took her to the hospital. They operated, removed a tumor, and had plans for building her strength and starting chemo. Only she had gone too long with the colon blocked and her GI would not restart. Hospice was the only thing left. If I had only got on a damn plane when she first got the cramps, she could have at least gone through chemo. I cant get past that guilt.

  13. Grieving fiance  December 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm Reply

    I didn’t call 911 right when my fiance said “I think I’m having a heart attack, call 911”. I threw down the coat of the ambulance ride. We were at a hotel in another state. He said call a taxi & we did. We did eventually call 911 but it was too late and the taxi never came. He died in the hotel lobby in my arms, with another guest performing CPR until the medics came. He never regained consciousness and they pronounced dead at the ER after about 15 minutes. I was there the whole time. If I’d just called 911 in the beginning, he would have been at the ER when he went into full cardiac arrest and maybe they could have saved him or at least he would have been in the ER when he passed.

  14. Nasrin  November 16, 2018 at 5:45 pm Reply

    2 months back my husband died of cancer. He had two sons from his first marriage. They burried him without even informing me. What makes me feel guilty is that I had left him after he had hit me. He called me saying he was dying and asked me to let him see our daughter I shouted at him calling him names I told him its ok if he dies .. all because I didnt believe him. Now he is dead. He is dead. I killed him because I left him. He begged me several times to forgive him . He had told me that he would die without me. He died in loneliness because of me. Pls help me I cant forgive myself

    • Dan  November 22, 2018 at 11:55 pm Reply

      Hi nasrin …I’m so sorry about your pain. Its a tremendous burden for you to carry this pain.

      I know by responding that I may not say the right thing– so please forgive me is I say something not so helpful.

      I feel that you didn’t hv the knowledge you have now or you know you perhaps would have done things differently. There was a reason you didn’t believe him about his illness. Perhaps he didn’t quite tell you the truth before? For whatever the reason reason you didn’t believe him it was valid at the time….secondly, when you didn’t let him see your daughter, again you had reasons you didn’t that seemed valid then. Perhaps you had lots of hurt toward him what he had done to you? Maybe now you feel your anger was irrational after his passing? But again at the time you truly couldn’t help it because you would have done things differently with what you know now. I’m so sorry for you are going thru this terrible, terible pain.

      I know you probably heard all this. And you know about hindsight bias”– we see everything we did as totally horrible and even exaggerate the negative we did. The whole past is skewed when we feel guilt. Is it possible to believe that he would want you to forgive yourself? I know its very hard.

      I hesitate to write about my situation because its about my beloved cat. And some people might not think that its the same. I’m not telling you my guilt story to compare our pain but to share my pain of guilt in losing my beloved cat of 17. I put him thru so many medical procedures the last 3 pluss years. I never wanted to hv him in anyway hang on where he suffered. But one thing led to another. I gave him horrible meds everyday that made him afraid and run and hide. I did so much to him. I also felt the stress I put him thru with treatments along with the uncleaned polluted dirty air in my home contrubed to him giving up and dying. I also I didn’t spend much time as I should hv. And I done more also. All I can say is I was stressed, overwhelmed, had my own health issues, that I didn’t do what I should hv done at all. I have even been suicidal many days. My ex- girlfriend told me I tortured him by going to far and should hv put him down a long time ago and she said she wanted me to commit suicide also. Although I am hurt by what she said, I forgive her because she struggles with her own pain. And if she wasn’t in her own deep pain in life, then she wouldn’t want to do say what she did. And I truly don’t want her to feel torturous guilt in the rest of her life especially if o passed before her or God forbid I did end my life.

      I give you this example not because in anyway my situation is the same as yours. I don’t know what its like to be in your situation.. But I know the guilt is damaging enough to want to die. And for feeling I neglected or tortured him for over 3 yrs because I was so unsure, scared, or selfish at times, I’m learning that I’m exaggerated what negatively did. That I’m not seeing all the good in me. Another words I feel you arnt seeing all the good you’ve done for others. Maybe your husband forgave you in the end and you never knew. Also I would feel he would now want you now. I don’t know. But the more we are at peace with ourselves the more we want others who harmed us to be forgiven. I think given your suffering at the time you said the things you may be able to see you were in pain and did the best you can with the pain you had. I truly do believe that.

      This may be not helpful to you —or hopefully not more damaging to you. However, my hope you can heal from this awful pain you are now dealing with. My thoughts are with you. I feel without knowing you that you must be a good, loving person and don’t deserve the pain you feel right now. I know you feel you deserve this suffering. But I don’t think so

      Be well, Narsin… Hope you find peace somehow soon.

    • Rue  February 14, 2019 at 11:22 pm Reply

      Hi Nasrin, I am struggling with feelings of guilt for things I wish I had done for my beautiful mother that passed away from cancer a few months ago. The following scripture helped me at Ecclesiastes 9:11
      “I have seen something further under the sun, that the swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.”

      I know you feel that some neglect on your part contributed to your loved one’s death. Realizing that guilt​—real or imagined—​is a normal grief reaction can be helpful in itself. Talking about how guilty you feel can provide a much needed release.

      Realize, though, that no matter how much we love another person, we cannot control his or her life, nor can we prevent “time and unforeseen occurrence” from befalling those we love. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Besides, no doubt your motives were not bad. For example, in trying to protect yourself and your daughter and not believing that he was sick, did you intend for your loved one to get sick and die? Of course not! Then are you really guilty of causing that one’s death? No.

      When he hit you he broke your trust and the time was just not there for the relationship and trust to be repaired before he died. That is not your fault and it is clear that you never intended for him to die, he had deeply hurt you and you were trying to protect yourself. From my own experience I know that the guilt, real or imagined is something we are going to carry with us for a long time, but if the situation was reversed I think we would tell our loved ones to forgive themselves.

      The Bible talks about a time when everyone will be resurrected on a paradise earth and we will have the opportunity to repair these relationships. You can read about that hope and also coping strategies for grief at

  15. Connie Danley  September 27, 2018 at 8:00 pm Reply

    My biggest regret also, I was married to a wonderful man but only after he died did I realise it. If only I could turn the clock back to show him how much I loved him.

    • Ruby  November 29, 2021 at 2:59 pm Reply

      I had the most wonderful common law husband that recently passed. I, too, feel guilty.

  16. SC  September 23, 2018 at 1:34 pm Reply

    My husband and I took our 2 dogs on a walk a few weeks back. It was supposed to be short but it was a trail with the only exit being the beginning and it wasn’t until we reached the point I wanted to turn around that my eldest, 5, started to act tired and unwilling to move. It got hot and it was only getting hotter so we took breaks and gave them all our water but I also really tried to rush them back out to seek A/C and more water. I really thought it’d be best to just get them out. She had a heatstroke and passed less than 0.2 miles from the exit. My youngest, only 18 months, was seemingly fine so I got him shade and water and left him with a Samaritan while we wrapped her up in her seat cover and kissed her good bye. When I came back for him I realise that the stress of the situation also pushed him over the edge. I was so distraught I just couldn’t think straight, I let the park ranger talk to the vet and make the right moves but she got him too cold. I never saw him fully conscious again but he got to be held and kissed and apologised to the whole drive home and got to lay in his spot at home a few minutes before he passed as well. (We did also bring him into a vet but they gave him a death sentence and treated me like he was dying because I locked him out or left him in a car, but I didn’t! I was WITH him, and it wasn’t even an hour out, and it was COOLER than our usual walks at first) I feel like I killed my best friends, my children that I promised to take care of and keep out of harms way. The products of mine and my husbands love. I just wanted to show them a good day, they LOVED walks and adventures but I feel like I pushed them and killed them.

    • cheryl L Trudeau  June 3, 2021 at 12:00 am Reply

      My boyfriend had a massive heart attack about 2 months ago , he called me ask me to pick him up he had open heart surgery so he needed a place to recover. My mom told me not to have him here but i had him here for months i couldnt just threw him out in the streets i was his only family here. So i told him we would have to find him some where to go to recover .Well, he calked me back and said. He was gonna stay with his friend Rick well, 2 days later he died. And no one told me i looked for him for over a month then i saw someone posted FB “Rest in peace billy” my heart just dropped, i couldnt beleive it… His body sit in the morgue for 25 days I felt so horrible why didnt i go pick him up. Why did i look for him sooner this guilt is eating me up alive please forgive me Babe I am sooooo soooo sorry

  17. ggb  March 1, 2018 at 10:07 pm Reply

    At “now the big question: How?”, I thought maybe this would be the first article I’ve ever seen not to just say “just forgive yourself”. But no, the last step is… “Just forgive yourself”. As you yourself wrote – how the hell do I do that?

  18. ggb  March 1, 2018 at 10:07 pm Reply

    At “now the big question: How?”, I thought maybe this would be the first article I’ve ever seen not to just say “just forgive yourself”. But no, the last step is… “Just forgive yourself”. As you yourself wrote – how the hell do I do that?

  19. Laurie  August 12, 2017 at 12:38 pm Reply

    Dealing with the loss of our family cat who had diabetes (two days ago). He began eating less and with the weight loss I should have adjusted his insulin dosage but didn’t know this. His sugar got too low and he began seizing and died. It just seems so obvious now that I should have lowered the amount of insulin. I feel responsible!

  20. Lisa Winslow  December 29, 2016 at 2:26 am Reply

    I can’t write to my loved one, my sister passed away on May 21, 2016. My mom only will discuss her feelings and not listen to mine, and her son is struggling as I am. We don’t live near each other either. My husband and daughters comfort me… but no matter how they try, they don’t understand. I don’t know where to turn! I use to love being out and about around people, now I isolate myself at home with only my close family. I know I need to talk to someone, a counselor or therapist, but I’ve never had to do that, and have no idea how to start the process. I do know if my sister could, she would kick my backside!

  21. anne  November 7, 2016 at 6:51 pm Reply

    Family rowed after mothers death I wrote very hurtful letters to family members after telling them some hurtful things family members said about them noe there not talking me

    • UW  December 5, 2016 at 11:57 pm Reply

      For Anne, can you write more letters but express your regret at causing pain and how you now realise the shock and emotion of grief caused you to write those first letters. Life is too short not to try and make amends as soon as we realise our mistakes.

  22. Leah  October 19, 2016 at 10:29 am Reply

    Forgiveness happens on so many levels, love, friendships and even in the workforce – all places where we forgive one another for different reasons. Writing about it connects a writer to the reader and helps him relate to his own experiences. A good essay grabs the reader’s attention and holds it until the end, leaving him with lasting impact. Superb essays often get used repeatedly as examples of good writing and good messages.

  23. J.  February 20, 2016 at 6:36 pm Reply

    What I regret most is not showing my dear husband more of the small, simple daily kindnesses that could have enriched his life.

    Huge mistake and one I deeply regret.

  24. Robin Hyde-Chambers  December 1, 2015 at 5:38 am Reply

    Well done. This is a really engaging, thought-provoking article on what is a very delicate subject.
    From my experience with RHC Funerals, I would very much stress the importance of accepting the past and moving on with your life. Although it might be hurtful at first, write down what you would have done differently if given the chance and realize that you acted as best as you could at the time. Recognizing our mistakes is the biggest step towards forgiving ourselves for them. Once you do that, you’re ready to put it behind you and move on.

  25. Helen Zz  September 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm Reply

    Once again a lovely article. As I read this one I thought, this all rings true, but gosh the steps to ease the guilt are complicated and long. Not because you made them complicated and long, but because they just are. Forgiveness (of myself, or others) is not my strong point.
    So much further I need to go on my journey.
    Thank you for all your articles and wonderful website. You are my online support team.

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